This 21-inch largemouth bass was caught in an Iron County lake by Father Jeffery Kurtz of Crystal Falls. (Ziegler photo)
By Bill Ziegler For the Iron County Reporter
IRON COUNTY—The heat of summer slows fishing success for many local game fish.
Largemouth bass are an exception to that trend and are becoming a more popular local fishery.
Largemouth bass are not native to the Upper Peninsula; their range was expanded further north by widespread historical stocking.
For example, largemouth bass were first planted in Winslow and Emily lakes in Iron County and Dickinson County’s Lake Antoine during the 1930s.
Most of the area lakes that have largemouth bass had them introduced by stocking during that time period. Sometimes those introductions established and dominated native species like smallmouth bass and walleye
Local DNR bass surveys have indicated that when largemouth and smallmouth bass are both present in a lake sometimes one species population appears to dominate the other for a few years.
Sometimes this relationship changes back and forth in terms of bass species dominance.
One example is the Fortune Lake chain where this alternating species dominance has been evident over the last 25 years.
At Fortune Lakes, the largemouth population was higher during the late 1980s and early 1990s. and by 1996, largemouth had started to drop back as smallmouth increased in abundance.
Smallmouth abundance has increased in many of the local lakes in the past decade.
At Winslow Lake, largemouths were introduced. Smallmouth bass had been present in the initial lake survey prior to the introduction of largemouth and were not found again until recent fisheries surveys there.
Bass fishing regulations changed back in 1993, and the state minimum size limit was increased from 12 inches to 14 inches.
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