Friday, July 30, 2010

Do you ever just feel like ahmmnmbg

The month of August is just kind of actually, you know I dont even know what it is kind of like. Even though it is still July, it just kind of has the same feel that august usually brings. I dont know if I am still harboring bad feelings towards August from having to go back to school as a child or what, but for some reason I just dont like august and never really have.

I'm not even going to list all the things and reasons why I dont like August because no one (or not many) wants to read all kinds of negative stuff about the heat, humidity, mosquitoes, ticks, gnats, thirst, sun poisoning, hot water, back to school, summers practically over, etc etc etc.....

I guess another reason why I dont like august is there really isnt much happening in the pond management sector. For the most part lake treatments are over, fish don't bite very predictably, too hot to move fish, too hot to electrofish, etc. I could go on, but eh decided not too.

Anyhow in order to break me out of this august funk before it even got started this year we have had to get creative. Been doing lots of deer management stuff lately to stay busy and just booked a trip to the Florida Keys over Thanksgiving! Just daydreaming about goliath groupers and yellowtail snappers will carry me easily for the next 4 months!! I worked out a great deal on an amazing place near Marathon. Here is a pic of the place we are staying at from Nov 20 to Dec 4th:

Here is a pic of the boat we will have at our place for the trip:

Its 12:48 on Friday. I am shooting at a clay pigeon event this evening, have florida keys fishing on mind, and basically am having a very hard time getting anything accomplished. Instead of getting work done I decided to kill a few minutes posting this blog and I guess I might as well head home and spend some time with the kids since I wont see them much this weekend. I will be heading out to put up some trail cameras early Saturday morning and then be heading to the North Creek Preserve Land Auction at 10 am.

This week I had a consultation in Metamora for a 4 acre lake with watermeal, brown algae, and a fish kill. Then I went to a visitation for one of my good friends Jordan Schroeder. He passed away over the weekend from Cancer at the age of 25 years old. Let me just say that it is not easy to lose a friend, especially one who has a wife and kids the same age as mine. I have written or really talked about it much all week because it really isnt easy to write or talk about.

Thursday I headed out to pull some soil samples for 5 different food plots we are going to plant this fall. We send the soil to a lab and then we know exactly how much lime and fertilizer we need to apply and also we can tell what crop will grow the best in that particular soil. Soil samples save a few years of trial and error! Here is Jared pulling the samples:

Next we went to look at and work on some plots planted this spring. This one is doing great!

We also scouted out camera locations for a buckeye camera system. We are installing buckeye cameras which we connect to a data plan to send the pictures and videos automatically to a website which can be controlled from a computer. You dont have to go into the field to check the cameras, just login online. Buckeye cameras are great for security as well, you can see everyone who comes and goes!
Today I went to a consultation near Wyoming. One of the neatest driveways I have ever seen! This guy and his wife planted these trees in 1968, how cool is that!! His pond will be be up to par as the rest of the property shortly.

Thats it, I am done and gone. Justin and Allen planted alot of primrose, treated a handful of lakes, manually pulled lots of vegetation for a client, and did their usual stuff this week. Next week we will be building a deck, installing an aeration system, treating a couple big lakes, and more of the same. I will have to squeeze a fishing trip in sometime hopefully over the weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ABC's of Forage Fish

By Bob Lusk

Pond Management techniques on selecting, stocking, and managing your pond’s forage fish

The hatchery phone rings. A male voice has a question. "How much do your fathead minnows cost?" The perplexed fellow wants to buy forage fish, or thinks he does. From my 30-plus years of pond management experience all over America, I know he does not want to buy fatheads. Almost certainly, he will be better off stocking a different species of forage fish.

He just doesn't realize it yet.

I start the pond owner's cram course in the basics of the forage fish base, with a question: "What kind of pond project are you working on?"

"I own a 7-acre pond, my bass are skinny, and all I catch are fish about a pound apiece."
Aha...As I expected... A fishing pond that has all the earmarks of a system overloaded with predator fish. Overcrowded bass in his fishing pond. The urgent, almost apologetic tone of his voice begs for more info.

