Archive for the ‘Ponds’ Tag

FALL FISHING LOCATIONS IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   Leave a comment

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Lake Glendale in Pope County tops the list for nice peaceful fall fishing locations in southeast Illinois. Pope County is one of the prettiest counties in the state during the fall color changes.  The lake is located in the Shawnee National Forest and is part of the Lake Glendale Recreation Area.  It is located three miles north of the junction of Illinois Routes 145 and 146 and about 25 miles south of Harrisburg via route 145.

The heavily forested area near the lake provides excellent campsites for the fall hunter/fisherman. Because the lake waters come from a heavily forested watershed, it is clean and clear.  This makes it popular with swimmers, boaters and picnickers.  Swimming is limited to the beach area only.

The lake itself is 80-acres with clean clear water and an abundance of vegetation that is home to some nice bluegills and channel catfish. The largemouth bass are present but only about 12 to 14-inches in length and below the 16-inch legal size limit for keepers.  Regular stocking the lake has resulted in a steadily improving fishery.

There is a boat ramp at the northeast side of the lake and a 10 horsepower limit on motors. Anglers can access the lake from a variety of locations along the shore.  Boat rentals are available.

For those wanting to fish additional waters, Sugar Creek Lake is located just west of Lake Glendale near Dixon Springs. The crappies, catfish and bass are good in Sugar Creek Lake.  Shore fishing is good and boating is allowed with electric motors.

Outdoorsmen fishing and camping at these two lakes can easily take advantage of the ample hunting lands of the Shawnee National Forest.  Deer, squirrel, quail and turkey are found there.

For the hunter/anglers who wants a quiet place to camp and participate in hunting or fishing activities these two locations are ideal. They are perfect for a day or several days cast and blast vacation.  For more information contact the Lake Glendale Recreation area at 618-949-3807 or the U.S. Forest Service at 618-658-2111.

LABOR DAY FISHING WITH THE FAMILY   Leave a comment

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The last holiday weekend of summer presents an opportunity to reinforce the fun of fishing in the minds of youngsters. School begins soon and they need fond memories of the summer past.

For children to enjoy fishing, it is important to know the child. Pre-school children are more interested in chasing minnows and casting rocks than they are in spending a day “chunkin’ and winding” a bass rod.  It is important adults recognize the short attention span of young children.  To them fishing is something that you do for a little while until bored.

Adults need to watch for signs of boredom and then switch the activity either temporarily or for the day. It is important youngsters catch fish in order to maintain interest in the activity.  Just sitting and watching a bobber float on the water will get old in a hurry.  That is why bluegill and sunfish are such a great fish for kids.  They are also easy to find in the late summer and early fall.  Youngsters can actually see the fish swimming in the water.  Small sunfish are voracious eaters and will take a piece of night crawler presented by young anglers.  The tug on the line is exciting to the novice angler even if it is not from a giant bass.

Regardless of how many fish the youngster catches it is important to be able to recognize the opportunity of teaching “catch and release.”

Picnic lunches and snacks are good alternatives to fishing for the bored child. Remember that children get hungry more quickly than an adult.  Talk along a cooler with snacks and plenty of liquids.  Be sure that everyone stays hydrated.  Nothing can ruin a future fisherman’s love of the sport than a trip to the hospital for an IV to combat dehydration.

A bat and ball or football to throw around can be a break from the rigors of fishing.

It is important to have and use sun blocker. Fond memories of a trip will be ruined by sunburn.  It is also a good idea to have any child near water wear a personal floatation device.  You cannot watch them every second.  Kids have a way of finding a way of falling into the water when you are not looking.

The ultimate idea is to make fishing a fun time and then youngsters regard it as an experience they will wait with anticipation all winter to repeat.

CATFISH ACTION IN AUGUST   2 comments

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Summer sunshine in August is often a sure sign that the fish will not bite during the day. Most anglers switch to night fishing or at least early morning and late evening. That is not the whole story.

