During travels, Bob continually is amazed how human nature tangles with Mother Nature to produce bad information. When misinformation gets passed along from source to source, it only makes scientific facts more difficult to clarify and distribute.
Whether it’s ponds in California, pools in Carolinas, or lakes from Maine to Mississippi, myths and misconceptions abound–especially about raising trophy bass. Bob has found myths aren’t devious misrepresentations, but most often light hearted enthusiasm of a good-natured story teller. Too often, common sense gets lost in the story.
A new property owner from Missouri called to purchase 300 fingerling Florida bass. When Bob asked why he wanted to buy them, the gentleman said bass in his lake were “no good”. Based on reports, the scenic lake had been that way for years. Thirty-five and forty-year-old neighbors remember catching eight-inch bass as youngsters and their kids were catching fish the same size. The new owner determined adding more bass would improve the “gene pool” and grow quality fish.
Bob hated to burst his bubble, but he had never seen a “bad” bass or fish that were “no good”. A body of water can support a given amount of forage fish and predators, no matter where it’s located. Fact is, this lake simply had too many bass and not enough food. Stunted development does not mean the fish are genetically inferior or the lake is no longer viable. It means lake dynamics have slowed to a crawl. The lake was stuck on eight-inch bass because future growth was halted by limited food and space.
Bob recommended harvesting high numbers of small bass and stocking adult bluegill to enhance the forage base. He also implemented a supplemental feeding program for bluegill and fertilization to grow valuable plankton food chains for newly hatched fish fry. After stabilizing original conditions, the property owner stocked intermediate-size Florida bass to refresh genetics. Had he added fingerlings earlier, especially when the food chain was depleted, they surely would have ended up snacks for the larger bass.
Genetics are a key principle in the four steps to successful pond management: Habitat, food chain, “genetics”, and harvest. It not only applies to fish. Ask deer managers or ranchers what promotes healthy herds. New genes should be introduced to lakes every few years. As mentioned, genes single-handedly don’t grow bigger fish. But provide fish unlimited food and they’ll achieve every ounce of their genetic potential. Note the bass in the above photo. You’ve heard stories about fish with big heads and small bodies.Her head and length indicate she once weighed 8 lbs. 4 ozs. When caught, she weighed 6 lbs. 8 ozs. Monitor food chain health with relative weight surveys. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing fish with bodies so plump their heads look stunted.
Contact Chad to discuss your lake’s genetic profile.
Thanks for your business,
Bob Lusk — Chad Fikes — Walter Bassano