"Underweight bass? How can I tell?"

I start throwing out more questions, such as what do the fish have to eat? Do they have bluegill sunfish? What's their length, compared to their weight? How old are these undernourished bass? How old is the pond? What's the fish stocking and fishing history of his pond? Is there a pond fertilization program? Does he add supplemental feed to the pond? What about fish harvest? Does he have a set of fish bag limits for anglers?

Over the phone, we work our way through a primer in the role forage fish play in his pond. From these ABC'S, I can make the caller literate in basic pond management.

If this sounds familiar, it should. I can't tell you how many times this phone call has come through our switchboard over the past 30 years. Different people, from different states, asking the same pond management questions, over and over.

Former Pond Boss magazine Editor Mark McDonald used to tell me that complaints about skinny bass rank No. 2, second only to runaway aquatic vegetation, on the list of challenges facing the amateur pond owner. From Michigan to Alabama, Carolina to California, the pond problem and the solution are virtually the same.

First, make sure you actually have a forage fish problem. If a new pond has been stocked with fish properly in the beginning, there may not be a forage fish problem. It could be a fishing problem. Evaluate, and learn to tell the difference. Here's how:

Stocked correctly, forage fish in a new start-up explode in number. Bass come later, and when they arrive in their new home, they grow like a sumo wrestler locked in a Wendy's.

But, as bass in the original stocking grow, then spawn, dynamics change. More bass, feeding on a finite amount of forage fish, begin to miss meals. Individual fish growth-rate slows, even though, all told, the pond may be producing more pounds of fish than it did a year before.

Monitoring bass growth-rates tells pond managers when to selectively harvest fish, and what size ranges to take. Catching a few predator fish keeps the dynamics fresh, and the pond’s food chain expanding. Catch and release is the very watchword of a balanced fishery, but practicing it blindly, for too long, may lead to a downturn in your pond. Bass will lose weight.

Too many times we hear from pond owners whose bass are grossly underweight. So what does the pond owner do? He gets a couple bass fishing buddies to catch a few 5-pound bass at the nearest public reservoir and move them to his pond adding to the problem of overcrowding.

In virtually every case, my crew can go out and inspect the pond and discover that forage fish are in low number, or they don't exist. Gone. The bass population survives through the year only by eating its own spawn.

So consider the root of the problem too many hogs at the trough and take steps to solve it. Remove some bass. Not enough forage fish? Add some and then manage them.

Which forage species do you stock? And in what number? We'll get to that, right quick.

But first, back to the phone call...

The poor guy started this frustrating trek by calling his local county extension agent. The agent knows a lot more about cows than he does fish, so he passed off the caller by handing him a list of local fish hatcheries and fish dealers. All our man wants is a few fish. Hatchery No. 1 tells him to stock fathead minnows, at the rate of five pounds per surface acre, at $10 a pound. Our would-be pondmeister shrugs and dials a fellow at Hatchery No. 2, then Hatchery 3. The last two spend more time bad-mouthing their competitors than talking about fish.

Stock adult bluegills, says one. Stock shiners, says another. Stock fatheads, golden shiners, threadfin shad, goldfish and, presumably, the kitchen sink.

By now, our man is totally confused. Prices. Stocking rates. Stocker fingerlings. Adult brooders. The blur was giving him a headache, until, as a last resort, he phoned our office. We begin solving the problem by recommending bluegill as a forge fish. These blue-collar fish may not be too glamorous, but for most North American ponds (save for those at elevation) they serve as the backbone of the fishery, the mainstay of the food chain.

The bluegill is the perfect forage fish, with a mouth smaller than a pencil eraser, so it cannot compete with adult bass for food. Like underwater rabbits, bluegill spawn several times a year adding pint-sized food to the pond’s ecosystem every time.

In northern waters, bluegill commonly spawn two to three times before the fish growing season ends in mid-October or so. In Dixie, the pan-shaped creatures may create little craters in the shallows of the pond and spawn as many as four times in a calendar year, depending on the severity of the winter.

