<![CDATA[Texas Pro Lake Management - Blog]]>Fri, 27 Jan 2017 14:06:19 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Are you Getting all the Value Out of Your Lake? ]]>Mon, 15 Feb 2016 21:37:31 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/are-you-getting-all-the-value-out-of-your-lakePicture
When it comes to water in Texas not only is it essential for many wildlife species, if large enough surface water can provide family and friends with recreational opportunities such as fishing, swimming and duck hunting, enhancing the beauty of a property, and with a little planning can provide landowners with a financial opportunity to cash in on this liquid asset in the form of a private fishing lease. As with any lease, the fishing lease model(s) varies with a lake owners personal preferences but in general, we see private water fishing leases take two forms, the annual lease and the day lease 

Often lake owners prefer an annual fishing lease – similar to an annual hunting lease where a select group or single angler leases a lake(s) exclusively per year or for a period of years. For the landowner, this model provides greater security as he/she over time, will get to know the anglers and learn their use and care of the property and fishery; however this “yearly lease model” is typically the least profitable of the two.. The fee for such a lease is generally established based on the quality (actively managed or not) of the fishery, size of the fishery itself, and any amenities that may come with it such as housing, camping site, use of on-site-boat, etc. 

The second model is termed a “pay by the day” or weekend lease which often requires more administrative work but is generally much more profitable. In this situation, the fisherman/men pays a fee for the right to fish the lake(s) for one or two days at a time. In this case, a landowner may “check in” new fisherman to the lake every 5 to 7 days. In this case, the per day fees are generally representative of the quality of the fishery…a managed fishery creates better fish and demands a higher price as does additional amenities such as those mentioned above. 

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In a situation where the lake owners intentions are to maximize income a fisheries consultant is generally actively involved in the management of the lakes. These activities include diversifying the food chain, sampling the fishery by electrofishing, setting harvest limits and standards, creating and enhancing aquatic habitat, building boat docks/ramps, etc. In some cases, such as a pay-per-day lease landowners will also use an outside broker that specializes in acquiring and managing fisherman/women for private water fishing opportunities.  

In a fishing lease, size does matter in regards to the acreage of the lake(s) and size of the fish, therefore large and/or multiple lake(s) managed for quality fish will demand a higher fee than say a typical farm pond that is leased annually for “fun” fishing opportunities. As mentioned prior, to demand higher fees, quality accommodations are just as important as the fishery itself. In general, private lake owners turning the highest profits are providing properly equipped boats, high quality fishing gear, guides, overnight lodging and meals. In essence, when we talk about the premier fishing lease operations nationally and pricing they take into consideration the whole experience that can be offered to fishermen and women. 

The benefits of a fishing lease for lake owners in many cases goes beyond the immediate cash payback, as anglers are required to cull select size fish to help improve the fishery overtime. They also require anglers to record select data of their catches such as weight, length, lure type, time of catch, etc. which are all valuable pieces of information anglers can gather that will help a landowner properly manage and enhance their fishery. If managed correctly a fishing lease allows a landowner to turn a profit, improve the fishery, and potentially increase the overall value of the property.


If you are interested in starting a fishing lease on your lake you should first contact a fisheries professional to conduct an electrofishing survey, assess habitat, and come up with a longterm plan for how often the lake should be fished and how many fish should be culled per year. 

Happy Fishing!
Steven Bardin M.S. 

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<![CDATA[2016 Must have Holiday Gift Items]]>Wed, 02 Dec 2015 20:33:09 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/2016-must-have-holiday-gift-itemsIt can be hard to purchase a gift for an angler because they are either very picky about brands or colors, or they already own two of absolutely everything. If you have an angler or two on your gift list this year don't worry we have got you covered with great ideas for any budget that are guaranteed to be a big hit.  Picture
Berkley Hard Baits- 
This year Berkley, with the help of legendary crankbait designer David Fritts, introduced six new hard bait designs in eleven sizes. Each is available in 12 different high quality paint colors. These baits sell for a remarkably low price of $6.99 to $7.99. For pond fishermen the Cutter 90 ripbait, Pitbull crankbait, and Warpig lipless crankbait are must haves. 

