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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will install a physical fish barrier on the Brushy Creek Lake spillway this summer to reduce walleye and muskellunge loss during flood events. The lake will be lowered approximately 4 feet for the next two months to allow for construction. The West ramp will still be usable, even after the lake level has been lowered.
The public will not be allowed on the spillway during construction due to increased current around the intake and operation of heavy equipment. Warning signs and buoys will be placed around the intake structure located on the east side of the spillway.
The DNR has collaborated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and researchers at Iowa State University to monitor walleye and muskellunge loss over the Big Creek Lake and Brushy Creek Lake spillways for the past five years. These two lakes provided an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the physical fish barrier that the DNR installed on the Big Creek Lake spillway in 2012.
“The lakes are similar, but Brushy Creek lacked a barrier, which allowed us to compare fish loss between the two systems,” said Ben Dodd, Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist. Preliminary results show that 20 percent of adult walleye and 50 percent of adult muskellunge are lost over the Brushy Creek spillway during flood events, while the adult fish loss has nearly been eliminated at Big Creek.
“The barrier has had a positive impact on walleye and muskellunge fishing at Big Creek and we expect to see the same phenomenon at Brushy Creek,” Dodd said.
Reducing fish loss from lakes is important to provide quality angling and maintain proper predator densities. Walleye and muskellunge populations in Iowa lakes are maintained by annual stockings from the DNR. Reducing fish loss can lower hatchery production costs.