When you swap fish tales with friends, the question usually is—how big was it? When customers relate fishing experiences to us, we ask—what “sizes” are you catching? We don’t mean to spoil a good story, but if we don’t maintain “laser focus” on size classes in all species, customers may miss opportunities to “humbly” share a big bass catch with their buddies.
Although you hear us harp on food chains month after month, the underlying fact that makes big fish stories possible is a strong bluegill population. Each time we electrofish a lake with below average forage, the point is driven home. Three weeks ago, we surveyed a two-year-old lake and found predominantly two-inch bluegill. Well and good, but the bass were 15 to 18-inches. The three to five inch bluegill they require were missing. Excess bass in a certain size class can wipe out a size class of bluegill. In this case, the suspected culprit was an estimated 100 cormorants that frequented the lake for 30 plus days last winter. The challenge is restoring bluegill in “all” size lengths.
If poor bass development suggests you need a stronger bluegill base:
- Start a feeding program.
- Fertilize the pond.
- Thin dense vegetation so bass can forage more efficiently.
- Consider stocking tilapia for several seasons.
- Implement a COMMITTED bass harvest policy.
- If necessary, investigate legal methods to deter cormorants.
Please make a New Year’s resolution to evaluate the health of your bluegill population. Watch for “all” lengths from one to eight plus inches. Healthy growth rates for bass depend on it.