If you adapt your program you might catch some nice fish.

In southern Missouri and Illinois, fishing 90-degree water calls for a change of tactic. These southern lakes and ponds contain smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and some assorted sunfish.

I recently was introduced to a new pattern for these suspended cats.

Lakes and rivers experience a thermocline effect in the water during the hot summer months. The water below that level lacks adequate oxygen for most species of fish. As a result most fish suspend above the thermocline which is usually at a depth of about 20-feet.

The thermocline is a band of water in which the temperature is 5- to 10-degrees cooler than the water above. Below this band the water is even cooler. The fish will be in the water above the thermocline all summer but tend to hang close to it.

Catfish are usually at about 20-foot depth and with other species above them. They relate to any structure at those depths. For instance humps and sunken islands attract catfish. These fish are active in hot weather contrary to popular belief.

The shad in a lake will be in the top section of the water column driven there by white bass. Seagulls fly over the shad breaking the surface. It is the presence of the birds that alerts fishermen to the presence of potential action. Below the white bass is where the catfish lurk.

All the traditional catfish baits and lures will work in August just as they do the year around. Channel catfish will take almost anything but the blues and flatheads prefer live bait such as a sunfish or shad. It is important to place the bait/lure at the right depth. The slip bobber rig is a good choice to keep the bait off the bottom. In the case of crankbaits one can count down to a desired depth before retrieving the lure. A deep diving crankbait trolled at 2-miles per hour should run at about 18-feet down.

Crankbaits in shad imitation shapes and colors work in clear water. In rivers work the slack water behind structure as well as hollowed out holes in the bottom. There is more current above them and less down deep in the hole. In river situations you probably will have to travel more to find schools of fish.

As for color in the use of crankbaits adjust according to water clarity. Murky water calls for orange, chartreuse or yellow fire tiger baits. In clear water you can use blue or the more natural colors including brown and black.

 

FISHING TOURNAMENTS AND THE DIGITAL AGE   1 comment

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Recently a computer program has entered the field of competitive fishing. It promises to be great for anglers, tournament officials, their friends and family as well as provide marine information for fisheries officials and increase survival rates of the fish.

Waiting for the results of a fishing tournament can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. Take it from one who has spent thousands of hours doing just that to get story material or in response to a magazine assignment.  Sure it can be fun renewing old acquaintances but sometimes one has to cover several tournaments in a day or has a deadline and editors wanting material right now.

In the traditional tournament the anglers bring their catch of the day to a weigh-in and then they tally the totals to decide the winners. The officials announce the winners.  All this takes a lot of time especially with large entry fields.  Unfortunately often the crowd goes home and some fish die before the end of the festivities.

Mike Christopher of Dallas, TX points out that the main purpose of fishing tournaments comes in 4 aspects. The primary purpose is a protection of the resource both during the tournament and by supplying data to fisheries biologists to aid in management of the fishery.  Secondly is the promotion of fishing ethics while maintaining the third segment safety on the water.  And of course it is promote fun in fishing competition.

Christopher provides technical support in the use of iANGLER. The program is available on either the App Store or Google Apps.

iANGLER consists of two components. The web portal handles all aspects of the management of a tournament.  These consist of things such as promotion, assignment of crew members, scoring, weather and a live leaderboard.  The mobile application which is available to participants and remote viewers handles such aspects of a tournament as registration, logging successful catches, weather updates and the live leaderboard.

During a tournament the participants use the mobile app to photograph their catch and record basic information while still on the water. The image record immediately goes to the web portal.  The tournament director reviews it if there is an internet connection the transmission takes seconds.  If a digital camera is used the transmission is made later via the chip from the camera.

Once a catch record scoring is completed it is posted to the live leaderboard. If a catch is rejected the angler is notified immediately by email.  For those viewing the leaderboard either by cellphone on the water or with a laptop it is possible to hole the cursor on a particular creel and see a thumbnail image of the individual fish.  The tournament audience is able to monitor the angler progress on the leaderboard.

