Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monster Largemouth Bass

Down in Southern Illinois on Friday we shocked up a very large largemouth bass.

Growing trophy largemouth bass is not an easy thing to do in a natural balanced typical pond or lake setting. Most people think given enough time that a bass will grow 3-5 lbs and if lucky even bigger...Not So!

Let me just tell you straight up that a bass that is born in your lake or pond will grow to 12 inches long and if your lucky 14-15 inches....if you disagree, so be it.

The average adult full grown 5-7 year old largemouth bass in Illinois is simply 12 inches or just a hair shorter.

So anyhow one tip to growing trophy largemouth in your stunted pond is believe it or not, but to stock some bigger sized largemouth in there! The food source is depleted for the little guys, but if they could just get up to the 14-16 inch size with a few 'good' years left they will turn into trophies like the above pictured bass or the below pictured bass in short order:

Bass of different lengths have different food needs, certain size bass may be starving whereas other size bass in the same body of water are thriving.....The key to growing a trophy bass is to make sure that every day of her life she has exactly what she needs to eat.

Once you have a baseline for what your lake provides in terms of forage, its much easier to have a mgmt plan for correct harvesting and stocking. Most people have the most simple forms of management dead wrong for producing the fishery that they want.

I still have a couple open dates in October for Electrofishing Surveys. Pretty much got trips headed in all directions of the state so if you want to check out your fish population and have alot of fun doing it, just call me up 309-303-5691. This is THE BEST TIME OF YEAR for pretty much everything, Electrofishing Included.....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Helicopter, Fish and Big Deer....

On Monday afternoon, I made my way up to Princeton, IL. I pull into a new property about 10 minutes early and wait for a new client to show up. After a few minutes of nosing around the new Morton Building going up, here comes a helicopter...Yep, it comes in low and lands right out front. Jason waives me over and says get in....

So my first conversation with the guy who wants to build a waterskiing and wakeboarding lake is "are you sure this thing can hold an extra 300 lbs?" He goes "oh yeah we are real low on fuel so should be no problem....." Mighty reassuring getting into a helicopter that is low on fuel.....Can you imagine landing a helicopter that has run out of fuel.....

But needless to say it was stinkin awesome zipping around in that thing checking out the new lake site and such....Picture a nice water skiing lake in this cleared out valley.....

The week before I was in Cedar Rapids and Brighton, Iowa with Allen Electrofishing a bunch of lakes and ponds for 4 different landowners. Allen snapped some pretty cool pics....

The first guys place was an 8 year old pond that was stocked with bass, hybrid bluegill, crappie, catfish, walleye, and lots o grass carp.....recommendations from the Iowa DNR guy....that guy giving out those kind of recommendations is gutsy, but clueless.....One thing we take for granted here in Illinois is that we have ROCK SOLID DNR Fisheries Biologists from Southern Illinois all the way to the top of Northern Illinois...Randy's pond is now back on track....

Oh yeah also Randy's son and his son's friend both shot very nice deer the night before we arrived on the farm. Iowa has a youth shotgun season before their bow season starts.....hey Illinois boys how about that, let the kids get a crack at the big boys when the weather is nice and before yall go out and educate em....

Then up to Cedar Rapids for a couple places and spend the night at good friend Kevins place. So I met Kevin a couple years back at a national Pond Boss conference....took on the task of helping him grow monster bluegills over in Iowa and now because of him and his success we have shocked and made management plans for over a dozen of his buddies lakes and properties and now we are scheduling his buddies' buddies' places for next spring trip that way....very cool and lots of fun.

Drake is growing up fast. Here are a couple super hero shots:

Ok so he's growing up fast, but a little slow....but super smart all at the same time. He wants to wear underwear, but not quite ready to be potty trained. I got a good compromise with the combo and ok so he probably could or should be potty trained, but life is just a bit too busy and hectic to take on that task just finishing up this house and getting ready to move and such.... I did manage to squeeze a couple evenings in at the house and am getting the wood shakes up:

That gable is actually finished now, just dont have an updated pic...

