Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Barry County (T3N, R10W, Section 26)
Surveyed September and October 1988
James L. Dexter
Deep Lake is a kettle lake of glacial origin located in west-central
Barry County within the Yankee Springs Recreation Area (see map
of Deep Lake). It lies about 10 miles west of Hastings, Michigan.
Rolling hills and sandy soils characterize the geography of the area.
The watershed is predominantly a mixture of mature oak and red pine forest,
with a large amount of old fallow farmland returning to forest. The immediate
area surrounding the lake is primarily scrub-shrub and wetland underlaid
with well-drained loamy sand soils. One small unnamed inlet (top quality
coldwater) is at the southern end of the lake and drains through Houghton
muck soils. A small outlet, Turner Creek (top quality warmwater), is on
the north end; its water flows to the Thornapple River in the Grand River
watershed of Lake Michigan.
Deep Lake is 32.4 acres in size and up to 35 feet deep. Shoals, comprised
primarily of sand and marl, cover 30-40% of the area. Vegetation is sparse
except for cattails and rushes.
Water quality conditions were last surveyed on August 18, 1986. The water
was colorless, and quite clear with a Secchi disk reading of 13 feet.
Within the water column, alkalinity ranged from 134 ppm to 145 ppm and
pH ranged from 7.4 to 8.4. These indicate the water is hard and well-
buffered. Temperature varied from 77ÝF at the surface to 48ÝF
at the bottom, with the thermocline occurring between 10 and 20 feet.
Typically, summer oxygen levels are sufficient for fish down to a depth
of 25 feet. Dissolved oxygen in the thermocline ranged from 5-10 ppm.
Overall water quality is excellent and presents a very good environment
for a two-story fishery, with a combination of warmwater fish in the upper
layer and trout in mid-water.
Development around Deep Lake is very limited. The Yankee Springs Recreation
Area maintains a campground (120 sites) and a public launch site on the
northeast shore. There are a total of five buildings on the lake, but
three of these are scheduled to be demolished in 1990, as the state has
purchased this land recently.
According to historical records, Deep Lake has been actively managed
by the state since 1934, when largemouth bass were stocked. Bluegills,
yellow perch, and more largemouth bass were stocked in varying numbers
over the next 7 years. Rainbow trout fingerlings were stocked for the
first time in 1942 and 1943 to try to create a two-story fishery.
In 1944, gill nets were used to evaluate the rainbow trout plants. No
rainbows were found, but four large brown trout were captured. Hazzard
(1944) suggested that brown trout had not been stocked for at least 10
years, and that these fish were presumably the result of natural reproduction
(from the inlet). We have no records, however, of stocking prior to 1934.
The fish community in the 1930s and 1940s consisted mainly of bluegills,
largemouth bass, and yellow perch. Ciscoes were reported by fishermen,
but their presence has never been verified. Rock bass, black crappie,
and pumpkinseeds were also available to the angler.
The fish community was most recently surveyed on September 29-30 and
October 20-21, 1988. The netting effort entailed an overnight set of two
trap nets and six gill nets and a second overnight set of the gill nets.
Today's fish community is similar to that of 50 years ago (Table 1).
Large bluegills and perch remain the mainstay of the fishery. Other warmwater
species are limited by the small amount of shoal habitat. Largemouth bass
are not very abundant.
Northern pike are new to the lake. We netted a 40-inch pike in 1988,
and in May 1989, a 43-inch pike weighing 20 pounds was caught by an angler
and entered in the Master Angler Award program. Pike may have entered
Deep Lake either through Turner Creek (which drains into the Thornapple
River) or by an unapproved private introduction.
It is interesting to note that rainbow trout yearlings, stocked in the
spring since 1966 at 43 per acre, formerly provided a very good fishery.
In the mid-1980s, however, survival of stocked rainbows may have declined:
catches dwindled, and fishing pressure dropped off. The 1988 survey revealed
practically the same results as the 1944 survey-no rainbows but five wild
brown trout. The decline in the rainbow fishery could be linked to the
presence of northern pike. Just a few large pike could decimate the rainbow
stockings. Beginning in 1989, management direction changed to stocking
brown trout to supplement their low level of natural reproduction.
Growth rates of important game fish species are good (Table 2). Yellow
perch are growing above state average, and bluegill are growing at state
average. Wild brown trout are growing very rapidly.
Age composition and survival characteristics of sport fish appear to
be normal, considering that relatively few fish were sampled and that
the survey nets were not effective for small fish (Table 3). For perch
and bluegill, young fish have been regularly recruited to the populations
and the longevity of adults is satisfactory. Presence of age-II and age-III
brown trout indicates that environmental conditions will be good for the
carry-over of stocked trout from year to year.
Deep Lake produces larger bluegill and perch than many southern Michigan
lakes due to a favorable combination of growth and survival. On a scale
of 1 to 7 (Schneider 1990), the quality of the bluegill population ranked
4.8, "good". Bluegills as large as 8.4 inches, perch up to 11.1 inches,
and brown trout up to 19.9 inches were taken during the 1988 survey.
Fishing on Deep Lake is a very pleasurable experience. It does not receive
intense fishing pressure, and the water is clear and inviting. Water quality
will be preserved because the state owns almost all the land surrounding
the lake. Access is assured through the camp-ground. Bluegills and yellow
perch should continue to provide good fishing. Hopefully fishermen will
key in on the brown trout now stocked. With only a few buildings visible
from any point on the lake, and the good fishing available, the lake provides
a high quality experience.
This lake will continue to be managed as a two-story fishery. Currently
the only special management practiced on Deep Lake is the annual stocking
of 1,300 yearling brown trout. As very few lakes in southern Michigan
are stocked with browns, we are not sure how good a fishery they will
provide at Deep Lake. The possibility exists that a very high quality
fishery will develop, as evidenced by the lake's history of large brown
Our goals for the next 6 years will be to (1) maintain the bluegill and
yellow perch fishery, and (2) develop the brown trout fishery.
No problems are expected to develop with goal Number 1; however, goal
Number 2 may be difficult to reach. Brown trout are notoriously more difficult
to catch than rainbows. We will rely heavily on reports from park personnel
to determine if anglers are fishing for browns and their success rate.
In addition, we may evaluate the brown trout fishery by tagging fish and
soliciting tag returns from anglers.
Report completed: February 6, 1990.
Hazzard, A. S. 1944. Management check on Deep Lake, Barry County. Michigan
Department of Conservation, Fisheries Research Report 970, Ann Arbor.
Schneider, J. C. 1990. Classifying bluegill populations from lake survey
data. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Technical Report
90-10, Ann Arbor.
Table 1.-Number, weight, and length indices of fish
collected from Deep Lake with gill and trap nets, September 29-30 and
October 20-21, 1988.
1Note some fish were measured to 0.1 inch, others to inch
group: e.g., "5" = 5.0 to 5.9 inches; "12" = 12.0 to 12.9 inches; etc.
Table 2.-Average total length (inches) at age, and growth
relative to the state average, for five species of fish sampled from Deep
Lake with gill and trap nets, September 29-30 and October 20-21, 1988.
Number of fish aged is given in parentheses.
1Mean growth index is the average deviation from the state
average length at age.
Table 3.-Estimated age frequency (percent) of five species
of fish caught from Deep Lake with gill and trap nets, September 29-30
and October 20-21, 1988.
Last Update: 08/06/02