Ever wonder what you might get when you have us electrofish your lake? Below is a typical report…actually a real one where we eliminated the names to protect the innocent! When you plan to manage a fishery, it’s critical to have a starting point, to know the status of your fishery. Electrofishing surveys are a valuable fisheries management tool to give us data to help make the best recommendations. When we have a firm grasp of your goals, and then some solid, scientific data to give us a start, a successful plan can be developed. Then, we’ll help you orchestrate your game plan and push your lake or pond to its best, so you can enjoy the fruits of healthy management. This particular client has a goal of growing huge bass, but also wants reasonable catch rates, up to 20 bass in a morning or afternoon of fishing. We’ve managed his lake for six years now.
Our Best Client
123 Big Fish Road
Greetings, Mr. Best Client!
We had another successful electrofishing survey on a cool fall day. We haven’t typically been able to shock really big fish in the Fall, but we found a good sample of the overall population, enough to draw good conclusions. One bass tagged last Fall had grown over a pound. The bluegill population has shown improvement every visit. It’s as impressive as any lake we see. Below is a summary of findings.
We conducted the survey with our Smith Root electrofishing boat at 6 amps for 1 hour. We collected four species, including largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and gizzard shad. Some notes about catch data. We stopped collecting species other than bass after 30 minutes. Bass are keeping gizzard shad under control. Gizzard shad should continue playing a key role in growing double-digit trophies.
A total of 26 quality bass were sampled in Client Lake. The largest was 21.5 inches and 5.55 lbs. This bass had a relative weight of 96%, well within the bounds of good health. We shocked at a CPUE (Catch per unit effort) of 26 quality bass/hour. This CPUE is low for a trophy bass lake, but we expect post-frontal weather influenced catch rates. Post front, bass go deep. We can shock about six feet down. As your selective harvest continues, we are seeing the bass population spread out. This creates potential for more fish to reach true trophy sizes.(Figure 1) Average relative weight of the bass population increased from 85% in the Spring to 95% this Fall. If that number continues to rise, the fishery will become even more impressive. (Figure 2). In Figure 2, the black line with blue dots represents standard weight that a bass should weigh at a given length. Yellow dots represent fish we electrofished. Dots to the left of the black line represent underweight fish. Dots to the right represent overweight fish.
As mentioned above, bluegill and redear sunfish populations are outstanding. I cannot think of another lake with a strong bass to bluegill ratio. Keep feeding bluegill and harvesting bass. Their population will continue to expand.
Our staff biologist is doing a great job keeping thing in order. All feeders are operating and aeration is working great. Our biologist keeps us updated on needed information. We have talked a few times about freshening up bass habitat/standing timber. You can hang Mossback trophy trees (seen right) from stick ups to give them more character and make them more effective. I would expect this to increase catch rates. Bass would be more likely to use these stick ups. It also gives a fishing target. Mossbacks are a cost-effective way to refurbish habitat, with long term results.
Your fishery is responding well to the management strategy. Fertile water during warm months is sustaining and producing excellent numbers of newly hatched fish, which are growing to reasonable sizes to be a substantial forage base. Those fish are bluegills, redear sunfish, tilapia, and gizzard shad. When we see five different size classes of bluegills and four sizes of redear sunfish, the fishery is about as balanced as it can get, based on our goals for your lake. The most significant point about this data is the number of bluegills surviving into the 3-5” size class. Those fish are substantial nuggets on the buffet table for bluegills. Combine this with the increase in relative weight, and the better distribution of lengths of bass, and we know the culling program is working. Between culling, a strong feeding program, fertility of the water, and diversity of the forage fish base, we are growing some great fish in a healthy environment.
Other important conclusions are:
- The aeration system is significant. Autonomous water quality, top to bottom, allows production to be pushed, mitigating the risks of overly-fertile water and nutrient input from feeding causing water quality degradation. Bottom line: aeration speeds up what nature would do, allowing us to push the lake a little bit.
- Culling has made an impact and will continue to do so. We didn’t capture as many young largemouth bass as we have in the past. So, either larger bass are eating them, or we’ve reached a balance where we need to revisit harvest limits next spring. We’d like to see a few more junior varsity fish coming up the ladder…those in the 2-4-pound size class.
- We didn’t collect any threadfin shad. Threadfins fill an open niche in your lake. They thrive in fertile water, and live mostly in open water, where those bass in the 12-16” size class tend to feed on them.
- An ongoing feeding program has you on the cusp of truly trophy bluegills. Data suggests you are not far from some two-pound bluegills, true trophies of that species.
- Tilapia appear to be keeping algae in check, converting those nutrients into flesh to feed a wide range of fish species and sizes.
- The management plan is working, in large part due to everyone buying in and excellent monitoring to remain proactive, rather than reactive. Congratulations! We’re excited to be a part of this process. It’s deeply rewarding to work with people who do what should be done to get the results they deserve.
- Harvest bass smaller than 15 inches if they are skinny or males.
- Install 10 Mossback trophy trees to existing trees. Each tree is $79.99. Justin can help with installation during monthly visits. If you accept this recommendation, we’ll contact Mossback, have them build and ship what we want. Just say the word and we’ll be on it.
- As results are showing, we should continue pumping supplemental forage to bass. I see it being beneficial to stock 2 loads of threadfins next Spring. It will feed bass 15 inches and smaller and ensure they don’t miss a meal. We do believe threadfin shad to be important to your program. As described above, they help harvest nutrients via eating plankton, reproduce exponentially, and live in an open water niche.
- Stock tilapia again this spring. They’re proving to be a valuable asset to the program.
Stock 200 lbs. of tilapia Spring, 2018
Stock threadfin shad, Spring 2018
The big take away from this survey—keep doing what we are doing. Continue feeding bluegill, harvest skinny bass and males. Most important—go fishing and enjoy the lake.
We look forward to next Spring…we’ll be in touch soon with a game plan for 2018.
Bob Lusk Outdoors