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French Village

2010 Electrofishing Report


On May 24th , 2010 a fish population analysis
was conducted using standard electrofishing
procedures.

Data collected during this study was analyzed


to describe the current conditions of the fishery.
Based on the data collected, management
recommendations have been made to improve
the fishery in order to reach your goals.
Hardness and alkalinity were determined by
using a portable Hatch® digital titrator. We
used a secchi disk to determine visibility and
a portable pH meter to determine pH.
Electrofishing is the most scientifically
advanced method of analyzing fish
populations in freshwater lakes and ponds in
the southeastern United States. Electrofishing
provides a fisheries biologist with a
representative sample of all fish in the lake.
 An electrofishing boat was used that transmits an electrical
current from a generator through a control box to a set of
electrodes that are hanging at the front of the boat and
into the lake.

 An electrical field is formed around the area of the


electrodes. The field reaches up to 10 feet in front of the
boat and to a depth of approximately 6 feet. This allows us
to sample all habitat types found within the lake.

 Fish within this field are stunned and float to the water
surface.

 No harm is done to the fish and the fish will recover


completely within 5 minutes.
During the survey, the relative weight (Wr) was
calculated for all largemouth bass collected.

Wr is a coefficient used to compare the


standard weight of a bass at a given length to
the actual weight of the collected bass at the
same length. It is the ratio of the actual fish
weight to the standard fish weight. A Wr of over
80% is desired in a balanced fishery and above
100% for a quality bass fishery.
 Wr = ______(Actual Weight of Captured Fish) * 100______
Standard Weight of Fish at Same Length (From Table)

 For Example:
 If we caught a 11½” bass that weighed 0.6 lbs. The standard
weight of a 11½” bass in the table (following slide) is 0.8 lbs.
 Wr = (0.6) * 100
0.8
 Wr = 75%

 Values over 90% indicate a healthy bass population and


adequate forage base. Relative weights below this level
indicate limited “ideal” food sources for bass. Values below
75% indicate a “skinny” bass.
Length Weight Length Weight
(inches) (pounds) (inches) (pounds)
10.5 0.6 18 3.2
11 0.7 18.5 3.5
11.5 0.8 19 3.9
12 0.9 19.5 4.2
12.5 1.0 20 4.5
13 1.1 20.5 4.9
13.5 1.3 21 5.3
14 1.5 21.5 5.7
14.5 1.6 22 6.2
15 1.8 22.5 6.6
15.5 2.0 23 7.1
16 2.2 23.5 7.6
16.5 2.5 24 8.1
17 2.7 24.5 8.7
17.5 3.0 25 9.3
Your goals are to produce a quality bass
fishery with plenty of 3-5 lb bass with
increased chance at a trophy.

In order to achieve these goals you want to


have a diverse and balanced relationship
between the predator (bass) and the prey (i.e.
bluegill) populations.
Parameters Results Desired Range

Environmental Temperature 75 -
(°F)
Water Temperature (°F) 84 -

pH 8.3 6.5-9.0

Visibility (inches) 30 18-24

Hardness (mg/L as CaCO3) 11 >20

Alkalinity (mg/L as CaCO3) 15 >20


Normal water quality and normal pH.

Alkalinity and hardness were low, which is an


indicator that the water has a limited ability
to buffer sudden pH changes. High alkalinity
creates a healthy environment for the fish and
aids in success of fertilization program.
The lake is approximately 17 acres in size.

The lake has a good amount of dense structure to provide


protective habitat for small fish. Also, the lake has some
large structure to provide fishing “hotspots” and orientation
points for larger fish (i.e. Bass).

The only aquatic weed found at the time of our survey was a
slight amount of water primrose.
Species Size Class Quantity Species Size Class Quantity
(in.) (in.)