Also in the last week we shocked some local lakes, stocked a couple ponds in Eastern Illinois with big stripers and feed trained bass and been getting some good trail cam pics sent in!!!

On Sunday I fell into a deep sleep at some point during the Bears-Rams game and didnt wake up until about 20 hours later. I got hit with a little bug (and some pain medication) that pretty much put me out. Anyhow back at it full force. Today the guys were plugging away on another dock project and I was meeting with Dr. Gumm about fencing options for his property and then up over near Gilson helping a client purchase his perfect 50 acre dream farm with a 2 acre pond....and making sure the dream farm all checks out...

Thursday Im stuck in the office, but Friday out to Taylorville for an electrofishing survey to help create a canadian themed lake......

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ravina on The Lakes Event This Weekend

Ravina on the lakes hosts tons of weddings and such each year, 99.99% unfishing related stuff. BUT, this event they are hosting open to the public they will actually let you bring your fishing pole and cast a line out into the water. Plus all the other fun stuff listed below... Let me just say that Ravina's Lakes are home to some of the biggest bass in all of Central Illinois......almost worth having your wedding reception there just to have a crack at a monster......

Sunday September 30 , 2012
1 PM -- 4PM 
Join Ravina...on the Lakes in celebrating 30 years of memorable events in Central IL! 
For the first time ever, Ravina...on the Lakes is hosting a FREE event open to the public.  Bring your family and friends for a fun time in the park.
Enjoy the beautiful grounds, hike the trails, fish in the lake, take a hayrack ride, and grab a hot dog and chips.  And that's not all!  There will be Fun on the Run inflatables, the Zoo Crew facepainting, Segway rides from World on Wheels, and a family friendly movie with popcorn and cotton candy for everyone.  Stay and show off your dance moves with music by DJ Don Baker.
FREE Family Friendly Fun!
 Sunday September 30 2012
1pm - 4pm
5326 W Charter Oak Road
Peoria, Il 61615

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Million Dollar Weather

We spend a good portion of nearly every single day outside. I love the change of the seasons and even dont mind the hottest hot nor the coldest cold. There is always something new to do outside regardless of the weather extremes....HOWEVER the weather the last couple days outside has been as good as it gets anywhere in the world!

Seriously, if you work inside in a cubicle, step outside during break or lunch, take a deep breath, and close your eyes for a few minutes. You can literally spend those few minutes daydreaming that your at your most favorite place on the planet. Sunny and 75 degrees can rejuvenate even the grumpiest of persons....

Crappie are biting, geese are flying, doves are heading out of town, deer are starting to get a bit restless, leaves are just starting to respond to the crisp nights, fall food plots are coming in strong, and a bunch fish are just about to find some new homes. These are good times and now we just hope to hold onto this perfect weather for another 6 weeks!!!!

I got trees on my mind, been daydreaming and researching trees every spare moment. I met with the state tree biologist at our new Dahinda tree farm and soaked up as much tree information as humanly possible.

If ever I get this house built, I will be spending my new found free time pruning and nurturing about 3000 new trees! Brook is working me and her into the ground on this house project. We complain every night about our working on our house aches and pains, with no sympathy for each other whatsoever. She wants to be in by Thanksgiving and I want to be in the week after second shotgun season in December.......

Wednesday evening we all loaded up and headed up to Kenosha for a quick Salmon fishing trip sponsored by one of our distributors IKO shingles and Richards Supply in Peoria. We stayed at this very cool old firehouse that accomodated all 11 of us and had a very cool downstairs with pool table and such. The old doors opened up and we hung out with the doors wide open virtually all night:

So we ended up getting a quick nap in before heading out at 5 am for some salmon and trout fishing. We got outside the harbor and were greeted to a nice stiff 15-25 mph north wind and some 4-6 footers. My boat ended up fishing about an hour and landed a lake trout and rainbow trout and then headed in with empty stomachs about 7 am. My dads boat stayed out a couple hours longer and caught a very nice mixed bag of fish. The fish were biting, its too bad we couldnt stay at em:

