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Should I be concerned with genetics when stocking Largemouth Bass?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 17, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Dr. Vic DiCenzo, Fisheries Biologist

Largemouth BassFish stocking is one of the most common management practices employed by fisheries managers to help enhance recreational fishing. There are a variety of reasons why managers stock fish:

• Establish populations in new or reclaimed lakes and ponds

• Supplement a population that experiences poor reproductive success

• Create a “put-and-take” fishery (such as trout or channel catfish)

• Introduce an alternative species

• Introduce genetic diversity

• Control predator populations

• Enhance the forage base

• Control undesirable species with a biological solution

Given the myriad of reasons why managers stock fish, a number of decisions must be made prior to stocking. 

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Pond Management Best Practices

Patience Is Key: Raising Trophy Largemouth Bass

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Sep 21, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Aaron Cushing, Fisheries & Wildlife Biologist

Largemouth BassWith 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.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Fisheries Projects

Assess Fish Habitat to Maximize Better Bass Fishing

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Sep 14, 2017

AS SEEN IN Angler Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Steven King, Field Manager

Bass Habitat.jpgWhen it comes to bass fishing, any experienced angler would agree that targeting the correct structure is essential to catching fish on a consistent basis. Throughout the year, changing weather patterns and seasons can trigger the natural instincts of various bass species to behave differently and seek different types of cover. While this can make day-to-day bass fishing more challenging, improving your knowledge about fish habitat and tendencies can help improve catch rates.

To anglers, the word “structure” is a very broad term that can be broken down into two main categories:

1) Natural fish cover (trees, brush, rocks, aquatic vegetation and natural contours of the waterbody)

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Pond Management Best Practices

A Young Fishery with a Bright Future: Part II

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 31, 2017

AS SEEN IN Pond Boss Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Dave Beasley, Fisheries Biologist and Director of Fisheries

A Young Fishery II_e.pngThree years ago, I started on a journey with a client who was interested in growing big Largemouth Bass. He had recently closed on a farm with a seven-acre pond and was looking to create a special retreat for friends and family.

As you may recall from an article in the July/August 2016 issue of Pond Boss, this pond is picturesque and full of character, tucked down in the center of the property where rolling hills lead to a perennial creek that cuts through the landscape. The natural topography of the land, teamed with a large watershed yielding year-round flow, created an area that was destined for a productive pond.

In the spring of 2014, the pond was sampled using an electrofishing boat to determine how the newly purchased fishery was doing. The findings depicted a predator heavy waterbody with a depleted forage base. The stunted bass population had an average relative weight (Wr) of only 87, with most fish ranging between 11 and 14 inches in length. The water quality was also assessed, and the findings indicated the pond was eutrophic (nutrient rich), which was supported by the visual cues provided by the large biomass of aquatic vegetation.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Fisheries Projects

Adaptive Management of a Prominent Recreational Fishery

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 17, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Vic DiCenzo, PhD, Fisheries Biologist

Laremouth BassLakes and ponds contribute substantially to society by providing recreational opportunities, water supply, flood control and power generation. These multiple purposes often challenge lake managers, as different stakeholders have different goals and expectations. Successful management of fisheries resources requires a thorough understanding of fish populations, fish habitat and the users of those waterbodies.

Lake Monticello is a 352-acre recreational lake in central Virginia that was impounded in the late 1960s. This private community is home to approximately 13,000 residents who desire that Lake Monticello has a healthy and sustainable fishery. An initial fisheries assessment of the water quality, habitat and fish populations was conducted in 2014 to determine the current status of the fishery.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Fisheries Projects

The Benefits of Stocking All Female Largemouth Bass

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Aug 03, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Dr. Vic DiCenzo, Fisheries Biologist

Fisheries AssessmentThere are approximately 4.5 million lakes and ponds in the United States, and many of these waterbodies are utilized for recreational fishing. Anglers often have wide ranging objectives for their fishing experience, including catching fish to eat, catching and releasing a variety of fish for sport, catching fish in a trophy fishery, or simply being outdoors and relaxing in a natural setting. These disparate motivations often require pond managers to develop different strategies to meet angler desires.

