Fish Stock: Kendallville man hopes to supply Lake Bixler with more fish | News Sun


KENDALLVILLE – When you go fishing, you want to catch something, don’t you?

Well, Charles Waltemath of Kendallville wants to make sure more people casting their lines at Bixler Lake have that experience.

What started as a conversation with elders around the lake quickly turned into a petition with hundreds of names in an effort to get the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to take a look at the lake. Bixler and to consider stocking new fish there.

Now Waltemath hopes to get help from city officials to make the right connections and make Lake Bixler even more of a resource and recreation spot than it already is.

“I just saw the depletion of these lakes in my life because I fished them all. It’s been one of my hobbies since I was a baby,” Waltemath said.

Waltemath grew up in North Manchester and has lived in Kendallville for about two years, but his angling experience spans decades and spans all of Northeast Indiana. It fishes many lakes in the area and hits some good lakes and other places where there isn’t much to it.

Bixler Lake has fish, don’t get me wrong. But the variety, number and sizes leave something to be desired.

There are bass and walleye, carp and crappie, perch, catfish, northern pike and bluegill.

In the eyes of the fisherman of Waltemath, he looks at what is out there and what the fishermen are fishing for and sees a problem. Sounds like a predator problem to him, as many fish don’t get very big.

As he began researching online, Waltemath thinks it’s been about 20 years or more since state biologists seriously looked at Bixler and stocked him with fish.

The DNR’s stocking database — where people can look up which lakes the state is stocking, with what, and when — doesn’t even have Lake Bixler as an option.

Noble County’s first entries in a search date back to 2015, but Bixler isn’t one of them. The state stocks Sylvan Lake with walleye each year and Little Long Lake, Knapp Lake and Round Lake have also been stocked with walleye for the past seven years. Sand Lake gets rainbow trout. Skinner Lake and Upper Long Lakes receive muskellunge.

Bixler Lake? No.

“I just want to be able to catch a fish when I go fishing that I can take home and eat,” Waltemath said.

Turns out a lot of people agree.

After talking to locals, Waltemath started a petition campaign, circulating it, getting signatures, and leaving copies at Exotic Aquatics, The II Amendment, and Marathon’s two gas stations.

Within days he had picked up a few hundred names and was shooting for more than 2,000. He dropped off petitions at local factories and is collecting even more signatures this week.

“I want everyone in town to sign it. I already have a few hundred signatures, I could use a few hundred more,” he said. “The more signatures, the more attention you get.”

On Tuesday evening, Waltemath came to the Kendallville City Council meeting to share his thoughts and petition campaign with Mayor Suzanne Handshoe and the council.

“I didn’t even expect this to happen,” he said Tuesday night of his petition campaign. “I was fishing and talking to a few elders. …It’s so sad because the lake has been abandoned for so long.

Handshoe noted that while the city technically owns Lake Bixler, its water management falls under MNR. The city has dredged the channel many times over the years and does weekly water testing because it has public beaches, so it needs to do regular testing. coli test. But fish management is beyond the city’s jurisdiction.

As for when the DNR last looked at the fish biology and population, that was an unanswered question, although Waltemath believes that hasn’t been the case since 2001.

Either way, city leaders seemed open to his idea and offered to help get in touch with the DNR. Handshoe offered to meet with him to discuss the matter further and see what next steps could be taken and also suggested he speak to the city park council to talk about the lake.

Both parties agreed that Lake Bixler is an asset and the idea worth exploring.

“A lot of people fish there and walk around the lake and I know a lot of people love it,” Handshoe said.

The wheels have started to turn and Waltemath has other ideas for how Kendallville could improve the lakeside fishing experience as well, but the first idea he rejected seems to be taken so far.

The people of Kendallville pay their fair share of taxes, after all, so Waltemath hopes he can snag the DNR and bring them back to Lake Bixler.

The lake is worth the effort, he says.

“It is so fished in summer and winter. It’s recreation for the city. We have kids growing up on that lake and they go there and spend all day fishing and not catching anything and that makes me sad,” he said.

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