by Bryan Pickens | July 30, 2012
The heat of summer evaporation isn’t all that bad if it draws your lake levels down to a yearly low. This provides the landowner several opportunities to enhance both fishing and duck hunting on their property.
Ponds and Lakes – Take advantage of the drought by renovating lake basins, or deepening ponds and improving your dams. You may not have this much dry dirt in your wet soil areas for quite some time, as it doesn’t appear that the drought has truly left most parts of Texas yet. Some of our contacts are kicking themselves for not doing this work in the 2011 summer, so you may still have a chance before this fall to get to work.
Bass – With water levels down, this is an excellent time to contact a fish biologist to perform a survey of your lake with a shocking boat. It is often difficult to get a good survey outside of the spawning season, when fish are normally in shallower water, and even then the fish often are able to avoid the shocking boats with access to water deeper than the needed range of about 8 feet. With a more shallow lake, you will be able to get a better survey and fish count. Better yet, you can also use this time to harvest excess numbers of bass in your lake to allow for a healthier population number, which will result in larger body weights for your fish. This is also a good time to remove any unwanted fish species from the water by shocking and removing them with a net.
It is good to note, too, that some non-aquatic plants will grow in dry soils around the edges of a lake or pond, and this is usually a positive. These plant species do not normally grow under water, so now that they are coming up, you should know that diverse plants like willows and other hardy species, when flooded with resuming water levels, will provide some excellent cover for spawning bass and newly hatched fry in the spring time.
One last good result of lower water levels is that the forage fish you may have in the lake such as minnows, bluegill, or shad will temporarily be more accessible to the predator fish. Your bass and crappie should put on some good extra weight without having to hunt too hard for their food right now.
Ducks – A dry shoreline or a marsh area that is a few feet low (or even dry) right now offers a good time to consider some shredding of excessive plant growth to clear a wading area, and/or get in there with your discing equipment and plant a food base such as Japanese millet or barnyard grass. These can only be planted when the soils are not underwater, and they will provide some excellent forage for wintering waterfowl upon their arrival.
We can assist you with any of these summer time low-water procedures, and recommend a local wildlife or fish biologist in your area who can help.