Bluegill <3 1
Bluegill 3-5 4
Bluegill 5-7 4
Bluegill 7-9 14
Bluegill >9 13
Shellcracker <3 0
Shellcracker 3-5 0
Shellcracker 5-7 0
Shellcracker 7-9 1
Shellcracker >9 0
Largemouth Bass <4 0
Largemouth Bass 4-8 77
Largemouth Bass 8-10 6
Largemouth Bass 10-12 6
Largemouth Bass 12-14 2
Largemouth Bass 14-16 0
Largemouth Bass 16-18 0
Largemouth Bass >18 3
 Known as bream to many, bluegill are the backbone of forage production
for largemouth bass ponds. Bluegill are very prolific, reproducing multiple
times a season (3-5 times/year). This provides largemouth bass with a large
quantity of food while still allowing themselves to sustain a healthy thriving
population. They spawn in large colonies of nests in 3 to 6 feet in depth
over sandy and gravel substrates close to the shore. Spawning occurs when
water temperatures reach 67-70°F. Bluegill readily eat floating fish food
and have great growth rates from supplemental feeding. They also provide
excellent fishing opportunities for kids and novice fishermen. There are two
subspecies, native (also called Mississippi) and coppernose. The
coppernose are better suited for warm climates and are more aggressive
when feeding on supplemental fish food compared to the Mississippi
bluegill.
 Also known as bream, shellcraker occupy a different ecological niche than
bluegill, improving the utilization of the pond’s natural productivity.
Shellcracker eat snails along with other invertebrates present in the pond
and can help to reduce the incidence of some fish parasites (i.e., grubs,
flatworms) that use a snail as a intermediate host. Similar to other bream
species, shellcracker are a favorite prey fish for bass. They can grow larger
than bluegill, but they are not as prolific, since they reproduce only once
per year. Redear sunfish can be distinguished from bluegill by the presence
of a red or orange ear tab.
Bluegill
45 Shellcracker
40 Balanced

35
30
25
%

20
15
10
5
0
3-5 5-7 7-9 >9
Class size
 The bluegill population consisted primarily of larger fish (>7”) and was limited
for small bluegill (<5”). For adequate growth, a bass prefers to consume a
bluegill that is 1/3 of its size. For example, a 12” bass prefers to consume a 4”
bluegill while a 18” bass prefers to consume 6” bluegill. The average size of the
bass sampled during the survey was 15½”. This means that the average bass in
the pond needs a bluegill measuring 5” in order to have good growth rates.
Unfortunately , there is a limited number of bluegill this size in the lake. The
limited number of smaller bluegill (<7”) can be contributed to heavy bass
predation.

 Along with the limited number of 3-5” bluegill, the high percentage of larger
bluegill is also a sign of a bass heavy environment (i.e. too many bass). When
the bluegill population is limited, what bluegill do survive bass predation grow
large in size. This is because the bluegill are not having to compete with each
other for food which allows them to reach large sizes.

 Only one redear sunfish was sampled from the lake.


 Largemouth bass are the preferred game fish in the U.S. providing exciting
fishing for anglers. They will eat just about anything that they can fit into
their mouths making largemouth bass the top end predator in most ponds.
Largemouth bass begin to spawn when the water temperature reaches 63-
68°F, normally once a year in the early spring before bluegill begin to
spawn. There are two known subspecies, Florida and Northern. Florida bass
are known to grow quite large but research has shown them to be less
aggressive when adults, making them harder to catch. Northern bass are
more aggressive but do not have the top end potential of Florida bass.
There is also the F1, which is a pure cross between the two having the best
characteristics of both subspecies (aggressive and grows big in size). You
can also have Fx bass that are a mix of genetics of both subspecies.
Actual
40 Balanced
35 Quality

30
25
20
%

15
10
5
0
8-10 10-12 12-14 14-16 16-18 >18
Class size
 The majority of the bass population consisted of 8-12” bass.
This explains the limited numbers of smaller bluegill because
the majority of the bass population are consuming the 3-5”
bluegill. The average size of the bass sampled was 15½”, 2.4
lbs., and the average relative weight was 80%. The relative
weight average indicates that the bass are skinny.