Funny story from last week or so. Along with food plots, we have been seeding a bunch of new lawns and dams with our conservation seeder. (if you havent picked up on this yet, I will just come out and say it)- anything you could ever need done on your property, we do it: cutting down a tree limb, fixing your shingles, adding a sunroom, building a lake, establishing prairie grass, growing bigger fish, timber stand improvement, fixing your fence, or helping you start a garden or even grow some pheasants or chickens. Anything you can think of, we can hook you up!

Oh yeah back to the funny we had one bin of our seeder filled up with shot plot turnips and whatnot for a clients food plot. The other bins were filled up with grass seed for a 2 acre yard for Dr. Driesnack. We graded and seeded his yard very nicely (which is gonna need mowed soon) and then went to go plant the turnips at a little honey hole plot... Well needless to say the turnip seed bin was just about empty when we got to the next place.

The conversation went well with Dr. D telling him we screwed up and he now has a nice crop of turnips mixed in with his new grass....thank goodness he thought it was funny and we will fix it up in the spring.... Now we just have to build up enough nerve to ask him if we can set up a couple deer stands over his backyard food plot....just kidding, but you know as good as I do that will be the best stand of brassicas anywhere in the area....

Steve S's hunting ground up near Henry is ready to rock and roll. His redneck blind is perched over 3 acres of Whitetail Harvest Salad. More pics and descriptions of this mix to come in the future...

His other plots are rockin and rolling too. If you don't know by looking, you'll have to ask Jared what this picture is of, but it looks nice and tasty, just need some ranch dressing......

With this gorgeous weather we are still squeezing in a few last minute seeding projects of winter wheat and oats, but electrofishing season has now kicked into full gear! Yesterday afternoon we checked up on Mamers lake over past Goodfield and after two years of intensive bass culling they have officially turned the corner and will be catching some very nice bass for the next few years!

While at a clients place over near Abingdon on Saturday morning, he had a bunch of new hay bale blinds sitting out. They were very cool so we checked em out and tracked down the maker of them. A local guy has been making these things like crazy. They are sweet and at $450 they are totally an awesome value too. Call me up if you want to get on a waiting list for one or two of these babies...

Today after church my bros and all our kids went out and hung a bunch of deer stands.

Tomorrow I will be heading to Cedar Rapids for a handful of electrofishing surveys and then the end of the week we are kicking off fish stocking season for a couple boys down in Mahomet!! Justin and Jared will be building a Canadian themed lake with a bunch of islands for Ralph starting this week as well which is gonna be sweet! I will get home tuesday afternoon and Brook already is making sure I go straight to the house to start laying the hardwood floor. I literally had less than 10 minutes of just sit in a chair free time over the last week. Its Sunday night and writing this is my way of unwinding before bed and the beginning of a new week.

Mom just texted me this pic of a bass she and dad caught this afternoon:

Friday, September 7, 2012

September Travels

I must say we live an interesting life. A very crazy, but nonetheless very interesting and yet bizarre. Probably borderline weird, and definitely nowhere near normal. I recently spent 14 hrs in the truck driving alone and listened to comedy satellite radio most of the time to stay awake so I am feeling very funny right now (family friendly comedy I might add). Problem is I can't remember one single joke I had on my list to tell Brook when I got home and explaining the jokes apparently just isnt funny....

Ok so we have been on the road alot the last month and I sure hope we are making enough money to pay our fuel bill at the end of the month. I literally filled up at a gas station 20 times over the last 30 days and it takes stinkin 23-26 gallons to fuel up! Thats just me- Justin, Allen, and Jared have too been running around like chickens with their heads cut off pulling trailers and boats and skid steers all over the midwest. Here are some of the places we have been that I can remember-

Dr. Hoffman had a major fish kill at his lake a few years back and he went and stocked a bunch of smallmouth and largemouth from an out of state hatchery with a fancy catalog and wanted us to come and check on their progress. He also wanted us to check the bottom of his lake for dead bodies, toxic waste, and anything else that shouldnt be there, so I sent Justin down to scour the bottom with scuba gear.

