By the end of this month the Parks & Wildlife Department will make a major announcement concerning the protection of Triploid grass carp that were introduced into Lake Jacksonville about seven years ago.
Richard Ott, project leader, Inland Fisheries, District 3C, informed me of this major change. According to Ott, the wildlife commission recently voted to drop the protection on the controversial grass carp that was introduced into Lake Jacksonville several years ago to control the growth of the prolific growing hydrilla.
There has always been a love-hate relationship concerning hydrilla. Hydrilla is loved by the avid bass fisherman but disliked or even hated by lake property owners. Hydrilla, if left uncontrolled, can rapidly spread over an entire lake in a few short years and has been seen growing to depths of 20 feet or more in clear lakes.
In June of 2007 Lake Jacksonville was chemically sprayed, and 3,500 grass carp were released. In August that year Ott reported that they had treated 120 acres and got a 200 acre result. That’s almost double what they had anticipated.
The big drop in hydrilla growth was due to several factors: the chemical spraying, plus the carp stocking, plus the inordinate amount of rain we received that year. We had an unusually cooler and wetter June and July that contributed to the rapid decline of hydrilla.
By 2008 most of the hydrilla had completely disappeared along with the coontail moss and other aquatic plants. The grass carp ended up obliterating all the grass in Lake Jacksonville including the good native grass. By the summer of 2008 fishermen shifted from fishing grass to brush piles.
As a fisherman I was excited to hear that the commission had voted to drop the protection on the grass carp. Ott said, “They voted to allow us the versatility when grass carp has met management control. Later the control can be put back on the list if needed.” By the end of this month they will make a major announcement about this control on Lake Jacksonville and Purtis Creek also.
This summer P&WL will once again begin planting aquatic plants in protected cages in Cat Creek and Byrd Branch.
Ott also reported that there was a good distribution in sizes of all fish species. Ott said there was a lot more forage for the bass. There is a lot more sunfish based species which is the main prey in Lake Jacksonville. Ott said, “Our catch rate of sunfish increased from about 300 to 800 per hour. The red breast sunfish seem to thrive in Lake Jacksonville which is deep and rocky.”
The shad population is low on Lake Jacksonville. Ott said this was due to low population of zooplankton and the type of reservoir. Lake Jacksonville is much deeper and rockier than other lakes in our area – it’s almost a riverine type of lake. Most of the lakes in our area are considered flat land lakes, Lake Jacksonville being the exception.
This September the new regulations concerning the change in length size will go into effect. At that time you can keep 5 bass per day. Two black bass can be kept of any size. That’s right there in no minimum length size for two bass out of a five bass limit. The other three bass have to be 18 inches or longer. There is still no minimum size on Kentucky bass.
For the last three weeks or so bass on Lake Jacksonville have been biting real good on a Nichols’ perch-colored Pop-U-Lure. This chugger is colored up like a bream. The early morning bite has been good. Then you need to target the main lake wherever you can find shade. The larger bass seem to prefer the bream color over the shad color, but I expect that to change as bass start feeding more and more on shad. I’m already seeing a few schools of bass out over deep water.
Some fishermen are also catching bass on Carolina rigs and soft plastic baits out in the 15 to 18 foot range. As soon as the surface temperature moves up from the low 80s to the 90s, you will see most of the bass move out of the shallows.
Jerry Miller can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org