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State releases catfish in local lakes
Fish come as lake levels high from recent rains
new_deh_vets lake fish stocking- high water pic
With water still covering features at Veterans Memorial Lake, more fish were released into it and Stone Lake Tuesday morning. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

This is one heck of a fish story.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism paid a visit to two Great Bend lakes Tuesday, stocking them with channel catfish, part of an on-going program to keep fish levels consistent in the bodies of water, Great Bend Public Lands Director Scott Keeler said. This came as local lakes continue to be swollen from recent rains.

“In all Tuesday, 390 pounds of catfish were released into Veterans Memorial Lake and another 600 pounds into Stone Lake,” Keeler said. The fish ranged in size from eight to 18 inches.

Since Stone is larger than Vets, it received a larger stocking, he said. Stone covers 39 acres and Vets roughly 14.

This was the second release of channel cat this spring, the last being at the end of March. At that time, 360 pounds went to Vets and another 600 to Stone.

“They have to keep a balance between the predator fish and the bait fish,” Keeler said. The agency takes a survey regularly to make sure this is kept in check.

In the fall months, from the end of November through early March, KDWPT stocks trout in the lakes. During the rest of the year, bass, catfish and other varieties are added, and this is where the balance is so crucial since the bass and trout feed on the other lake inhabitants.

The size of these fish varies as well, Keeler said.

Deeper water

Keeler said Stone Lake is up about a foot and a half over normal, mostly from the Arkansas River and groundwater. But, the levels at the former sandpit turned recreational area are not really noticeable.

However, Vets is up about three feet, with the water in the grassy shore areas, covering the sand volleyball pit, and partially covering picnic tables and disc golf fixtures. It has dropped about six inches since the weekend, Keeler said.

Vets is also a former sandpit, but it has become a storm water catch basin for much of northwest Great Bend. Consequently, it gets a lot more run-off and fills faster.

This leads to another potential problem, Keeler said. And that is toxic blue-green algae, the slimy scourge that forced the closure of the lake a few years ago.

“We’re keeping a close eye on it,” he said. They are testing it on a monthly basis.

It will start to become more of an issue as water levels drop at Vets and the temperatures climb. Also, the algae feeds on nitrates from fertilizers and decomposing organic material, and there will be plenty of that, Keeler said.

As they watch the lake, they may have to do an algae treatment to prevent an outbreak, he said.