and Marina Complex
One of The Galena Territory's most cherished amenities is Lake Galena, a scenic 225-acre man-made lake perfect for anglers and boaters who enjoy observing nature on leisurely cruises. It boasts some of the best fishing in the area, with an abundance of smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, channel catfish, perch, and tiger muskie. The lake is primarily spring-fed and has a spillway at one end, creating a beautiful 40-foot waterfall called Thunder Bay Falls.
Be sure to watch for its many feathered friends… eagles, owls, ospreys, blue herons, ducks, and wild turkeys. Wildlife, in addition to the abundant fish and turtles, often includes whitetail deer, red fox, beavers, and muskrats.
Association members may dock their boat at one of the Marina's numerous slips, or members and their guests can rent a boat and purchase fishing supplies at the Bait & Tackle Shop. There is also pop, water, and snacks available.
April 1-22, weekends only, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. April 23-May 25, daily, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. May 26-Sept. 4, daily, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sept. 5-Oct. 7, daily, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Oct. 8-29, weekends only, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.
|Fish Crib GPS Coordinates||Fish Crib Map||GTA Fisheries Report|
|Boat Storage/Docking Application||Creel Census Form|
*An amenity card and parking pass are required to access all Galena Territory Association facilities and common properties
(Lake Galena, Thunder Bay Falls, Owners' Club Complex, Greenspace & Trails and both of The Territory refuse centers).
Boat rentalBoats available for rent include pontoons, fishing boats and single and tandem kayaks. Reservations are suggested to ensure availability. All motorized rental boat operators must be 18 years of age and are required to watch a short instructional video at rentalboatsafety.com. A valid driver's license and a GTA proximity card, GTA guest pass or guest identification from Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa is also required. Reserve your boat by clicking on the link below or call the Bait shop at 815-777-2012 during our normal operating hours.
|View Boat Rental Availability|
*Two Hour minimum required.
Marina Half Off
Half Off RentalsLake Galena Marina has half off all rental boats Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. How about a day rate for $300 or a half day rate for $150? Weekends and holidays are excluded from these great offers and we recommend you make reservations to ensure we can meet your needs by calling the Bait Shop at 815-777-2012.
Pickleball at the LakeA paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels that combines many elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.
Players use special paddles and a Wiffle ball, and games take place on courts with specific pickleball lines. Nets and court sizes are smaller than their tennis counterparts, and the most common game is doubles, although singles is also an option. It has its own set of quirky rules — for instance, try to stay out of the “kitchen”— but they’re easy to learn.
The Marina Park Complex also has a picnic pavilion, tennis courts, pickleball courts, and playground for other land-based activities.
|Reserve a Pickleball Court||Find regularly scheduled pickleball times|
RegulationsEven though Lake Galena is a private lake, it is still governed by the state of Illinois and a fishing license is required for all anglers with the following exceptions: persons under 16 years of age, persons declared legally disabled or blind or persons from Illinois on leave from active duty in the Armed Forces. These requirements are strictly enforced by GTA Security and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).
Where can I get a fishing license?Fishing licenses can be obtained from any approved Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) vendor. Walmart in Galena has a terminal in its sporting goods department. Recently IDNR has contracted with exploremoreil.com to assist with all your licensing needs. You can manage and obtain hunting, fishing, and boating permits by visiting exploremoreil.com. Anyone without access to a computer may purchase a license online using one of the guest computers at the Owners’ Club or the Marina internet café. Staff will assist you in setting up your account.
Shoreline fishingAdjacent to the Marina is an area for shoreline fishing, an ADA-compliant fishing pier and a Marina Park Complex. Please note that fishing is not permitted from the docks or from docked boats.
Live baitWhat’s a Marina without bait? The Bait & Tackle Shop sells night crawlers, wax worms, leeches and minnows. Anglers are asked to purchase bait only from certified suppliers or at the GTA Marina to reduce the threat of introducing invasive species into Lake Galena. This action has been recognized as a necessary inconvenience to ensure the protection of one of The Galena Territory’s most magnificent and cherished amenities.
