Our chapter’s guest speaker for the March 22nd dinner meeting was Chad Boyce. Chad is a fisheries biologist with Region 1 of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. He presented the results of the September 2017 electrofishing sampling of our pond. Chad happened to be involved in the 2007 electrofishing sampling of our pond and was able to compare the data between the two sampling events.
Our pond was sampled by boat electrofishing and all fish species were collected, measured and weighed. The water quality was also sampled and found to be within acceptable standards. The sampling results for both the 2007 and the 2017 events were very similar. The data indicates that there is an overabundance of Large Mouth Bass (LMB) compared to the numbers of Bluegill (BG) and Redear Sunfish (RDE) present in the samples. The overall condition of the LMB was poor regarding their length versus weight ratio. This condition indicates low forage availability or to many bass. The BG and RDE condition was fair to good, but the population is primarily made up of larger individuals. Overall there were few juveniles indicating a poor size structure (if it’s small, it’s being eaten).
Chad made the following recommendations based on the sample results. There should be a moderate harvest of “stock-sized” (8-14 inch) LMB. There should be a catch and release instituted for larger LMB (>15 inches) and smaller LMB (<8 inches). Additionally, we should limit BG and RDE harvest. In other words, if the LMB are removed then the forage fish should be allowed to stay for now.
It was pointed out that the above recommendations were made based on the premise that we wanted to have a balanced fish population in the pond. If for instance we wanted to just primarily catch LMB the recommendations would be different. Chad also recommended that we fully utilize the fishing log book we have because with better fishing data better pond management decisions can be made. He also recommended that ponds less than 10 acres in size should avoid or remove Crappie, White and Yellow Perch, Carp, Gizzard Shad and all catfish except Channel. He also recommended that we treat the filamentous algae we have with granular copper sulfate or perhaps stock some Israeli Carp if we wanted to reduce the algae.
The chapter will have to decide what type of fishing we want to have at the pond so we can decide how best to manage fish populations to that end. In the meantime, all members fishing the pond need to fill out the fish catch log located in the mailbox at the main gate.