Friday, June 4, 2010

Behemoth Redear Sunfish

Friday afternoon we sampled a 7 acre pond 20 miles north of peoria and shocked up the biggest redear sunfish I have ever seen in this region of the country. I know redears grow huge down in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, but around here a one pound fish is considered very big. Well this redear measured in at 12.25 inches long with an unbelievable 16.5 inch girth and weighed in at 37 ounces. That is about 2.30 lbs!

For those wondering, a fish's girth can be defined as the distance around the fattest part of the fish. This redear was 7.15 inches tall, but the total girth measurement around the fish was 16.50 inches!!! Could you imagine catching a 37 ounce bluegill?

The rest of the pond was completely full of 12-16 ounce monster bluegill. Here are just a few pics, but we counted more than 20 male bluegill over 16 ounces!

The average bass in this lake is 13 inches long and about 18 ounces. There is no rooted vegetation due to the white amurs stocked 30 years ago from arkansas which I believe are actually reproducing to a small degree. I dont think they where sterile from that source back then. Anyhow there is a combination of factors attributing to such an amazing natural bluegill fishery. The pond hasnt been supplementally fed or treated or really managed much at all except for a few family fishing trips and fish frys. A true gem with a whole world of potential!

So anyhow working backwords, I spent thursday electrofishing in Indianapolis. Was a fun road trip and met some great people. Their 10 acre lake was one of the most scenic and fishy looking lakes you could ever imagine. I am talking the kind of lake that would make any diehard fisherman drool at the chance of casting a line into. The fish on the other hand were about the worst I have sampled this year??? I guess that is why I was hired. The owner wasnt catching many fish and really hasnt caught much for the last few years. He completely and accurately described the fishery to me before I even put a boat in the water. A few things didnt really make sense why the fish were so small and why there really werent that many of them? Was it because of retarded genetics from only being stocked 80 years ago with a couple sibling fish, was it a fish kill of some sort, water quality, PH, soft water, otters, trespassers, bullhead, carp, fish disease, etc. Trust me I was doing some major head scratching for this one while there at the property and was able to finally pull together a management plan on the best way to address some of the limiting factors and put some big fish on the end of his line. Definitely not the normal situation to deal with, but the solutions and suggestions arent the norm either. Fast forward to one year from now and that lake is going to be hopping with big fish if they follow through!

Wednesday I went to Otter Creek to check on the feed trained bass lake, the smallmouth lake, the wetlands, and mainly to electrofish the big lake. This is a 145 acre lake that is stocked with the absolute best fish genetics on the planet. Pike river strain walleyes, leach lake muskies, keo hybrid striped bass, missouri bluegills, blacknose crappies, jumbo yellow perch, arkansas clear creek largemouths, and millions of golden shiners, gizzard shad, and threadfin shad. This lake is going to be on fire over the next several years. Kind of like so good that it gives me some chills just thinking about it.
While at Otter Creek I met up with harrison fish farms and loaded up a few thousand albino white catfish. Justin and Allen went around and delivered them and I headed over to Trivoli for a pond consultation. Brand new 6 acre and 1/2 acre ponds that are gonna be gems as well.

So working backwards, this was a really fun week. Sat I will be fishing a bluegill tournament near Victoria, Sunday we have the 7th and 8th grade Sunday school classes with their families coming out to the lake for the afternoon, and then next week we are headed to southern illinois to do some consulting and dock building for most of the week.

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