North CoveNorth Cove on Lake Galena is a perfect setting for a family outing. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day fishing from the shoreline. The picnic area is complete with picnic tables, a small pavilion, and barbecue grills. Want to ride your horse to North Cove? Hitching posts are available for your convenience. Please note that boat docking and boat launching are prohibited at North Cove. North Cove is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Thunder Bay Falls ParkThunder Bay Falls Park (TBFP) is located opposite Lake Galena’s spillway and dam. The GTA initiated a park improvement and habitat restoration project at TBFP which is ongoing. Hiking trails are available and fishing is allowed in the stream below the spillway. Two paths traverse the top and the base of the 17-foot-tall by 400-foot long limestone retaining wall that leads to a popular observation point.
Marina LoungeThe Marina Lounge in the upper level of the Bait & Tackle Shop is available for small meetings. Call 815-777-2012 or 815-777-2000 Ext. 117 for more information.
Lake Galena Report
Lake Galena Reports
Lake Galena Reports
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times July 2020Data shows upswing in crappie, walleye and yellow perch
This spring has been unusual at Lake Galena. The weather has been predictably unpredictable. Temperature swings have meandered from highs in the 70s to lows in the 20s over two months.
Several species of fish have attempted to spawn, left the nest and returned, several times. The same pattern has been observed in our fishermen, too. Here in “can’t find a parking spot” droves one day, to an empty parking lot the next. The one undeniable observation: Many members are looking for a safe place to social distance and enjoy time with their families.
Reports from our fishermen and data from Creel Census reports indicate an upswing in the crappie catch as well as significant activity with walleye and yellow perch. The clear water has given the big “sight” hunters an advantage while the ambush hunters like bass are struggling to stay fat. With warmer weather, algae growth will return to normal and bass will once again surprise novice anglers as they attempt to swim away with their crank bait.
If they do run off with your crank bait, spinner, popper or frog, stop in the Tackle & Bait Shop and grab a couple of new ones. We’re open every day, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Labor Day. Natalie and Brett are back for the summer to assist you and train new staff. Stop in and visit with Ben, Michael, Micah, and Tom for a fresh perspective on all of our offerings. Do you miss “Captain Ken” from the Security Department? He’ll be in every Saturday morning to share a fish tale or two and get you on the water.
And when you get on the water, please follow all of our boating and fishing rules. Lake Galena is a no-wake lake with engines restricted to 10 horsepower. You can enter Lake Galena with a bigger motor, but if you turn the key and start that engine it’s a $250 fine. Creel limits have also been established to help maintain the best universal fishery in northern Illinois.
Where else can you go to find trophy bass, both largemouth and smallmouth, trophy tiger muskie, walleye and perch one day and fill a pail with crappie and bluegill slabs the next?
Take a minute before you come to the lake and catch up on all boating and fishing rules at thegalenaterritory.com. Under the Governing Documents section look for General Rules and Regulations and Fees and Fines. The list is pretty short but sets the table for everyone to enjoy what Lake Galena has to offer for years to come.
The Lake Management and Ecology Social Advisory Group has been busy working on ways to continue our event venue this summer and stay within the guidelines set for social distancing. We were encouraged to check out an app-based tournament platform that will help us to safely hold the 4th of July Kid’s Fishing Contest and the Tiger Muskie Tournament.
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times August 2020Save time before launching into Lake Galena
The staff at the Marina have been hard at work providing a safe and welcoming environment for our members and their guests. With boating and floating activities setting a record pace this year it would be prudent to call early and often to reserve any of our rental vessels. Staff also recommends an early arrival the day of your rental as there is required paperwork to complete.
To save a little time you can acquire fishing licenses before arrival and the boat driver can visit rentalboatsafety.com to obtain a rental boat safety certificate required to operate a rental boat in Illinois.
Stop in for a day, an afternoon, or a minute, we look forward to seeing you!
Only members can launch
This season has also been a great time to buy, sell and trade anything that floats. That’s a good thing! But remember, before you drop it in the water here at Lake Galena it must be registered with the Association. Decals and the orange unit and lot numbers are required to be permanently affixed and visible to staff and security. As Lake Galena is private, only members may launch a boat into our lake, guest boats are not permitted.