Bad Shad Crankbait - 1/4 oz dives to 5-7 ft and the 1/3 oz dives to 6-9 ft
Cutter 90 Ripbait - 3/8 oz dives to 4-6 ft
Cutter 110 Ripbait - 9/16 oz dives to 4-8 ft Skinny - 7/16 oz dives to 4-7 ft
Digger Crankbait - 1/2 oz dives to 5-8 ft and the 9/16 oz dives to 7-9 ft
Pitbull Crankbait 5.5 - 3/8 oz dives to 4-6ft
Warpig Lipless Crankbait - 1/4 or 1/2 oz sinking
Wild Thang 8.5 Crankbait - 1/2 oz dives to 6-9ft

Purchase Berkley Hardbaits here from Tacklewarehouse.com

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SPRO BBZ-1 Rat-
The BBZ-1 Rat, created by Bill Siemantel, is a single-jointed wake bait designed to mimic a rodent swimming on the surface. The original BBZ-1 Rat won the 2014 Best Hard Bait Award at ICast and this year at ICast two smaller sized rats were introduced by SPRO. The BBZ-1 is available in three sizes and seven colors. The BBZ-1 30 is 6.25" and weighs 1/2 oz, the BBZ-1 40 is 7.5" and weighs 1 oz, and the BBZ-1 50 is 10" and weighs 2.5 oz. Cost of these baits is $21.99 to $29.99. Each BBZ-1 comes with two tails and additional tails are available in 9 colors. For topwater fishermen this is a must own bait, watch the videos below and you will agree. 

Purchase BBZ-1 Rats here from Tacklewarehouse.com

FishingSkirts.com Skirt Kits- 
Earlier this year we wrote a how-to blog for creating your own fishing skirts for jigs, spinnerbaits, or buzzbaits. The materials we use come from FishingSkirts.com. They offer three kits designed to help an angler get started making their own skirts. Each kits contains ten different colors of silicone tabs, 100 total tabs, 12 rattles, 50 UV treated amber and black rattle bands, skirt making tool, and boat box. The silicone for each kit was selected by Professional Angler Cliff Pace. The difference in the kits is the color of silicone that is selected specifically for jig, spinnerbait, or living image skirts. Each kit cost $25.99. 

Purchase FishingSkirts.com Kits from Tacklewarehouse.com
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FishKDS Rod Jerseys-
Rod storage and organization has long been the nemesis of anglers. The rod sleeve has now become an extremely popular way to stay organized and prevent rods from becoming tangled. FishKDS.com has rod sleeves available in 115 color combinations for casting rods and 14 color combinations for spinning rods. The cost of each sleeve is $3.49 for casting and $4.49 for spinning. 

http://www.fishkds.com/apps/webstore/products/category/917356?page=1


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Sun Buff
For anglers fighting the sun can be a lifelong battle. A very popular way to prevent sun from burning your skin and represent your favorite brands is to wear a logo sun buff. These are available from many companies at a cost of $5 to $15.00.  

Major League Fishing $5.99 
https://www.hicorpinc.com/mlf/estore/product.aspx?id=54-1-704

Tackle Warehouse $11.99
http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Tackle_Warehouse_Buffs/descpage-TWCB.html

SPRO Frog $6.84
http://www.spro.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=P0058

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The Bass University Online Subscription
Unlock unlimited access to over 400 online videos of top anglers teaching 45 minute classroom sessions. Videos cover lure selection, angling techniques, dissecting a waterbody, electronics tips and on the water demos. Subscriptions can be purchased monthly for 14.99 or annually for $149.99. Annual subscriptions come with additional select gifts. In class and on the water sessions are also available in select locations 

http://subscriptions.viddler.com/BassUniversityTV

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Tackle Warehouse Gift Card
When all else fails you can never go wrong with a Tackle Warehouse gift card. Tackle Warehouse has become the go to shopping spot for any serious angler. Their website has anything and everything a fishermen needs. The gift cards can be bought in any amount and most likely you can find a Tackle Warehouse decal or T-Shirt to round out the perfect gift. 

