Relaxed Fishing Regulations at Lake Darling

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Relaxed Fishing Regulations at Lake Darling BRIGHTON – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will relax the fishing regulations at Lake Darling on September 12, to allow anglers to more freely harvest fish before the lake is completely drained to repair a spillway leak, extend the dam, and to perform a lake restoration project. The lake water level is currently in slow decline due to the loss of water through the spillway.

The valve gate, however, will be completely opened in late fall or early winter to facilitate dewatering activities that will result in a full pool draw-down.

“We decided to empty the lake because the integrity of the dam has been compromised by a nearly four-million gallons per day spillway leak, as well as the impending need for a large-scale lake restoration,” said Chad Dolan, area fisheries biologist for the DNR.

Dolan said the water quality of Lake Darling has degraded over time due to sediment and nutrient inputs from the large watershed. The lake also has a substantial population of common carp that has contributed to sediment resuspension and further reductions in water clarity. Efforts will be made to collect and relocate the lake’s quality game fish to park ponds or to other state-managed waters. Planned lake and watershed restoration activities will ultimately benefit water quality, and subsequently, achieve a more desirable fish community in the future.

On September 12, anglers with a valid fishing license may harvest all sizes and unlimited quantities of any fish species from Lake Darling. Any number of fishing poles or jugs will be allowed, but anglers must remain in sight of these lines at all times and follow all other fishing regulations and area rules. Trot lines will be allowed (name and address must be attached); however, lines may not be set across the entire water body. Nets, dynamite, poison, electric shocking devices, or any stupefying substances will not be allowed. It is illegal to sell fish or stock captured fish into public waters, but sportfish can be stocked in private lakes and ponds. It is important that anglers never transport and release common carp, or for that matter, any other nuisance fish species into any aquatic system.

The normal park hours of 4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. will remain in effect. Anglers may fish anywhere within the lake as water levels should permit fishing from the bank and boats for the foreseeable future; however, access ramps will be exposed a few weeks after commencement of draw-down activities preventing further boat-fishing. Liberalized fishing regulations for Lake Darling will remain in effect until the lake is drained.

Sediment control structures such as ponds, terraces, and risers are already constructed in the watershed, and more are planned for the future. The fishery renovation is also part of the process to improve the lake’s water quality. The lake restoration project includes stabilizing shoreline erosion problems, removing sediment, increasing the pool elevation of the lake, constructing in-lake fish habitat, constructing and repairing jetties, deepening shoreline and repairing the dam.

The lake will remain dewatered throughout the construction period which is expected to last through 2009, or potentially longer, depending on the weather impacts on construction activities. During this juncture, all watershed and in-lake construction projects will be completed. Fish will be restocked once construction has ceased and the lake’s water elevation returns to normal. Users should expect limited access to the lake until normal lake water elevation returns in 2010.