Kelly & Dudley Lake is a small (128 acre) lake located approximately 2 miles east of the town of Shieldsville in Rice County. It has a maximum depth of 60 feet, with approximately 66% of the lake classified as littoral area. Kelly & Dudley Lake is primarily managed for Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, and Northern Pike and secondarily for Black Crappie. The management plan includes no stocking of any kind. Kelly & Dudley Lake was surveyed the week of June 6, 2016 as part of a regular monitoring program conducted by the Minnesota DNR. This survey was intended to assess the fish community by deploying 5 gill nets and 11 trap nets, as well as recording water quality parameters.
A total of 483 Bluegills were sampled with trap nets for a catch rate of 43.9/net, which represents the lowest catch rate since 1993. Since 1986, catch rates have varied from 14.3/net in 1988 to 203.0/net in 2006 with an average of 84.2/net. In 2016, lengths ranged from 3.0 to 8.4 inches with an average of 6.0 inches. An additional 93 Bluegills ranging from 4.1 to 7.3 inches long were sampled with gill nets. Fish from both gears ranged from 2 to 11 years old with 9 year-classes present. Approximately 56% were 5 and 7 year old fish. On average, fish did not exceed 6 inches until 6 years old, indicating poor growth relative to other area lakes. Overall, Bluegills in Kelly & Dudley Lake remained abundant and small in 2016.
A total of 55 Largemouth Bass were sampled with boat electrofishing for a catch rate of 50.2/hour. This was only the second time using electrofishing to sample Largemouth Bass in Kelly & Dudley Lake. The previous sample was conducted in 2007 where we caught 43.5/hour. Lengths in 2016 ranged from 3.0 to 20.1 inches with an average of 10.8 inches. Three additional fish ranging from 12.7 to 13.7 inches were sampled with gill and trap nets. Fish from all gears ranged from 1 to 11 years old with 11 year-classes present. Two and three year old fish comprised 44% of the sample. On average, fish did not exceed 12.0 inches until 6 years old, indicating moderate growth. In 2016, the Largemouth Bass population in Kelly & Dudley Lake remained stable and diverse, with memorable length fish (? 20.0 inches) present.
A total of 26 Northern Pike were sampled with gill nets for a catch rate of 5.2/net, which represented the lowest catch rate since 1996. The highest catches on record were recorded in 2006 (10.7/net) during the experimental 30 inch minimum length regulation period and in 2011 (10.0/net) only 3 years after the regulation was discontinued. Before the regulation between 1986 and 1996 catch rates averaged just 4.9/net. Sizes were favorable and fish ranged from 2 to 12 years old with 9 year-classes present. On average, fish did not exceed 21.0 inches until 4 years old, indicating slow growth relative to other area lakes. Overall, in 2016 the Northern Pike population returned to pre-special regulation levels and was dominated by slow growing fish.
Just 19 Black Crappies ranging from 6.9 to 12.0 inches were sampled with trap nets for a catch rate of 1.8/net. Since 1986, Black Crappies have not been sampled at a high rate, averaging just 1.2/net over that time. Fish ranged from 2 to 9 years old with 8 year-classes present. On average, fish did not exceed 8.0 inches until 5 years old, indicating slow growth relative to other area lakes. Black Crappies remained a small but fishable member of the Kelly & Dudley Lake fish community.
Only 2 Yellow Perch were sampled with gill nets for a catch rate of 0.4/net. Since 1986, catch rates have varied from 0/net in 1986, 1987, and 1996 to 2.8/net in 1993 with an average of 0.8/net. The absence of a viable Yellow Perch population remains a concern in the lake and is likely responsible for slow growing Northern Pike.
Both Black and Yellow Bullheads were sampled lightly in 2016, with respective gill net catch rates of 0/net and 0.6/net. This was consistent with catch rates since 1986, where Black Bullheads averaged just 0.2/net and Yellow Bullheads averaged 2.2/net. Although Bullheads can play a positive part in a fish community, high abundance of either species is usually considered undesirable. For that reason, the low catch rates of both species in Kelly & Dudley was considered favorable to fish management goals.
Since 1986, very few Common Carp have been sampled in Kelly & Dudley Lake. None were sampled in 2016, although some were observed during the boat electrofishing sample on May 5, 2016. Common Carp are nonnative and can negatively impact a lake in a number of ways. However, in 2016 they continued to maintain a low presence in the lake, limiting their impact.
Other species sampled in 2016 include Bowfin, Brown Bullhead, Pumpkinseed, and Hybrid sunfish.
Anglers can play an important role in maintaining or improving a fish population by practicing selective harvest. Selective harvest allows for the harvest of smaller fish for consumption, while encouraging the release of medium to large fish that may contribute to natural recruitment. This practice helps maintain balance in the fish community and provides anglers the opportunity to catch more and larger fish in the future. Additionally, smaller fish often taste better and have fewer contaminants than larger, older fish from the same water body.
Shoreline property owners also play an important role in the overall health of an aquatic ecosystem, including the fish population. Natural shorelines, including vegetation, woody debris, and bottom substrates, provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, help maintain water quality, and reduce bank erosion. By leaving natural shorelines unaltered or restoring them to natural conditions, shoreline property owners are doing their part to maintain or improve a healthy ecosystem in the lake and protect the resource for future generations.
-Sky Wigen, Fisheries Specialist