Once the contest is completed it is possible to finalize the results very quickly.

In addition to quickly determining the winners of the event, this system allows the quick release of fish within seconds. This goes a long way in saving fish lives.

Fishery biologists like the system as it opens up data for them to assess fish dynamics and habitat needs. All events fitted into the program have the identifying information of the angler removed before submitting the data to fisheries managers.

Tournament angling has long been involved in the digital age but this system is an advancement of the involvement. For more information about this program for your next tournament check out their website at http://www.ianglertournament.com.

IT IS FROG TIME   Leave a comment

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As the water temperature rises it is time to try out a new frog lure from Sebile. It is the Sebile Pivot Frog.

Not much of a frog fisherman, or for that matter a bass fisherman, this is going to present difficulties. As with most plastic lures one tends to wait too long to set the hook or does so too soon.

Most frog lures are for heavy vegetation. But they do work in clear water.  This weighted frog walks true through the water.  Unlike other frog imitations which have two hooks this lure has a single 6/0 wide-gap hook.  The hook point is within the body of the lure.  The body will collapse when a fish takes it.  Otherwise the lure moves through vegetation almost weedless.

As with other such lures you intermittently pause to give it action. Kevin Jarnagin, Blue Heron Communication spokesman, uses the Pivot Frog on 50-pound braided line to fish around grass edges.  By walking the frog easily on a slack line or with short strokes, he dips the frog just below the surface.

With poor depth perception the easiest way for me to fish it is to cast up on the shore and then drag it back so as to plop into the water like a frog jumping off the shore. Using care I make it land inches away from the shore as a natural frog would do.  From a boat one walks the lure back with the rod tip down while pausing occasionally.

The frog design is for fishing heavy vegetation. Boaters can move their craft into the grass and then fan cast along the edge.

For the ground pounder work the lure parallel to the bank about 3-feet out using the same retrieval. Keep to the more shaded areas.  This technique seems best early in the morning and later in the afternoon when the water is at its coolest.

If minnows or other small marine life is present and actively moving about cast the frog to the other side and walk the lure through the activity.

ANGLER KNOW THY POND   1 comment

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If there were an eleventh commandment for fishermen perhaps it would be “Know Thy Pond.”

Most of us dream of our own private fishing pond. Some take action to build and stock one.  Ponds are good places to fish and if they are managed correctly can support more fish per acre than is in most other waters.

Ponds are a complex, interlocking chain of plants and animals. Food supplies are dependent upon on plant nutrients dissolved in the water.  These include minerals as well as organic matter.  Nutrients enter the water as dust carried by winds or with water runoff from surrounding areas.  Small aquatic plants consume them and grow.

As the plants grow and multiply they provide food for small fishes and crustaceans. These animals provide food for larger fishes.

In any given pond are found three reasons why the quality of fishing desired might not develop. The fish present may not be the right kind, size or population numbers.

Food availability determines how well both bass and panfish for example will flourish. Management of a bass pond is a delicate balance.  There is a limit to the number of fish a pond can produce and maintain.  The prey species may flourish to the point where they even compete with the predator species for the same food.

 

TROUT BAIT FROM THE GROCERY STORE   1 comment

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The spring catchable trout season in upon us.

These fish are stocked into the bodies of water where natural reproduction is not possible. As such they do not tend to be as likely to respond to fly fishing equipment.  The 10 or 11 inch fish are fierce battlers just the same. You just have to know how to entice them.  One way is to Give Them Groceries.

The trout are stocked into the waters several days prior to the opening of the season and are hatchery raised. As such they are not skilled in finding the natural forage in the lake.  But, they do become accustomed to the waters prior to the anglers trying to entice them to bite.

Success for anglers varies from one individual to another. Often lined up elbow to elbow along the shore, some will immediately catch their fish limit.  Others will not catch a thing.  The first day or two the trout receive some heavy pressure.  Soon the numbers of fishermen thin out as do the number of fish taken.

