Lake Wallace: biologist's report

Discussion in 'SOUTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by Bill in SC, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
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    South Caro
    Folks, as many of you know, I have been trying to gather data pertaining to the status of the Lake Wallace catfish population, and whether or not there is shad in the lake. On the SCDNR forum, I was directed to biologist Liz Ozier. I e-mailed her asking various questions. Here is her very comprehensive and interesting reply to me.

    Hello Mr. Bristow,
    I am the Fisheries Biologist in charge of Lake Wallace in Bennettsville. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying catfish fishing in Lake Wallace.
    Blue catfish were stocked in 1999 and 2000 totaling 3,200. Channel catfish were stocked more in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 totaling almost 22,000. We also stocked 40,000 threadfin shad in the lake in 2005.
    We have been sampling Lake Wallace frequently since 2005 for a few of different studies, though we have not been sampling catfish. However, I have seen many catfish in the rocks along the dike in the spring and lots of catfish fingerlings along the wooded area above and below Jacks Island. Both of these things indicate to me that there is a substantial catfish population which is reproducing.
    As for the growth, I would hasten to assume that the catfish in Lake Wallace grow at the same rates as in other populations such as the Pee Dee River or the Santee-Cooper lakes, for example. It is a relatively small reservoir and has limited resources, no influx of nutrients, and is relatively shallow resulting in limited habitat. All of these things would limit the overall growth of individuals. I would not expect to find trophy sized blue catfish in Lake Wallace. I would recommend harvesting the large fish, so as to reduce the competition for those that are left (thus increasing the growth potential for those fish remaining).
    If you have further questions, please feel free to give me a call (843-661-4767).
    Sincerely,
    Liz Osier
    Elizabeth Osier
    Region 2 Coordinator
    SC DNR Freshwater Fisheries
    843/661-4767
    OsierE@dnr.sc.gov
     
  2. pop pop

    pop pop New Member

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    972
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    Lake Green
    Very informative. Looks like DNR is doing a fine job on the body of water, So do as she said and harvest some bigger cats and lets have a fish fry!:big_smile:
     

  3. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    I have a few parts of her reply to dissect/discuss. Read her reply CAREFULLY and see if you see any points that you agree or disagree on. Remember that she is a licensed biologist, and most likely knows more than we ever will about fisheries.

    After a few of you reply, I will write some things I was wondering about in her post, and how her reply got me thinking about some much discussed issues we frequently debate here on the BOC.

    Bill in SC
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  4. GatorT

    GatorT New Member

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    390
    State:
    Camden, South Carolina
    Bill,

    She said to start harvesting some of the bigger fish. That's pretty much the opposite of what's preached on the BOC. Personally, I've always thought it was smarter to throw back the big fish. But, I think there may be a benefit to harvesting, too. (Preferably the smaller fellas.)

    I believe that everyone will agree with me that the fishing was a lot better 20-30 years ago. The pollution laws are more strict these days, and I think the water is actually cleaner now than it was 20 years ago. The biggest difference I can see is the number of commercial fisherman - everybody and his brother used to commercial fish for a living. There were a LOT of fish being taken out of the lakes and rivers. Now, thanks to the farm ponds and all of the government inspected fish, the fresh water commercial fisherman has just about died out. And the fishing doesn't seem to be as good as it used to be.

    Is it just me, or is there maybe something to this? Just think about it, let me know what you come up with.

    PS - Please don't call me names. I do practice CPR. :wink:
     
  5. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    Point taken, Ronnie. There is another thing or two about what she said...

    BB in SC
     
  6. pop pop

    pop pop New Member

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    972
    State:
    Lake Green
    What she had to say does go against the grain a little doesn't it. I thought the same thing when I first read it. I do think there has to be a balance of fish of all sizes to have a healthy population. So it sounds to me like in her studies the balance isn't right, as she talks about a lack of habitat and no influx of nutrients. I am curious, so keep us informed.
     
  7. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
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    South Caro
    Your comment was enough to start the conversation with, GatorT. Due to the fact that Lake Wallace is so unlike other lakes we fish, being small and shallow, harvesting larger fish might be the best for the OVERALL health of that particular fishery. That said:

    <As for the growth, I would hasten to assume that the catfish in Lake Wallace grow at the same rates as in other populations such as the Pee Dee River or the Santee-Cooper lakes, for example.>


    If these blues were stocked 9 and 10 years ago, why are they only 2 to 5 pounds now!!?? For that matter, why would the 13 to 17 pounders not be bigger in 9 or 10 years? I catch 15 smaller blues in the 2 to 5 pound range, to 1 "bigger" one in the 10 to 17 pound range. What size do catfish have to be to reproduce? Are the 2 to 5 pound blues that I am catching, offspring from the 13 to 17 pound blues I occasionally catch there? Or, do the larger 13 to 17 pound blues I sometimes catch have better genes than the smaller ones, and have thus grown faster? Or... are the few larger ones, ones people have thrown in there from other bodies of water? I tell you, trying to figure out an ecosystem can be trying, to say the least. Her reply to me has raised more questions, but I don't want to keep writing and bugging her. I'm just trying to figure out my best approach for the proper conservation of this particular lake.

