Really can't find a good place to put this so it's going here! Aquaculture permit obtained, I'm going into the fish business and opinions/ideas are welcomed on several aspects of this. I've brokered fish for several years helping folks out. I've spent 31 years now working closely (learning) with/from folks at the State level and find myself planning more and more pond projects for other people, which has led into "what fish do I want". I've found in the areas I frequent there is a demand for certain species that are either too far away to be practical or Fish farmers aren't handling but few numbers of certain species. I have had this idea since building my first pond but needed to get away from the 1957 standard textbook thought process to see it. I may be loosing my mind but I feel like there is a hole that needs filled with Pumpkinseeds and SMB. I've read in so many places where SMB reproduction is very limited and unstable, but I also know WAE are unstable, nearly impossible-at times. It seems forage fish always bring out conversations of differing thoughts. There appears to be an interest in some of the shiner and minnow species, that for reasons I believe I have not discovered yet, are not common. I want to leave that window open as I'm still finding more and more supporting data on one of the species I've been playing with already. YP have me really confused, but interested in pursuing them to a larger degree. Back to step one, I'm planning the addition of 2, 1/4ac ponds slightly uphill adjacent to my main pond location. I'm trying to engineer a wetland area between these 2 new ponds and my main pond. My thought process is that I can utilize nutrients from rearing ponds and provide a cleaned up, non-waist water use for my main pond (insert suggestions here). Engineering firm retained for help and showing up Thursday to discuss and tell me my ideas won't work. So many things to consider. One thing that is important to me is do 1-2 fish, not 20, and do those 1-2 very well. Small scale, High quality. Who knows, if this works it would be am honor to become a member of the resource guide right here. Comments very welcomed and thanks for listening!
This afternoon I met with GMD4 board in executive session and after 2-1/2hrs they decided the industrial permit will be issued on the basis of no provisions being included in the LEMA allocations to say it can't be done. Not going to lie, I've spent the last 2 weeks prepping for what I knew might not be possible in a IGUCA (Intensive groundwater unit control area). It took the Lawyer setting in to explain they could not help but allow my request because the language was not written in to the LEMA program. I got it, it's mine permanently but will never be granted again in a LEMA district. I got lucky but it's done.
Just a quick update on my progress here.. First, I gotta say thanks to Bob Lusk for allowing a link to my new site in my signature and looks like I'll be doing some business with Lusk as he also has a couple of tanks I need so Had to give thanks for that! Great guy he is.. I got word that I will be put in a 5 year "proof period" on my water use. Basically what happens is beings I was given 15 ac ft of water for this, If for example, my highest annual use is 9 acre ft, then 9 ac ft becomes my new water right, so I was advised to pump 15 ac ft my first year reqardless of whether I need it or not to "proof" the requirement. I don't like that so I elected to amend my application to add 2 more ponds/cells to my existing application so I'm not just waisting that water.. I can fill in what I don't continue to use. Thanks to a suggestion from Bob, I've made contact with an apparently little known source of a very highly guarded genetic line of true, Kentucky strain SMB, been looking for this for years. So.. in order to get this all started, the first year has to be on a temporary permit guarded by the guarantee that my application is approved, which is very weired in how this all works but I'm ready to dig, finally. Engineering the plumbing for all of this has been a challenge as has looking forward at fish feeders and power being supplied from A to B. The newest challenge is aeration to all of the new cells (Highflyer, I need you buddy!). Can't imagine the "unforeseen" items I haven't accounted for yet. :-))
Ken, a great idea!! One thing to think and plan for is how to harvest, and how to hold the fish for sale. Also, what type of sales. Pick up only? delivery only? Ship fish only? Or a combo of any/all of those?
This is something I have actually thought about, and I'm sure you have as well. I/we can't control what happens to those fish on the way home if someone picks them up. In the small market I'm playing in, I might be taking it too far but I believe there needs to be some QC through the entire process and that includes the introduction to the pond itself. People are people and I know someone is always looking for an excuse as to why the fish didn't make the trip, I've been there myself but I was also able to recognize and identify the issue, so with that said, you bring a good point to the table. I am putting up another building and will have holding tanks. Species type and number will be a factor in how I address that of course but inside tanks are planned for scheduled orders. Design of ponds is definitely being considered for catch/harvest methods. I've been talking with some of our hatchery techs to get a good hold on design options/ideas.