So what is the perfect bait for those trout? Well my friend, Vern Summerlin says it is to give them groceries.  His theory is that since hatchery raised trout are fed pellets, once released into a lake, they are one the least selective feeders.

Biologists tell us that rainbow trout can taste salt, sweet, bitter, and sour as do humans. They are the only game fish that will respond to sugar and only when it is in high concentrations.  That explains why they will respond to marshmallows.

Tastes that are commonly found in living tissue cause trout to respond. That explains why they like minnows, maggots, mealworms, nightcrawlers and worms.

As we know the colors of red, orange and pink appeal to trout, says Vern.  A these are the colors of one of their favorite foods, fish eggs.  In his experiments, Summerlin tried pimentos as a sight food since they are red.  But, they did not prove to catch fish.

Among the baits found in grocery stores are such things as marshmallows, corn, and shrimp that have been frozen, and then thawed. Cheese is a proven fish catcher.  The other three items did catch fish.  Some other foods sometimes recommended that do not produce fish with regularity are: canned shrimp, oysters, clams and Beenee Weenies.

Summerlin recommends using a Number 6 hook with a size seven split shot on four-pound test line. The terminal tackle is suspended under a float for deep pools in calm water.  In more active waters Vern uses a modified Carolina rig.  It has a hook tied to one end of 18 inches of four-pound line with a barrel swivel at the other end.  A 1/8th-ounce egg sinker placed on the line above the barrel swivel.  This allows a fish to take the bait without feeling the resistance.

Corn seems to be the best of the groceries for stocked rainbow trout. A small piece of marshmallow can be added to the hook to keep it off the bottom of the lake.

When you go out this spring in search of those catchable trout remember some groceries in addition to your worms, nightcrawlers and artificial lures. And when you catch your limit on corn with a marshmallow remember that you read it here first.

BASS FISHING IN SMALL PONDS   1 comment

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All too often it seems that the only way bass have ever been caught is to “run and gun” on some impoundment lake. It is not necessarily the case.

Early bass anglers used cane poles and caught bass in small lakes and ponds. Their techniques are as good today as they were before bass boats. The first thing to remember is that small waters do not always have small fish. Many a monster bass has come from an out of the way pond. A carefully combed couple of acres can be just as productive as running around on a large impoundment.

Early in the year, after a week of stable weather, a dam will warm quickly and the bass will become active. Usually the northern end of a pond warms first as does any area that is more shallow. Bass are notorious for relating to structure and cover. It is important to take note of any wood, brush or weeds that is visible.

Choose tackle that you would use in fishing any other bass water. A stout rod and line in the 15 to 20 pound test range is good. Even in the best locations, there may be submerged stumps, timber and other debris. You do not have the luxury of being able to move to where the lure is stuck to remove it.

Accept the fact that you are going to loose some lures. Some tricks of the trade for shore fishing are: 1) Avoid casting to spots from which you know it may be impossible to retrieve a lure. 2) Learn to slow down the retrieve and hop a surface lure back over submerged logs. 3) Learn to reel back to the edge of weeds or debris certain to catch a lure, then reach the rod high and give the lure an inshore flip through the air.

The choice lure is one in which you have confidence. It can be a topwater plug or a spinnerbait with its single upturned hook that is hidden with a skirt. Anything that is virtually weedless is a good idea. Floater/diver lures are useful if there is a chance to dodge them around submerged objects.

Cast to openings and, if you suspect there are submerged objects between you and the lure, ease off letting the lure rise to the surface. The lure can be crawled past the obstacle and the retrieve resumed. As you approach the water, remember that it is not necessary to begin with a cast to the center. The more shallow portions of the dam waters are more likely to hold aggressive bass. In addition, the bass dragged from deep water may spook fish that have been holding in the more shallow areas.