Was an interesting find....nothing cool on the toxic waste side, but interesting with the fish population.... The smallies and largemouth havent really grown a bit since being stocked.

We did find tons of fully mature crappie and bluegill that were only 4 inches long!!! FULLY MATURE adult fish probably 5-7 years old. Nothing smaller and nothing bigger. His 6-8 inch bass dont got what they need to eat and get over the hump needed to eat the overstocked and stunted bluegills and crappie. (if he would of stocked bass 8-10 inches they would be monsters right now, with all the food they would have available to gobble up.

Keep this in mind when thinking about your specific fishing hole. Predator fish need their preferred size of forage to GROW! By simply stocking bass in the lake big enough to eat the 4 inch midgets the whole lake will get back into better balance. If a good majority of your bass are stacked up at a certain size, it means they dont have what is needed to keep growing. Odds are if you stocked a few bass bigger than your average size they would grow rapidly......

Ok moving on, Mr. Elders property up near Savanna we are transforming into a whitetail deer paradise! Jared, Allen, and I worked up there for a few days recently planting more food plots, installing new trail cameras, and positioning the hunting towers and tree stands. Here is a pic of putting in some brassicas next to a sorghum patch, tucked into a little honey hole.

They like to ride horses all over the large property so that is a limiting factor, but you know me- We identify the limiting factors for any situation and we manage right around them. Fish or Deer, it dont matter. Limiting Factor- check. Identify them all and address them somehow, thats the key to successful management of probably anything.

Justin killed a limit opening day of dove season. The girls loved watching us clean em.

Then on sunday afternoon of labor day weekend, me and my bros went out dove hunting for a couple hours. While we were gone, Noah caught this big striper all by himself (with grandpa's help) and couldnt wait for me to get back to take the picture!!

We joined up with a fairly local seed company this fall and are excited to test out the results and comparisons. Once they perform like we predict we will definitely be announcing our partnership and will be ready to rock and roll for next spring and fall! So far we have been getting good rains so the plots are looking NICE. Jared has been planting food plots sunup to sundown all over the place from Victoria to Henry to Savanna to Peoria to Hanna City, Canton, and a few places in between. Lots of winter wheat, austrian peas, oats, rape, turnips, etc etc.

So the boys have been tied up locally so I headed out Solo on Wednesday. Over near Champaign, Casey is building a new pond. Casey dug a pond about 4 years ago in his backyard and told me to make his pond a 10 out of 10 for fishing....Which we did, instantly- big rainbow trout, bluegills, smallmouth, hybrid stripers, walleye, etc etc. When he sold his house this spring he made sure to retain fishing rights.

Anyhow he bought a new place and is in the process of building a much bigger pond. He moves fast, concept in June when I stopped by to go over design, and just about full here in September when I stopped by to design aeration and fish stocking plan. He is running a well 24/7 and a huge pump from the crick to fill this baby up! He's on the cutting edge kinda like a build a lake and catch trophy fish instantly fast food shop.....He will be catching bigger fish this ice fishing season than most will ever catch in their lives.

I cant remember any of the jokes from the road trip, but his quote sticks vividly in my mind- "Nate, on my last pond you ruined everyone who came and fished for life. They can't go fishing anywhere anymore cause all they think about is fishing in my pond!" On this pond he plans on blowing the last one out of the water, and I am up for the challenge. (although I have been tossing and turning thinking of the exact plan of attack on how to not only pull this off for the short term, but nail them both- instant gratification and long term successs). His plan actually involves crappies believe it or not as opposed to regular bluegills, that makes the task even that much more complex, but we'll pull it off!