Texas has an Ag exemption but it is for crops or livestock. Then we got the opportunity for a wildlife exemption and I sold my cows and horses. Now, there about a half dozen things that I can do but only have to do 4.
I provide supplemental water for wildlife. That's my ponds. I build brush piles for small animals to escape predation. I provide supplemental food. That's generally a wheat patch when we get rain. I also feed the deer a lot of corn, put out bird houses and have bird feeders. Do a wildlife census using game cams. I load up my annual report with pictures. I I also load up with pictures of kids that I take fishing, hunting, etc. That' not one of the requirements but I figure it helps.
Without the exemption my place would be taxed almost like city property.
How much would you pay for a "trophy" fish, let's say a LMB over 5LBS.
Here is the value or cost to produce a 5 pound bass. New information available indicates that to grow EACH pound of bass it takes more than 10 pounds of forage fish; more like 20 to 30 pounds of forage fish to grow each pound of predator (Beasley PBoss Mag Sep-Oct 2020). . So for average I will use 25 pounds of forage fish to grow one pound of LMB. Fathead minnows (FHM) cost around $12 per pound. Thus 5lb bass X 25 lbs of FHM = 125 lbs of FHM needed to grow this 5lb bass = $1500.00. If we use the old standard 10lbs of forage for each pound of bass then the amount of FHM would be 50lbs of FHM X $12lb = $600.00 for the 5 lb LMbass.
If you don't mind a slight hijack. I've a question for you and everyone else around. How much would you pay for a "trophy" fish, let's say a LMB over 5LBS.
That would be dependent on genetics and at that, a 5lb LMB isn't going to be cheap, probably a 100$+ or more. I've never search for or tried to purchase anything like that but generally larger fish are by the pound.
CityDad, just to put some cost perspective and possible time table for raising "trophy" LMB...
These were 5" to 6" LMB (20 total), and were added on July 9, 2015 to my hatchery pond. The pond had an existing Population of CNBG of various sizes, and 30# of FHM's were added. Initial forage cost was $300.
50# of late season 2" to 4" tilapia were added. For my 1/4 acre hatchery pond, that works out to 200# per acre. Tilapia cost was $500.
118 days later.
LMB were pulled at 2# to 2.5#. The LMB were pulled in January for 2 reasons. 1) They were grown to be survivable when added to my big pond, and I wanted them stocked and settled in before spawning season started. 2), No readily available properly sized forage would be available for several more months. So I was halfway to 5#, and I'd spent $800 to feed 20 LMB for a little more than 6 months. That's $40 per LMB, and still a ways to go to hit 5#.
On to other items.. Continuing with the plan, I have TH feeders lined up to provide consistency in feed delivery, I've yet to decide on what I will be using to fill the feeders with but I'm slightly biased in my choice of what I feed my main pond with and with plans on number of fish I won't be buying "pallets worth" at a time. It will be more expensive but I'd rather pay a bit more a bag and not have feed left over at the end of each year. Ponds will have floating docks in the middle of each run that are extremely portable if needed, and can be easily pulled for seining purposes. My plan for these docks is so I can more easily utilize cage pens for containment. I'm going to have a couple of pens set up in main pond for holding small numbers of larger specimens but I want to maintain the best quality on the water of that pond. My original forage pond is between new cells and main pond so I've decided that cell will become my "wetland" cell. In a State project last year we planted some river bulrush to get an idea as to how fast it spreads/how invasive it may be and we've determined rather quickly that it spreads incredibly fast and is not a good candidate for another community project we completed last year so we are using common, soft stem bulrush and some sedges in the wetland area there. I'm going to start a massive effort to establish sago pondweed in this cell also and hopefully use it as a nutrient burner. The River bulrush will be topped when it reaches 2-3ft and allowed to grow back to remove instead of recycle nutrients continuously. This will also possibly be a good shrimp cell and possibly a shiner variety I have not settled on yet because the water will be continuously in motion (circular) by design. That may well change by the end of next fall also, this is something my biologist wants me to try-we'll see how that works. The upper 3 cells will gravity feed to wetland cell. Depending on how this works, wetland cell water will be mixed with well water and ran into main pond at any ratio I choose at the time, or, it can be moved back to upper cells if quality is such.