While strolling the shoreline or sitting on a dock, you should be seeing fish on spawning beds and/or schools of newly hatched fry.  The long, slender ones may be bass.  Oval shaped critters are likely bluegill.  After recent 90+ degree-days, we’ve got a fun way to assess your spawning success—wade in and conduct a seine survey.

Simple 15 to 25 foot seines approximately four feet tall are adequate.  Make a handle for each end from PVC or an old broomstick.  Your partner should place one end at the water line.  You wade to the depth of your seine.  Place your stick on the bottom.  Keeping the seine tightly stretched, bump the stick along the bottom in a 90-degree sweep back to the shoreline.  Be sure the seine remains in contact with the bottom to prevent fish from escaping under it.

When reaching the shore, tilt the bottom up to hold your sample.  Let the net rest in several inches of water while you examine the catch.  Estimate the number of fish in each species.  If you don’t recognize some, take photos and forward to us.  Complete analysis as quickly as possible and release the sample to grow up and become valuable members of your fishery.

In ponds smaller than five acres, complete the procedure at six or eight evenly spaced locations. Your first observation is spawning activity, but also record size classes of all species.  It’s good to see fish in all lengths from new fry to mature adults.  Forward your census; we’ll help evaluate data.

If this spring’s new generation of bass is to find adequate forage to achieve maximum potential, you MUST harvest portions of past crops to prevent overpopulation.  Hang the seine to dry, grab a sandwich, and start fishing.  Remove bass 14-inches and under.  The annual quota should be 20 pounds per surface acre.  Fillet them for supper and celebrate a successful day of pond management.

Thanks for your business,

Bob Lusk – Chad Fikes – Walter Bassano