The fish of DePauw's Nature Park.
Bluegills are the most common fish in the quarry pond. Their most noticeable feature is their blue or black “ear”, which is actually part of the covering over their gills. Their round and short body is also a distinctive feature. There is a large population of bluegill in the pond. They seem quite tame because they will readily come up to you or may even follow you as you walk along the road across the pond. We speculate that the population of bluegill may be too high because the fish seem stunted in their growth. We could control the population by allowing fishing at the Nature Park, but it would be best to do a complete survey of the pond’s fish before we allow fishing.
Carp are like giant goldfish. They aren't common in the pond – only 5 or 6 have been seen – but they are considered to be a pest. They grow to an enormous size – carp almost 3 feet long have been seen in the quarry pond. Indeed carp are considered to be a prize fish because they grow so large. Why are they a problem? The carp are bottom feeders; they stir up the sediments and make the water more cloudy, creating problems for other fish. Carp destroy bluegill nests and readily outcompete other fish for food resources. If the carp population increases, then the lake may become too muddy for other fish to survive.
There are a few bass in the quarry pond. These have more of a normal “fish” shape, long and thin, vs. the round shape of the bluegill, and they aren’t as large as the carp. Like the bluegill in the pond, the bass also seem to be stunted, perhaps from overpopulation or insufficient resources. Most of the bass in the quarry pond are probably large-mouth bass, but there are also a few small-mouth bass.
Bottom line? It seems like there’s some hungry fish in the pond. We ask that you please don’t feed the fish while you’re here. We prefer to keep the conditions as-is for now, until we have a chance to do some surveys, and then we may make management recommendations, like allowing fishing on a limited basis. We may even have some fish fries. We hear bluegill are good to eat. Bluegill are also known as panfish, referring to how they’re cooked!