With fall electrofishing season officially starting tomorrow for me I wanted to share a story from my trip to Hawaii earlier this month. While visiting Pu`uhonua O Hónaunau (The Place of Refuge) I noticed two women for the state department using a backpack electrofisher in one of the ancient fish ponds. These ancient ponds were built to capture fish during extreme high tides. These ponds were literally some of the first aquaculture ponds and supplied the royal families with farmed fish. The two women were trying to remove tilapia from these ponds which had been stocked years ago to control mosquitoes. The tilapia never did their intended job and with a movement to return the ponds to a native fish population the tilapia needed to be removed. The state department approved these two women to rent an electrofisher from smith-root and be some of the first modern people to step foot into these ancient ponds. Unfortunately, they were having trouble due to high conductivity so I jumped in to help. When I first got there the conductivity was so high that the electrofisher was cutting itself off after about 30 seconds of use. I started by teaching them about reducing anode surface area to better control voltage and amperage. About 30 minutes later the electrofisher was operating correctly but the fish would not stay stunned long enough to capture. I fear it will take much more drastic techniques to remove all the tilapia from the ponds. But either way two new friends were made and I got to share some knowledge across the ocean. Oh yeah and don't worry it wasn't all work on the trip I did do some fishing!!!!
This weekend with 4 inches of rain we finally got some runoff into the pond. During the summer the pond had dropped about another foot. We are still down about 3 ft from the spillway at this time. The bulldozer operator is finishing up some other projects locally and will be here in about two more weeks to increase the pond size and move part of the dam. Over the summer the 20 lbs of tilapia I stocked have completely removed all the chara, and with all the rain the american pondweed has been flooded. At this point the only vegetation growing in the pond is spike rush on the northern bank.
I have began fighting the cockle-bur problem by spraying a chemical. After a week the cockle-bur plants leaves have turned yellow and hopefully we can get control after one more application.
As for the fish population, there are more bass in this little pond then you would have guessed. I have removed 66 with an average length of 6 inches. The largest was a 8 inch monster!!! I have not seen any sunfish in the pond and really wasn't sure what the bass had been eating besides grasshoppers, tilapia fry, and maybe each other. I did some stomach evacuations on a few and found one with a mud cat. Therefore I have been using a white grub with a spinner and a 3 1/2 inch catfish imitation lure (Gitzit Baby Blue Eyes). At times both of these lure have proven successful but the bite is slowing down some so possibly I am close to removing all the bass. If the mudcat prove to be more abundant then I think I will definitely have to rotenone next year.
A few months back I posted that I will be speaking in Jonesboro at the Centex Beef Cattle Symposium, this event is coming up on Friday Sept 27th. The event is being held at the Jonesboro Community Center. Registration is $20.00 at the door and tradeshow doors open at 8:00 am. It will be a full day of speakers. My presentation will begin sometime after 2 and I will speak for about 45 minutes. I'm going to try to cover just about everything from pond construction to water quality. The presentation schedule can now be downloaded below.