http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/giftcards.html?page=giftcards


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<![CDATA[When Aquatic Plants Grow Out of Control]]>Wed, 26 Aug 2015 17:53:02 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/when-aquatic-plants-grow-out-of-controlPicture
Aquatic plants can be an anglers number one allies or a pond owners nemesis. Many anglers enjoy fishing a top water lure or punching a bait through a vegetated mat, this is because they are both productive techniques to catch aggressive predators. The aquatic plant provides security for forage species and an ambush point for the predator, which equals an anglers dream. To a pond owner however, there is a very fine line between what is considered beneficial and what is excess when it comes to plants. Overtime as they spread aquatic plants can increase water clarity, eventually they eliminate shoreline angling, and when they become too dense they consume more oxygen then they produce which can cause fish kills.

So if you are a pond owner what do you do? Should you allow the plants to freely grow and take the good with the bad, or should you attempt to control the nuisance plants? Step one to answering that question would be to accurately identify the plant. When you correctly have the plant identified look at how quickly it grows, at what depths, and how dense. A slow growing, shallow water loving, thin plant is preferred over something that doubles in size quickly, grows in twenty feet of water, and looks like knotted twine.

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If controlling the plant is necessary accurate identification is once again important. Each control method will have benefits and detriments. We classify control methods as chemical, biological, and mechanical. Each method targets the control and removal of the plant differently. Chemicals such as herbicides and algaecides act quickly by attacking cells or specific plant structures. They can be used to control a specific plant in a small areas or to target multiple species in large areas. Unfortunately, selecting the wrong chemical or misusing it will result in negative effects. Biological control is the use of a living organism to consume the unwanted plant. Various species are available to use depending on the plant you have and the state you are located in. Each species will have specific plant preferences, environmental requirements, lifespans, and reproductive habits. Mechanical control using cutting and raking can be effective in small areas on specific plants but it is important to remember many aquatic plants reproduce and spread via fragmentation.

All of these control methods attack the plant rather then the reason the plant is growing. Aquatic plants need sunlight and nutrient to grow. To gain long term control of undesired plants you must reduce excess nutrient. To properly reduce nutrient you may need to address runoff sources, add bottom diffusion aeration, periodically use beneficial bacteria, or redistribute the nutrient using alternate plants. By controlling nutrient this way you will control unwanted plant growth for the long term.

As a pond owner and angler you must decide which plants you will allow to grow and to what density. Once you decide you need to control the unwanted plant growth then you must decide how to do it most efficiently.

Steven Bardin M.S. 

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<![CDATA[Customizing Skirted Lures]]>Tue, 04 Aug 2015 22:27:20 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/customizing-skirted-luresPicture
I am a biologist by trade, that means my mind is always observing my environment, contemplating the hows and whys, and trying to determine how to improve my world. This does not stop when I clock out for the day and instead many of my hours fishing are spent thinking of ways to improve my gear. When I am on the water and see a school of shad break or a sunfish hide in vegetation I begin to think of how my lure looks compared to that natural piece of forage. At times that means I need to customize my tackle using dyes, markers, and paint. 

