Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nebraska Docks, Iowa Electrofishing

Its 4:09 pm on Sunday afternoon and I just woke up from a 4 hour nap. Apparently these days I catch up on sleep during the middle of the day at any opportunity possible.

Monday morning May 9th I was at the office at 2:45 am getting ready for the upcoming week. We pulled out of town at 5 am headed for Lincoln, Nebraska with a full truck load of tools, clothes, gear, and bodies. Justin, Josh, Allen, Caleb, and I packed into the extended cab Chevy and headed out on an adventure west on I-80.

We arrived at our first location at 1:30 in the afternoon and built this dock from scratch in less than 5 hours!

It was a 12x16 floating dock with a 6x16 gangway with flip up boat cleats, a nice swim ladder, composite decking, and mounted to 6x6 posts anchored 3 feet into the ground. Our crew is becoming dock building machines, oh yeah also of note is that it was 96 stinkin hot degrees on Monday!!! Thats sure a wake up call workin in the HEAT!

Good thing we were working on a pond. The water was a chilly 62 degrees, but man did it feel nice to cool down every hour. This pond was about an acre and was stocked full of smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, jumbo yellow perch, golden shiners, and condello strain bluegills!

Then we headed to a place called Lazlos for dinner. Real nice place to eat, but we were too tired to go change so they got a table full of worn out, dirty, smelly foreigners. Amazingly they placed us on a section were no one else was eating........good times. Then after putting down a bunch of chicken fried chicken, prime rib, salmon salad, and some other stuff we found a hotel with double queen beds for the week.

Next morning we were up at 5:45 am and hit the continental breakfast and headed out to our next job which was about 10 miles South of Lincoln. For both these projects we had all the hardware and floats shipped in and all the Lumber delivered locally. This project was much, much bigger than the first dock. This was a 20x42 with built in fish cages, a 5' jump dock, and a boat slip. Also we built two sets of stairs going down to the dock and had to get real creative with the footings since all the shoreline is made up of limestone and various other forms of rock.

Here are some random pics of this dock. The first one I am going over the built in cage design with Bruce:

Here we are building the cages out of double galvanized plastic coated wire. This material is rated for 30 years in saltwater.

I didn't have an opportunity to take many pics, but will add some more as they are sent to me from various people. The finished product with the staircases, fish cages, jump platform and boat slip is very very cool!!!

Tuesday and Wednesday we worked from 6 am to 9 pm and it was still 90 degrees HOT! At least it was hot until Wednesday afternoon when a huge cold front came rolling through along with bunches of rain. That cooled things off nicely, but sure made for a muddy mess the rest of the week. Thursday we were pretty tired so we slept in till 7 am and got a late start, but made up for it by working into the dark finishing up the project.

We finished about 10 pm just as the next round of storms came rolling through. Installing the underwater green monster light was the last task of the project. Us 5 guys put in 225 hrs of work in just those three days on this dock project. It turned out awesome and the new owner is super excited!

Friday morning we had to leave the hotel by 5 am to get to Cedar Rapids on time. We made it out the door on time even with putting all of our bags and stuff into garbage sacks due to the rain. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we brought the electrofishing boat along for this road trip too. Cedar Rapids is right along I-80 and a couple guys there wanted their lakes shocked.

We rolled into Cedar Rapids about 10 am and got started in the rain (of course). Super awesome looking 5 acre lake custom built 4 years ago and stocked from a local hatchery. The fish were really really bad though, very surprising for such a newly stocked pond. The only bright spots in the whole lake were some 10 inch perch and almost 11 inch crappies. Everything else was very small and skinny, very uncharacteristic from such a newly stocked pond.

That will change shortly though, this pond is gonna be the talk of Cedar Rapids about 2 years from now!! We are custom designing a cutting edge feeding program with a complete lake bottom aeration system and upgrading the genetics of the panfish big time! Next time you see this lake on the blog it will be with some 11 inch bluegills and 14 inch perch in the pictures!!!

