Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Kalamazoo County (T3S, R11W, Sections 24, 25)
and (T3S, R10W, Sections 17, 18, 19, 30)
Surveyed May 8, 9, 10, and 14, 1991
James L. Dexter, Jr.
Long Lake is a large natural lake located in central Kalamazoo County.
It lies within the boundaries of the City of Portage.
Long Lake is located in a glacial outwash plain that contains mostly
loamy sands that are well drained. The 4.46 miles of watershed contain
agricultural land (60%), forests (21%), wetland (6%), urban area (5%),
open land, and other water bodies (8%). The topography is mostly level
to slightly rolling hills.
At 575 acres in size, Long Lake is the fourth largest lake in the county.
There are no direct inlets into the lake, but there is an outlet at the
southwestern corner that drains directly to Austin Lake. According to
the 1953 map by the Institute for Fisheries Research, there is a single
basin, 57-feet deep. Structure in the basin is good, with several point
bars, drop offs, and flats present to concentrate fish. The shoal areas
of Long Lake cover over 85% of the total surface area.
The south half of the lake bottom is composed primarily of sand and marl,
and is interspersed with gravel. The north half of the lake bottom is
characterized by organic deposits. Almost the entire north end is less
than 5-feet deep and can be characterized as an emergent marsh. Aquatic
vegetation is sparse in the south half of the lake, and abundant in the
Long Lake is eutrophic in nature, and water quality can be classified
as fair. Based on water quality parameters measured over the last 40 years,
there is a trend toward poorer quality. Table 1 presents parameters measured
during the summers of 1953, 1960, and 1991. Dissolved oxygen levels have
decreased in each sampling period, as has Secchi disk readings. This may
be due to increased levels of blue-green algae (Cronk et al. 1978). In
1991 water temperatures in late August ranged from 75°F at the surface
to 51°F at 45 feet. A split thermocline was present from 16-19 feet
and 21-24 feet. Alkalinities ranged from 88 (moderate) on the surface
to 134 (hard) on the bottom and pH readings were alkaline (9.0). These
values are similar to past surveys.
Residential development surrounds all but the north end of Long Lake.
A State-owned public access exists at the south end, with enough parking
for 24 vehicles with trailers.
Long Lake has been managed by the State since 1888. The newly organized
Michigan Fish Commission conducted a gill net survey in Long Lake that
year and collected 735 fish, of which 85% were yellow perch. Almost 50
years passed before further work was done on the lake. Between 1933 and
1945 largemouth bass were stocked six different years and perch were stocked
in 2 years. The next survey of the lake was conducted in 1943 using a
25 x 150-foot straight seine. A typical warmwater fish community was noted
in the catch record.
The most complete historical survey occurred in 1953 (Taube 1953). Using
experimental gill nets, common sense and bag sienes, this survey also
showed a typical warmwater fish community that included yellow perch,
northern pike, bluegill, largemouth bass, rock bass, bullheads, and sunfish.
Various species of minnows and darters were also collected. Growth of
game fish at that time was considered average, and most residents of the
lake were satisfied with the fishery. The 1953 survey may have been conducted
due to a controversy over lake water level and some proposed drainage
ditches. Apparently the previous 4 years were rather dry and the lake
level had fallen considerably. By 1953, however, it had risen to normal
levels. A legal lake level of 856 feet (elevation above sea level) was
established in 1939. Taube concluded from the 1953 survey that the makeup
of the fish population was the same as in 1888, and that "no new management
practices seem necessary for Long Lake".
Austin and West Lakes were also surveyed with Long Lake in 1953, because
the lakes connect. Taube (1953) concluded that Austin and West had poor
fisheries (characterized by below average growth) while Long was good.
No alternative for management of Austin and West Lakes were offered in
Sometime between 1953 and 1960 it was determined that the fisheries on
Austin and West should be renovated. It appears from the sketchy records
that Long Lake was included in this proposal by default because of its
connection to Austin Lake. The proposal was approved at a public meeting
with only some objection from property owners on Long Lake. In the early
winter of 1960, Austin and West Lakes were treated with toxaphene, while
Long Lake was treated with rotenone. It appears that rotenone was used
at Long Lake so that desireable fish could be picked up and eaten, since
the fish population there was in good shape. Restocking of Long Lake occurred
in 1960 and 1961 and included northern pike, rainbow trout (for an interim
fishery), largemouth bass, bluegill, and yellow perch.
Follow-up surveys of Long lake were conducted in 1961, 1962, and 1964.
The rainbow trout that were planted to provide an interim fishery did
very poorly, and few reports of trout catches were made. Stocked warmwater
species exhibited good growth and survival, and by 1963 fishing on the
lake was very good for pike, perch, and largemouth bass. By 1964 eight
additional species of fish that were not stocked in the lake were present.
A 1977 boomshocking survey of Long Lake showed the same species composition
as the 1964 survey. No carp were observed but it was referenced that they
did inhabit the lake. The fishery at this time was described as good in
general. Yellow perch exhibited very good growth, and bluegills and bass
had slightly depressed growth rates compared to the State average.