Skirted baits are no exception and they are all easily customized. With a simple skirt making kit you can add to or completely change the pattern of any jig, spinnerbait, buzzbait, or chatterbait. You can also revitalize an old worn out bait by putting on an new custom skirt. I purchased my kit and all my extra materials from FishingSkirts.com, this isn't a commercial for them I just like their product. You can also purchase the kits from various retailers including Tackle Warehouse

Once you get your new kit you will notice it includes the necessary skirt threading tool, silicone skirt material, and rubber skirt bands to make several custom skirts. The process of making a skirt is simple, first you slide a band onto the skirt threading tool. Then you insert the wire threader into the tool. Next select two tabs of skirt material, maybe three if you are looking for a bulky lure. You hang the material on the wire and pull into into the tool. Then you roll the rubber skirt band onto the skirt tabs and pull it all out of the tool. You then trim to the desired length and you are ready to mount the new skirt onto the jig, spinnerbait, buzzbait, or chatterbait. 

Below is a step by step photo graphical guide on how to build a skirt from Kennedale High School Outdoor Education teacher Danny Wilcox. 

You should go ahead and watch this video by Professional Angler Gary Klein on how to use these kits to build skirts. 

Hopefully you can use these resources as a guide to begin creating the skirted baits you have always dreamed of to catch fish in your home waterbody. 

Until next time Happy Fishing
Steven Bardin M.S. 
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<![CDATA[Bass Brigade travels to iCast 2015]]>Wed, 22 Jul 2015 23:34:07 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/bass-brigade-travels-to-icast-2015Picture
This past week Casey and I traveled to Orlando Fl to the ICast show. Our goal was to spend some time with several of our sponsors thanking them for their support with this years Bass Brigade Camp. Below you can see many of our current and future sponsors holding up their 10th Battalion Bass Brigade T-Shirts. It was great to see so many of our supporters in one place and we found several other companies very interested in furthering our cause by supporting us in various ways. 

ICast was a rare opportunity for me to get an inside view into the tackle industry and all the new gear coming out in 2015. Our favorite lures were SPRO's miniature rat wake bait, Berkley's square bill pitbull crankbait, and VMC's gliding jigs. Smooth reels and tough rods were available from several vendors, but it was tough not to stop by the huge 13 Fishing booth and see their unique customizable reels. Boyd Duckett had a great display of his rod and reels which are some of the highest quality gear available. Simms new ProDry gear was hard to ignore, spending so much time on the water this wet spring and coming up this cold winter I will certainly be looking into the ProDry very soon. I did get a couple samples of the new Gliss Monotex line which I will be trying out over the next few months and three Line Cutterz rings. If you haven't heard of Line Cutterz its a Texas based company that offers an easy and efficient solution to cutting fishing line that every angler should have. You can purchase or preorder many of these products online at Tackle Warehouse

We did manage to find several products we can use in the lake management industry. These included portable fish cages and scales that measure and log fish. My favorite product by far is pictured above and is from Release Rulers. It is a color coded ruler to show you standard weight of the desired species. They have or can manufacturer these for any species desired. It is a simple and perfectly executed idea. We are have plenty printed now so let me know if you need or want one for your personal use. 

ICast was a great opportunity to spend time with close friends, thank our sponsors, and meet several new friends, I certainly look forward to next year. 

Thank you for reading and Happy Fishing
Steven Bardin M.S. 
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<![CDATA[Bass Brigade 2015]]>Wed, 15 Jul 2015 22:32:06 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/bass-brigade-2015Picture
This year was the 10th Bass Brigade camp. For anyone who doesn't know Bass Brigade is a youth leadership and conservation camp that focuses on largemouth bass. This years camp was held at the Warren Ranch (http://www.warrenranch.net/) outside of Coleman Texas. We received an unbelievable 6 inches of rain the first two days of camp. Thankfully we have a great group of instructors and 24 extraordinary cadets who were able to make the changes we needed to the schedule to still produce the high caliber camp we all expect. The cadets were put through 5 of the longest most educational days you could imagine. They were introduced to sampling techniques like electrofishing, trapping, and seining. They learned to identify aquatic plants, aquatic invertebrates, and of course common Texas fish. They also learned fisheries management practices such as tagging, culling, improving the watershed, and writing their own management plan. Outside of fisheries activities the cadets learned fly tying and casting. Inside the class room the cadets honed their public speaking skills by giving power point presentations, debating in a mock stakeholder meeting, and doing mock tv interviews. Of course it wasn't all just learning and presenting, the cadets had the chance to compete in a fishing tournament against pro angler Gary Klein.