Monitoring and maintenance
The Lake Management and Ecology Advisory Group (LMEC) have been hard at work again this summer with monitoring and maintenance of Lake Galena. Managing Lake Galena, Small Pox Creek Watershed and our fishery are of the utmost importance. Water quality testing is moving forward again this year following the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program protocols. The EPA has not funded the program this year, but has permitted us to continue to use equipment we have in place.
The Illinois Riverwatch Program has a new director and has provided guidance on how the program will look moving forward. Data obtained through sample collection will be analyzed and recorded to help us moving forward with critical lake maintenance decisions.
Fish crib construction, creel census data gathering, bathymetric mapping and aquatic vegetation management are a few of the processes LMEC members will be concentrating on as summer comes to a close. Soon we will move our focus to fall activities that include electrofishing surveys, shoreline erosion control, and fish-stocking requirements. Good work everyone, keep the data flowing!
Stop invasive species
Boaters who travel from one body of water to another, please take the time to clean aquatic vegetation from your boat and trailer as you exit. Drain all bilge water and live wells before you hit the road. Let your boat completely dry for several days before you enter another body of water. This is critically important to the health of Lake Galena or any body of water. Invasive species can survive in the smallest amount of water and can be transported far and wide aboard your boat. Do your part to stop the spread of invasive species. The lake you save might be your own!
Fishing in today’s world
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, we have learned to do a few things differently. The Spring Bass Classic and the 4th of July Kids’ Fishing Contest were held with the help of a fishing app. The FISHDONKEY app provided an exciting venue for both novice and experienced (smartphone users) fishermen. Sure, there was a learning curve, but isn’t that the case with anything worthwhile? Moving forward this year, we will use the app to manage our new Tiger Muskie Tournament starting Aug. 28 and running through Aug. 30. And possibly, maybe, the Fall Bass Classic.
The fourth annual Kayak 5K is Aug. 8. The event has evolved over the years into a day where friends, family and neighbors can spend a day floating on the flat waters of beautiful Lake Galena. For those with a competitive inclination, you can register and compete in the namesake event, the Kayak 5K. This race will be held at 9 a.m. and will traverse a course that will take you on a journey to the dam and back.
FYI, past winners of the event have completed the course in under 30 minutes. We certainly wouldn’t expect everyone to be that competitive, all skill levels are welcome.
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times September 2020Roll into fall with fishing and kayaking
Here we are rolling into September, summer in the rearview mirror and fall out front over the hood. How about slowing down, hitting the right turn signal and exiting the main drag for a day of back roads?
Or if you prefer, exit the main stream for a day of back waters. If, by chance, you find yourself slowing down in front of the Marina, come on down, cast a few out, toss a few back and enjoy the last remnants of summer.
Great casting and catching
It’s been a great summer for casting and catching with many reports of bigger and better bass being caught. Huge tiger muskie have been landed and many walleye and perch have taken the bait. Crappie fishing has been great of late and the bluegill slabs are finding the plate. Keep those Creel Reports pouring in, the information is extremely important to maintaining our species population.
Wrapping things up
If you’re getting ready to wrap things up for the season, check your orange unit and lot decals on your boat and trailer. If you can’t read them, we can’t either and they are required to be on, visible and legible while plying the waters of Lake Galena. Stop at the Owners’ Club and pick up a set. There is no extra charge, it’s all included in your Galena Territory Association registration fee.
The Lake Management and Ecology Advisory Group has been working hard to monitor and maintain the health of Lake Galena and to grow the fish population.
The most recent activities include the removal of curly leaf pond weed, an invasive aquatic plant that grows early in the season, gathering water samples for the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, building fish structure and habitat and a round of bathymetric mapping.
Fall Bass Classic coming Sept. 19
What’s ahead? “Coming soon to a Lake Galena near you, the Fall Bass Classic!”
We’re looking at another round of FishDonkey.com tournament competition. To register for this great event and earn bragging rights for the year, log on to FishDonkey.com and find Lake Galena Fall Bass Classic.
