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Packed to the Gills: Lake Yahou Welcomes Carp, Catfish, Coppernose Bluegill Following State Testing

On the morning of Tuesday, August 16, a representative from Davis Fish Farms arrived at Lake Yahou with a truckload of aquatic inhabitants: 3,200 Coppernose bluegill, 800 channel catfish, and 20 grass carp. This delivery marked the initial phase of a plan to uphold the health and vibrancy of Lake Yahou, guided by the recommendations of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).

In the summer of 2019, the 8-acre lake welcomed 800 bass, as well as bluegill and minnows, as part of its aquatic community. However, a year after Lake Yahou Park's grand opening to the public in 2022, the McClellan Development Authority (MDA) decided it was time to take advantage of the free lake testing performed by the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of ADCNR.

On May 9, 2023, biologists carried out an electrofishing survey, using mild electric currents to temporarily immobilize a population of fish for study. This method, coupled with water sample analysis, painted a clear picture of the lake's ecosystem to biologists, who proposed a scientific approach to improve the lake's vegetal habitat and ecological balance in an official report for the MDA.

The results of the survey offered practical solutions such as distributing agricultural limestone to regulate water pH (a process known as liming) and launching a fertilization program aimed at stimulating plankton growth and maintaining water clarity within a desired range of 18-24 inches. Additionally, biologists suggested stocking grass carp and channel catfish to enrich Lake Yahou's aquatic food chain.

Under the ADCNR's advice, the MDA initiated this biology-based program, beginning with the introduction of carp and catfish (and more bite-size bluegill for the bass to eat) this week. In the spring, they plan to spread agricultural limestone, followed by fertilization in the summer of 2024—a pragmatic approach to freshwater fishing sustainability that reinforces Lake Yahou's health and quality just as much as its scenic beauty.

Lake Yahou Park is currently catch-and-release only, but, as the fish mature, the MDA plans to allow select harvest days, another ADCNR suggestion. A $5 permit is required to fish at Lake Yahou, which can be purchased from the MDA office at 4975 Bains Gap Road, Anniston, AL.


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