Electrofishing Surveys-How are my fish doing?

Along with our aquatic vegetation maintenance applications, we also conduct electrofishing surveys.  Lake and pond owners have a multitude of reasons for having these surveys completed.  New properties are sometimes purchased with lakes or ponds. The new owner typically doesn’t have any knowledge of past management practices.  Completing a fish survey will give the owner a starting point, from which recommendations can be made based on the desired goals. ISMS5.27.09 019A largemouth bass crowded lake or pond is another issue owners encounter.  This is generally characterized by a large number of similarly sized small bass, and a few large bluegill. This situation typically occurs when ponds don’t get heavy fishing pressure, or all bass are released when caught.  Largemouth bass continue to reproduce without enough forage required for adequate growth.  Other owners may have a problem on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Bluegill dominated lakes and ponds tend to happen when heavy fishing pressure occurs.  Largemouth bass are typically overharvested.  This often leads to an overabundant, slow-growing, or “stunted” bluegill population.  Overabundant small bluegill interfere with largemouth bass spawning, which results in poor reproduction and recruitment of bass into the population.  Some lakes and ponds are located near rivers, creeks, or small streams.  There are many species of native fish that are found in these bodies of water, but present problems in lakes and ponds. When flooding occurs, unwanted species such as gizzard shad, common carp, or a variety of sunfish species, can find their way into lakes and ponds. These fish typically compete with desirable species for food resources and habitat, or destroy fish nests through their feeding habits.  Owners and lake associations have electrofishing surveys completed to assess the damage caused by these undesirable species. Recommendations can be made in order to eliminate or drastically lessen the number of undesirable species. Unfortunately, every year we get calls from owners whose lakes or ponds have experienced winter or summer fish kills.  The damage that has occurred to the population needs to be assessed.

Aquatic Control recommends fisheries surveys be completed every three years to maintain fish populations, compare data, and make recommendations to ensure a healthy fish population.

These are just a few of the many problematic scenarios that can occur to fish populations in lakes and ponds. A common misconception is that when electrofishing surveys are completed, fish must die.  Fish are simply stunned for a short period of time, netted, and then placed in a water-filled tub.  After the fish are weighed and measured, they are returned to the lake/pond healthy and happy.  If you are having any of these problems or encounter other situations with the fish population in your lake or pond, feel free to contact us to set up an electrofishing survey.  Instead of always stocking fish, which could just make the problem worse, let our experienced fisheries biologists conduct an electrofishing survey and help balance your fish population.

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