Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Branch County (T8S, R6W, Sections 17, 18, 19, and 20)
Surveyed June 1989
Michael P. Herman
Lake Lavine, nearly 87 acres in size, is located in south-central Branch
County approximately 0.5 miles north of the Indiana state line. The nearest
town is Kinderhook, 3 miles to the northeast. The only outlet is located
on the lake's northwest end, and is approximately 15 feet wide and 1 foot
deep were it leaves the lake. Lake Lavine is part of the headwaters of
the Prairie River watershed. The Prairie River flows westerly, joining
the St. Joseph River just south of the community of Three Rivers.
Approximately 90% of this lake's substrate is comprised of organic matter.
The remaining 10% consists of scattered areas of sand, found mainly on
the eastern and northwestern shores. White and yellow water lily, common
bulrush, and several varieties of pondweed are the major aquatic plants
found in the lake; all are moderately abundant.
Lake Lavine is a relatively deep lake (71 feet maximum) with steep drop-offs.
Approximately 80% of the lake's surface area has water greater than 10
feet in depth. The water is usually colorless. The latest limnology survey
was in September of 1985. Temperatures ranged from 74°F at the surface
to 46°F at the 50-foot depth. On the day of the survey, the thermocline
occupied the layer of water between the 19-and 27-foot depths. Dissolved
oxygen concentrations in this layer of water were high, 5.0 ppm to 8.5
The terrain surrounding Lake Lavine is gently rolling woodlands, farm
fields, and vineyards. The shoreline is moderately developed, and about
40 summer and permanent homes presently exist on this lake. A state-owned
public fishing site with a gravel boat ramp is located on the lake's southeastern
shore. The undeveloped shoreline areas are predominantly wooded with buttonbush,
red-osier dogwood, and red maple.
Lake Lavine has been managed as a two-story rainbow trout lake from 1947
to the present. The only interruption in annual trout stocking occurred
in 1970, 1971, and 1972. Rainbow trout continue to provide a unique fishing
opportunity popular with many anglers.
This lake has historically yielded consistent catches of large bluegills
and large yellow perch. Although relatively few largemouth bass exist
in the lake, this species is sought by many area anglers.
Lake Lavine was last surveyed in June of 1989 with four standard 6x3-foot
trap nets and three 125-foot experimental gill nets (Table 1). Species
captured in descending order of abundance included bluegills (432), yellow
perch (127), bullhead (54), pumpkinseed sunfish (19), lake chubsucker
(14), bowfin (11), largemouth bass (9), black crappie (8), rainbow trout
(2), green sunfish (1), and brown trout (1).
Bluegills predominated in trap nets, comprising nearly 84% by number
and 63% by weight of the total catch. Eighty-eight percent of all bluegills
caught in trap nets were of acceptable size to anglers. (Table 1). Based
on growth analysis using fish scales, bluegills caught during the 1989
survey exhibited near state-average growth rates (Table 2). However, the
432 bluegills in the sample averaged 7.5 inches each, which is an unusually
large average size.
Bluegills are targeted for sampling in inland lakes because of their
role in determining fish community structure and overall sportfishing
quality (Schneider 1981). Even though the goal of lake surveys is to sample
all fish species and all sizes present, many times only the bluegill population
is adequately sampled because bluegills are usually the most abundant
fish. Recently, a ranking system has been developed that allows fish managers
to get an idea of the relative quality of a lake's fish population (Schneider
1990). On a scale of 1 to 7, the quality of the bluegill population in
Lake Lavine was calculated as 6.3, or "excellent."
Yellow perch averaged 9.3 inches each and were growing nearly 1 inch
above the state average rate (Table 2). Few perch were caught in trap
nets. However, this species comprised more than 75% by number and 71%
by weight of the total gill net catch. Ninety-one percent of all perch
caught in gill nets were of acceptable size to anglers (Table 1).
Table 2 shows that a generally even age composition exists for both bluegills
and perch in the IV, V, and VI age groups. Although fewer age II and III
individuals of either species were caught with either gear, these smaller
fish are much less vulnerable to netting. The longevity of bluegill (8
years) and perch (7 years) in Lake Lavine appears to be average.
Black crappie and largemouth bass growth trends were somewhat below the
state average, although not enough fish per age group were captured to
be statistically significant.
Only two rainbow trout were caught during the 1989 trap net and gill
net survey; however, anglers report good success in catching them in the
evening during the summer and early fall. A few rainbows ar reportedly
caught in the winter by ice anglers fishing for panfish.
Lake Lavine has been successfully managed for more than 40 years as a
two-story rainbow trout lake. The stocked trout apparently do not conflict
with the warmwater species which coexist in the lake. Most of the trout
are short-term residents of the lake. A significant portion of them may
be removed by angling and natural mortality before the end of the summer.
The only growth information available for comparison is from a gill net
survey of July, 1984. Growth trends for both bluegill and perch from the
1984 survey are generally consistent with growth rates from the most recent
survey. Species composition has remained relatively unchanged since the
lake was first surveyed in 1968.
Lake Lavine has a reputation for consistent catches of bluegill, perch
and rainbow trout of acceptable size. Anglers are satisfied with the existing
fishery, and the management of this lake as a two-story trout lake should
continue. This lake should be surveyed and its fishery evaluated again
Report completed: February 1990.
Schneider, J. C. 1981. Fish communities in warmwater lakes. Michigan
Department of Natural Resources. Fisheries Research Report 1890, Ann Arbor.
Schneider, J. C. 1990. Classifying bluegill populations from lake survey
data. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Technical Report
900-10, Ann Arbor.
Table 1.-Number, weight, catch per effort and percent legal size
for species of fish taken with trap or gill nets from Lake Lavine, June
1Number of fish per trap-net or gill-net night.
Table 2.-Average total length (inches) at age, with ranges, for
bluegill and yellow perch taken with trap and gill nets from Lake Lavine,
June 7, 1989. Number of fish aged in parentheses.
1Mean growth index is the average deviation in mean length
from the state average.
Last Update: 08/06/02