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This year we were blessed with 4 scholarship donors who funded a total of $6000.00 in scholarships for our outstanding returning cadets. These students put forth an effort all year long giving presentations in their own communities discussing conservation topics. Our scholarship donors included Repel, Triton Boats/ Texas Boat World, Power-Pole, and Gary Klein. This is a great investment into these students future that we cannot thank our sponsors enough for. 

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Throughout the camp the cadets are placed into "schools" which compete for points to earn prizes. This year the top school won Duckett Rods and a guided blue catfish fishing trip. The top cadet received rod and reel combos from Quantum and a gift card to Academy for $250.00. The casting, flipping, and pitching competition winners also received a rod and reel combo. Several cadets won Academy gift cards and assorted prizes for top trifold, top fly, and top notebook. 

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There are several other great sponsors who stepped up to make sure this years bass brigade was the best yet. I have to thank Berkley, Major League Fishing, Zebco, Cabelas Fort Worth, Rat-L-Trap, Between the Bridges Custom Lures, Kayak Bass Adventures, Pond Boss, Duckett Fishing, and Tackle Warehouse. Their support insured every cadet left with prizes along with their new fisheries knowledge. 

If you would like to get involved with Bass Brigade and support us any way please contact me and we can discuss the various opportunities that are available. 

Thank you for reading, Happy Fishing, and check back soon for our update from iCast. 

Steven Bardin M.S. 

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<![CDATA[Interview with Custom Lure Manufacturer Brady Sullivan¬†]]>Wed, 01 Jul 2015 20:19:11 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/interview-with-custom-lure-manufacturer-brady-sullivanHave you ever wanted a soft plastic bait in a special color, is your favorite lure discontinued, or do you need a new way to market your business? If so this weeks guest interview may provide you a source for the lures you are looking for. Brady Sullivan sat down for a quick interview about the business he owns with his brother, Between the Bridges Custom Fishing.  Picture
Brady, thanks for doing this I know a lot of fishermen want to get into customizing lures but just don't know where to start, so what got you and your brother started? 
              Brady - We started making baits to sell a few here and there but mainly to make lures for ourselves and friends.  It's fun to have fishing buds over to the house to pour worms and talk about fishing.  We've been blessed with a successful and growing business and currently are selling about 1,200 bags of soft plastics per year and offer about a dozen different kinds of worms.  We wanted to be able to make baits that were truly custom; meaning if we wanted a bait a little lighter or darker or with more or less glitter than what is commercially available, then we could.  Also, most anglers have a story about a favorite bait that was either a limited edition or the company who made that particular worm has gone out of business and they can no longer get that color.  Well that's where we come in, our shop is fully custom, as I like to say, "we can make any worm, any color".

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What soft plastic and color combinations do you have requested most often? 
           Brady - Our most popular baits right now have been our 4.5" Beaver style flipping bait and the 5" Senko.  Do-It Mold Corp has teamed up with Gary Yamamoto and they are selling molds to the exact specs of the original Senko.  We have two of these molds and are really selling a lot of them in both single colors and dual color laminates.      

What is the strangest request so far? 
           Brady - I wouldn't say we have really had any real unusual orders but I'm sure there will be some gag gift type orders come in at some point.

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Do you do any remolds with worn plastics? 
             Brady - We actually have very little waste because we reuse our plastic.  Most people don't know that you can melt used soft plastics down and reuse them.  There is definitely a limit to how many times you can re-melt a bait though, they get real sticky after a few re-melts.  You can save like colors and melt them together and come up with some good looking baits, many times they turn into a watermelon candy type bait.

