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Apr 13, 2011 1:54 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Some Healthy Fish Species Found In Mill Pond

Apr 13, 2011 1:54 PM

The commercial fishermen whom the Southampton Town Trustees have enlisted to help them rid Mill Pond of carp have not found the big numbers of adult carp they expected. What they have found, however, is something they were not expecting in light of the fish kill that took place in the pond three years ago: largemouth bass.

Father-and-son team Dan and George Schellinger told the Trustees last week that the seine nets they have been deploying in Mill Pond on a regular basis have caught lots of small carp and 400 to 500 big adult carp, fish weighing up to 25 pounds. The Trustees were expecting to have to rid the pond of many thousands of carp. But the nets have also been snaring some largemouth bass up to 3 pounds and many very young bass, just 6 inches long.

“That’s very encouraging that there are some bass,” Trustee Jon Semlear said. “We were thinking there were none left in there.”

The fish kill in September 2008 left the shores of the pond rimmed with thousands of dead fish after a late summer cold snap set off an ecological chain reaction that starved the troubled lake of oxygen. Carp were thought to be the only species that had survived. And perhaps they were.

Though the Schellingers caught many largemouth bass, which were freed from the seine nets and returned to the water, and some catfish and yellow perch, it is possible that fishermen who have been restocking the lake with gamefish on their own could be the source of the remaining bass. Alternately, the smaller bass could have been fingerlings at the time of the fish kill and survived in the temporary low-oxygen condition.

“I think 99 percent didn’t survive,” said Steve Lerner, a resident and member of the lakeside citizens group Friends of Lake Nowedonah. “I know people have been putting fish in there. It’s fish from other ponds, and that’s okay, as long as they are not stunted fish.”

Mr. Semlear noted that the Trustees have expressly asked that fish not be put back into the pond while they try to figure out how to proceed with addressing the chronic water quality problems that led to the fish kill in the first place. He noted that a fish kill rarely kills all the fish in a pond and speculated that some of the fish survived and have been spawning, the source of the smaller fish.

A consultant to the Trustees, Jim Walker, as well as the members of the Friends of Lake Nowedonah, had advocated for the use of a chemical poison to be used to kill off all the carp in the pond—also killing whatever other fish species were still living there. With the carp gone, Mr. Walker said, the Trustees could reintroduce native aquatic plants that keep water oxygenated without fear that the carp would eat them.

The Trustees wrote off the use of the chemical and are seeking to rid the pond of carp manually, with the Schellingers’ nets. The fishermen have been selling the larger carp at the fish market in New York City for a profit. The smaller carp, which are not valuable, have been disposed of in a Dumpster placed by the Trustees near the boat launch at Eric and Peter Corwith Memorial Park.

Dan Schellinger told the Trustees that he thinks the larger carp will begin to gather near the shoreline of the pond, where they can be caught more easily, as the water warms up and the spawning season nears.

“They’re not stupid fish, they’re afraid of the nets,” his father, George, said. “We’ve gotten 500 fish, but we’ll keep checking it. We don’t want them to go and disappear on us.”

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Editor -- please post links to previous articles.

Page one of this article refers to Jim Walker as a consultant. Does Mr. Walker still work for the same environmental consulting firm, which was previously mentioned in earlier articles? If so, why was this firm not mentioned above? Does this firm still stand by its previous recommendation to do a mass poisoning of the larger upland and downstream ecosystems?

Is everyone encouraged by the fact that mass poisoning was not required ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Apr 14, 11 6:27 PM
Don’t surprise me and is evidence that carp don’t destroy bass populations. The bass enjoy eating the baby carp and do quite well. Most of what you hair about carp from the fish and wildlife services is miss information. The problem in this lake is overpopulation maybe because of no fishing access or those that eat carp don’t now about the lake because of the location. A better method of control would be first demand the DEC to impose slot limits in NEW York state o carp this ...more
By robm1093 (6), franklin sq on Apr 17, 11 8:58 AM
Also they did not catch 400 to 500 carp over 20 lb. they caught a few that size, The rest wer all smaller, I seen the article in New day. In an over populated lake like that verey few fish grow that large.
By robm1093 (6), franklin sq on Apr 17, 11 9:23 AM