    We posted at the same time, pop pop. Thanks for your input. Do realize that this is about a 220 acre lake that averages about 5/6 feet deep overall. Certainly her reasoning about taking larger fish sounds right for THIS body of water. My main question was her growth rate statement and the fact that it's been stocked ten years. In ten years a blue cat can reach great sizes. Maybe they ought to dump 40,000 more shad in there and feed 'em!!! LOL!

    Bill in SC

     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2009
  8. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
    State:
    South Caro
    BTW: Before the lake was drained in '95 there were a HEAP of trophy blues caught from there. I caught a 22 and a 30+ pounder myself, and you would frequently hear that someone had hauled a trophy in.

    Bill in SC
     
  9. JEFFRODAMIS

    JEFFRODAMIS New Member

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    2,537
    State:
    TEXAS
    great posts guys, i think its awesoem that yall contacted the DNR regarding our sport, and the wuality of the answer you got was surprising..anytime ive called around here i get vague responses and a lot of "i dont know"s
     
  10. playin4funami

    playin4funami New Member

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    4,104
    State:
    Saronville Ne.
    One thing that I can add here is that in most all species of fish the prime brooding(egg laying) stage of their life is not when they are big and old but like people they tend to reproduce better at a intermediate age and size. I often see where someone goes off about the huge number of eggs removed by removing a large fish from the water,but in all honesty 99% or more of those eggs are infertile or genetically damaged.EXAMPLE,if your wanting a bunch of healthy babies your probably looking for a healthy 20 to 30 year old woman,you don't want to take chances with a 70 year old woman conceiving and staying healthy through a pregnacy,and hoping for healthy offspring,her body just can't take the abuse as well as a younger womans can. This can apply to about all mammals. This is also the reason some states have slot limits in effect on different fishes,to protect the best brood stock for a healthy spawn and higher recruitment. The main reason for releasing big fish is to promote a trophy fishery,by keeping a high percentage of large fish in the water. Taking a large fish every now and then isn't going to change the fishery at all,but removing a lot of big fish when they are biting good can affect the fishery,by removing the apex predators you make it easier for the baitfish and other fish to expand unchecked,which can lead to overpopulation and stunting of fish growth.
     
  11. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
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    South Caro
    Thanks for the great input! Your last statement sums it up.

    <Taking a large fish every now and then isn't going to change the fishery at all,but removing a lot of big fish when they are biting good can affect the fishery,by removing the apex predators you make it easier for the baitfish and other fish to expand unchecked,which can lead to overpopulation and stunting of fish growth.>

    There's such a fine line and extremes either way can drastically effect the outcome. I'd like to see some more trophies come from there one day, and I don't think keeping the bigguns is the answer. I'd say that removal of the small ones would leave more food for the bigguns to grow. Plus, the small ones are the best eaters.

    BB in SC
     
  12. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
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    South Caro
    Lemme see, they put 22,000 channels in there. How many days with a creel of three fish will it take for me to catch 11,000 of 'em! :wink:

    Bill in SC
     
  13. flatheadhunterx

    flatheadhunterx Active Member

    Messages:
    1,374
    State:
    South Carolina
    Bill I think she is saying that because of the size, depth, and habitat of the lake that it is more than likely not gonna produce alot of trophys so she recommends taking some larger fish to help the smaller fish stay healthy so that it will be a better overall catfish lake instead of a lake known for large fish. A small lake with alot of large fish will eventually run out of things to eat then start eating their young and then the lake will diminish wouldnt it?
     