Bluegill set the table for the success of most bass lakes. Look at numbers.

A female bluegill may lay as many as 2,500, sometimes way more, eggs per spawn. One brood male has the ability to incubate a nest of eggs that may have been dropped by several females. So, given these fish spawning dynamics, how can a pond with bluegill ever have skinny bass?

Answer—It takes up to 10 pounds of forage fish for one bass to gain one pound. The more bass you have, obviously the more forage they require. And you want your forage fish to supply forage in a wide variety of sizes of bass.

So it becomes a balancing act...Adult bluegill, too large to be eaten by most bass, cranking out baby bluegill so the buffet line will stay open 24 hours a day.

Stocking rate: Use 200 adult bluegill per surface acre for a pond with no existing bluegill population.

Advanced tip: Use pond management techniques that benefit bluegill and your predator fish will flourish, too. Fertilize on schedule if needed, to produce plankton-rich water and dense fish cover.

Stock adult bluegill in early spring, no earlier than late February, give them time to get accustomed to the new pond surroundings, but not so early that large bass can eat them quickly. The objective is for the bluegill to spawn, spawn, spawn. These principles do not apply to the minnow species.

Fathead minnows spawn continually during warm months, but are too small and too slow to escape the maw of hungry bass. Put in 10 pounds of these forage fish, and the adult bass in the existing population get a quick snack. An expensive one, to boot.

In an established pond with bass or trout, fathead minnow survival rate is so low, they are simply a quick, expensive meal. Use fathead minnows in new ponds only, to prepare for bass fingerlings, not adults.

Stocking rate: In a new pond, use five pounds per surface acre, along with bluegill fingerlings up to 1000 per acre.

Advanced tip: Fatheads stick their eggs on the underneath side of firm objects, so encourage their reproduction by adding wooden pallets, PVC pipe, old tires, rocks or docks to shallow water areas. When you see a nest the size of an old 50-cent piece, you know your fatheads are busy.

Golden shiners are sometimes used as supplemental forage stocking in ponds where water levels may draw down from time to time. These sleek, fast-swimming minnows have the physical tools to escape predation, and survive long enough to spawn, but reproduce only once yearly.

Stocking rate: Depending on time of year, and condition of the pond, stock as few as five pounds per acre, as many as 50. If you're looking to raise giant bass, I would lean toward the higher fish stocking rate.

Advanced tip: Each spring, shiners like to stick their eggs on grass at the water's edge. Commercial minnow hatcheries use a device that looks like the pad from an old-fashioned evaporative cooler. You may substitute Bermuda grass hay, broken up and distributed around the water's edge in early April to encourage shiners to spawn.

Another hint . . . Buy shiners when eggs are almost ready, usually in late March or early April. Ask your fish dealer or hatchery to be on the lookout for "eggy", or gravid, shiners.

Red horse minnows, spot-tailed minnows, silver-sides and other species of native minnows can be used as forage fish…if you can find them from reliable hatchery sources.

As for the sunfish species, redear sunfish ("shellcracker," or "stumpknocker") operate harmoniously with bluegill, but should not be considered a replacement for bluegill, but good forage fish insurance.

Redear feed in a different niche than other fish, primarily dining on snails and other crunchy creatures in the pond. Redears spawn just a little earlier than bluegill, when water temps are pushing the mid-60's.

Redears bring more forage fish to the table during busy spring months, when bass are recovering from winter. Better yet, redears grow larger than a pound, can survive in a system with adult bass, so this can be a good fish to add to the forage fish mix, especially in warm, southern and southeastern waters. Redears can do fairly well in some cold regions of the nation.

Fish hatcheries may offer another 10-15 species of sunfish. So called "hybrid sunfish" are readily available at competitive prices, simply because they are easy to haul.

Hybrid sunfish are promoted by some fish hatcheries, bragging the fish will grow up to five pounds. In 20 years, the biggest hybrid sunfish I have seen pushed the scales to 3/4 pound.