Other projects on the horizon include shoreline stabilization, more habitat construction, fall fish stocking, and the fall electrofishing survey.
Thank you for your patience and patronage
This has been an exciting and unusual summer at our little Marina. I want to thank everyone for your patience and patronage as we worked out ways to accommodate your needs. The volume of business we experienced was like a holiday weekend, everyday!
Tackle is flying off the shelves and rental boats are disappearing past the fishing pier in a continuous stream. Kayak rentals are off the charts with groups large and small spending hours exploring Lake Galena. Staff is getting a workout hiking to the end of the dock assisting boaters and kayakers get on and off the water safely.
This has been a great opportunity to introduce young and old alike to the world of boating and fishing we all enjoy so much.
Stay safe out there as we see you on the water!
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times October 2020Enjoy the splendor of fall at Lake Galena
The Galena Territory and Lake Galena offer a New England view in a Midwest setting.
The unglaciated topography afforded us here in the Driftless Area is an ideal habitat for oak, maple, cherry, ash, elm and hickory trees. Shrubs and vines, both native and invasive, can produce a color palate unequaled.
Brilliant gold and yellow, deep reds and purple, ambers, browns and green that will hold on to until the end of the season. Nowhere can the beauty of this spectacle be better taken in than here on Lake Galena.
Join us throughout October as we are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every weekend. Need a boat during the week? Just give us a day’s notice and we can get you on the water. Call the main office at 815-777-2000 or send an email, [email protected], to reserve your boat today!
Boating and fishing increased during summer
It's been a challenge this boating season keeping our fleet clean and operational. With fewer options for quality, safe entertainment, many people have taken to spending time on the water. Both boating and fishing activity have exploded to the point that boats and parts are hard to find. Tackle to restock Bait Shop shelves is nearly impossible to find. Thanks to staff members and patrons alike for their patience as we work toward the common goal of doing something, anything, safely and enjoying life a little in the process. It’s been a beautiful summer at Lake Galena, let’s keep poking our heads outdoors and enjoy the beautiful fall as well.
Boats must be removed by Nov. 30
Still looking for winter storage options for your boat? The Galena Territory Association has a beautiful new paved boat storage area and it’s filling up fast! We can pull your boat out, winterize the motor, shrink wrap and store your boat at the Marina. Make arrangements by calling 815-777-2000. All boats must be removed from the lake by Nov. 30.
Shoreline erosion control practices
Preparations are underway to facilitate the recommended shoreline erosion control practices. Substantial repairs will be made to the south shore across from the Marina. This steep bank has suffered from exposure due to constant wave action created by predominantly northwesterly winds and continual boater action. A band of Rip-Rap, slightly above and below the waterline, will reduce the impact of future wave action and provide a solid base for bank stabilization.
The Lake Management and Ecology Advisory Group (LMEC) will continue to build and deploy more fish structure and habitat. Georgia and Shelbyville cubes have been used extensively over the last few years with great success. There is every indication that panfish and sportfish anglers who have located these structures have not been able to keep their line in the water for any length of time without having to remove a fish. Keep up the good work LMEC!
Virtual tourneys hook anglers
The LMEC has worked extensively with FishDonkey.com, a fishing tournament app, to keep anglers busy this season. The Spring and Fall Bass classics, the Kids’ Fishing Contest and the inaugural Lake Galena Tiger Muskie Tournament proved that a virtual event can be just as entertaining and challenging as a live one.
Don’t get me wrong, the camaraderie of a live event is unparalleled and virtual hot dogs and brats, well, they’re not. So, we look forward to hosting some tournaments the old-fashioned way, and offering other events virtually as we move into the future.
As always, look for the positives and they will appear.
See you on the water!
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times November 2020Locked gates to open lake
Looking back at the beginning of this very unusual boating season, it’s hard to believe where we are today. We have progressed from locked gates at the boat ramp to open lake, “no staff on duty, enter at your own risk.”
Record attendance at Lake Galena
At this point, we have shattered attendance numbers and revenue projections for all of our rental options. Tackle has been flying off the shelves and it’s nearly impossible to replace. The good news: Many people are discovering the great outdoors and all The Galena Territory and Lake Galena have to offer.
