Area Lake Projects are Making a Difference

Positive Albert Lea by Jason Howland

I'm a fisherman. It's my passion. I love the sport. And on top of that, I enjoy feeding my competitive drive by contending against some of the best anglers in the Midwest in bass fishing tournaments. I've won thousands of dollars in bass fishing tournaments, and I qualified and competed in the prestigious All-American tournament in 2013, finishing in 11th place.

With a lake right in the center of the city, fishing was one of the main reasons I chose to make my home in Albert Lea. You'll find me at least once a week in my bass boat on Fountain Lake. A few years ago, that wasn't the case. Once summer arrived, the lake was nearly unfishable. Water clarity was terrible and the bass just didn't bite. I was relegated to fishing other lakes in the area and only fishing Fountain Lake in the spring or fall.

From a fisherman's perspective, so much has changed for the better on Fountain Lake in just the last couple of years. I've seen a rapid and drastic improvement. The water is much cleaner and clearer. There is actually native aquatic vegetation growing in some areas of the lake, which any fisherman will tell you is great habitat for the fish. Ten or even five years ago, it was a very different story. In 2007, I volunteered to be a "water watchdog" and took water samples and secchi disk measurements of Fountain Lake. It was not a pretty picture at that time. The lake was downright dirty, and in the summer months, the algae growth was so overwhelming that the waters of Fountain Lake were more comparable to pea soup.

So, it irked me quite a bit to read a headline in the Star Tribune this past week that said "Green scum and fish kills have Albert Lea on edge." From my experience on the water, it's simply not true. Kudos to the Shell Rock River Watershed District, the Minnesota DNR and the city of Albert Lea for their commitment to improving water quality. The projects that have been done over the past decade are starting to show the fruits of their labor. It is making a difference.

I'm also looking forward to the dredging project finally happening on Fountain Lake. The lake has badly silted in near inlets like Wedge Creek, Dane Bay, Bancroft Bay and the Brookside channel over the past few decades. Now that the water is cleaner, dredging will only improve the fishing. Hopefully, the DNR or the local sportsman's club get involved by placing some offshore structure for the fish, such as rock piles or other man-made fish structures in some of the deeper dredged areas.

The local bass club is hosting a small team bass fishing tournament today on Fountain Lake. I invite anyone who would like to see some of the great fish that swim in Fountain Lake waters to attend the 3 p.m. weigh-in at the Brookside boat landing. All of the teams' catches will be weighed and then released back into the lake -so you can catch them the next time.

© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007