Lake Campbell fishing history to be discussed at wildlife federation infolunch

Courtesy photo: This vintage fishing photo at the Lake Campbell Sportsmen’s Club shoreline shows eroding banks. A shoreline stabilization program was undertaken in the 1970s to protect property and reduce lake sedimentation.

BROOKINGS – The Brookings Wildlife Federation will host the president of the Lake Campbell Sportsmen’s Club, Chuck Berry. 

Berry, an SDSU professor emeritus and fisheries scientist will talk about the history of fishing and fish management and conservation at Lake Campbell, including the status of the 24 fish species currently present.

The infolunch will be held at the Outdoor Adventure Center, 2810 22nd Ave., at noon on Friday. A light lunch will be available for a free-will donation.

Berry has combed Lake Campbell information from old newspapers, the historical files of the Sportsmen’s Club (founded in 1958), records of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, the Brookings County Museum and from interviews with old-timers.

An 1890 Brookings newspaper has this: “Fishing at Lake Campbell is all the rage these days.” The account went on to say “The greedy pickerel is said to be quite susceptible to the charms of a brightly colored spoon hook.”

Berry will show that fishing is still popular at Lake Campbell both in the summer and winter. He will take attendees fishing on Lake Campbell from the northern boat ramp to the south-end bridge and into an ice shanty.

He will also cover the state’s fisheries management programs through time. GFP manages fish with stocking, enforcement, monitoring and fishing regulations, with cooperation from the sportsmen’s club and lake association. GFP has been stocking the Lake since 1919; but the lake was first stocked by the Federal Government in 1885 when largemouth bass were delivered by railroad.

Berry has selected several fish species that have particularly colorful histories and ecologies. Northern pike were the subject of a harrowing game warden story told by former Conservation Officer Don McCrea.

A 50-pound buffalo fish was wrestled from the lake in the 1890s; new information about buffalo fish indicates that they can live for over 100 years.

The common carp of Lake Campbell have been the subject of a TV show and a fishing derby. In 2014, 75,000 pounds of carp were seined by a commercial fisherman and shipped to fish markets. Berry will follow the trail of the harvested carp to the dinner table, fish hatchery, and vegetable garden. And, many current lake residents recall the cleanup of the massive carp winterkill in the early 2000s. Both the sportsmen’s club and the lake association have tried to help the GFP to improve water quality and fishing by building a dam (three times!), adding winter aeration, and dredging the lake. The association funded 1) lakeside residents who wanted to stabilize shorelines, and 2) landowners who wanted to improve land use in the Battle Creek watershed.

The BWF is affiliated with the South Dakota Wildlife Federation and the National Wildlife Federation. The BWF is in its 42nd year of supplying conservation information and activities to the Brookings community. For more information, contact BWF President Bob Kurtz at 605-695-1361.

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