Fish and Fishing

30 May 2022

If you take a walk around Lyman Lakes or the Cannon River these days, you can see many anglers. Indeed, with the nice weather and lack of mosquitoes, fishing could be the most enjoyable activity in nature around the waters.

Fish are pretty abundant in the Lyman Lakes, and they primarily come from four families. There are the sunfishes (Centrarchida) such as crappies, bluegills, and green sunfish; the catfishes (Ictaluridae) such as black bullheads; the suckers (Catostomidae) such as white suckers; and the carp (Cyprinidae) such as golden shiners and common carp. The Cannon River has more different species in these families and others, including the highly sought-after walleye and northern pike.

Common carp is non-native and invasive. I can frequently see them in the Lyman Lakes because they are really huge and easy to spot when the lake is clear, and they characteristically jump out of the water a lot. Common carp are voracious feeders that churn up lake sediments, which stimulate algal blooms. They uproot aquatic vegetation, hence increasing water turbidity. Their burrowing also destroys habitats for native waterfowl, fish, and amphibian species. Thankfully, their population can be kept in check by an abundance of bluegills, which eat carp eggs and larvae.

An environmentalist might also worry about overfishing given the popularity of the activity. To address that concern, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conducts frequent surveys to monitor fish populations. The department also requires anglers to purchase fishing licenses and follow specific possession limits based on species and location.

Thoreau once said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Like activities such as bird-watching and looking for wildflowers, fishing offers a meditative break from our busy lives and a way to immerse in and connect with nature. Hopefully, everybody finds their own way to appreciate nature in the wonderful spring.

–Walt Li ’23, for the Cole Student Naturalists

Green Sunfish from Lyman Lakes
Green Sunfish from Lyman Lakes by Walt Li ’23

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