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How are fish responding to your freshwater prawn lures? 
          Brady - As many people know, Dr. Gary Schwartz is doing some amazing things with lake management on his La Perla lake, north of McAllen, Tx.  He raises prawns for his bass and has had success with the craw worms that I put together to match the prawns.  I made him several variations, mostly transparent/opaque pearl bodies with blue pinchers, some of them I included the orange egg sack and some I did not.

I know you guys fish private ponds so what is your go to soft plastic and what color? 
            Brady - You've got to love fishing private waters, it's hard to beat a watermelon red fluke on private lakes.  I prefer to fish them weightless and work them like a soft plastic jerk bait.  Others I know get more technical with and fish them on a drop shot, or even use the fluke as a jig trailer.

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How much time does it take on the custom painted hard baits to take them from blanks to the finished product?
         Brady - The hard bait business is fairly time consuming as there are several steps to the process, from priming the bait twice, several coats of actual paint, sometimes scaling patterns, to the epoxy topcoat, it's a long process, which is why custom hard baits are much more expensive than commercial baits.  I paint a lot of spooks with companies logos on them for them to give away to their customers as advertisement.  That is good business because generally I paint a lot of baits the same color and my time efficiency goes way up. 

Where is the best place to follow your work online?
        Brady - At this time, we do not have a website so you can check us out on our Instagram page @betweenthebridgescustomfishing

Most importantly how do people order from you? 
         Brady - We take all of our official orders through our email address, betweenthebridgesllc@gmail.com

I hope everyone enjoys this interview and will look up Brady and his company on Instagram. If you are interested on any custom lures don't hesitate to email him. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Fishing!
Steven Bardin M.S. 
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<![CDATA[Finding a New Food Source for Your Fish]]>Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:16:49 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/finding-a-new-food-source-for-your-fishPicture
Managing a trophy fishery can be boiled down to three principles. First you must provide a superb habitat, second you need a low density predator population, and finally you need a highly diverse and abundant forage population. Earlier this year we talked in depth about assessing a bass population and how to determine if fish need to be culled. Now, I want to take some time to talk about forage. 

I am sure you have heard it a thousand times, bass need to eat 10 lbs of live forage to gain 1 lb of body weight. What you don't hear is that if you need 10 lbs of forage fish that means you need 100 lbs of whatever the forage fish eat, and if they eat something that eats something else then you need 1000 lbs of that something else. Therefore, competition between forage species can be just as important as competition between predators. This means you really need diverse forage population. Most lakes have a single species which is the base of the food chain. In a trophy management situation along with the base species other forage species which fill unique niches are used to consume food that is underutilized by the base species. 

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The base forage species needs to have some specific characteristics. It will need to reproduce often, grow to a large size quickly, and rarely if ever compete with bass for food. In Texas we use bluegill sunfish as the base of the food chain. Bluegill have small sized mouths relative to their body size. They eat mainly insects or supplemental fish food, they can grow to over 12 inches and weights of 2+ lbs, they reproduce multiple times per year when water temperatures are between 65 to 80 degrees, they can live 5-8 years, and they mature fairly quickly. Bluegill embody the perfect forage species for bass. However, you can only grow so many insects in your lake and therefore so many bluegill. With high density bluegill populations many lake owners turn to fish feeders and high protein feed to increase bluegill growth, survival, and density. The use of fish food and feeders has become instrumental in the management of trophy largemouth bass fisheries. 

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Once a base species is established and abundant the next step is to utilize other food sources to increase forage for bass. Lets take a look at what there is to eat in a lake besides insects. If the lake is fertile you have phytoplankton, you certainly have detritus "decaying plant and animal matter on the bottom of the lake", you may have filamentous algae or other vegetation types, or you may have mollusks like snails or mussels. If bluegill are eating mainly insects then all these other food items are going underutilized. Finding a forage species to fill each of these niches is the way you can diversify a food chain. 

