Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Electrofishing Season Has Begun!!

Electrofishing or as most people say it, shocking the pond season has begun! The absolute favorite part of my job is going to new places and finding out what fish are swimming beneath the surface! Always is exciting. Yesterday did not disappoint, we went to some awesome places, met some great new clients, and dialed up some BIG fish. Here is a picture at sunset of the last place we were at.

Justin and I pulled off a marathon of epic proportions. First thing in the morning we headed out at 5:30 am towards Chesterfield, IL. We arrived at 8:30 am and installed a Vertex Air Three aeration system and an AquaPro ADF 75 fish feeder for a 2.5 acre pond.

This pond we electrofished last fall and the owner is now implementing his new plan for killing watermeal while growing some giant bluegills and feed trained bass. We also dropped him off a years supply of fish food and all the materials needed for cleaning up the pond. Then at 11 am we headed down south yet again towards Norris City, IL. We arrived at 2:30 pm and electrofished a 5 acre pond. We dialed up bunches of fish, but most were 8 inch bluegills and 11.5 inch bass. We did get this one big momma though was the only bass over 12.5 inches: BIG FISH

These pond owners want to consistently grow bigger bass. Here is the whole crew checking out the fish:

The pond is severely lacking in bottom contour, structure, and cover. There was only one shelf and one tree limb in the lake and thats where a majority of the bass were hanging out. To grow big bass, you need to create places they can feed efficiently and just hang out without spending any energy the rest of the day. This lake the bass all had to be roamers to find a meal and that just takes up too much energy to gain weight. Also the lake was 35 years old and all the bass originated from the same family, inbred mutts was basically what they are.

We didnt find a bluegill less than 5 inches long in this lake. Bass need to eat 3-5 inch bluegill in order to grow, if you want big bass than you need to make the habitat that will produce oodles of small bluegills! Anyhow that is just the basics of what was going down, collectively we came up with a plan that will work for them for growing some bigger bass consistently. Then from there we headed a few miles down the road to this brand new 3 acre pond. This guy is building a paradise for fish and kids and I guess grown ups alike. Wow is this pond gonna be awesome! Check out this dock rope swing catapult contraption thing:

Ok this pond is gonna be a crappie/walleye pond. No bass and no bluegill. A management plan like this is intense and labor intensive, but this guy knows what he wants and now has a game plan (with a back up plan) and a back up, back up plan for getting what he wants. Forage will be growing all summer long as the pond continues to fill and then 500 crappies per acre will be stocked this fall. Walleyes will be stocked the following fall to clean up the next years baby crappies. Bojo bug lights will be installed to feed the crappies at night. He has a complete plan that works for his budget and management style. Next at 5:30 pm we headed over to Carmi, IL to electrofish a newly acquired 2 acre pond.

This little gem hasn't been managed or fished much over the years and WOW was it full of some awesome fish! About as good of a natural balance as I have seen in similar situations. We shocked up a handful of 3-4 lb and a 14 lb catfish, bass of all sizes, monster bluegills, a couple small walleyes (that had been stocked 4 days earlier) and pulled these big crappies out of the cage the owner caught and put them into 3 days earlier.

These guys want to produce lots of fish for eating. With a 2 acre pond, a natural balance isn't going to produce as many fish annually as these guys want to eat. I can tell, they are big dudes and they wanted to eat all the fish in the holding tank. I talked em into just eating the catfish for now and gave em a plan for producing 100's of pounds of meat every year!

At 8 pm we were back on the road headed for home. Five hours later I was in my own bed conked out. We were supposed to take 2 full days for this road trip, but a couple guys in Mt. Vernon canceled and we were able to reschedule everything on the fly and get er all done in one day. I am pretty excited for this season and especially anticipating the end of the snow and cold! The next few months are gonna be pretty exciting.

1 comment:

  1. Nate
    As always a very interesting post. I wish I had the resources to build a small pond, and watch it produce some monster gills and bass. I really enjoy your post.