Simply put, I have found hybrid sunfish to be inferior to the native bluegill in both spawning capacity and growth-rate. Consequently, I don't recommend using hybrid sunfish, nor do I suggest stocking pumpkinseeds, orange-spotted sunfish, long ear, or any other native species of sunfish as forage fish. They don't spawn enough, or grow large. That doesn’t mean they are ‘bad’ fish. I just don’t recommend them for forage fish.

Shad? There are two species common to U.S. waters, gizzard and threadfin. Shad are typically filter feeders, gleaning microscopic critters from the water column, funneling food straight into a long stomach. Both species of shad like open water, and must continually swim, or sink into oblivion. They do not have air bladders, so they can't regulate up and down like most fish.

Gizzards spawn once annually, grow fast, get large -- up to 2 pounds. An adult gizzard shad female can lay as many as 250,000 eggs a year. These forage fish produce low hatch-rates, low survival, but still strong enough to be significant.

Gizzard shad are hearty in most climates, even ice cover, as long as oxygen is plentiful. The down side? If you don't have enough large bass to eat fast growing shad, these silver- sided creatures can grow too big, too fast to accommodate average size bass.

If you feed your fish with a high-protein supplement such as Purina AquaMax or Game Fish Chow , watch for gizzards to gather in schools and chow down on the small pellets. Unfortunately, they may out compete your bluegill.

Threadfins are different. A seven-incher is huge, but watch them die when water temperatures fall below 42 degrees. But, these high-RPM fish are love machines.

Spawning continually through warm months, threadfin shad have the equipment and metabolism rate to reproduce exponentially. They stick eggs on underwater grass, each shad spawning every 40-60 days, depending on pond water temperature.

Baby shad mature and spawn at 60 days of age. If the water is fertile, and they are not eaten by adult bass, they will continue to spawn until temperatures drop in the autumn, supplementing the bluegill crop. Good stuff, especially in trophy bass lakes. Threadfins, in the right part of the world, are outstanding forage fish to supplement bluegill.

Stocking rate: In new lakes, stock 200 threadfin per acre. In ponds with established predator populations, the fishery will require more threadfins before they "take." This rate could be as high as 2,000 threadfin shad per acre, depending on water conditions and numbers of bass to eat the little critters.

Advanced tip: Order threadfin shade early. Contact the fish hatchery, place your order in the fall, for spring fish delivery. Then, in springtime, watch water temperatures closely, and when the temp is consistently above 60 degrees, fertilize the pond on schedule, as needed.

Have the shad delivered when pond water is fertile, and plankton is plentiful. And, don't forget, make sure they have a spawning habitat. As for gizzard shad ... Stocking rate: Use 30 adults, at least 12" long, per acre, in late winter, very early spring.

Advanced tip: Buy large gizzard shad, and caution the fish-hauler about getting greedy. Large gizzards cannot tolerate overcrowding and should be hauled with only 25-50 adults per hauling compartment. Move them quickly during cool water months.

Big shad lay lots of eggs, so you don't need many to establish a population.

As you work your pond management plan, monitor the growth-rates of your bass and modify your forage fish selectively. You will make your decisions more effectively if you know how each forage species lives, eats and reproduces.

What did the caller do? He used earthworms and a bobber to fish for bluegill. Didn't catch a one.

So I got him to stock 200 adult bluegill (4-plus inches in length) per acre, start a feeding program with high-protein Purina AquaMax 500 pellets. He fertilizes once or twice a year, and removes all bass he catches that are 14 inches or shorter, unless he catches a fat one.

As a result, when we talk now he has confidence in his voice. A lake full of big bluegill and fast-growing, healthy bass will do that for you.

POND BOSS Magazine is the world’s leading resource for fish, pond and fisheries management information including discussions on muddy water, raising trophy fish, fish feeding, building a pond, algae control and more. Check us out at or contact Bob Lusk, the Pond Boss himself, at 903-564-5372. His books, Basic Pond Management, Raising Trophy Bass and Perfect Pond, Want One, may be purchased by calling 800-687-6075 or ordering online at

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Blog Design

I found myself with just 4 minutes of free time this evening while waiting for dinner and thats all the time it took before I reached the point of no return. My old simple blog is now updated with all the latest and greatest features and there is no going back.....

