Written by Vic DiCenzo, PhD, Fisheries Biologist
Whether you use your lake or pond for boating, bird watching or fishing, everyone can agree that they desire a healthy waterbody, especially one with healthy fish. But what constitutes a healthy fishery? What signs would indicate that a fishery is unhealthy and what approaches could improve an impaired fishery? The health of a fishery can be interpreted in several ways, and the recommended management approaches may vary depending on your ultimate goals.
Goal: A Balanced Fishery
Fisheries managers often describe a healthy fishery as one in which the predator-prey ratios are balanced. This assumes that a sufficient amount of prey (Bluegill, Shad, Shiners, etc.) exist to support predators (often Largemouth Bass) so that they maintain adequate size, growth and condition. Indicators that suggest a fishery is unbalanced could include high catch rates of small fish, a reduction in the maximum size of fish caught or fish that appear significantly underweight.