Since development, fishing has been a primary recreational activity on Indian Lake. Over the years, fish stocking has been the tool of choice for managing the fishery. Several new species as well as those present when the lake was formed were planted to enhance the fishing experience. Prior to 2016, the Fish Committee advised the LSA Board of Directors on the fish species and quantities for stocking. These duties are now handled by the Aqua Advisory Group.
The Aqua Advisory Group seeks input from fisherman on fishing success, species quantity and size structure, and management recommendations. The Aqua Group uses this information along with sound ecological principles to recommend stocking levels each year. The guiding statements are:
- Select fish species that are suitable for the Indian Lake habitat. They should be native species that are typical for a small, shallow, central Michigan lake.
- They must be able to produce a sustainable population that is not dependent on continued stocking.
- Plantings will try to maintain an ecologically balanced species composition and population size. This includes maintaining a balanced predator to prey ratio.
- Stocking decisions will seek to avoid planting hybrid fish.
- Stocking decisions will utilize information from local fishermen on population numbers and size structure to determine if further stocking is needed. This will include observations on stocks of small fish including “minnows”.
The 2014 partial winterkill event had a dramatic impact on the fishery. Populations of largemouth bass and sunfish were severely reduced. Stocking priorities for 2014-2017 and 2019 were for enhancing the largemouth bass and black crappie populations as well as fathead minnows for forage. In 2020 -2022, only fathead minnows were planted because other species were not available.
Northern pike took advantage of the reduced predation to produce bumper crops of young in 2014 and 2015. These two cohorts dominate the northern pike population. This has produced an overabundant and stunted population. The LSA Board of Directors made a request to Michigan DNR for an alternate northern pike creel regulation. The alternative size and daily possession limit recommended by DNR for shallow lakes like Indian Lake where northern pike are over abundant was approved by the Natural Resources Board in October, 2021. (See details in the current fishing guide.)
Indian Lake currently has nine gamefish species. They are: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, walleye, and northern pike. Other fish species in the lake include fathead minnow and Iowa darter.