Friday, April 16, 2010

Electrofishing Has Begun!

This is the week I have been waiting for all winter long. Shocking lakes and ponds is my absolute favorite part of my job. We started the year off working out some kinks with our electrofishing boat on monday late afternoon at one of our clients lakes out near Middle Grove. We were installing his fountain, buglight, and fish feeder and needed to make sure the boat and gear was all working properly before our road trips South and West.

After 15 minutes of some minor repairs we had her working perfectly and drawing fish right up to the annodes. We only shocked for about 10 minutes, but dialed up this pair of nice bass among some other crappie and bluegill. As you can see in the pic these bass are working on getting back to their plump summer time weights and I need to get working on working off my winter time reserves. I guess that has to be the difference between being warm and cold blooded. Warm blooded creatures get fat in the winter and cold blooded creatures get fat in the summer. (I didnt learn that one in school, that would be one of those things you just learn by experience).

Then Tuesday I headed over past Astoria, past Vermont, past Table grove, and finally made it over to the city Industry. I have never heard of that city before, but there is some real nice land for sale over there. I met with Will Engelburt Peabody Coal's land specialist and one of my clients who was looking to purchase a very nice piece of property with a couple lakes on it. My mission was to make sure the dam's looked good and the lakes would be good for fishing with a feasible future building site.

The lakes definitely would be great fishing lakes, but the building site needs to be investigated a bit further. There is a tremendous watershed draining into those lakes and some signs of potential flooding could take place into really the only feasible building site on the property. An emergency spillway would need to be built before I would be comfortable building.

Anyhow on to much funner stuff. Wednsday morning at 5 am Justin and I headed down to Kinmundy, Il to shock 3 lakes for a client. This was the first of many Electrofishing surveys for this spring. The first lake was 17 acres and really awesome looking. Completely full of 13 inch bass, big bluegill, and big crappie. We are working on a plan that will grow those bass average up into the 15-17 inch range. They really arent too far away, but this is a scenario where time isnt going to make those fish bigger. Without changing up some of the limiting factors, those fish arent growing another inch.

Thursday I stayed much closer to home and went to a pond consultation in Germantown Hills. 1/2 acre spring fed pond in the backyard with no watershed or overflow. Water is coming in, but it aint going out (through an overflow pipe anyway). Really cool setup thats for sure. We put some lake dye in just to see how much water is transferring daily and how long it lasts in the pond. I want one of those ponds some day, just really cool with lots of potential. Water level doesnt fluctuate much and is obviously connected to a whole bunch of clean cool groundwater.

Friday we hit the motherload! We traveled over to northeast Missouri and electrofished a newly acquired 40 acre lake for a client. Oh my goodness did this guy ever hit the lottery with the purchase of this lake. Hands down the best crappie lake I have ever seen and the overall amount of fish in this lake is quite frankly overwhelming. In the first 10 minutes of electrofishing we filled our holding tank up completely with 14 inch crappie and 14 inch largemouth bass. The boys up front were filling their nets with 4-6 fish per scoop. It was unbelievable. Here are some pics from the first haul:

After weighing and measuring each of the fish, we already had enough data to prepare some real nice charts. That data is important to hold onto because relative weights tell the tale of the lake, and also are a great starting baseline reference point when implementing a management plan. Relative weight can be defined as a fish so long should weigh so much. A 14 inch bass should weigh 23 ounces. If it doesnt than something is very wrong or very right! Anyhow if it doesnt weigh 23 ounces than that fish is not currently growing any longer until it does.
After getting side tracked with that little relative weight science lesson, back to the survey at hand. Around this whole lake we kept electrofishing, but stopped scooping. There were so many fish everywhere that we seriously could have filled up a couple pick up truck loads.

We spent some time analyzing the water quality and surrounding habitat. We are currently devising a plan with many options that best suit Richards preferred management style, goals and budget for this lake for 2010. His goal is to protect the mammoth crappies, help build up the bluegill population, grow more 2-4 lb bass, and also introduce a few bonus species into the lake without messing everything up. All very attainable and well within his reach fairly quickly. He has many options and hopefully a big appetite for 12 inch crappies and 12 inch bass.
Can you imagine having to cull the small crappies at 12 inches long! I am not kidding when I say I have never in my life seen this many crappies of this caliber in the same day. 1000's of crappie over 12 inches and 100's of them over 14 inches. I was talking to him on the phone a couple days ago and he said he had been catching monster 13-15 inch crappies on a big pig n jig bass bait and I was just thinking something didnt quite add up too well. Many times fish stories that are too good to be true are, this one actually was not.

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