Next pond was an older 3 acre pond sitting right in the path of some future development. Anyhow we came up with a management plan to have alot of fun with this pond for the time being! Gonna be an easy one to turn into a monster bass fishery with some bonus Tiger Muskies!

While the rain kept coming down we decided to head over to the Pizza Ranch lunch buffet before hitting the last 2 ponds. That was really good food and we all ate light and in moderation since we have to start being healthier and certain people will eventually be reading this.....We hung around the buffet a few extra minutes and eventually the rain stopped

So anyhow, the next pond was super interesting. It was stocked 4 years ago with redear bluegill, hybrid bluegill, catfish, and crappie. When I heard that I knew immediately what we would find, but I didnt expect it to be that bad.....

The whole pond was infested with 3-5 inch crappies and 2-4 inch redears with a hanful of 6 inch hybrid bluegills. Not good at all if you want to grow panfish to eat! You need predators or your panfish will get mega stunted!

One good thing about this pond is that the forage base is primed for the predators. I gave the owner several options and it looks like the predator of choice for his situation is going to be Hybrid Striped Bass! Those fish along with a light feeding program will turn that pond right around.

Last pond of the day was a 1/2 acre pond that used to be dynamite fishing. No one has caught any fish for the last couple years and we definitely found out why......There wasnt any catchable fish in the pond! Apparently a few years ago there was a big fish kill and now the pond is full of bullheads, fathead minnows, and white sucker fish.

Game plan for this pond is to get it aerated in the deep water for the summer and along the edge for the winter. This will prevent future fish kills and will provide the whitetail deer in the area a great place to drink during the harsh winter. The fish we are going to stock are feed trained largemouth bass! Gonna be lots of fun for the boys to come down to the dock and toss out big nuggets for the bass to demolish! That will create an instant fishery and alot of fun for the boys not just fishing, but interacting with the pond and fish firsthand.

5:30 pm and we are headed for home! About 9 pm and I walk in the door (in the rain of course) to some anxiously awaiting children!!! Boy was it good to see them! At one point during the week Mae told Brook she had forgotten what I even looked like....Its good to know your missed, but being gone for that long is definitely not something we will be doing very often.

Saturday I had the priviledge of loading back into the van and heading back to Iowa for Brook's grandparents 60 year anniversery party in Bloomfield. Turns out Josh was riding bull's just 5 miles down the road at Davis County Fairgrounds so me and a couple guys snuck away for a bit and watched about 15 riders get thrown onto the ground and some even got stomped on. Crazy stupid stuff.

Back in the van with a load of cranky kids and of course rain and home by midnight. That brings me up to today. Church till noon, then nap till 4 and its now 10 pm and the kids are in bed and I am watching the Bulls game that I taped earlier. We went to N.O.W music festival with all the kids tonight in Farmington. It was a collection of local Christian artists playing various types of music with free concessions.

Next week is gonna be pretty exciting too. Lots of local clients are chomping at the bit for us to get their projects started and I have a gazillion emails and voicemails to catch up on. If your reading this and I still havent returned your message, please be patient. Cell service was horrible in Nebraska, and I was too tired at night to return emails. Usually I keep up pretty good even when traveling, but my voice mail box is actually filled up completely so I cant get anymore of those for the time being.

Camera battery is charged back up and so am I! Especially looking forward to Saturday!! I am hosting a big Hooked on Fishing fundraiser at Otter Creek and also Hook and Hunt TV is coming to film a fishing show too. Chef Todd is cooking a feast and we have over 10 boats signed up. I still could accommodate a few more boats if anyone is interested in coming you have to supply all your own gear, bait, and boat.

Food is provided but you can bring some wild game for Chef to cook up if you want. Cost is $500 donation to fishing park per boat. You will be allowed to take home crappies and certain other management fish. Just send me an email or shoot me a call if you want more information.

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