Friday, June 29, 2012

Gonna Be a Long Hot Summer!

Ponds all over the state are starting to dry up! The corn is thirsty....I am thirsty! It was just plain hot today and it looks like its gonna be a long hot summer! For some reason that song by I believe Keith Urban is just stuck in my head every place I go. I almost sing it out as I talking about the weather with clients and what to do with their lakes and ponds going into a summer such as this.

Ok so its 1:57 am Friday morning. I am still sugared up from a midnight energy drink as we drove home from Carbondale. Also I am jacked up for Tuna fishing in Venice Louisiana this weekend, so sleep isnt gonna come easy tonight, might as well write...

Just finished up a marathon two weeks that saw mucho miles put on the red chevy and electrofishing boat. Last week we spent a good portion of the week in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Consulted with 4 seperate lake and land owners there and finished up at perhaps one of the coolest estates in the whole state of Iowa. It has it all- fish, deer, golf, swimming, tennis, basketball, horses, streams, waterfalls, etc etc etc. Simply amazing and now the fish there are gonna be amazing too....

Seems like alot of folks in that area are big into fishing and hunting and managing their lakes and land! I ship more lake supply orders and get more phone calls and emails from Cedar Rapids area each year than I do the whole rest of the state of Iowa! Already got several people from that area lined up for next road trip there this fall- very cool!

Here are some pics from Marks very cool sand pit lake just outside of Cedar Rapids. Looks like a fun place to fish eh? Big and little walleye everywhere!!!

Then on Saturday we hosted a couple hundred high school boys and co up at the lake on Saturday. Shew boy is that ever an action packed day. We picked up a used ice cream maching on Ebay earlier this year and went through like 500 cones on girls camp weekend, but went through over 1300 on boys camp day!!! We stocked up.

Also on Saturday we sent the boys out striper fishing and we cleaned and cooked up the fish as they were catching them. Probably 30 fish in all!!

They were gobbling up that stuff so fast they were burning their hands grabbing it instantly once the basket flopped onto the paper towel.

Then Sunday we rested. Me and the kids just hung out together peacefully all day long and after church we rented a movie about a family who bought a zoo. Someday we will probably have a zoo too. Noah for some reason wants a blue lion from Africa. Been talking about that for over a year....

This week we put way more miles on the truck! Built a couple nice docks on Tuesday. Here is a pic of the big swim dock for Chris's lake:

Then we loaded up truck and boat to the max and headed south Wednesday. 3500 feet of weighted tubing, 3 aeration compressors and cabinets, 11 membrane diffusers, 1000 lbs high protein fish food, 6 texas hunter fish feeders, couple cases of HB brand lake dye and algaecides, 50 lbs HB Bacteria, tools, clothes, and 3 guys. Not an inch of space left-

Electrofished and installed aeration near Taylorville for good client Al. Visited his place in 2010 and his pond has been hopping since then!!

Then dropped up some feeders near Hillsboro for a Pond Boss guy and headed down to the Double Tree Hotel in Collinsville for the night. Mexican for dinner and then lights out. Installed aeration in Belleville for an awesome pond in the AM and then headed for the big job near Carbondale. We had so much stuff jampacked in the truck and boat, it would take 20 minutes to unload the boat and truck each time we had to use it and then repack it up again to head to the next place!

Finally near Carbondale we installed the motherload of all aeration systems. Jason is literally growing a pond full of double digit largemouth bass and I am not exaggerating. He has the perfect storm brewing and we are monitoring it very closely!!!!! There are not many bass, but rather HUGE bass... So anyhow we custom designed this aeration system, we call it the ROCK STAR system! Here is a peek inside of the insulated weatherproof cabinet!

We did some work on the other ponds on his property, designed a couple sweet docks for him and headed out around 8:30 pm for home. Oh yeah, it was 106 degrees today near Carbondale and that was actual temp, not heat index. Oh yeah again, our air conditioning did not work in the red chevy for the entire road trip and it was more than 90 degrees in the truck as we drove around the dry thirsty hot southern portion of the state. WOW was that ever an experience. Even at 10 pm it was still 88 degrees in the truck.....serious stink.....

So that brings me up to right now this very moment. Well let me back up, Jared and Tate were with me in Southern Illinois and Justin, Allen and Phil had the privilege of cutting trees and clearing Dr. Dave's lake front lot. Hottest day of the decade and they were out plugging away with skid steer, chipper, and chainsaws!

So now here we are on the heel of an epic deep sea fishing trip to Venice! One for the ages: 12 guys, 4 days, 8 coolers, and supposedly the tuna are on fire 70 miles offshore!!!!!! You wanna know whats crazy, the forecast for Venice is 10 degrees cooler than the forecast for Peoria baby!!!

