Nice photos! I'm new this lake management and wondered if you had any opinions about our specific lake fish survey.
Our lake is about 80 acres. Its deepest point is 23 feet. It's spring and watershed fed. The watershed is 1.2 sq miles of mixed residential and farm areas. It's about 58 years old and is part of a 300-home social club (a.k,a. an incorporated HOA) about 20 miles from Louisville, KY. Most of the catches are released, and we have a rule that "bass between 12 and 16 inches shall be released. Nor more than two bass larger than 16 inches may be taken per day. No more than 6 crappie larger than 9 inches may be taken per day, crappie between 12 and 15 inches are limited to 2 per day, and larger crappie are limited to one per day.". That might be out of date or even backwards, but I suspect it was based on paying $12 each for 1 to 1.5 pound bass. It's cheaper to hand out grocery store fish vouchers.
The main objective is to have a productive large mouth bass fishery with plenty of crappie and sunfish and things for the kids to catch. Over the years it has been stocked with LMB, crappie, pan fish (i.e. sun fish, red ear, etc.), grass carp and channel catfish. the Channel cats are in two classes: 8 and 16 pounds. That probably corresponds to the stocking plans because there are very few spawning structures for them here. The crappie were over fished by a member who is no longer here and have started to return after 2 years of being rare catches. The main bass food is gizzard shad. The number of Shad bait balls look normal this year.. A few 35# flat head catfish have been netted but we don't stock them.
The Club has tried to manage the lake but it has been a "Let's put more fish in and see what happens" type of approach. The lake chemistry (dissolved O2, temp, alkalinity, pH, conductivity are all in the proper ranges. We're lucky to be in a limestone area. Nitrogen, and phosphate test are normally too low to measure with droplet tests. Ecoli is very low since 1974 when the septic regs went into place (e.g., 5 to 9 col/100 ml). (We test a lot because we added the lake to a KY satellite remote imaging project which is studying how to manage water quality from the overhead). Our main issues are milfoil, silt and an unreliable and insufficient annual lake budget.
Our first algae bloom this year seemed early. Normally, at this time and most of the summer, or Secchi disc would read 24 inches. This year it has been 43 inches all spring. This year we're catching more 4 to 8 pound bass than usual. It could be the same fish caught over and over. The anglers have not been providing length and weight info. as we request.
Now to the questions: Two seasons ago, (before we've found this awesome community) the State did an electro-shock survey (see photo). They recommended we stock a lot of LMB so they would reduce the gizzard shad population and then start eating the pan fish. (Something about the shad not having bones which makes it preferred over pan fish.). The strategy was to reduce the gizzard shad and pan fish which would reduce the load on the food chain and give larger but fewer pan fish, crappie and bass. We put in 130 or so 1 to 1.5 lbs. LMB that year. They look very healthy when I feed them Purina sport fish food for fun, not for sustenance (I seem to be the only angler here who can't catch them (and then weigh) them.)
We noted that the state didn't weigh any of their samples, and they have discontinued that program and we can't afford to survey again. I'm considering netting them when I try to feed them but it would be a very geographically limited sample, and probably only sample the pellet fed fish we put in last year.
We are trying to get smarter with the Pondboss and all y'all's help (I got the book but not the tee shirt ;>) ).. Any comments the survey or their conclusion, as well as any comments on what we did wrong, or suggestions to improve it would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.