It is important to keep moving along the shore until you have determined where the majority of bass are located. Usually, the water will have a small lip or flat that rims the entire body of water. It usually comes out from the bank and then drops off toward the middle. This is a good are on which to concentrate as it usually holds the cover and bass. It is a good idea to begin by casting parallel to the shoreline. This insures the lure is in that lip area for the maximum time. In addition, if a fish is hooked, this will assure that it will not spook any fish holding in deeper water.

After of couple of casts, work at an angle to the bank in an attempt to cover the outer edge of the lip. Finally, cast to the middle of the pond. Once this pattern is completed, then one can move down the shoreline a few feet and repeat it. The procedure is repeated until the entire body of water is covered.

Once a fish or two has been taken, observe what type of cast worked best and then concentrate on making casts in that area. Bass fishing in ponds is great fun. However, it is important to remember the resource. The bass populations in such bodies of water can be very fragile. It does not take long to change bass populations by keeping many fish.

Catch and release are very important in such small bodies of water.

CATFISH CULTURE   Leave a comment

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A ribbon of blacktop stretches across the Mississippi Delta, Mickey speaks alternately on the telephone and two-way radio of his truck. This is his office and his way of maintaining contact with producers, the processing plant and his truckers with their loads of catfish.  In a business where freshness is an essential, it is important to coordinate the actions of all the players.

A truck that is late to the plant can result in a production line shutting down at significant cost. That cost in turn goes into the price to the consumer.  Late trucks are not really the problem in the production of catfish fillets.  But, there are plenty of others.

Time was when commercial fishing was limited to wild fish taken out of rivers and lakes with large nets. Beginning in the middle to late 1950’s catfish farms began to appear in the south.  Around the mid l970’s the farmers in the Mississippi Delta area between the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers were searching for another crop.  They had over used their land and depleted the production of cotton they obtained from it.

In Humphreys County, near Belzoni, MS, a local farmer by the name of J.B. Williams started raising catfish. He sent his first fish to put-and-take ponds in the north.  Soon other farmers began to realize that Williams was on to something.

With the development of a floating feed pellet, the raising of pond raised catfish increased. The pellet is composed of corn, soybeans and some of the non-edible parts of catfish that are processed.  It is a high protein, light feed that has a sweet taste and the catfish love it.

The land in the area is ideal for the building of catfish ponds. The clay content of the soil retains water, unlike other areas with non-sandy soil which does not. The underground aquifers are huge and near the surface.  They only have to drill down 250 to 500 feet for a seemingly unlimited source of water for the ponds.  The Mississippi River and the Yazoo River replenish the water of the aquifers.

They construct the ponds using a series of levees. Most are in the 10 to 20 acre size because they are most manageable.  The ponds produce 3,000 to 10,000 pound of catfish per acre.

From April to September, fish farming is a very labor intensive business. It begins with the hatching of the fry.  Eggs hatch in troughs at the hatchery.  A series of constantly rotating paddles agitate the water to supply oxygen.

Once hatched, the fry stay in the hatchery for 7 to 8 days. Then they transfer to brood ponds for 6 months.  During this time they grow to a length of about 4- to 6 inches.  To facilitate their growth the fish farmers divide them into several groups and place them in other ponds.  These levee ponds are usually about four feet deep.  Here the fish live, fed daily, until harvesting time about at age 18 months.

Fish farming for catfish is very effective for food production despite being labor intensive. For instance, a beef producer must feed his stock 8 pounds of feed to produce l pound of meat.  The catfish farmer has to feed 2 pounds of feed for each pound of catfish.

As we drive along, Mickey explains that before he buys a shipment of fish, they have to be tested at the processing plant.

In the last 7 days before the shipping, the farmer provides a few fish sample to the plant. A five-person panel tastes it after being microwave cooked.  The purpose is to make sure that the fish do not have any offensive smell or taste.  Three samples come in during the last seven days prior to loading with the final sample taken the same day as the proposed shipment.  This insures a flavorful product.