So we get back July 3rd and the rest of the summer should be back to normal. The camps are done, the busy season should be behind us and we got a couple fun close to home projects to take us through this long hot summer!!! Lots of swimming will be on the agenda! And hopefully eating a summers worth of yellowfin tuna!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Managing Big Bluegill

Managing big bluegill

Bull Bluegill a rare breed indeed!
By Mike Pehanich
“One-pound bluegill!” cried my boyhood fishing buddy, Bill Auten. He had just returned from his aunt’s cottage at Camp Lake, Minnesota, and, with youthful zeal, we were already plotting a sales pitch to our dads to fish there together the following June.

Exclusive Small Waters Fishing “bull bluegill video on this post!

Amazingly, the plan came to fruition. My dad and his friend Jerry shoehorned four kids from 9 to 13 and all our gear into a station wagon. (Knowing how much gear I lug for a single day’s bass outing today, I wonder why one of us wasn’t strapped to the car top!)
Bull bluegill don't come by accident on Nate Herman's lakes. Photos courtesy of Steve Ryan and Nate Herman

And we found the bluegill on our very first afternoon as we waded chest-deep around the docks and shoreline near the cabin.
Good bluegill, they were. But one pound? No way! Nice ones. Keepers. Meal producers…and even a couple of beauties that may have edged to 12 or so ounces.
A one-pound bluegill is a true “bull,” a rare and wonderful creature that none of us would see for a number of years.
But I’ve seen them now! One pounders. Thirty ouncers. Even bigger specimens!
Have I touched an honest two-pounder yet? No. But I’m “bullish” about my chances, thanks to the company I keep!

No bull from Bro
Now huge bluegill have become an endangered species in many areas.
Cory Schmidt hoists a bull bluegill on one of Brian "Bro" Brosdahl's local waters near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Brian “Bro” Brosdahl is a bluegill specialist from the Grand Rapids, Minnesota, area. A dedicated “bull bluegill” hunter, he’s skeptical about the future of native bull bluegill fisheries.
“Once you take giant bluegill out of the system, it’s doubtful that the fishery will ever bounce back,” he rues.
Although the catch-and-release ethic has helped preserve gamefish populations in many areas, panfish anglers in general have not embraced it – particularly as state and local regulations have reduced panfish possession limits. Putting fish in the pan is usually the panfish angler’s goal! And big bluegill fill more and bigger bellies than little ones do!
“We have to release those big beauties,” preaches Bro. “It’s the only way to preserve these populations.”

Bull rancher
But while catching giant bluegill on public waters has become an increasingly challenging task, rearing bull ‘gills has become art and science for some experts.
Bringing a bull bluegill fishery to life is both profession and passion for Nate Herman, co-owner of Herman Brothers Pond Management in Peoria, Illinois. Herman will tailor a fishery to almost any species that climate and water quality will allow, but he’s not shy about his preference for bluegill.

See exclusive Small Waters Fishing video interview with Nate Herman…and his bluegill!

The bass, musky, walleye, hybrids I work with…I get my fish fix just working with them,” he says. “But when I go fishing, it’s usually for bluegill and crappie.”

Ty has caught many bluegill like this off Nate Herman's "lab" lake.

But “catching” only touches a part of his passion. Nate likes to grow ‘em – and grow ‘em big! Doing so takes knowledge, planning, persistence, and consistent attention to the many factors affecting fish populations and their growth.
He will supplement the diet of the fish with pellet feed where appropriate, but he quickly dismisses the notion that “feeders” comprise a “magic bullet” solution.
His studies always begin with a study of water quality and available habitat.

“I’ll identify the limiting factor for the fish in that particular body of water,” he says. “Whether that is temperature or water quality or preferred food source at different stages of its life cycle, we’ll identify those limiting factors and address them so we can grow what is not natural in a natural lake or pond.”
Bluegill expert Steve Ryan with a Nate Herman "bull"

One of the biggest factors limiting bluegill growth is competition from other bluegill. Many of the waters he manages host a predator-heavy population that keeps bluegill numbers in check. The bluegill that survive the “forage” stage with the mix of predators grow big and fast, provided they have plenty of food available to them.
Most anglers tend to view “habitat” issues from the perspective of where they catch adult fish. But Herman repeatedly underscores the importance of prime habitat for that species at each stage of its development, and those habitat needs will change as it goes from fry to fingerling…on up through adult and bull brute stages!
We’ll learn more about big bluegill from Nate Herman and Brian Brosdahl – and how to raise and catch them – in coming weeks.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers Day!

Just wanted to say Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there! Keep teaching your kids about working, fishing, hunting, loving, life, and your heavenly Father! Especially I wanted to give a shout out to my own dad who has taught me and my siblings all of the above. Not by words, but by example.

All of the things my siblings and I accomplish are directly or indirectly because of who my dad is and how he and my mom chose to raise us. We were forced into slave labor working for the family business pretty much since birth, but on Sundays we went to church and then played hard (or fished) together and every family vacation we ever went on had a predominately fishing theme.

