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A once-popular fishing lake in Dane County that has fallen on hard times because of carp will get a new start.

The Department of Natural Resources will be treating Indian Lake with the chemical compound rotenone on Tuesday, killing all of the fish in the lake that haven't already died off because of winter kill.

After the fish die off and decompose under the ice, the lake will be ready in spring for restocking of game fish and pan fish when the ice is gone. Walleye, largemouth bass, northern pike and bluegills will be stocked.

Indian Lake is in the town of Berry in northwest Dane County, in a 485-acre county park that's one of the more popular parks in the Madison area.

"Historically, Indian Lake has been a quality bass and bluegill fishery," said DNR regional fisheries supervisor David Rowe. "This project's goal is to restore the lake's water quality and fishery."

Carp have overtaken the shallow lake because dissolved oxygen levels drop to such a low point in winter that game fish can't survive.

"The treatment will kill all of the fish in the lake, but the most desirable fish aren't there anyway," Rowe told

Rowe also said the public won't notice the fish die-off, if ice stays on the lake long enough for the fish to decompose and sink. If the lake ice goes out quicker than expected, the dead fish will be collected and disposed of.

The DNR plans to stock 1,600 largemouth bass fingerlings, 1,300 northern pike fry and about 3,000 bluegill fingerlings in Indian Lake, with Dane County also providing walleye and northern pike fry.

The carp removal should also improve water quality in Indian Lake, because there won't be carp to stir up the bottom, making it harder for aquatic plants to grow.

"The water quality should improve immediately, but it will take about 2 to 3 years after fish stocking to fully recover the fishery," Rowe said.

"The prospects for a successful project are good, and people can look forward to a healthy lake and balanced fishery in the years to come," he said.


Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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