With the new changes hopefully I don't lose both of all my followers and mom and grandma don't spend too much time adjusting their computer monitors........

.........a couple hours later and some major help from Brook and we are back online with what is hopefully a better blog.

Clay Pigeon Shoot For Aaron Schock

I just wanted to let everyone know there is a clay pigeon shoot Sunday, August 15, 2010 in support of Congressman Aaron Schock at Oak Ridge Sportsmans Club.

Sign up and event information is below. Aaron's mom used to teach me and my siblings piano lessons a long long time ago. We used to play crow kay in the yard while waiting for everyone to get done with their lesson. That just doesnt look right- crokae, crokay, crowque oh well. Anyhow I grew up with Aaron but haven't seen too much of him lately. The shooting event will be fun.

I shot at the Midwest Food Bank clay pigeon event last week and have another shooting event coming up this friday. All at the same place in Mackinaw, so I should be practiced up for this event in August, but more importantly practiced up for the dove season opener in September. Here is a pic of the course:


18th District, Illinois

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
(dinner will be provided)

Weishaupt Road Mackinaw, Illinois

The Sporting Clay Shoot will be followed by
a dinner reception at the Sportsman’s Club.

PAC Sponsor: $1,000
Platinum Sponsor: $500
(Includes Shooting, Dinner and Sponsor Signage posted at event.)
Shooter & Dinner Ticket: $175
Dinner Ticket: $100

If you have any questions regarding this event, please contact
Tania Hoerr at (309) 693-9393 or

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Fish and Big Deer

I actually don't have that many words to write at the moment. I think I did pick a fitting title though- Big Fish and Big Deer.

This deer is from one of my clients properties in fulton county. He just got it back from a taxidermist this weekend. It was 221 inches and some of his relatives are still hanging out on the farm (the deer's relatives, not the clients).

We are putting in some trail cams, deer stands, and strategic fall food plots to help his relatives (the clients' this time) get some more deer like that one!

Chef Todd catered a dinner for me at Otter Creek Preserve Saturday night. He cooked Blueberry Bluecheese Elk burgers and tomato something salad. It was delicious. We were showing some clients around the farm for the evening. Otter Creek is perhaps one of the nicest recreational farms in Illinois. Here are some pics:

These lakes will produce state record muskies and I have never ever said this before about any lake, but these lakes will eventually produce state record largemouth and even have an outside shot at the state record smallmouth bass as well. I have worked on this 147 acre lake since it was a puddle and we are on pace to produce double digit bass here in central Illinois! I have never intensively managed a lake to this degree.

Moving on, Chef Todd also catered a dinner for me Sunday evening for 40 friends and family of my parents. He cooked sweet chili glaze chicken, barbecue pork chops, bacon wrapped stuffed chicken tenders, and all the fixins. Folks if you havent caught on yet, the man can cook! Get ahold of me if your interested in having a great meal of any kind catered by the chef. I will be his booking agent and only loan him to others when he has some free time.

He took some of the kids fishing on the dock after dinner and made sure they all caught fish. He then caught some nice fish of his own. Here is the biggest bluegill and biggest smallmouth bass he has caught from my lake to date: (not lake records, but Chef records).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot Crappie Fishing and Deer Season Stuff

Sunset at the lake on Saturday evening:

Well, I can't believe its Wednesday already! Been a very eventful last 5 days to say the least. Saturday Chef Todd and I took some people fishing and cooked up a fish fry feast in the evening. Sunday we had a whole bunch of friends out to the lake for a cookout. Monday I diagnosed pond problems in the office from Montana to Texas to Maine and pretty much every state in between. Then I headed out for an electrofishing survey and some deer management stuff monday evening. Tuesday I finished up some lake management reports, caught up on emails and phone calls, and then headed out for a consultation near Trivoli. Wednesday I diagnosed several fish kills, had my back and body worked on, looked at a lot to potentially build my future house on, and headed out to a large property to work on some deer, quail, and waterfowl management stuff. When I got home tonight I played Wii fit with Mae and Noah and then fell asleep on the couch for awhile. Now here I am wide awake and early tomorrow morning consultation just a few hours away. Here are some stories and pics:

Saturday morning I got all my fishing gear ready, hooked up a couple fishing boats, and met up with Chef Todd with enough food for an army, and we headed out. Our agenda for the day was to take some clients and their friends fishing and then cook them up a feast. It was sunny and 92 degrees outside, but surprisingly the fish were biting and we managed to stay cool enough to have a great time fishing.