Then from Champaign off through Indianapolis and Cinncinati to a Baymont Inn for the night. First I had to hit up Long John Silvers for dinner since Brook and the guys never will let me eat there. Dairy Queen was on the way back to the hotel- since I already climbed over the edge a bit with that last baja fish taco I might as well put down a blizzard before bed eh.... Great rational thinking, some folks call me a genius....

So anyhow I traveled on to Mason, Ohio and met up with a pharmaceutical company who wanted me to teach their staff how to maintain their ponds on their property. This place was very cool. Normally you would think pharmaceutical company equals boring offices and dirty retention ponds out front....not this place.

They actually have more of a private recreational estate than they do an office complex, and here is the kicker- they are actually good people! (not that any of my other clients who happen to be reading this arent good people either, but these guys just had their heads screwed on straight all the way around).

They are using their business and property as an outreach to the community. They regularly host outreach events like family movie nights on the big outdoor theatre screen, baseball tournaments of all levels on the first class baseball diamonds, and use the gardens onsite to grow food for people! Amazing, now I just got to talk em into using their ponds for a fishing derby or two!

So those guys are set up with all the proper equipment, formulas, ratios, etc etc for maintaining those awesome ponds. I get back from Ohio and Brook makes me go straight to the house to work on the siding outside with the last couple hours of remaining daylight. She wants to be in by Thanksgiving, so my life consists of working on house or work every waking moment.

So anyhow my brother Chad calls me up last night and says that there is an auction tomorrow for some tillable land that will go expensive, but also for some hunting ground mixed in that potentially could go very reasonable. He couldnt make the auction, so Jared and I neglected all of our responsibilities for the day and headed out to check the land real early and then hit the auction.

The sun, moon, and stars all lined up today and we picked up 50 acres of spoon river frontage hunting land for a very reasonable price! We are excited, we have always had friends and family with hunting ground for us to experiment with and hunt on, but here we are today with a farm with our own names on it, free to do whatever we want.....(except on the CRP portion)

You will definitely be hearing about and seeing pics of this farm in the months ahead! I can't wait to get my kids out to play in the sand bottom creek that leads into the spoon river. I cant wait to get the deer towers and food plots in. Oh yeah, build the wetland, maybe a hatchery pond, put in the shooting range, the 4 wheeler trail, install the fence and gates, prune the good trees, plant a garden....harvest the first deer, run some bank poles, catch a big catfish handfishin, call in a turkey, pick some mushrooms, put in a couple miles up and end up at our very own river front property, make a big bonfire, and roast some marshmellows while camping with my kids under the stars. All this on our very own piece of ground whenever and however we want.

It will be transformed into the ultimate family outdoor paradise.....but enough daydreaming (or am I really dreaming this late at night) Anyhow, being in the business we are in, the property will probably someday be owned by someone else wanting to raise their family up with these outdoor experiences; but if we have to end up selling for whatever reason, we will make for sure that she is paired up with the exact right family! Until then though, this knox county property that has been neglected for so many years will be loved and utilized by the entire Herman Bros clan and clanlits.

So anyhow tomorrow (Saturday) I will be working at my house (come on over) and then Sunday Bethany Baptist Church is coming to our lake after church for a cookout. Last year at this event I managed to blow up a propane tank while cooking the burgers and melted the skin off of Jareds arms who was cooking next to me. Hey, your the guy who just about blew up the place last year.....Maybe I'll just stay inside and watch the Bears game for this event.....

Next week we will be up near Chicago and the following week on a road trip to Cedar Rapids to shock some ponds! Then a bunch of local electrofishing surveys and then we start stocking fish baby! Stocking fish days are 20 hour nonstop marathons getting all the fish to their homes safely...

Then its time for the Pond Boss Conference in Branson on Oct. 12-13th. If you want to learn more about your pond or lake or fish or property or wildlife, and you dont want to hire me for an onsite consultation, GO TO THE POND BOSS CONFERENCE! These are the people who took me under their wing and gave me a 30 year headstart on my career of squeezing fish.