Sometimes, if the fish has been in a pond that has a heavy population of blue-green algae, the fish will smell rancid as it cooks. They reject such a sample immediately.  The farmer will sometimes place the fish in a pond with cooler and cleaner water.

Cooler weather will also cut down the amount of algae in the water and thus improve the taste of the fish.

Mickey turns off the blacktop onto the levee road and up ahead are several trucks parked on the road. Two of the trucks are Mickey’s with their large tanks to hold live fish.  The third truck contains a crane to hoist a large basket of fish from the water and weigh it at the same time.

In the water five men draw a seine net across the pond and corner the fish in a small area. The basket dips into the water and scoops up the fish.  When the truck is loaded it contains some 14,000-pounds of fish in sizes from 2 to 5 pounds each.

Mickey explains that the best fish for commercial use are those in the size of 2 to 4 pounds. They produce the fillet that is in most demand.  If more than 10 percent of the fish are over 4 pounds there is a reduction of 10 percent in the price paid to the farmer.

With the fish loaded, we head back to the processing plant. A spotless, processing operation produces fillets, nuggets and a variety of by products from the fish.  Fillets are sometimes breaded, other times marinated and sometimes just frozen.  Some packaged fish have the insides and head removed for the whole fish market.

Fish that are quick frozen can be stored up to 120 days. Those that are in ice have a shelf life of 11 days and as a result they are off to the consumer within 24 hours. This scenario repeats each day, all year around.  Hundreds of millions of pounds of catfish to market go each year from the Delta area.

PUBLIC FISHING IN MISSOURI IS AWESOME   Leave a comment

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Once the boat is in the water, Scott uses the trolling motor to propel us down the shoreline. We go but a few feet and the first bass hits Scott’s lure.  The fish is just under the legal minimum but he gives a battle.  There appears to be two year classes in this lake as all the fish we catch are either just under or just over the minimum.  But we are practicing catch and release so it does not matter.

“In summer you can catch fish on a variety of lures,” says Scott Pauley of the Missouri Division of Tourism. An avid tournament bass angler, Scott explains that you just need to work the lures you have confidence in using under the existing conditions.

Scott explained a storm in the area has muddied up many of the lakes but this particular one appears to be relatively clean. The water is high, flooding much of the shoreline vegetation which might attract fish to it.

As part of his job, Scott prowls the many lakes, rivers and ponds that are open to the public. Recently he demonstrated his prowess by catching over 30 largemouth bass in this small lake in central Missouri. There are hundreds of such lakes across the state.

As water temperatures rise, fish move farther out onto points. The shad forage fish move to the main lake and the bass follow.  Anglers must concentrate on the points if they are to find fish.

In creeks and rivers anglers find fish all year. Some flooding in the spring months raises water levels.  In the summer, water levels drop creating current patterns.  Visualize places where you know current develops.  Look for funnels.  This can be places like a bridge crossing a lake.  A funnel is any place where the water creates a narrowed path.

Another good location to find fish is a long point. They hold on the downstream side of the point.  Fish position themselves facing into the current, waiting for food to sweep to them.  Throw upstream and fish the lure back with the current.

The only real way to find out what fish are doing in summer is to get out there and figure it out. This is especially true of ponds.  Experience and time on the water are the real keys to successful summer fishing.

This lake we are fishing is one of three on a small piece of property owned by the University of Missouri for agricultural experiments. The lakes are small impoundments which provide a water supply for various farming operations.  The one we chose is 15-acres. The University owns the land but the Department of Conservation manages the fishery.

To locate one of these public locations this summer just go to the Missouri Department of Conservation website http://mdc.mo.gov. Once there click on Fishing.  Then click Places to Fish.  From there you scroll down to MDC Resources.  Then click on Missouri Conservation Areas Atlas.  You can then look up a particular lake by name, county or region.  Or you can just give a county or region and get all the lakes in them.  You can also view the area from here via Google Earth.

 

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