We continue to see a great deal of activity this fall and anticipate more as people stop to take advantage of our discounted pontoon rentals or grab a couple of kayaks and just go for a float.
Times to wrap things up, literally
It does pain me, but I guess it’s time to think about wrapping things up for the year. We can help by pulling your boat from the water, winterizing your motor, and shrink wrapping your boat. Just call Dixie Birkbeck at 815-777-2000, ext. 119, and we can get to work for you. Please remember all boats must be out of the water by Dec. 1.
Thank you for patience, support
Despite the overwhelming rush of patrons and visitors to the Marina, everyone has been a joy to work with this season. Thank you all for your patience and understanding as we navigate the unexplored waters we are in now and those on the horizon we are sailing toward.
I would also like to thank GTA Marina, Maintenance, Security and Office staff for all their hard work. Thanks also to the dedicated members of the Lake Management and Ecology Advisory Group (LMEC) and GTA Board of Directors who tirelessly work to keep us moving forward.
LMEC has been hard at work this summer. Collection of creel census data, electrofishing surveys and construction and deployment of fish structure have been a huge challenge this year as we work to aggressively manage and improve our fishery in a safe and efficient manner.
Lake cleanup, fishing contests, fish stocking, paddle sports and educational events require a lot of planning and work to be successful. Dredging, shoreline erosion control, streambank stabilization and water quality testing are all topics discussed and acted upon regularly to maintain and improve Lake Galena.
Thanks to all the wonderful, diverse members of LMEC who devote time and sweat to make it among the most beautiful and productive lakes in the Midwest.
Come join us, there’s something for everyone.
Cast a line
With winter fast approaching, you may want to take a few minutes to drop by and cast a line in the morning mist before the heavy frost sets in.
The bass are filling their bellies in anticipation of long cold nights ahead. I can’t blame them for their overindulgent feeding activities with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas around the corner. I’ll be putting on some pounds as well.
See you on the water!
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times December 2020Survey says: Fishery in spectacular shape
Joe Rush was here on Columbus Day to conduct our electrofishing survey. Three daylight runs provided great data to compare with sampling from years past.
Night sampling gave us a look at different fish in different locations, valuable information we need to move forward with our fishery management plan. The quantity, quality and variety of fish indicate our fishery is in spectacular shape.
We collected yellow perch, bluegill, black crappie, redear sunfish, tiger muskie, walleye, smallmouth and largemouth bass in daylight and night runs. Night runs resulted in several young of the year walleye and channel catfish, something we never see during daylight collections. All of these sportfish and panfish are represented by many classes indicating we will have a great fishery now and for years to come.
Many largemouth bass were recorded in the 10 to 20-inch range with several well-fed bass in the 90th percentile of the weight to length ratio. It’s no wonder they are so well fed as we recorded a huge second spawn and moderate third spawn of bluegill.
The really important information, however, is collected from hundreds of fish under 3-inches in length. These smaller fish (we weigh, measure and count all of them) are proof that there is adequate recruitment of the next generation and adequate food for the current generation. The information gathered here and in our creel census survey is instrumental in helping us make the best management decisions possible to keep our fishery among the best in the Midwest.
We take pride in having a great balance in our fishery. Having a great sport fishery with trophy tiger muskie, walleye and bass is very difficult to do while maintaining a great panfish fishery.
An even more incredible feat, we have solved the problem of maintaining a great smallmouth and largemouth bass population within our limited waters. All of this is made possible by using the tools that include fish stocking, habitat construction, bathometric mapping, aquatic vegetation management, stream bank stabilization, shoreline erosion control, creel and slot limits, dredging, and lake and stream water monitoring.
There is a cost associated with the use of any of these tools, which can also be a challenge, weighing the cost versus the benefit of each to achieve the desired goal: Big fish and lots of them!
Notes and reminders
Make sure your boat is out of the water before Dec 1. Fill out your creel surveys, even on the ice. Look for new bluegill creel limits for 2021. Trout are back, keep three per day. Ice Fishing contest Jan. 23, look for new rules. And, as always, enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
Stay warm, see you on the ice!