Phytoplankton are consumed by almost all juvenile fish, some insects, and zooplankton. Few adult fish can feed directly on phytoplankton. One that can is threadfin shad. They can grow to a maximum of 6-8 inches, mature quickly, live in open water, and spawn in communities multiple times during from spring through fall. They are somewhat temperature intolerant and will die off at water temperatures below 42 degrees. They do have a short life expectancy and likely will not live over 3 years. Their small adult size and temperature intolerance will make periodic restocking mandatory. 

Detritus is another food source not utilized by bluegill. Detritus feeders include gizzard shad, crawfish, and freshwater prawns. Detritus is decaying plant and animal matter on the bottom of the pond. This food source is constantly increasing as the lake decomposes waste. Gizzard shad begin life feeding on phytoplankton. As adults they feed on zooplankton and eventually as zooplankton is depleted they feed on detritus. Unlike threadfin shad, gizzard shad have a slightly down turned mouth meaning they can feed on the bottom more easily. They grow to lengths of 18 inches, have life expectancy of 8 to 10 year, have extremely high amounts of egg production, and mature quickly. Due to their large growth and ability to out compete other forage species gizzard shad use in trophy fisheries can be considered controversial. Upon initial stocking gizzard shad add a huge benefit to a trophy lake but long term their presence will become more detrimental to the fishery.  

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Crawfish and prawns are crustaceans which feed not only on detritus but upon vegetation, fish food, small fish, and anything else they can get close to their mouths. Crawfish can be purchased from various suppliers and at any size desired. Crawfish should be purged by the supplier before transport to insure a high survival. Reproductive needs of crawfish depend on species stocked, most will need to burrow. This means soft soils, rock, or wood cover will be instrumental in creating a reproducing population. Crawfish prefer environments with excellent water quality so bottom diffusion aeration will increase likelihood of long term survival. Crawfish tendency to burrow can cause structural damage to levee lakes in some situations.

Prawns are a relative newcomer to being used as a forage species. They do not burrow so there is little to no risk when stocking them. They typically are purchased as juveniles 1-2 inches in length. Prawns grow quickly and can reach over 12 inches in 3 to 4 months if fed correctly. It is beneficial to stock them into a nursery pond as juveniles and grow them to the desired size before stocking them as forage in the lake. Prawns will not reproduce in the lake because they need brackish water and they are slightly temperature intolerant. Due to these characteristics they will need to be restocked every spring. 

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Tilapia consume algae, floating plants, phytoplankton, some rooted plants, fish food, and mosquito larva. In Texas we can stock Mozambique tilapia into private lakes. Tilapia are unique in the fact that they are mouth brooders which carry their eggs with them. This insures a higher survival of their offspring over other forage fish. They will reproduce every 28 days when water temperature is above 70 degrees. Due to their high survival and their diverse diet tilapia are widely considered an excellent forage fish. The Mozambique tilapia will only last one season as they die with water temperatures below 52 degrees.

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In most situations mollusks like snails are present in a lake and in some situations mussels can even be present. Redear sunfish have long been used to control snail populations to prevent parasites from infecting fish. More recently they have been used to control invasive quagga mussels. Redear easily grow to 8 to 10 inches and weigh 1 lb+ eating snails. The readear used to control quagga mussels are growing to be over 5 lbs. Redear can eat mollusk using their pharyngeal teeth  to crush the shells. Redear reproduce once per year but their unique diet makes them instrumental in all fisheries. 

Diversifying the food chain is an important principle in managing a trophy fishery. Once the base of the food chain is established the use of multiple other forage species which utilize specific food sources will greatly increase forage abundance and diversity. Increasing forage abundance and diversity will insure long term growth of bass or other predators. This is one part of managing a fishery and is no more important then improving habitat or culling fish to create low density predator population. There are several other forage species which we didn't cover because they create competition with predators, one of these is the rainbow trout. Selecting a proper forage plan may take further guidance from a professional but hopefully this article will help you began to understand the reasons forage species are recommended. 

Thank you for reading and Happy Fishing!!
Steven Bardin M.S.

