I am creating this thread in this forum to focus on the lack of cabbage that developed this year in many Vilas county lakes. This topic had been started in the High Lake thread. I have observed a marked lack of developed tobacco leaved and especially curly leafed cabbage in many Vilas county lakes and instead I have been seeing a type of long stringy type of weed that grows in 9-10 feet of water and forms clumps that grow withing a few feet of the surface, They are so dense that fish cannot move through it. Some theories have been that with the increased rainfall this has caused an increase in tannic acid from some swamps to flow into the lakes decreasing clarity. Could this be the reason for the lack of cabbage. Lake levels are also higher than they have been in 20 years due to the increased rainfall. Lets hear your theories.
"Lack of cabbage in northern Wisconsin Lakes".
I don't want to disrespect the guys at Escanaba, they are experts at fisheries biology. They are a great bunch of guys and they have went out of their way to assist me in educating my students in several field trips that we have conducted there. Earlier this year Greg Sass, who is the head fisheries biologist, and his entire staff deployed 3 fyke nets and set up several other stations so my students could experience what a day in the life of a fisheries biologist entails.
Incidentally, the best reference for lake weeds is "Distribution and Habitat Descriptions of Wisconsin Lake Plants" by Stanley Nichols, published by the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey as Bulletin 96 in 1999.
Strange the DNR guys didn't recognize the flowers of water celery (Vallisneria Americana). Extremely common throughout the state. Here on Mendota, it carpets the bottom this time of year from about 2' out to about 6-7'. Out-competes milfoil in that range, actually; clearly likes sandy/hard bottoms, not mud/silt.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the bulbs of water celery are edible by humans; they look just like green onions.
The plants get uprooted by waterfowl, and I think they just naturally uproot themselves as part of the propagation process. Coots love them. They can absolutely carpet the landings on the windward side of the lake here in September/October, making your trailer pretty comical looking when you pull it out of the water.
Right now, those flowers are much higher than normal here on Mendota, rising over 2' above the fronds. Pretty sure this is because Mendota has been running about 1' above normal pool, and the flowers are reaching towards the surface.
I think this is the same plant referred to as "grass" over on the Mississippi; the annual fall event when this stuff gets uprooted is well noted by the guides over there, as it can make getting a lure into the water for any length of time a challenge.
I think eel grass is a preferred food of some diving ducks. Duck hunters might might want to factor that in this year. Mrt.
Found it. These are the seed pods of eel grass. Not an invasive but I haven't seen it in these areas before.
I made it up to one of the lakes I was seeing the weed that seemed to be crowding out the clasping leafed cabbage. I searched the internet and can't find out what it is. When it was in the water it was standing up straight upexcept it had a corkscrew shape. It appears like the top was shed or broke off but where ever I found this weed it had the same "bud " at the end. Anyone have a guess as to what type of weed this is. The guys at Escanaba didn't recognize it either.
I agree on shortage this year of Cabbage. Oneida county, Lake Tomahawk has a shortage this year making the bass fishing much more challenging. Don't know why though?
I have definately noticed a decline in cabbage weeds in Southern Wi this year. Some lakes, the crappie would always hang in the cabbage in summer, but this year its mostly gone, and the crappie have moved to other types of weed beds. Still finding the crappie, but not in the same spots they have been the last few years. the higher water levels might have some effect. The cabbage seems the happiest when the very tops are near the surface
There could be many reasons with factors unique to each specific body of water being the primary culprit. The rusty crayfish thing is definitely a possibility but I've also seen lakes where those things are not present and the cabbage has taken a hit. The other one based on what type of weed you describe is Eurasian milfoil. Without seeing a picture of it I can't say if it is or isn't but that stuff will choke cabbage out quickly if conditions are right.
The last one I'll mention are spring conditions. If we have a fast spring warm up it seems like the milfoil takes off very fast...faster than a cooler spring. If the milfoil doesn't get an enormous jump on the cabbage, the cabbage can establish itself and the milfoil won't be as thick. Probably a combination of things going on here so you can't just pin it on one.
I can't speak for up north but I've noticed a decline on some lakes in SE WI as far as cabbage goes. All the lakes I've noticed a difference are known to have rusty crayfish within the past few years. An invasive species that outcompete native crayfish, have lower food value than native species, and are known to cut down weeds. Possibly to clear an area to feed?
Link to known lakes with rusty crayfish; http://dnr.wi.gov/lakes/invasives/AISLists.aspx?species=RUSTY_CRAYFISH&groupBy=County