Largemouth Bass are the most popular sportfish in the US. Many anglers have transitioned from wanting to catch Largemouth Bass to eat to seeking trophy fish to catch. Because of this, most anglers practice catch-and-release fishing and rarely harvest Largemouth Bass. Low harvest of Largemouth Bass often skews the predator-to-prey ratio, creating an environment for fish to become overcrowded and leading to poor growth, poor condition and a population comprised of smaller individuals (< 15 inches). In the absence of harvesting, fisheries management professionals often seek alternative ways to mitigate the overcrowding (fish removal and resetting the pond) and improve population structure of Largemouth Bass.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Pond Management Best Practices

6 Tips to Prevent Summer Fish Kills

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 20, 2017

Fish KillHot summer temperatures can put a strain on aquatic environments and often push animals, such as fish, to their limits. As temperatures increase, so does the possibility of a fish kill. When a fish kill is discovered, it’s common for communities to fear the worst – from chemical spills to foul play. However, most fish kills are a natural occurrence that can happen as water warms and dissolved oxygen levels become depleted. While nature is often to blame, communities can take action to improve the summer conditions of their waterbodies.

“The risk of a fish kill can remain high over time unless proactive steps are taken by property owners to break the cycle,” said David Beasley, Director of Fisheries at SOLitude Lake Management, an industry leader in lake, pond and fisheries management. “It’s important for communities to understand the cause and introduce proactive lake and pond management strategies before a fish kill occurs.”

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Pond Management Best Practices

Fisheries Management: Grow Bigger Bass with Supplemental Fish Food

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 13, 2017

AS SEEN IN The Angler MagazineWritten by Industry Expert Steven King, Field Manager

Supplemental FeedingMany lake or pond owners interested in growing bigger Largemouth Bass would usually consider stocking forage fish as a primary method. However, there are several limiting factors that can affect growth rates, and the maximum potential size of Largemouth Bass, that should be considered first. For example, when a lake or pond already has a substantial population of forage fish such as Bluegill or other smaller species that Largemouth Bass feed on, adding more fish into the ecosystem could actually have an adverse effect by causing an overpopulation issue. Before implementing any fisheries management strategies, an assessment of your aquatic ecosystem and fish population should be performed by an experienced lake management professional to help determine the best strategies for managing your fishery.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Published Articles

Aquatic Vegetation and Trophy Fisheries

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 06, 2017

AS SEEN IN Pond Boss Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Dylan Kwak, Wildlife & Fisheries Biologist

PB_MayJun17_Kwak (1)-e.jpgLakes and ponds are scattered across many a countryside. Anglers often seek trophy fish and spend considerable amounts of time and money to create trophy fisheries. Although it is widely understood in professional circles that multiple strategies need to come together to establish and maintain a trophy fishery, many lake and pond owners struggle to reach their goals. Sure, pond owners understand the basic value of habitat, and know it takes ten pounds of baitfish for a game fish to gain a pound. They often seek the perfect mix of stocking rates, genetics, and water quality to create the best fishery possible, but don’t understand the importance of aquatic vegetation management as a crucial element that ties a system together to produce and grow those special fish.

When thinking about what an ideal lake looks like, the image of a clear lake with fishable banks and abundant wildlife often comes to mind. However, when managing a lake for fish production, it is important to take a step back, or in this case, a step into the water, and look at the lake from a different perspective—a fish’s perspective.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Published Articles

Fisheries Management: The Benefits of Electrofishing

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jun 15, 2017

AS SEEN IN The Angler Magazine: Written by Industry Expert Steven King, Field Manager

ElectrofishingWhether you’re interested in creating a prized trophy fishery or just want to improve the health and longevity of your fishing pond, electrofishing is an essential tool for fisheries managers. This method is the primary sampling technique used to gather necessary information about the current state of a waterbody and determine what can be done to meet or exceed the goals of the specific fishery.

What exactly is electrofishing?

Electrofishing helps biologists track reproductive success and survival rates of fish species. The assessment is performed by sending an electric current into the water in order to safely stun any nearby fish. Stunned fish can then be easily scooped up in a net and placed in a temporary holding tank where they can revive and be observed for data collection. Most often, fish are measured, weighed and marked with PIT or Floy tags, which are used to determine the health and growth of the fish year over year. Then, they are released back into the water completely unharmed.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Published Articles

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