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<![CDATA[A New "New Lake Effect"]]>Wed, 20 May 2015 00:29:35 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/a-new-new-lake-effectPicture
As your lake fills for the very first time, you must wait patiently for the opportunity to begin stocking fish. Before fish can be stocked you will need to make sure the lake will hold water, that water turbidity is not an issue, and that the lake is fertile. When you are finally able to stock baitfish, months of waiting will follow as baitfish grow and reproduce. Building a large forage population is instrumental for long term success in any fishery. Eventually it will be time to stock the predator fish. If done correctly the fish will thrive and the lake will experience a phenomenon called New Lake Effect. 

A New Lake Effect is considered the magical first 5-7 years when baitfish populations are abundant, predators exhibit extraordinary growth, and catch rates are high. With proper management you can continue this success for several more years. However, many road blocks will occur as you attempt to manage your dream fishery. Aquatic plants will grow, trash fish may show up, or drought could reduce your water body to half size or less. 

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Short term drought can be beneficial to a lake as it will reduce vegetated growth along the shoreline and can increase predators ability to capture forage fish. If the drought extends several years the negative effects will begin to increase. Forage fish populations will be greatly reduced, vegetation can become very abundant, predator fish will lose weight, and shoreline brush can begin to prohibit bank fishing.  

Once the drought finally breaks and the lake begins to fill you may experience a miniature New Lake Effect. The existing forage fish will have an abundance of newly flooded vegetation available to them, and they will use this vegetation to avoid predation. Their offspring will have a greater chance of survival and the fishery will experience an abundance of forage fish.

The following year, an increase forage base and a mature habitat begins to equal fat predator fish. Years two and three will be marked with overweight fish. With the right management years four and five you may begin to see young trophy-caliber fish being caught consistently. 

This phenomenon is not limited to private lakes and in fact all of North and Central Texas reservoirs could experience a miniature New Lake Effect with the recent rains. The potential is there for all our fisheries to thrive over the coming years.

Happy Fishing!!! 
Steven Bardin M.S. 


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<![CDATA[Crayfish, Crawfish, or Crawdads Bass Eat Them by Any Name. ]]>Tue, 14 Apr 2015 02:28:14 GMThttp://texasprolakemanagement.com/blog/crayfish-crawfish-or-crawdads-bass-eat-them-by-any-namePicture
There is something about the little crustacean called crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads that humans and bass alike cannot resist. I know crawfish etouffee is high on my list of can't miss meals and I have seen studies that show bass prefer crawfish over bluegill 9 to 1 and even 24 to 1. Logistically if that is true then by stocking crawfish into your lake you will greatly increase the survival of bluegill for a short time. More bluegill surviving in the spring for even an extra month can make a large difference in their reproductive potential. This also means that any lure resembling a crawfish should become the go to bait as long as crawfish are present in the waterbody. 

Lets look at crawfish and see if they are right for your lake. First they will thrive in lakes with vegetative, rocky, or wood cover, lack of cover equals short life expectancy due to predation. Crawfish do need excellent water quality so bottom diffusion aeration is preferred. Crawfish are omnivours, which means they can and will eat anything. Insects, fish, plants, and detritus (decaying matter on the lake bottom) will all become food for crawfish so you don't need to do anything special to feed them. Depending on the species they will reproduce by burrowing therefore leevee lakes may not be the best lakes to build dense crawfish populations. I have read conflicting studies on the amount of protein a crawfish consist of and therefore how well bass grow on crawfish diets. What I do know based on my personal experience is that at the end of the year bass in lakes stocked with crawfish have higher relative weights and that is something everyone wants. 

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I typically stock crawfish at a rate of 50-100 lbs per acre beginning in April and going through June depending on the weather. Hopefully if you decide to stock crawfish this spring you will do so understanding the benfits and potential risk. In the end we know that the bass in your lake will enjoy the benefits of this unique forage item no matter what. 

Thank you for reading and Happy Fishing!!!
Steven Bardin M.S. 

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