Our chapter’s guest speakers for the July 2017 dinner meeting were Bryan Branch and Chad Boyce. Bryan is the Recreational Safety Coordinator, Region 1 Agency Outreach with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VGIF).
Chad is a Fisheries Biologist with Region 1 of the VGIF. Bryan (pictured at left) began the presentation by explaining the Hunter Safety and Boaters safety programs. He also explained the VGIF Complementary Workforce Program (CWFP). The CWFP is comprised of volunteers working with the DGIF. The program matches volunteer skill sets and availability with various projects. This allows volunteers to help with projects such as permit inspections and issuance, trout stocking, exhibits and program presentations, equipment repair and maintenance or boat ramp inspections. Training is provided initially and as needed to fulfill the specific assignments.
Interested members can contact the Volunteer Administrator, Estella W. Randolph, at (804)-367-4331.
Chad (pictured at right) finished the presentation by giving an overview of pond management methods for evaluating and maintaining a healthy body of water and a balanced fish population. He also gave examples of how fish populations age, growth and numbers help to determine conservation regulations such as limits and size restrictions in order to maintain the resource.
Chad reviewed the results of a September 2007 evaluation of our chapter’s pond. The 2007 testing included electrofishing (shocking), collecting the fish, counting and measuring each species as well as weighing and measuring each fish. Based on the number, size and ratio of Large Mouth Bass, Bluegill and Red ear Sunfish (Shell Crackers), it was determined that due to the high number of Large Mouth Bass and their size, there was a stunting of their growth. That coupled with the fewer number of prey fish (Bluegill and Shell Crackers) would indicate over predation. The size of the Bluegill and Shell Crackers that were collected tended to be on the larger side. The smaller Bluegill and Shell Crackers were apparently being eaten but once they reached a size that was too large for the medium size bass to eat they were able to grow to a pretty good size.
The recommendations in 2007 were to harvest Large Mouth Bass in the 8-14 inch size range and release the smaller and larger ones. In addition, the harvesting of Bluegill and Shell Crackers should be limited. These actions were designed to get the fish populations back into balance.
The pond will be tested again this September. In the meantime, the recommendation is to follow the 2007 guidance. In addition to those guidelines, Chad suggested we establish a log book to record some data on our fishing results. The parameters to be logged are the time spent fishing, what species were caught, the size and number of each species and if they were harvested or released. He said that the more data we had the better our pond management decisions will be. We will be developing a data form to be placed in the park mailbox to help us keep track of this data. Chad also recommended that we remove any Crappie, Yellow Perch, Gizzard Shad and all catfish, except channel cats, that we catch as they have a negative impact on the pond’s ecosystem.