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times January 2021Gear up for ice fishing
There are so many products available to enhance your winter sportfishing experience, it’s hard to keep track of them all. New models of ice houses, ice augers, poles, lures, and baits are available to help get the fish on the same side of the ice that you are.
This fall marketing campaigns focus on electronic gadgets and very small jigs. Sonar, cameras, GPS and phone apps as well as some of the tiniest, shiniest, “thistliest,” bristliest, fabulously feathered creations all designed to enhance your fishing experience. If Santa didn’t treat you right, head to your favorite sporting goods store and treat yourself to some great new tackle.
This unusual summer lead to a fishing frenzy that cleared the Bait Shop shelves of all variety of tackle. In an effort to get a leg-up on the coming season, I’ll be ordering some new gear over the winter. Soft, hard, spinner and topwater baits as well as poles, reels, nets and terminal tackle. Some proven effective and other, newer product lines developed to catch your eye and hopefully some fish. Do you have a product in mind you would like us to carry? Send me an email at [email protected] with your suggestions and we’ll see if we can incorporate your idea into our sales plan.
Remember your proximity cards
When you or your guest stop at Lake Galena to enjoy some ice fishing remember to bring your proximity cards, one per person, and have a properly displayed parking pass on your vehicle. Before you head home take a minute to fill out a creel form. This information is invaluable when it comes to managing our fishery. Forms can be found at several lake access points and at thegalenaterritory.com.
At the recommendation of our fish biologist several slot and length limits have been reduced over the last few years. These creel limits are modified occasionally to ensure everyone gets a chance to keep a wide variety of really nice fish. The slot for largemouth bass will remain a little narrower. Please keep bass that are 11 to 13 inches. Walleye can go home with you if they reach 18 inches long, yellow perch can be taken at 9 inches. Crappie, however, still need to be 10 inches to qualify for the skillet. In 2021, big bluegill will be protected in an attempt to move the entire population into the next weight class. Anglers will be permitted to keep five bluegill 8 inches and over with a daily limit of 20 per angler.
Fish habitats deployed
Over several years, ambitious members of Lake Management & Ecology Advisory Group (LMEC) have been hard at work constructing and deploying fish habitat and fish structure into Lake Galena. Drop locations are strategically chosen to provide our piscine pals both food and shelter.
LMEC members were not able to get together as much as we wanted to in 2020 but we still completed 16 Georgia cubes, stuffed them with cedar and dropped them in Lake Galena. The location of this structure has been recorded and a chart of the GPS coordinates along with a map are available on the Lake Galena page of the GTA website. You can also obtain this information directly by contacting me.
Thank you anglers
A special “thank you” to all of our great fishermen and women who took the time in 2020 to fill out a creel census sheet. The information in this report, along with data compiled from a day and night electrofishing survey conducted in 2020, will enable us to make critical management decisions to ensure our fishery is vibrant and robust now and into the distant future. It’s easy to fill out a sheet and fun to brag when you catch a lunker, but it is equally important to know when you put forth the effort and just got skunked. Keep up the good work and encourage your friends and family to participate by filling out a creel census sheet today.
See you on the ice!
Originally Appeared In The Territory Times February 2021Volunteers work hard to enhance fishery
Throughout the course of a year the Lake Management and Ecology Advisory Group (LMEC) gathers data relevant to the health of Lake Galena. Two major concerns are the state of water quality and the diversity and productivity of our fishery. Our LMEC members volunteer a great deal of time gathering and evaluating data in an effort to develop and implement effective protocols that will not only maintain but significantly enhance the water quality and the fishery in Lake Galena.
In an effort to achieve water quality goals, LMEC members participate in the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program (VLMP), an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency sponsored collection and testing program and the Illinois Riverwatch Network, sponsored by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center.
