5 Questions a Biologist Will Ask You Concerning Fishery Management
By: Steve Bardin – Justin Bryan
Let’s face it managing a newly purchased fishery can be a slightly overwhelming task for a new lake owner. It is not natural for anyone to know when and what species of fish need to be stocked, how to identify or control aquatic plants, what color the water should be, how much alkalinity you need, or really even what the first step is to reaching your goal. These are all very important and common questions about your fishery management practices.
Luckily there are several dedicated, experienced, fish loving biologists who are ready and willing to help private lake owners. You can find a fairly local biologist by talking with neighbors, searching social media, or visiting the Society of Lake Management Professionals website. Many times when you do find a biologist we will likely have more questions than you do. Being prepared to answer the following questions will help get the ball rolling on creating a true fishery management plan.
1) What is your overall goal? This is probably the most important question because it will lead the entire rest of the conversation and get everyone on the same page. Your goal in fishery management could be anything from growing a specific size or species of fish to just having a relaxing and aesthetic fishery.
2) How many surface acres is your fishery? Surface area of the lake will greatly dictate the feasibility of your fishery management goals. Surface area will tell us the relative carry capacity, stocking rates, feeding rates, fertilization rates, and almost everything else you can put in the lake.
3) Has the lake ever been stocked before? This may seem simple but we need to know if fish are in the lake currently and if so what they are. Once again this will help determine in your goal is realistic and achievable. If you can’t answer this question then we will need to do an electrofishing survey to learn the answer before we proceed.
4) What is the water color and clarity? Many forage fish feed on a microscopic plant called phytoplankton that floats in the water column, gives water the green coloration, and also provides water with dissolved oxygen. Biologists prefer a green phytoplankton rich color and 18 to 24 inches in visibility.
5) Are aquatic plants present? Aquatic vegetation can be both beneficial and detrimental to a fishery management plan depending on the species and the density. Beneficial plants can create excellent habitat, stabilize the shoreline, and provide oxygen. Detrimental plants can prevent predators from consuming forage, cause excessive water clarity, and make fishing very difficult.
(Bonus Question) Who will fish the lake, how many fish do you catch per trip, how often do you fish? This is a bonus question that will separate the good biologist from the greats. If you are talking to a great biologist and they ask you about angling this means they are already thinking about artificial habitats, docks, angling access, culling fish, and your long-term success.
Visit Texas Pro Lake Management for more information on fishery management.