A Shocking Tale on Our Very Own Island!

By Doug Painter
CCA, Skidaway Chapter

Professional fisheries biologists, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Skidaway Chapter volunteers, CCA Skidaway Chapter Board Member, Rich Hackett, recently created shockwaves in our quiet community, quite literally that is. It was all part and parcel of our annual electrofishing program, one of several science-based survey methods, along with salinity testing and seining, designed to help ensure healthy and growing fish populations in our freshwater lagoons.     

The project was conducted on March 21 and 22 in 30 lagoons. The largest fish weighed was a 9.3-pound largemouth bass from a small lagoon in Marshwood. “By any bass fishing standard that’s a real lunker!” noted Hackett. 

As the name implies, electrofishing uses electricity to temporarily stun fish so they may be weighed and measured. The process is not harmful to fish, which return to their natural state within a few minutes after being caught. The main purpose for conducting electrofishing analyses is to determine the health of a lagoon based on predator/prey ratios. In our freshwater lagoons, the main predator species are largemouth bass and black crappie. Prey species include bluegill, redear sunfish, threadfin shad, and gizzard shad.    

A bass-crowded lagoon, for example, will contain larger numbers of small, skinny bass in the 12-to-14-inch range, experiencing stunting in their growth. Such waters become bass-crowded due to a lack of bass harvest. Despite this unbalanced state, bass will continue to reproduce and consume all existing resources. A bluegill-crowded lagoon will contain an overabundance of these fish, causing stunting in the bluegill population. The optimum goal is a balanced lagoon, which is the most desirable for all fish species. This balance is characterized by a healthy distribution of bass and bluegill over a wide range of sizes and age classes.   

Rich Hackett, who has been coordinating the electrofishing surveys for the Skidaway Chapter of CCA for the past decade, notes that generous contributions from island residents have helped to expand the electrofishing program, as well as our fish stocking efforts.

“Electrofishing is normally done in March, since the water temperature is ideal and the newly collected data provides direction for the most appropriate distribution of fish stocking, normally a combination of bluegill and shad, in late March or early April,” Hackett added. “This year we stocked 25,000 bluegill and 5 ½ truckloads of shad. The program continues to provide valuable information on the health and balance of our fish populations. The lagoons are literally the best they’ve been in 10 years and can continue to improve. We have great all-around angling in our lagoons including some true trophy bass!”





Shown below are a few fish that were weighed and released during the electrofishing process.

















This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

Visit landings.org to read the original article.