One of life's greatest mysteries is how bass seem to populate even the most remote woodland ponds, seemingly out of reach for DNR stocking and without inlets. Fish, not just bass, have been found in very remote and cut off ponds in the most unluckiest of the places. An example would be the brown trout in the mountain lakes of Ireland. How to fish end up in these ponds?
While some of us may believe that Lew's secretly stocks these ponds while we are all asleep, it seems that a very unlikely candidate, migratory geese, actually plays a role in transporting aquatic organisms across waterways.
Note: Keep in mind that the science on fish dispersal across isolated waterways is not complete, and more research needs to be done.
Above: Thank your local honkers for their valuable services the next time you go fishing.
Canada geese and ducks often sift through masses of aquatic plants and walk on fish spawning beds in their search for food. Many of them often accidentally ingest pond critters and fish eggs when they feed on duckweed. Small animals and eggs sometimes get stuck to their feathers in mud. A study done in Hungary involved feeding carp eggs to geese. The eggs were extracted after they were excreted and although few in number, were found to have healthy embargoes that grew to become fertile adults. Pond snails were also found to serve being eaten and excreted by waterfowl. As geese migrate, they land on different ponds, spreading critters from pond to pond. While no conclusive studies are yet done on bass, we can assume that ducks and geese at least play some role in spreading aquatic organisms from different waterways.
Above: As they look for food, ducks often ingest many other pond organisms.
Another method of transmission involves storms and floods. Asian carp, for example, used flooding to escape their holding ponds into the Mississippi. Fish can survive a surprisingly long time out of water if their skin is moist, wriggling through wet grass and into culverts and ditches. This method of transmission is especially common down South, where the weather is often humid and rainstorms are more common.
By Bill Tong
When you catch a hawg, your heart is thumping. You can't think of anything but landing that fish, and when you do, you are excited. You lip the fish, reach for your phone, ask your buddy to take a few cool pictures, and then put the fish in the water, and watch it swim off. No harm done, right?
Unfortunately, holding a fish incorrectly can often increase the mortality rate of the fish after release, or also injuries that will stunt their growth.
Above: Never put a fish on the ground, even if it is grass.
Putting fish on the ground is a big no-no that unfortunately is very common, especially among inexperienced anglers. Fish naturally have a layer of slime on their scales, which you probably would have felt when you are trying to handle a fish. This slime helps protect them against parasites and helps their skin. When you put a fish on the ground, especially on dirt, the slime gets wiped out and the fish is vulnerable to diseases. It also stresses them out, which further weakens their immune system. Fish with damaged slime coats have a higher rate of mortality than those with intact slime coats after release, and those that survive are often weakened by opportunistic infections such as molds.
When lipping a fish, always make sure you hold the fish by the lower jaw while supporting it on the rear end. Always make sure the fish is horizontal, and you aren't putting too much stress on one part of the body. Holding a fish vertically, which most people done, can injure the jaw and impede hunting. Make sure you are never holding the fish for more than 30 seconds.
If you walk by any public lake, you will often see people with buckets and a really basic setup. They usually are usually worms and bobbers. They are known as the "bucket brigade". They fish to eat. Most of time they catch bluegill and the occasional bullhead, but sometimes they catch bass. Most bass fisherman don't care if they take panfish, but bass is hot topic to many people. It especially hurts if the bass they catch is over 3 pounds.
So what can you do about it?
Above: Most of the fish that the bucket brigade catch are under 2 pounds.
Not much, really. If the bait fisherman are following the law, such as catch limits, you can't stop them. But if you see them taking nice fish, you can gently walk up to them and remind them of the valuable fish they are taking out the ecosystem, and how it's important to preserve these fish to spawn. You could also ask the authority in charge of the lake or pond to make a rule prohibiting the taking of fish over a certain size, or at least put up a sign reminding people of the benefit these big bass contribute to the food chain. Other than that, you can't really do anything that won't get you trouble with the law. If you want to get away from all fishing pressure, you can find a untouched private pond to fish. Many farmers have watering ponds that have big fish but they don't fish. Politely ask them to fish their pond, and perhaps do some chores so they lt you come again.
If you don't want your honey hole on a public lake to be depleted, don't make your honey hole public knowledge. Don't brag to it to other anglers at the lake, don't post it on a forum, don't bring large groups of people there. Only bring a few close friends there. When the word gets out, we can't do anything about it. I have seen dozens of honey holes throughout my life destroyed by fishing pressure.
Sometimes what the bucket fishermen do benefits a fishery. For instance, many ponds and lakes are filled with a lot of skinny sub 12" bass, while there is no bigger fish. The fish in these waterways are sickly and starving, and are in need of a culling. Through culling, there will be more food and habitat for the other fish, and you will see the size of the fish increase, and you will fatter and healthier fish. Sometimes, a lake needs a cull. Since the bucket fishermen mostly catch small bass, they are improving a fishery by leaving more resources for the bigger ones to grow and reproduce.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.