Improving Patoka Lake’s Fish Habitat
Like many of Indiana’s large reservoirs, Patoka Lake is more than 40 years old. This southern Indiana lake was built in 1972 for flood control and is Indiana’s second largest reservoir. When the lake was created, much of the flooded timber and submerged vegetation provided excellent fish habitat. But four decades of degradation has left a barren lake bottom that is not ideal for aquatic life.
To supplement fish habitat, the DNR added Patoka Lake to its program that enhances aquatic habitat through shoreline stabilization, dredging, and the installation of underwater structures.
In December 2019, 33 independent volunteers and members of the Indiana Bass Federation and the Bass Unlimited Foundation helped DNR build 130 pallet fish habitat structures. Also in 2019, the Tri-County Bass Anglers Club built 40 fish habitat structures with a grant from the Friends of Reservoirs group. The club received the grant again in 2020 and plans to create even more fish habitat structures to help improve aquatic life in Patoka this year.
In March 2020, DNR built 88 more pallet structures. Between the 2019 and 2020 build events, 243 fish habitat structures were placed. Additionally, DNR State Parks staff felled 253 dead and hazardous trees into the water to increase fish habitat close to shore.
These habitat improvements would not be possible without the help of those who volunteered their time and donated materials. All pallets were donated by one or more of the following organizations:
- Jasper Group
- Dubois County Sportsmen’s Club
- French Lick Resort
- Bass Unlimited Foundation
- Indiana Bass Federation’s (IBF) Tri-County Bass Anglers Club
- IBF’s River City Bassmasters Club
- Patoka Hills Chapter of Quail and Upland Game Alliance
- Kimball Electronics
- Peak Toolworks
More than 1,500 cinderblocks were donated by Dubois County Block and Brick to sink the pallet structures.
Thanks to all who contributed. Once complete, the project will have placed a total of more than 400 structures. At wildlife.IN.gov
, one can navigate to a final map with structure and felled-tree locations, information about past projects, structure location maps, and work plans for future fish habitat projects.