(LOOGOOTEE) - Park officials and members of the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife will begin drawing down the water of West Boggs on August 25.
"This is the end stage of a long process by the park and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources involving the fisheries for the lake," said Daviess-Martin Joint County Parks Department Superintendent Michael Axsom. "We are trying to get rid of an invasive species, gizzard shad, from the lake. The only way is to lower the lake and then eradicate them."
Gizzard shad are a problem at the lake for a number of reasons. The biggest is that they squeeze out native and popular game fish. Currently the make up 60 percent of the fish population at the lake.
Axom says these fish are not catchable or edible.
During a normal year the lake levels would be considerably lower at the end of August but because of cooler and wetter summer the lake levels are unusually high.
Officials say they need to begin lower the lake level to meet target dates later on in the project.
"First we want people with boats to be aware that the lake is being lowered. Some with bigger boats probably will need to get them out of the water by early September," Axom says. "If they don't they may not be able to get them out this winter."
Officials say that as the lake goes down new shallows will appear for boaters and people trying to use lake in September should use extreme caution.
"Lake levels will fall fast," he added. "We want people in smaller boats to try and keep clear of the dam once we open it. They could wind up getting caught in the currents or a whirlpool and wind up in trouble."
Once the water begins to fall, officials will speed up the process after the Labor Day holiday.
The hope it to have the water level lowed by 20 feet by late September.
At that time the state plans to conduct a fish salvage operation.
"Biologist will shock the water and collect around 700 adult large mouth bass," Axsom says. "The fish will be taken to an off-site location and held to restock the lake."
In early October the plan is to close the dam and then treat the lake with a chemical that will kill the remaining fish.
Axom says the chemical will sit in the water for about 10 days and then break down naturally and lose its toxicity.
At that time officials will test the water, and once it is safe will begin restocking the lake.
Once the initial restocking is cone, officials will close the dam gates and the lake will be refilled.
Axom say, if the area has a normal winter, the lake could be back to normal levels by April.
Then the large mouth bass will be returned to West Boggs and DNR will do some additional restocking in the spring.
The new fish are being paid for by fishermen out of the money raised by people who purchase fishing licenses.
When it is complete the lake is expected to have a mix of large mouth bass, channel catfish, black crappie, redear sunfish and bluegill.
With the removal of the gizzard shad, the fish will not have to compete for food, allowing them to grow to record numbers.
"By the end of next summer the blue gill will be at three inch size, by the next year some will be five-inch and after three years fisherman will see seven-inch blue gill," Axom says.
Axom expects it to take two years for the bass population to recover allowing anglers to be featured in fishing magazines.
While water levels are down official will be working on the boat ramps.
"Property owners can also use this time to do work on their own ramps and docks," Axom added.
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