Before we headed out to the Big lake in the boats we were all fishing off the covered dock when one of the ladies hooked into a nice channel catfish on some catfish bait. She was realing it in when the catfish got itself snagged in a brush pile about 15 feet deep on the bottom. I could feel the catfish on the line but it was all wrapped up in the tree.

Here was my moment- the kind of moment when you can accomplish something that will stick in the minds of city folk for quite awhile. I jumped in the water, swam out to right above the tree, took a deep breathe and swam down to the bottom of the lake to meet up with the catfish. He was wrapped up alright, and not happy. I knew there was no way I was coming up without that catfish so I cornered him into the tree, dug my fingers into his gills with all my might, broke the lines wrapped in the limbs, and headed for the surface giving this beast a bear hug. I knew the moment I swam down there was no way in the world I was coming back up breathing without that catfish.

I made it back up with the beast and I felt like one of those crazy guys on tv doing stupid stuff in the wild that most people would never even think about doing even during survival situations. The only kicker was that I had a live audience with no room for error or any signs of weakness. Anyhow that was my moment, and it was alot of fun. We ate that fish for dinner.

We then headed out to the lake for some crappie fishing. Chef Todd took out a couple ladies, I took out 4 ladies, and there were two other boats of guys. We all caught lots of fish, but there was one boat with 4 ladies who caught a good majority of the fish, and especially all the fish fo dinna. Brook absolutely hates it when I talk or write about anything good that I do or accomplish or brag or boast about, but this is my fishing blog and by golly I am gonna very biasedly tell the story like it is! For her sake I wont name any names of the amazing fishing guide or of the 4 ladies.

Here are some more pics from the fishing trip. The northerns actually are reproducing in this 31 acre lake. Northerns havent been stocked since 2002 and these two fish were yearlings hatched in the spring of 2009:

We let the guys take a few pics with our fish:

Here is what the fish looked like about an hour later. This fish was with his school in the morning and hanging out with Chef Todd in the afternoon:

We cooked up some bruschetta and grilled some stuffed bacon wrapped prawns for appetizers.

We also fried up some crappies, mixed up some salads, grilled some sweet corn and chicken, and grilled peaches with ice cream for dessert. Lots of fun! I was too tired to drive all the way home at 11 pm when we finished so I stopped in at Norris for a few hours of sleep. The sun really zaps the energy out of me.

Sunday we had about 25 friends up to the lake for a cookout and lots of swimming. Very fun, I was too tired to fish so I dont have any pictures. I only take pics of fish, food, or deer stuff. If we can integrate kids and friends and such into those pics even the more better. I guess I could of taken pics of the mozzerella burgers or sweet chili glaze chicken.......

Monday here are some pics from the electrofishing survey. This 6 acre lake is stacked up with lots of 2.75 lb largemouth bass. Not many smaller and none bigger, interesting.... Brought the kids out to take some pics of the catch.

Then we went around to check all the food plots, trail cameras, and new deer stands. This has been a very fun property to work on and come deer hunting season will be even more fun for the owners! Spring plots of beans and biologic are doing good, trail cameras are picking up lots of deer patterns, and fall plots will be going in in a few weeks, and new deer stand and box blind locations are going to pay off big time!

