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Spring is in the air

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Here in the E. Cape we have had a wet cold winter. My "experiment" pond was the lowest in 10+ years but 3 floods between Jan & July made all the work in this pond worthwhile.
We had a sniff of warmer weather last week and a few fat egg laiden females starting moving around as soon as the frogs starting croaking. No males are visible yet - only yearlings following these females with their tongues hanging out...
Today we had 31C and berg winds and the water is inching towards the 15 degree mark so I could not resist to do a night visit under spotlight to see what is happening as Spring draws near and this is what I found:


This shows that the water fleas (Daphnia) have become active and circled in red is two young Vlei Kurper (banded kurper) using the opportunity to feed on whatever the light has attracted. This bades well for the bass fry after the spawn however I am still going to fertilize the pond with phosphates as soon as it gets to 16C to get the algae bloom going for the food chain.


I thought it impossible that flying ants would have hatched already but lo and behold one dropped out the night sky onto the water surface. This is even better news.


During March/April there was another flush of spawning possibly from adult F1 Floridas that I moved into the pond. The fingerlings have overwintered and here is one healthy looking one hiding in the weeds and +/-3" long.


Meanwhile the bullrushes and other rhizome water plants haven't shown any sign of Spring growth yet. The waterlillies are still battling to recover from the cold but I have some tricks up my sleeve this year to get a green garden growing in this pond to support aquatic life.
To cut a long story short, Spring signs are here and even the odd crab is emerging from hibernation. Yesterday was New moon so I will watch with interest what happens in the next 14 days or so.
Thanks for a very informative article riprap.

Please come them coming. There is a lot to be learn't here from you observations.
Regards Robert Jacobs
Thanx for that Rip. There are so many more interesting facets to Bass than just catching them.
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What great little project of yours :blue-cool: A whole eco system to grow an learn from. Keep us updated on the progress. Very interesting.
The more I learn about fishing the more I realise
how much more I have to learn about fishing.
SPRING is in the air - herewith additional proof:
[Image: Spring.jpg]

About two years ago a group of us were on a bass fishing trip to a farm dam. We then ended up back at one of the guys house and the kids with us were trying for Carp in the dam in front of the house. My son caught a smallish carp and was POLICY in this dam, it was removed and promptly thrown on the grass.

Well we watched rugby, had a braai and a few toots and on leaving we found that this carp was still gilling. My son put some water in the now emty coolbox and chucked the carp in and we took it home. Somehow we STUPIDLY decided to put this miracle fish in my experiment pond - 1 carp cannot breed so what harm can be done!

Well, 18 months down the line I noticed that the bluegill hadn't been breeding as they should and this carp had now grown substantially and was quite a vetgat! I then decided that the carp was probably raiding the bluegill nests and made it my goal to get rid of it. I'm not a papgooier but I do hunt so decided that shooting it would be the most successful way.

Every time I crept to the pond with the rifle it was nowhere to be seen. After about 10 days I got lucky and managed a head shot in 1ft of water. It jumped out and did flip flops like a heart shot Kudu bull and dissapeared. Showing itself again 20 odd minutes later I got a boiler room shot in and it was gone again. Two days later it floated and became crab food.

Since then the bluegill have bred well and I learnt a lesson from this - Carp are more evil than we know. Food for thought!!
Very very interesting indeed Riprap...
When I first read the title to this post I was expecting something like this.

[Image: Spring.jpg]

:blue-biggrin: :blue-lol:
The more I learn about fishing the more I realise
how much more I have to learn about fishing.
What a flippen interesting post!!! Please keep us updated!!! :eusa_clap:

Bloody carp!! :blue-evil: Loads of those damn things at Inanda and they freaking HUGE!!!!!

Jeremy, can't see ure pic bud...?? :blue-sad:

:twisted: :twisted:
Thanks for a great post!

To Jers ..... bwhahahahahaha! :blue-biggrin:
[Image: dbfa278d-72d0-4191-8a1b-dfc8df2ce222_zps5101ae66.jpg]
Forgot to mention the logic of head shot + no death = no vital organs = no brains!
Forgive me Carp anglers but any fish with a spiderweb bone pattern was never intended for breeding and human consumption.

Jeremy - do I sense a spring in your step today. Good one lol
Okay, so we have a rising barometer and wind from the S and the water temp has dropped again and all the fat females have gone tight!
Collected my trap this morning from another dam & had 7 mature platties and 3 crabs. The bass leave mature specimens alone and I’ve also found that when you introduce crabs they set off a mating frenzy with the resident population – is that where “crabs” comes from?? Nonetheless, the resident otter sorts my crabs out and seeing as I feed them from time to time, I also introduce a few big ones now and then.

[Image: SANY1803.JPG]

[Image: SANY1807.JPG]

So now they were released carefully into what seemed like a lifeless pond but I know that it is far from that even before the upcoming fertilization.

[Image: SANY1810.JPG]

[Image: SANY1811.JPG]

Some head off into the moribund bulrushes and some are bewildered by seeing clean water for the first time and realizing that they actually have good eyesight!

[Image: SANY1813.JPG]

Before anyone asks, yes that funny looking plant towards top right is a papyrus, the same as those in the Okavango which the hippos make highways through. Transplanted some from my garden last autumn and they seem to have survived winter and are looking ready to put on some green bass holding growth this season. They are tough and even root if just dropped into a pond with some soil around the roots. Definitely going to look more extensively into using papyrus as a bank stabilizer and for structure.
Traps are set again for tomorrow morning and some mature Vlei kurper are awaiting collection.

It’s all well for the fundi’s to say stock a pond with forage at least 1 yr before the bass are stocked but if you stock adults, it works just as well. They didn’t reach that size by being stupid enough to be eaten.
Warmer nicer weather again. Even though the temp hasn't gone above 15 degrees there are Bluegill fry less than a week old darting in all directions - they obviously don't look at the moon and neither do they need warmer water??
Young males still have their tongues hanging out!
Great thread Rip, im so looking forward to you first catch.

Please explain the benefits of the algae in the water?
Cannot believe it, this morning we had frost so I had to check out what was going on. On the way I naturally set the plattie trap for some more adult fodder. What was barren a week ago looks different. The waterlillies have come from nowhere and the first few young leaves have reached the surface.

[Image: SANY1829.JPG]

There seems to be sufficient algae and other in the warmer shallows and the tadpoles have formed black clouds around any food source. By the looks of the water colour I may not need to fertilize after all as all the flooded grasses etc are decomposing releasing enough nutrients into the water for the food chain for the baby bass coming.

[Image: SANY1831.JPG]

Saw some males guarding nests in half foot of water and nipping the tails of those youngsters curious to see what he his up to.
Spring is still in the air, it hasn’t arrived here in full force yet!
Mat (my son) and I took some more platties to the pond this evening for release and seeing as most of the bass should be Florida X Northern strain, we decided to catch a few for the genetic sampling to be used as a benchmark.


Typical teenager - notice how the mood improved with more fish!
Mat is 13 now and has set himself a goal to compete in the Junior Nationals in 2012 so obviously I let him practice as much as possible but I’m getting reluctant for him to do this on my Florida’s unless we are doing genetic sampling. He’s starting to show the ol’ skipper up!
The females we caught had “carpet burns” underneath and must have spawned recently as males are guarding nests.

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