Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Southern Illinois Morels, Docks, Electrofishing

Just got back from a little road trip down to Southern Illinois. The morels are popping and love is in the air/water down there in the fish world.

Down in Brownstown, IL we built this small boat dock on Fred's secondary pond for his guest house tucked back in the woods. We also met a dye manufacturer from St. Louis there at Fred's pond to test out a new granular lake dye. This new product has some potential, but isn't quite ready to hit the market yet.

Fred and his neighbor helped Allen and I build this dock:

Only took 4 hours to build and install and then we went and toured some ponds made by the famous pond builder Dave Sefton. Dave is getting close to retirement and only builds 2-3 ponds a year anymore, but the ponds we saw were terrific! Hybrid ponds, Catfish ponds, Gar and trash fish ponds, etc, etc. Fun stuff.

Then it was time for DINNER. Fred's wife Connie is the best cook on the planet. Everytime I head south I make sure to detour thru Brownstown to get a gourmet meal. This time we feasted on Chicken and Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, Some kind of mouth watering tenderized steak, and homemade chocolate creme and coconut creme pies. She always makes two main entrees and two types of desserts so naturally I always eat two full meals in one sitting.

I actually wasnt able to eat two desserts, the coconut creme pie was so unbelievable I had to eat a third (smaller) piece. Words cannot describe how fantastic that combination of various cooked coconuts tasted. Tonight I will probably dream about eating that pie.....Ok so flash forward to today and while I was gone Brook was making pies for the lighthouse academy auction this weekend and she is all excited about this snicker/oreo creme pie she concocted. She even texted me how great it turned out. So I get home and Im not even excited about tasting this thing because my heart was still in love with coconut creme....For those in suspense wondering, yes I did taste the pie and yes it was delicious, but it was just average delicious. I am completely ruined now, kind of like the kid who shoots a once in a lifetime deer early in life.....

So anyhow the this morning Allen and I were up at 2:45 and headed from Brownstown towards Norris City, Illinois for some electrofishing, fish feeder and buglight instalation, and to put in a vertex aeration system.

A couple years ago when I was rolling through Carmi, Il a crazy guy in a big pickup truck nearly ran us off the road while trying to flag us down. Im thinking great, what fell off the truck or what mailbox did we just take or what happened now, etc etc but thankfully he just didnt want to miss the opportunity to get his brand newly purchased 2 acre pond shocked. He saw our shocking boat in tow and chased us for 3 miles... Right off the bat his first question was if he could grow walleye in the pond he just purchased. It was that exact moment I knew we were gonna get along great...

Anyhow, we came back down and electrofished Dave's (the crazy guy who chased us down) pond last year and got him set up on a program to grow 2 lb bluegills and some eatable sized walleyes down in far southern illinois in a 2 acre pond 11 feet deep. This year we came down to implement phase two of the plan and to make sure everything was progressing as it is supposed to. (really at this stage its just to make sure the owner isnt the one messing up the plan...)

We shocked up some nice and fat 9 inch walleyes and I am not kidding you when I say that Dave is going to grow 32 oz bluegills in this pond. Keep in mind an 8 oz bluegill is a nice fish better than average. Mark my words, Dave will grow lots of 2 lb bluegill in this pond! He is determined and is sitting pretty. Here are couple pics of his pond with the new feeders in place with a special very high protein fish food.

Dave's buddy York found out we were in town and we had just enough time to head to his pond 7 miles down the road and see what kind of fish they had. They have stocked lots of catfish, but havent caught any of them. Also they have yet to catch a largemouth over 2 lbs. The bluegills though were world class and they knew it!

Their goal is simple and very attainable- grow some bass over two lbs, maintain the amazing bluegill fishery, and figure out how to get the catfish established. Here is what I came up with based on my observations and after drilling the Yorks with tons of questions. First the bass were obviously way overpopulated, that was a gimme. They knew that already, but not only overpopulated but there hasnt been fresh genetics added to that pond since the original stocking in 1970. Even by thinning the bass down, they still werent gonna grow much over 2 lbs. Also not much good largemouth bass feeding habitat in the pond.

We made a diagram of where to place the new cover consisting of cedar trees, rip rap, and pea gravel, determined it best to catch out as many of the bass in the pond as possible over the next month with a goal of at least 150, and then to bring in 75 new bass to get things back on track. Oh yeah, they had been stocking channel catfish too small and the existing bass were just gobbling them up. They will be getting bigger ones in the future. Also in the future they will occasionally bring in largemouth bass of fresh genetics in the 15-17" size range.

They are going to tinker with a feeding program with some old Moultrie feeders, but will end up replacing them with Texas Hunters eventually. Also a Vertex Air One aeration system is in the longterm plan for the pond as well. Gonna be a another fun one to come check back in on in a couple years...

1 comment:

  1. I see you really DID go to southern Illinois...I bet Allen ate that whole chocolate pie. How'd the new dye seem to work?? Let me know when you're stocked up with dye and I'll be there to snag some.