This baby is getting a nice staircase and electricity. It will be overlooking a fall planting of 3 acres of beans and other tasty stuff:

Here is the view looking out of the Texas Hunter double blind:

Here is one of the new cuddeback cameras:

And here is the plot it is overlooking:

Tuesday I went to a pond consultation to one of the coolest places to live on the planet. This guy has a beautiful log cabin with 5 or 6 stall garage overlooking a one acre pond which overlooks 85 acres of intensively managed timber. Pretty much my dream home and land. I was telling Brook that I just came from my dream home and she said "so the pond wrapped around the house" I had to correct myself- almost my dream home. Brad, if you are reading this far down, the only thing your missing is the pond wrapping around the house. Except for that tiny little detail your place is the ultimate.

His garage is full of every kind of wood working tool imaginable. He makes bows, duck and goose calls, turkey calls, coyote calls, knives, inkpens, and other outdoor stuff from wood and antlers and bones from his property. Real cool stuff.

I brought some pond stuff along hoping to trade for some of this stuff. Here is what I came home with that Brook doesnt know about yet. This stuff doesnt pay the bills, but it does help put meat on the table so there you go- justified. I don't have Brad's email address with me tonight, but if for some reason I forget to add it later just give me a holler if your interested in getting a hold of him. He has a huge collection available, but also custom makes anything too.

Today I did a whole bunch of dumb not noteworthy stuff, but this afternoon I went out to a 550 acre farm to start working on a complete deer, quail, and waterfowl management plan. Timber Creek Land Company is helping me design this plan for my client. This property sits in a major goose flyway and there are already lots of deer, and tons of quail running around everywhere. Our goal is just to tweak everything in just a way to bring the people and the animals just a bit closer together. We are strategically planning the food plots, the deer stand locations, trail cameras, goose pits, etc. Land management stuff is pretty neat and lots of fun.

Lots of fish dying right now in Central Illinois. Most of the time the cause of death is suffocation (lack of oxygen) but that can be caused by a variety of different things. I could not for the life of me figure out one fish kill earlier today. I went over everything with the owner and his wife and it just didnt all add up. Finally after a couple phone calls he forgot to mention they applied copper sulfate the day before but didnt think anything about it since they have never had trouble in the past with treatments. There is always some piece of the puzzle that gets tucked under the rug only to be found a bit later. Thursday monring I will try to figure out another one near Metamora.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pond Hippo, Tough Fishing, Getting Healthy???

Ever watch an infomercial and just want to order stuff because the idea just seems so genius? Sooo many As Seen On TV items out there that I have always dreamed of owning..... Anyhow here is the ultimate infomercial type item for small pond owners with chronic duckweed: The Pond Hippo.

Here is the kicker though, this baby actually works! Its not magic, doesnt solve all your problems, has some limitations, and requires some effort, BUT we successfully used it today for our trial run and were sort of impressed with what this contraption can do. It sucks up duckweed and algae very good and deposits it right into these neat filtration bags. We filled up several bags with 100's of pounds of duckweed and algae in just a few hours today.

For folks who live in coves and are the recipients of all the lakes floating junk this would work perfect to suck up leaves, watermeal, algae, duckweed, etc. Up to 2 inch solids and it also sucks down big tadpoles, frogs, and other unfortunate items who got a little to close to our experiments today.

Also for small ponds with chronic duckweed and watermeal this contraption will work great. We didnt have any help from the wind today so we had to use our duckweed boom to bring the duckweed to the pump, but strategically timed and placed pond hippoes will work awesome! I will be selling them online shortly and also if anyone out there with the right application wants to get their pond hippoed just shoot me an email or give me a call.

Moving on, we had the toughest fishing bite of the year last night. We took 9 high school boys from Morton AC Church and their Bible Class teacher fishing last night and we actually had to work very hard for the few fish we caught.