We are all to some degree pretty much following in those footsteps with how we raise our families. Here is a testimony to his approach to life and family values. Every single one of his 5 children and all 14 of his grandchildren all live within 15 miles of each other. Within the next 6 months we will all be living within 2 miles of each other (how crazy is that!) We all spend pretty much every weekend together, not to mention we all work together, help each other, help others together, hang out together, and even mostly vacation together.

Kind of crazy reading the above paragraph, but let me just say that is not an easy or normal thing to accomplish. It takes work and effort on everyones part to remain a close knit family, but basically the foundation begins with our dad who through lifes trials and tribulations has chosen to simply not be selfish. Where most men give up and take what they deserve when they deserve it, my dad has chosen to be different, he is an overcomer.

He isnt perfect by any means, but his core is rock solid. His life is devoted to God, his wife, his kids, grandkids, friends, neighbors, and pretty much 'others'. He is blessed beyond measure because of his unselfishness.

I put together a handful of random fishing pictures of my dad. It actually wasnt easy to find fish pictures of him, because usually he doesnt want to be the focal point.

Happy Fathers Day Dad!!! I bet the fish are biting today!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Shoe Boy Summer Fish

Last night we were sprucing up the rope swing for the girls camp coming this weekend. I was headed back across the lake and decided to troll a generic deep diving crankbait down the middle. I was by myself and landed a nice 5 lb striper and then landed this monster muskie right in the center of the lake!

We use muskies as a tool, but we remove them once they get over 32 inches long and just put more in the following fall.

We have been building tons of docks. All over the place- Fairbury, Fiatt, Lacon, Peoria, etc etc. Once we build a dock on a lake, we end up building quite a few more on that lake for all the neighbors....All custom designed specifically for each situation.

Early Monday morning we filmed and tested out a bunch of new baits from various lure companies. The Stream Stalker and Mike Pehanich were the guys trying out the baits. I think Jonn found a couple he really liked....

Last weekend one of our clients had a big outdoor wedding. Lots of fun. Our job was to clean up a 50 year old silted in, 6 feet max deep, duckweed, watermeal, and algae infested pond for the event, pictures, etc. We custom designed a really nice dock that I neglected to take pictures of, but the dock was assembled so that after the wedding it could be taken apart and moved to a better lake. 

I did manage to get pictures of the dock being loaded up and shipped out.

We had the nasty pond looking like a million bucks!! You can see tiki torches in the water that we sunk into the muck and lit, very cool that night!

Its gonna be a long hot and dry summer. We have been installing lots of these pumps into creeks and other ponds and pumping water into main ponds for clients. We custom design pumps for each specific situation. Water is always a rock solid investment. I'm telling you, water is valuable and you should tap into it anyway possible.

A very good client of ours has a little backyard pond that we will be fixing up for him. Normally we dont mess with water gardens or stuff like this, but I am always up for a new challenge.

You dream it and we will design and build it. That seems to be our motto for everything- fish, docks, cabins, lakes, properties, and now FROGS. Another good client (they all seem to be good clients these days) wants frogs on his property for his grandsons to capture and eat. We are designing the perfect frog pond wetlands apprx 100'x25'x4' and will be bringing in some kind of awesome genetic frog. I havent found a good source yet, but surely will. Anyone know a good source for some giant frogs? We are probably gonna build 2 of these ponds and plant clover around them to dual as a water hole/snack for some deer as well..........

Jay caught a nice striper on Sunday afternoon.

Spark caught a nice smallmouth

Jared's brother Blake was in town and they went out fishing one evening and caught some real nice fish!

I have been electrofishing ponds and lakes all over the midwest, hence the lack of updates lately. Shoe boy we have been swamped. Today we built this nice dock for a good client near Fiat. This lake is an up and comer, some awesome fish swiming around in that nice water, gonna be looking at some amazing pictures from here in another year or two!

I havent posted pics of our office lately, but it is very fun themed. Also in the photos you will see Andi and Sarah. They keep everything rolling at the office. We have surrounded them with all kinds of living and dead animals......Come on by (and buy some stuff for your pond while your in....) Hey also now that I have a bunch of help doing all the background work, there is coming a time in the hopefully not too distant future that I will actually get caught up!!!

So anyhow we have been working and traveling like crazy, these pics dont even scratch the surface, but we are having a blast. We work hard, but we play hard too! Before June is out, I will be going to large properties in Springfield, MO; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Paris, IL; Arthur, IL; Carbondale, IL; and many more places in between.
Got some big announcements coming up that we are super excited about. But for now I have to clean up some pee from the carpet floor before Brook and the rest of the kids get home. I just glanced over and Drake has his diaper off and I see a little dribbling going on.......Life is GOOD!!