Three area lakes to be stocked with black crappie
The Ministry of Natural Resources plans to stock three area lakes with black crappie, a popular sport fish.
The ministry is inviting public comment on the proposal and comments can be sent in within the next 30 days.
According to fisheries biologist Stephen Scholten, the fish have already been illegally introduced to some area lakes and there are confirmed populations in the waters south of here.
The three lakes to be stocked are Prospect Lake, near Vankoughnet, and Morrison and Muldrew lakes in Gravenhurst.
Scholten said he doesn’t expect the introduction of the fish to have any negative impact on the ecosystem of the lakes. The existing fish communities are dominated by other non-native species.
“There seems to be quite a bit of interest in crappie fishing,” he said. “They have been introduced, either illegally or accidentally, into area lakes.”
He said the ministry’s plan is to introduce the fish to the lakes in a controlled manner to prevent possible problems from illegal stocking.
“They’re good sport fish, good to eat and catchable in the winter,” said Scholten, describing the fish as a larger member of the sunfish family.
They are not currently in the three lakes, but are in the lakes that are downstream, including the Kahshe River and Severn River watershed.
“Knowing they’re already present downstream was a big factor … if they do disperse they will go to waters where they are already present.”
The biologist said the MNR studies scientific literature and existing populations to determine what impact the introduction of the species will have.
“We use experience from other waters to choose which lakes are suitable to support them,” he said, adding that there is some evidence crappie will negatively affect walleye populations. “So we have intentionally not chosen lakes where walleye is present.”
Crappie eat bugs, zooplankton and small fish.
“We don’t feel it will put a strain on the ecosystem,” said Scholten.
In part that is because crappie tend to live offshore over deeper water out in the middle of the lake, unlike other fish populations.
“You are adding a new species, there will likely be some impact, competition and predation. But from our experience in other lakes we don’t think there’ll be a major impact.”
Scholten added that the ministry tries to balance preservation of natural ecosystems with providing social benefits for people.
And the introduction of non-native species to area lakes isn’t new.
“A large majority of fish in lakes in this area are introduced fisheries — like bass — in most cases not native.”
Introducing the species in a controlled way reduces the risks of negative impacts such as the inadvertent transfer of other species.
“We recognize they are being introduced without control (presently) — we think intentionally, we don’t know for sure.”
Public comments must be received by Sept. 29 and can be sent to Stephen Scholten, fisheries biologist, Parry Sound District, Ministry of Natural Resources, 1350 High Falls Road, Bracebridge, ON, P1L 1W9, by calling 705-646-5523 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.