Bella Lake is a reservoir located in southern Nobles County. During an average year, the Lake has a surface area of 182 acres and a maximum depth of 14 feet; however, the lake serves as an aquifer replenishment reservoir for municipal water supplies and fluctuates substantially. In 2002 a new management plan was developed to include white crappie as primary management species, and northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch as species of secondary management.
Bella Lake is primarily managed for white crappie and supports a good population when compared to other similar lakes. Lengths of white crappie were 3.7 to 10.5 inches with a mean of 8.9 inches. While the numbers are extremely high, there are good numbers of respectable sized fish that can be caught. Of the 65 white crappies sampled, 62% of those fish were in the 9 to 10.5 inch range.
The northern pike gill net catch of 1.0 per net was in the lower range for lakes similar to Bella. Lengths of northern pike were 18.4 to 21.9 inches with a mean of 19.7 inches. There was a total of 8 northern pike sampled in this assessment, compared to 1 in 2000. Bella has potential to have a naturally self-sustaining population with the upstream channels and wetlands that connect it to Lake Ocheda. Starting in 2012 we will be stocking 3600 northern pike fingerlings every 3 years in an effort to improve numbers and provide an additional predator on small common carp.
The walleye gill net catch of 4.3 per gill net is in the middle of the road, so-to-speak, for lakes similar to Bella. Lengths of walleye were 6.5 to 17.8 inches with a mean of 12.2 inches. Although the average length is 12.2, 44% of the walleye sampled were 14.0 to 18.1 inches. That being said, the potential is there to catch good "eaters".
The yellow perch gill net catch of 5.0 per net was in the lower range for lakes similar to Bella. Lengths of yellow perch were 5.4 to 8.6 inches with a mean of 6.2 inches. The overall size of yellow perch in Bella are small. This may be due in part to the large black bullhead population, and competition for forage.
The black bullhead gillnet catch of 112.0 per net is well within the upper threshold for lakes similar to Bella. Lengths of black bullhead were 3.8 to 10.2 inches with a mean of 7.0 inches. The yellow bullhead trap net catch of 2.4 per net is also in the upper threshold for lakes similar to Bella. If you are looking for a peaceful wind protected place to catch some nice spring time bullheads, Bella would be a good option.
Other species sample in the 2011 assessment included; black crappie, pumpkinseed, bigmouth buffalo, common carp, freshwater drum, and white sucker.
Prepared by Luke Rossow