If you stocked tilapia last spring, start looking for favorite recipes to enjoy this popular fish cuisine. Current water temperatures have slipped to the lower-60’s. Tilapia won’t survive below 52. Harvest now while they are in peak condition. Numbers will decline drastically by early December.
Since tilapia don’t aggressively strike lures, you must develop creative harvest techniques. Some folks feed them over a flat net and then quickly raise it. Others use cast nets. If you have a narrow neck, entice them to that area, stretch a seine across the opening, and scoop them up. Pass along your successful harvest methods. We’ll share with other readers.
Are you just learning about tilapia? Wondering why folks stock them? Tilapia have three great benefits:
- Algae management
- Supplemental forage
- Rebuild bluegill populations
If high nutrient levels in your pond produce large quantities of algae, tilapia will eat the algae and prevent it from disrupting pond use. Stock 20 pounds per surface acre for algae management.
Want to accelerate bass growth rates? Tilapia are prolific spawners and produce tens of thousands of offspring. Remember, the limiting factor that prevents bass from attaining full potential is the availability of food. Average food chains grow average bass. Cutting-edge food chains grow record results. Stock 10 to 15 pounds per acre if this is your goal.
After the summer of 2011, next spring would be a perfect time to stock tilapia. As lake levels declined this year, baitfish lost much of their cover and bass fed at will. Bluegill populations were sorely dented. Don’t forget, bluegill are the backbone of a bass’ diet. Relieve feeding pressure on bluegill by adding tilapia. Devote 2012 to rebuilding the vital bluegill base. Ten to 15 pounds per acre would be a big boost.
We begin tilapia deliveries in late April. They thrive until early December. Cost is $10 per pound, plus a prorated delivery fee shared by folks on the route. Calls for tilapia are increasing annually. Place your order early!
Oh, I overlooked a fourth tilapia benefit, grilling fresh fillets beside the pond while you enjoy a fall foliage display.