Mother Nature creates natural lakes. Sometimes man enhances them by a strategic placement of a dam. My favorite lakes are natural ones because Mother Nature’s design is not hydropower production nor irrigation but aquatic life.
Two of my favorite lakes are Idaho’s Henry’s Lake and Yellowstone Park’s Heart
Lake. These are notable fisheries because their structural elements include vast littoral zones and optimal water quality.
Henry’s Lake is all littoral zones with an average depth of about ten feet. Here, great expanses of aquatic plants flourish which produces an enormous food chain. Its trout prosper and their average size is massive. The water’s alkalinity is optimal; in addition, its altitude furnishes cool summer waters which allow for long growing seasons.
Heart Lake is a remote lake with similar elements favoring fish production. Here large cutthroat and lake trout are present in prolific numbers. Its forest and water quality is almost untouched by man; a visit to Heart Lake is a superb wilderness experience.
The advantages of a natural lake are that many of them contain large areas of shallows and that their water source comes from underground springs. Here the earth has filtered its water supply and buffered its temperature and chemical contents. Seasonally, snow melt and runoff influences a lake by carrying organic and inorganic matter that can enrich these waters. The best natural lakes have an abundance of littoral zones coupled with good chemistry and water quality. From the weeds in the littoral zone both oxygen and insect habitat are produced.
Usually, natural lakes include deep areas where during severe winter and summer conditions fish can migrate to for survival.
The valuable structures of natural lakes are weed beds, drop-offs, inlet channels and streams, outlet areas, shoals, peninsulas, bays, rock slides, riparian banks, cliffs, and downed timbers. Fish cruise underwater routes in search of emerging insects and other food sources. In the spring, before heavy weed bed growths, the open shallows are prime spots to fish because they warm first. Later in the summer, heavy weed bed growths occur and these shallows may become uncomfortably warm, causing fish to seek nearby cooler channels and drop-offs.
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