Report card categories include:
Is your water clarity 18 to 24-inches with a healthy plankton bloom or three to six feet with runaway vegetation? Did you have adequate cover to protect bluegill recruitment for the next generation of bass forage? Do bass have preferred habitat to forage efficiently and loaf between feeding periods? Would you describe water quality as appealing with a green tint or unpleasant with brown tones and foul odor? Did you have a medical physical this year? Did you likewise submit a water sample to check the health of your pond’s environment?
How would you describe the appearance of bass? Like footballs, or big heads with small bodies? Have you observed bluegill in all size classes or mainly adults over four inches? Are you pursuing continuing-ed information about benefits of supplemental forage such as tilapia? Have you learned latest benefits of feeding fish to bolster baitfish? Did you stock a new pond with scientifically based ratios or just transplant some random fish assuming they’ll do just fine? If one bass must eat eight to 10 pounds of food to gain “one single pound”, is your forage base strong enough to sustain healthy growth rates for a lake full of bass?
Is your pond over five years old? Have you stocked new blood lines to refresh genetics? If the answer is no, ask us about the consequences. Keep in mind fish are in confined areas like cattle or high fenced deer. Without new bloodlines, the population inbreeds and dilutes genetic integrity. Stocking new fish can restore vitality. Success can be achieved without adding large numbers. Stock them this fall so they’ll be acclimated and productive for next spring’s spawning cycle.
Did you meet annual harvest goals? When we ask for a show of hands in seminars, folks sheepishly look around hesitating to offer an honest answer. Affirmative response is limited. The majority gives every reason imaginable for not fulfilling this critical step. You can follow other basic management principles to the letter, but failure to harvest will jeopardize achieving the pond’s potential. No ifs, ands, or buts! There’s no easy makeup test if you don’t get a passing grade on this subject. It can take years to rebalance neglected population management of any species, especially bass.
Have you inspected flood control systems for rust or seepage that could lead to catastrophic damage? Are you procrastinating removing trees sprouting on the dam? Does the spillway need a “ladder” feature to prevent undesirable fish from migrating into your lake during high water events? Noticed beaver burrows that could contribute future complications?
Only 90-days remain in the current season. Attempting to meet above objectives now is like cramming for a big exam. Accomplishing some may require extreme steps to reach a passing grade. Contact us if electrofishing will help meet final harvest quotas. Neglected vegetation issues can be remedied with prompt treatment.
Whether you’re at the top of the class or need a refresher course, don’t miss an opportunity to meet with leading pond management “tutors” during the Pond Boss Conference at Bass Pro Shop’s Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, MO, Oct. 11-13. Review successes or shortcomings and start preparing a game plan for 2013. It’s a rare classroom experience you’ll long remember!
Thanks for your business,
Bob Lusk – Chad Fikes – Walter Bassano