At the time this survey was conducted, a petition was received from the
Long Lake Association to institute a spearing ban on pike. This was presumably
requested because of over-harvest concerns. A spearing ban on pike, plus
a 30-inch minimum size limit, were instituted starting in 1984. However,
for some undocumented reason in 1985, the ban was taken off, and the size
limit was returned to 20 inches. There must have been some type of public
outcry over the closure to force such a quick reversal.
The fish community present today is no different from that of 40 or 100
years ago. The most recent survey, in 1991, used experimental gill nets,
full size trap nets, mini-maxi fyke nets, and the D.C. boomshocking boat.
Bluegill were the most abundant fish collected by number, and were the
fourth most abundant by weight (Table 2). Mirror carp, bowfin, and bullheads
were the most abundant species by weight in that order.
Bluegill from 2 to 9 inches long were collected. Almost 33% were acceptable
size (6 inches or larger). Schneider (1990) developed five criteria for
ranking bluegill populations from survey catches in Michigan. Using the
criteria, Long Lake bluegills rank 4.5 (good) on a scale of 1-7, using
trap net data. Electroshocking data for bluegills collected in 1991 and
1977 compare very well, exhibiting little change. In 1991 bluegills as
old as 10 years were found. Overall growth was at the State average (Table
3). The estimated age frequency of bluegills (Table 4) shows there may
have been recruitment problems (or sampling bias) for age groups I and
Largemouth bass were collected from 2 to 17 inches in length. About 12%
were legal size (12+ inches). Growth rates of largemouth bass were at
the State average (Table 3). The estimated age frequency shows a severe
recruitment problem with the 1989 and 1990 year classes (Table 4). I believe
this is an accurate reflection of the bass population.
A total of 32 northern pike were collected that ranged from 16 to 32
inches. Ninety four percent of the pike were collected in gill nets (catch
per effort of 5.0). Almost 70% of the pike collected were legal size (exceeded
20 inches). Growth rates of northern pike were average (Table 3). The
estimated age frequency appears normal, given that ages I and II were
The yellow perch population in Long Lake is very good. A total of 191
perch were collected that ranged from 2 to 12 inches. Most of the perch
were collected with the electroshocker. Thirty-four percent of the perch
were over 7 inches long. Growth was above the State average rate (Table
3). Their estimated age frequency appears fairly normal, with the exception
of poor recruitment or sampling bias of age I perch and fairly high mortality
among ages III and IV. This is most likely due to angler harvest.
Sixty one black crappie were collected that ranged from 3 to 13 inches
and over 65% were of acceptable size (7+ inches). Growth of crappie was
above the State average (Table 3). The estimated age frequency for crappie
is normal, except for age I fish, which show poor recruitment.
Rock bass, pumpkinseeds, and bullheads also provide ample targets for
anglers at Long Lake. Bullheads are available up to 14 inches, pumpkinseeds
to 8 inches, and rock bass to 9 inches.
Carp do not appear overly abundant in Long Lake, although those that
were captured were very large. All carp collected were "mirror carp",
which is not a different species of carp but one with scales enlarged
and scattered over the body.
Long Lake presently provides an excellent fishery. Forage species are
abundant (bluntnose minnows, brook silversides, and mayflies) as determined
by this survey. Most game fish captured were in very good condition and
heavy bodied. Anglers commented that they were very happy with the fishery.
This lake compares very well with other local warmwater fisheries such
as Austin, Gourdneck, Hogsett, and Sugarloaf lakes. This is very fortunate
as these lakes contain public access and are located within a half hour
of downtown Kalamazoo.
No management activities need to be undertaken at this time. Long Lake
should continue to provide an excellent fishery for years. Our goals into
the next century should be to maintain the present status of the fishery.
Obstacles to attaining this goal include increased pressure to develop
the wetland areas on the north end of the lake and decreased water quality
conditions due to increased use of the lake and fertilizers used in the
watershed. Also there are potential water level impacts due to groundwater
withdrawals by the Upjohn Company. At present only the state's stringent
wetland laws protect the lake's wetlands. Long Lake should not have to
be surveyed again for at least 10 years.
Report completed: February 1993.
Cronk et al. (21 Authors). 1978. Kalamazoo County. Geology and the environment.
Western Michigan University. Kalamazoo.
Taube, C.M. 1953. Inventory results and historical notes on Austin, West,
Long and Gourdneck Lakes, Kalamazoo County. Michigan Department of Natural
Resources, Fisheries Research Report 1380. 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.-Water quality parameters as measured by the DNR at Long
Lake, Kalamazoo County.
Table 2.-Number, weight, and length (inches) of fish collected
from Long Lake with all gear, on May 8-10, and 14, 1991.
Table 3.-Average total length (inches) at age, and growth relative
to the state average, for fish sampled from Long Lake with all gear, May
8-10, and 14, 1991. Number of fish aged is given in parentheses. The upper
row is the weighted average, while the lower row is unweighted.
Table 4.-Estimated age frequency (percent) of fish caught from Long Lake
with all gear, May 8-10, and 14, 1991.
Last Update: 08/05/02