Written by Industry Expert Aaron Cushing, Fisheries & Wildlife Biologist
With so much instant gratification in life these days, it is becoming harder and harder for people to exercise patience. When it comes to fisheries management, however, patience often leads to great future rewards.
A pond owner in North Carolina decided to take the patient approach to establishing a trophy Largemouth Bass fishery in his 9.1-acre pond. The pond was reset by the owner in 2011 and stocked with a variety of forage fish such as fingerling Bluegill, Redear Sunfish and Golden Shiner, as well as two-inch Largemouth Bass. In the spring of 2013, the pond owner decided to reach out for professional guidance to better gauge if his fishery was on the right track. That spring, SOLitude electrofished the pond for the first time, collected water quality data, and designed a Fisheries Management Plan to help the pond owner meet his long-term goals.
Electrofishing is a sampling technique conducted by fisheries biologists. Using a specialized boat that produces an electrical field, professionals can temporarily stun and collect fish to gather population data and remove undesired species. SOLitude’s initial electrofishing sample reflected the narrow size-class structure of mostly 12-15-inch Largemouth Bass from their stocking two years prior, with an average Relative Weight (Wr) of 90. Unfortunately, not all of the Black Crappie were eliminated during the owner's reset and their population remained well established. Additionally, the sunfish population of Bluegill and Pumpkinseed was comprised of mostly three- to five-inch fish, and based on the goals for the pond, the overall forage base was poor. There were plenty of tree stumps, but dense fish cover and spawning areas were also lacking, and water test results revealed very low alkalinity.