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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

Sweat Equity’s Role in Trophy Fisheries Management

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jun 01, 2017

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

sweat-equity-role-trophy-fishery-pond-boss-david-beasley-pg1-e2.jpgImagine stepping out your back door and strolling down to your pristine, sparkling fishing hole, where you spend time in a boat catching trophy caliber fish. Sound enticing? Fisheries management techniques have improved to the point where it’s feasible to develop a high-end private fishery in your backyard, but it comes with a price—payable by either writing large checks or making a big investment in sweat equity—or a combination of both. 

To help combat potentially overwhelming budget numbers, many people invest large amounts of their time and energy. As a general rule, the less money spent, the more sweat equity is required. If you have time, this work can be lots of fun.

The sweat equity method often boils down to understanding what needs to be done to reach the end goal, and then staying diligent about getting it done.One practical way to achieve a trophy fishery with sweat equity is to take an integrated approach, such as working together with a fisheries biologist to ensure all of the required tasks are understood, communicated, and completed properly. Often, a biologist needs to be involved with several key management tasks including electrofishing, water quality analysis, and fish stocking. In addition to paying a biologist, other typical expenses include the purchase of fish feed, fish feeders, fertilizer, fish stocking, aeration, water quality equipment, lime, gravel, installing beneficial vegetation, and herbicides and algaecides to control nuisance vegetation.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Published Articles

Five Benefits of Feeding Fish with Automatic Fish Feeders

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 04, 2017

Written by Industry Expert, Aaron Cushing, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologist and Environmental Scientist

automatic-fish-feeder-fisheries-management-blog.jpgRegularly feeding the fish in your lake or pond with an automatic feeder can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Many waterbodies are lacking a natural food source or don’t produce enough natural food to support the desired predator population. And while not all species eat fish food, every fish in your lake or pond will benefit from the additional food source. Here are five reasons to consider adding fish feeders to your lake or pond this year:

5. Fish feeders are flexible, dependable and come in multiple sizes to meet the exact needs of your aquatic ecosystem. They are solar powered and operate on timers so they can easily be placed in almost any location on your property. Feeders can be installed on the shore, on a dock or on a float. Quality feeders require minimal maintenance and can last a lifetime.

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Topics: Fisheries Management

Fisheries Management Strategies: Seeking Professional Advice

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Apr 06, 2017

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

seeking-professional-fisheries-advice-pond-boss-e.jpgThanks to the information age and rapid online answers to most any question, creating a high-quality fishery is within closer reach to pond owners than it has ever been. As a result, many pond owners are taking a do it yourself approach to try and produce high quality fisheries. Sifting through the vast resources available on the Internet, pond owners are able to piece together a fisheries management plan on their own, one step at a time. Although this process seems appealing to many, it comes with a larger risk than having a seasoned fisheries biologist help develop a plan and provide foresight and insight as to what to expect. Management processes such as stocking strategies, installing aeration, understanding water quality, and feeding fish can be self-taught, but investing in the opinion of a professional often greatly enhances the odds of being successful.

In the last two years, I have had the pleasure of meeting a large number of people who have taken this do it yourself approach to develop high quality fisheries. In conversations with them, I observed several common threads. First, each of them built new ponds or drained and dredged older ponds, since each of the landowners were well informed that new and reset ponds have much greater potential than trying to fix a broken fishery. Secondly, all of them were capable of affording the advice of a professional, but gained enough confidence through their own research to avoid that expense. Lastly, while all of these pond owners were given good advice through their resources, they were all stumbling over similar issues, resulting in their seeking professional advice prior to stocking predator fish.

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Published Articles

Fish Habitat Management: “Cover” Your Waterbody

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Feb 09, 2017

Written by Industry Expert Paul Dorsett, Fisheries Biologist and Territory Leader

How to Create a Better Aquatic Habitat for Your Fish

1_Fish Cover e-1.jpgThere’s an old adage that states, “Ninety percent of fish live in ten percent of the water.” This statement has more truth than most realize. Fish move throughout their environment for a variety of reasons including spawning, optimizing their temperature, feeding, and avoiding predators. For “lie in wait” predators and many baitfish species, these movements are mostly relegated to being in or around the desired cover at varying depths. The availability of quality fish cover and the fishes’ desired depths will determine which 10% of the aquatic environment the fish choose to live in at any point in time. Therefore, placement of the right amount of cover at the appropriate depths should be a major objective of a lake or pond owner’s habitat improvement projects.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll limit discussion to the non-living cover that can be placed in a waterbody to provide cover for your fish. The first consideration in choosing cover type is the physical make-up of this cover with respect to its suitability for both forage fish and predator species. Baitfish tend to prefer large dense cover that offers the tight interstitial spaces and volume needed to protect them from predators. Larger predator species, however, prefer less dense cover with larger interstitial spaces that provide them a place to “loaf” while they await prey to make “their last mistake.”

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Topics: Fisheries Management, Aquatics in Brief Newsletters

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