We had to catch fish too, because that was what was on the menu for dinner! We squeeked out some hybrid striped bass, some bluegill, and a couple small catfish (enough to eat) but the fish just seemed like their mouths were sewn shut. Even though the fishing was bad we still had a great evening playing in the water and cooking fresh fish and mushrooms for dinner:

The rest of the week was spent working on some cool spawning bed projects. We shot thousands of pounds of pea gravel into strategic spawning areas to help produce lots of baby fish. For those non fish people reading the blog, we basically set up these lakes with several honeymoon suites with soft sheets, scented candles, romantic music, and full blown nurseries all geared for making and raising lots of fish. Here are some pics of the process:

Last bit of exciting news is that I have started a program to get my body and back healthy again. I have worked out a deal with Benningfield Chiropractic (exchanging some tiger muskies and such) to fix my lower back, get me back in shape, and teach me what to eat and what not to eat. Back in 2002 I was extremely active and athletic. Swam a couple miles a week, played volleyball one night a week, basketball one night a week, and worked 50 hours of construction every week. I ate about 10,000 calories a day and weighed 205 lbs. Since then I got married, changed careers, had 3 kids, and haven't excercised or really done any sort of physical activity at all. Instead of swinging a hammer and climbing on roofs I sit behind a desk or in a boat. Instead of playing sports after work, I come home and sit in my chair with 3 kids climbing all over me. Pretty big lifestyle change and now 8 years later I have a bad lower back and weigh 280 lbs.

So Dr. Bob is fixing my back, Dr. Chad is teaching me nutrition, and Amy is my personal trainer. I asked her if it was normal to be out of breath during my initial evaluation??? I think the process of everything is going to take about 10 weeks. I will keep updated as yet another form of accountability on making the lifestyle change. I find out on Monday if Casey's pork tenderloin and white frosted cookies will be on my new diet........

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MossBack Fish Rack Fish Attractor

There are some new players emerging in the fish structure world. Porcupine fish attractors have dominated the online fish structure market for years. Larry Harper the inventor of the porcupines is actually a good friend of mine. Anyhow over the last few years there have been several products introduced to the market with much success. Honey Hole Trees, Tall Trees, Catfish Condos, FishHiding, and several other products have come along recently and here is the kicker- they all work. We sell them all on our online store and each of them has their time and place and unique attributes.

Fish just like nice places to live, hunt, hide, and hang out. While the fish structures available on the market today all attract fish, there is a new product available online that is shippable that I personally am taking a liking to and so are many fish. It is called the mossback fish rack, and it attracts lots of fish. The mossback fish rack attractor in my opinion is going to become very popular with not only freshwater fisherman, but with saltwater anglers! The online saltwater fish attractor market is largely untapped and believe me is HUGE business. If you think fish attractors and reefs work good in freshwater, just try one out in saltwater!

I make and install lots of artificial fishing reefs for private lakes and ponds as well as many subdivision and association lakes and ponds too. My theory is that one big reef is way more effective than spreading out individual structures all over the place. I would rather have one big structure than 10 little ones in most cases. I still use alot of full size trees, brush piles, rock piles, reject concrete, etc for fish structures, but I have been using more and more synthetic pvc type structures lately. These synthetic fishing structures are easy to deploy, built to last forever and be somewhat relatively snag free.

Here is more information about the mossbacks. Just keep in mind when placing fish structure that one attractor will hold a handful of fish, two attractors will hold a pile of fish, and 4 attractors will hold a boatload of fish.

The MOSS BACK FISH RACK™ is a long-lasting structure resembling the
natural look of the outdoors while providing great cover for baitfish and all
types of game fish. Algae growth occurs quickly due to the realistic bark like
texture of the Fish Rack. This product not only gives you virtually undetected favorite fishing spots, but it also provides the opportunity for different placement configurations. Extreme ease of assembly allows you to quickly
hang from your dock or place in your favorite lake or pond. You will enjoy greater fishing time and less frustration which can be associated with placing natural cover.

Video how to set up the fish attractor:

MossBack Rack Set Up from melanie adcock on Vimeo.

Video how to deploy the fish attractor

MossBackDeploy from melanie adcock on Vimeo.

Underwater video of the fish attractor:

underwater moss back clips from melanie adcock on Vimeo.

We have Mossback Fish Rack attractors and all the other fish attractors available for sale online at Herman Brothers Fish Structures Page. (mossbacks will be available for online purchase by August 1st) if you would like to purchase some before then, please email to have them shipped right to you. Note to self- update the blog once the listing is live.