  14. gotta go

    gotta go New Member

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    2,395
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    SC
    I read a lot and i remeber (i still can't spell) reading a book about Mark Twain's trip down the Mississippi, seeing 6ft fillets hanging (Indians i guess) well the book wasn't about Mark but it was about catfishn and stated that over fishn them giants the gene pool was lost forever. That its important to leave them 100# giants, some may not be as old as you think, but grow a lot faster than the others. It could be a 20 to 30 yr old fish. Lets leave the gene's in the Lakes, maybe no Wallace cause a 100# fish eats a lot and would clean the lake out. Probably won't be one that big in there unless someone released him in the waters because a fish will only grow to the size of the tank its in. If yu don't believe me, put a baby catfish in a 50 gal tank and leave him in there for 20yrs, he will only get so big. Big waterways= big fish:wink:
     
  15. whiteriver

    whiteriver New Member

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    617
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    in
    There is an axiom about charring capacity. A body of water will only hold a certain amount of fish by weight. IE a pond that can hold 1000 pounds can carry 10 100 pound fish or 1000 1 pound fish. The trick is keeping the balance right.
     
  16. Iowa_Josh

    Iowa_Josh New Member

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    1,463
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    Central Iowa
    Yeah it does make sense. The thing that is bothering you guys is the word "larger" because it is relative. If the lake is full of 4-10# fish that aren't growing, removing 75% of them could make a lot of food for the remaining 25%. In 5 years there could be bigger fish.

    In one study, in kansas maybe? The oldest fish found in the study was something like 34 years old and 6#. Apparently, they can get stunted.
     
  17. whiteriver

    whiteriver New Member

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    617
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    in
    I hope you over looked my spelling error, I meant to say carrying capacity. :angry:
     
  18. FATFLATTIE

    FATFLATTIE New Member

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    2,170
    State:
    ILM, NC
    She's right on the money. There's not going to be a lot of trophy blues in a lake that small, just not enough resources to get them that big. There are however, going to be some large fish and a lake that size could easily have a 50lber or 3 in it.

    On the harvest thing, I've said it many, many, many times and it always seems to never be heard. This idea that we need to keep small fish and release all the big ones is something a random guy just simply made up. Fish of all size classes need to be kept to get optimal growth rate and reproduction, recruitment, up in a population of fish. If you just throw all the big fish back it's not going to be a healthy population. The size/age distributions in a healthy population should look about the same and there should be many more smaller/younger fish than larger/older fish, just makes sense. Think about the age/size distributions of the human population (we don't grow indefinitely like catfish:wink:). You don't want a bunch of big old fish b/c they don't reproduce as well as the younger fish, and there just is only so much prime habitat that a big fish can live and sustain itself and be healthy.

    Just b/c you're catching smaller fish there don't assume that they aren't old. Prime areas can produce blues that almost the size of the "small" ones you talk about Bill but a small, fairly infertile body of water it may take 3+years to get that big. They've found blues that were less than 10lbs that were over 20yrs old and 100lbers that were just a little over 10yrs old. The fact that you were having to ask about shad being in the lake probably means that there isn't much of a food source for them, and a shallow lake with little flow isn't the best place for a blue to flourish. Hope some of this helps:big_smile:
     
  19. Bill in SC

    Bill in SC New Member

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    4,451
    State:
    South Caro
    Thanks for your input, Wes. Before they drained it in '95, again, there were some real trophies in there. Yes, some 50+ pounders. I'm gonna thin them out so the remaining ones have more to eat. The channels I have been catching are as pretty as any fish I ever saw. PERFECT size for eating and they make the nicest lookin' fillets you ever saw. The blues on the other hand look great too in health, but weird in that they have extremely large heads and small bodies. I figure if I remove a heap of the channels I can kill two birds with one stone. I can provide some great eating fish for friends, while at the same time, I will be thinning out the population so the blues can eat more. One sure thing is that we won't go hungry for quite some time as I always catch aplenty when I go there. caught three blues and two channels today there. The blues went back in and the channels went home. BTW: There is an abundant source of bream, yellow perch, warmouth perch, shellcrackers, crappie, and shad in there, so the kitties shouldn't go hungry. The crappie fishin' in the spring is phenomenal there!!!!!!!! I'm sure many of their fry get eaten by the cats.

    Bill in SC
     
  20. FATFLATTIE

    FATFLATTIE New Member

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    2,170
    State:
    ILM, NC
    Them having really large heads compared to their body is a sign of stunting in the population. If you have any pictures Bill, compare some similar size cats from other healthy populations of cats like the Pee Dee or Santee and look at the eyes. If the eyes on the Wallace cats are larger than the cats of similar size from other bodies of water that's another sign of stunting. Stunted fish have really large eyes compared to their body size. Really might want to think about keeping some of the blues too. And like I said some of all sizes:wink: Blues and channels although similar are still different fish and if the problem is with the blues being stunted then only keeping the channels may not help.

    Also, in my previous post when I was talking about the fertile waters producing those "small" fish I meant to say they could produce 1-2lb fish in as little as a year from hatching.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009