The VLMP volunteers measure water clarity (transparency) using a Secchi disk. The disk consists of a weighted metal or plastic plate, 8 inches in diameter which is painted black and white in alternate quadrants and attached to a calibrated rope or measuring line. The disk is lowered into the lake and the depth at which it is no longer visible is noted. This depth is called the “Secchi depth.” At half the Secchi depth a chart is used to identify the color of the water. This color relates directly to and assists in identifying the precise species of algae growth present as well as the existing suspended solids in the water column. It is most useful to document changes in the transparency of lake water over a period of years to develop meaningful trends in transparency. Monitoring is conducted twice a month from May through October, typically at three in-lake sites. The volunteer also records a series of field observations relating to other important environmental characteristics of the lake, such as water color, weather conditions during monitoring and in the previous 48 hours, presence and amount of aquatic plants at each site and the lake as a whole, presence or absence of aquatic exotic plants or animals, site depth and watershed activities. The volunteer also documents recent lake management activities, such as, dredging or applying chemicals and notes any recreational lake usage that could impact the lake.
The VLMP volunteers also collect water samples from each of the three sites. The water quality sample is taken at 1 foot below the surface of the water, is poured off into the appropriate containers and shipped to the laboratory where it is analyzed for ammonia, nitrate-nitrite nitrogen, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, total phosphorus, alkalinity, chloride, total suspended solids and volatile suspended solids. A further sample is collected by dropping a container through the water column to twice the Secchi depth and retrieving a consistent, representative sample of water within the column. This sample is filtered and sent to the lab for chlorophyll enumeration and identification.
Additionally, dissolved oxygen and temperature readings are taken at 2-foot depth intervals all the way to the bed of the lake at all three sampling locations. This particular set of data, obtained relatively quickly with one instrument, can provide lake managers with a snapshot of their lake’s overall health and seasonal cycle. Quick analysis of this data can provide clues as to where you may find different species of fish within the water column, the depth and thickness of the thermocline, or the level of aerobic and anaerobic activity taking place as organisms decompose on the lake bed.
The Illinois Riverwatch Network
The Illinois Riverwatch Network is a volunteer stream monitoring program that seeks to engage volunteers by training them as citizen scientists. Each year, LMEC volunteers conduct habitat and biological surveys, including collection and identification of small stream organisms called macroinvertebrates that serve as bioindicators of water quality. The program and our LMEC volunteers strive to collect consistent, high-quality data on the conditions of local streams. This hands-on opportunity provides LMEC volunteers the resources and experience to be better stewards of our watersheds.
An area of the targeted stream is identified and measured. A detailed site sketch is completed which shows the direction of the flow and the location where stream flow was measured. The site sketch also indicates location of major features such as riffles, runs, pools, ditches, wetlands, dams, riprap, tributaries, landscape features, vegetation and roads. The sketch also shows the habitat and location where the macroinvertebrates were collected.
Other information contained in the survey includes water temperature, appearance, odor and turbidity. Canopy cover, algal growth, substrate siltation coverage, percent and type of bottom substrate, type of submerged aquatic plants and types of riparian (stream side) vegetation present are all important items included in the survey. The selected streams discharge estimate is calculated and major adjacent and upstream land uses are recorded.
The easy part of the Riverwatch program is the actual collection of the macroinvertebrates. Nets, bottles, buckets and pans are used to collect and contain the macroinvertebrates. Samples are collected from two of five habitat sites including riffle, leaf pack, snag, undercut bank and sediment. It’s relatively easy to collect 100 organisms from this sampling. The hard part is identifying each individual organism in the sample. Midges, flatworms, leeches, sowbugs, scuds and dragonflies are all very different and easy to discern, but the difference between a torpedo, swimming, clinging, crawling, burrowing, armored or other mayflies can be difficult to determine. Thank goodness there are only a few different caddisflies, damselflies, beetles and snails to pick from.
Watching our watershed
With information at hand from all of the data collected and compiled, LMEC volunteers can make educated decisions regarding the welfare of our watershed. By working with our watershed partners to maintain the quality of our water from the time the raindrop falls in the furthest reaches of our watershed until it departs The Territory over Thunder Bay Falls, LMEC volunteers are keeping Lake Galena beautiful, clean and productive for years to come.
Well, it appears I was a little “windy” with this article and I really wanted to share with you all of the hard work LMEC volunteers put in to monitor and maintain our great fishery. I’ll just have to continue next month. Stay tuned!