Bingham Lake is a 274-acre lake located near the City of Bingham Lake in Cottonwood County. Bingham Lake has a maximum depth of 10.0 feet, a shoreline length of 3.2 miles, and is a class 43 lake. The Cottonwood County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) applied for a Clean Water Partnership grant with the Pollution Control Agency in 2010 but was unsuccessful. We will continue to encourage and work with the SWCD to apply for the grant again in 2011. The lake is managed primarily for walleye while largemouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish, black crappie, and northern pike are managed secondarily. Bingham has been treated annually for several years with copper sulphate to control algae blooms. There was a die-off of algae resulting in low oxygen levels due to the decomposition of the algae during the summer of 2008 causing a fairly significant summerkill on the lake. Oxygen levels were below 2 parts per million (ppm) and numerous dead walleye, channel catfish, and fathead minnows were observed.
The walleye population has recovered from the summerkill in 2008. Walleye numbers are higher than they have ever been on Bingham Lake since we have been doing population assessments on the lake. The walleye gill net catch rate was 32.0 compared to 3.7 in 2006 and 1.3 in 2002. No walleye were sampled when we did a special survey in 2008 to assess the extent of the summerkill. The walleye sampled in 2010 had total lengths ranging from 12.3 to 18.2 inches, with an average length of 15.9 inches. The majority of fish were in the 15 to 18 inch range. The fishery will likely provide some good fishing for walleye in the next few years.
The yellow perch population is also doing very well in Bingham Lake. The gill net catch rate of 20.5 fish per net was down slightly from the survey in 2006, but considered very good for lakes similar to Bingham Lake. Lengths of yellow perch caught in our gill nets in 2010 ranged from 9.1 to 12.2 inches and averaged 10.9 inches. Many of the yellow perch were in the 11 to 12 inch range. These sizes of fish are highly desirable for anglers.
Black crappie numbers are up some when compared to the other fish surveys done on Bingham Lake and are about what we would expect for lakes similar to Bingham. Lengths of black crappie caught in gill nets ranged from 4.6 to 10.8 inches and had an average length of 8.4 inches.
Black bullhead have provided excellent fishing opportunities in the past on Bingham Lake and based on our fish survey results, should provide excellent opportunities in the future. Good numbers of large black bullhead were caught in our nets in 2010. Lengths of black bullhead caught in trap nets ranged from 6.1 to 15.4 inches and averaged 11.3 inches. The majority of black bullhead caught were in the 11 to 13 inch range. The summerkill in 2008 had little effect on the black bullhead population.
Other fish sampled during the fish survey included bigmouth buffalo, channel catfish, common carp, pumpkinseed, fathead minnow, orangespotted sunfish, and johnny darter.
To maintain a healthy fishery in Bingham Lake; we need to promote Best Management Practices (BMP's) within the watershed to help reduce nutrients entering the lake. High nutrients and sediments in a lake can cause algae blooms and reduce water clarity.