 Three bass over 20” were sampled from the lake. All three of
these bass were healthier than the smaller bass we sampled.
Basically, these big bass are ahead of the curve and at 20” or
more in size, these bass can consume smaller bass. Since there
is a high abundance of smaller bass, these larger bass have a
good forage supply which is why they are healthier. A 20” bass
can consume a smaller bass up to 11”.
 Continue with the fertilization program to maintain the
visibility between 18-24”.
 Feeding the bluegill floating fish
food creates healthier fish that
reproduce at higher rates and grow
faster. By using feeding program,
you are supplementing the food
chain in the lake.
 With feeders, the feed is provided
on a continuous and regular basis.
 Bluegill do not travel far to feed
which is why it is important to have
multiple feeders set up on larger
bodies of water.
 To enhance spawning habitat and improve spawning success of the bluegill and redear sunfish, I
recommend installing “spawning tables”.
 The spawning tables are easily made using some cinder blocks and pea gravel or similar rock ½
-1½ inch in size. Starting from the shoreline, place the cinder blocks back to back perpendicular to
the shoreline out into the lake until the water reaches three to four feet deep. Next, place the
cinder blocks parallel to the shoreline and continue parallel with the shore for another 10 feet or
so. You can then close off the “spawning table” by placing more blocks back to the shoreline. The
cinder blocks serve to protect your investment in gravel keeping it from sliding down the slope.
You also find it useful to stake plastic or landscape fabric to keep gravel sinking in the muck.
Finally, fill the area inside of the blocks with pea gravel. We like to have a depth of four inches of
pea gravel throughout the table. They do not have to be an exact size, but make sure they are
large enough, typically five feet out into the lake and 15 feet long, to provide an area for several
nests.
 These spawning tables help improve the bluegill population by first providing a more preferred
area for the fish to spawn, increasing success. The gravel is proven to increase the success of the
eggs and fry. They also improve the growth rates of the bluegill because the bluegill do not have
to spend a significant amount of energy making a nest. Bluegill, along with redear sunfish and
largemouth bass, fan out a nest until they reach a hard/gravel bottom. When bluegill fan out mud
to reach a hard bottom they are wasting energy several times per year. By providing the bluegill
with a hard surface that they can easily fan out for a nest, you have healthier fish that has more
energy reserves for spawning efforts and nest guarding.
 We have sold these attractors for years. They do a great job of attracting and holding
fish in a given area. You need to put a minimum of three in a location to best satisfy
a basses ambush needs. They are plastic so they will last a lifetime. The biggest
advantage is the lack of lure hang-ups. It is practically impossible to hang a lure.
The attractors come in 4 and 5.5 feet heights . The new Saturn series is better for
those installing close to shore and due to shape, it better protects the smaller fish.
This allows smaller fish to gain in size prior to bass eating them leading to less energy
loss and better bass growth.
 A bass has to eat 10 lbs of fish in order to gain one pound in
weight. Small one inch bluegill generally weigh 5 lbs per 1,000 fish
thus the bass would have to eat 2,000 bluegill to gain one pound.
Adding protective cover will allow the young bluegill to grow for an
additional month or more. In just one month, bluegill can quickly
grow to 20 lbs per 1,000 fish so now a bass only has to eat 500
bluegill to gain a pound. This means much less energy is expanded
allowing energy for growth. This is a simplified example but
indicates how protecting the small bluegill promotes and is
essential for good bass growth.

 The attractors when placed in proper locations provide areas for


fish hangouts/ambush points which also allows less loss of energy
and improved weight gain.
 To help provide more forage for the bass we recommend stocking coppernose
bluegill. The bluegill population was low due to years of heavy bass predation.
Coppernose bluegill will feed aggressively on an supplemental feed resulting in
great growth rates. Coppernose bluegill are more aggressive than the native
bluegill making them easier to catch. We recommend stocking 4-5”
coppernose bluegill. These fish are sexually mature and will reproduce actively
during the warm season reducing the pressure of bass over the population
currently present in the lake. Keep in mind you can never have too many
bluegill if wanting better bass growth so you may consider stocking even more
to speed up the improvements.
 Limit the harvest of forage fish such as bluegill and shellcracker. It
doesn't hurt to take out bluegill here and there but the bluegill are
the backbone forage species for largemouth bass. So the more
bluegill you harvest the more food you are taking away from the
largemouth bass.

 To get the bass population back in balance, I recommend


harvesting 425 pounds (25 lbs./acre) of bass measuring 12” or less
within a years time.
Figure 1 Figure 2

As you see from these pictures, the bass on the left in Figure 1 needs to
thrown back in the lake and the bass on the right needs to be harvested.
In Figure 2 the bass on top needs to released and the bass on the
bottom needs to be harvested. You can see how the bass that needs to
harvested is consistently skinny from the dorsal fin all the way down to
its tail. You can see how the bass that needs to released is real thick, has
“shoulders”, and then gets skinny at its tail. These are the kind of clues
you can look at to determine if a bass needs to harvested or not.
Recommendation Quantity Price
Texas Hunter Feeders Any interested $775 installed
homeowner
Harvest Bass 12” and under 25 lbs/acre
Bluegill Stocking 200/acre $750/thousand
Water Quality Parameters
Supplemental Feeding Program
 pH:
 The pH measures the concentration of the hydrogen ions present in the water, and
is usually thought of as the measurement of acidic or alkaline conditions. A pH of 7
is neutral with lower values being acidic and higher values being alkaline. Most
organisms in a lake prosper when the pH is maintained between 6.5 and 9. The pH
cycles daily due to a complex interaction of alkalinity, hardness, carbon dioxide,
and photosynthesis and respiration. The lake is more acidic in the mornings, and
will also vary according to depth. When pH levels are out of the desired range for
long periods, detrimental affects may occur.
 Hardness:
 Hardness is a measure of the quantity of divalent ions in water. Generally in
Georgia, calcium and magnesium carbonate account for the majority of the
hardness. Hardness levels affect the toxicity of some algaecides, limit
phytoplankton formation, and play a role in fish growth. Levels below 20 mg/l
should be increased with the addition of 4-6 tons per acre of agricultural lime.
 Alkalinity:
 Alkalinity is defined as the quantity of base present in water. The most common bases
include carbonates, bicarbonates, hydroxides, and phosphates. Total alkalinity is closely
related to hardness with both being reported as mg/l CaCO3. Alkalinity basically determines
the buffering capacity of a lake. A good buffering capacity will absorb introductions of acids
and bases with little change in pH levels. By maintaining the desired pH levels nutrients are
more available to phytoplankton resulting in a lake that has an increased carrying capacity.

 Visibility:
 Visibility is measured with the use of a secchi disc. The white/black disc 20 cm in diameter is
lowered vertically through the water until it can no longer be seen. Suspended particles
reduce this visibility level. Therefore, in the absence of turbidity from silt or mud the secchi
disc serves as a international standard to indicate phytoplankton. We recommend keeping a
phytoplankton bloom with a visibility between 18-24 inches via fertilization.
 One of the easiest and most efficient methods for improving your pond
fisheries and bass growth is by feeding your bluegill population. Feeding the
bluegill a supplemental fish food diet creates healthier fish that reproduce
at higher rates, therefore increasing the population. More importantly,
feeding bluegill increases their weight, which consequently increases the
weight of the bass. Feeding can occur year around in some areas but
generally begins in March and continue through November in much of the
southeast. For bluegill use a moderate protein level such as 36%. This is a
big advantage versus cheaper 32% protein food.
 Bluegill will not travel far to consume food. In order to maximize bluegill
growth and production, it may be necessary to feed in more than one
section or to setup multiple feeders in ponds greater than 1/2 acre. All
ponds are shaped differently, but typically a minimum of 1 feeder per acre
may be necessary to feed all bluegill in smaller ponds. For ponds greater
than 10 acres 1 feeder/2 acres are sufficient.
Report Prepared By:
Render Ward