Feeding Fish Offers Multiple Benefits:
By Mike Lambeth
My wife Donna loves to hunt and fish with me, which adds a great ingredient to our marriage. However, I have noticed that her enjoyment level in the outdoors peaks when the action is the hottest, and falters when things slow down. In a nutshell, when deer and turkeys are abundant she is enthralled, but when the action slows to a crawl, boredom sets in and soon she wishes we were elsewhere.
My wife and I take several fishing trips together each summer, and the same scenario applies; while the fish are biting she has the time of her life, but when the action slows she gets bored. To coin a cliché: She doesn’t like to fish, she likes to catch.
Donna’s fishing philosophy rings true for a lot of anglers. Though some ardent anglers enjoy the challenge of fishing at their favorite waterholes, most would admit that catching fish doubles their enjoyment.
When it comes to fishing, expert anglers like Alabama professional bass angler Tim Horton will tell you that some days it is hard to make a bass bite, while on other days you can catch them on any lure in the tackle box.
So knowing that fish can be finicky some times, what can you do to shift the odds in your favor? Ever considered feeding the fish? Perceptive fishing enthusiasts are learning about the benefits of employing fish feeders to supplement the fish in their waters.
Sound interesting? Then read on. This article is geared towards landowners with ponds and small lakes, and is intended to be a basic guideline for individuals that are considering getting a fish feeder to improve the fishing on their waters.
Why Feed Fish?
Ronny Higginbotham says he feeds the bream in the 52-acre pond he manages, because he knows by doing so it will help the bass fishing. “We really try to get the bream fattened up because the bass eat them and grow bigger faster,” said Higginbotham, who manages the Circle M Plantation in Macon, MS. “We have been feeding for a few years now, and when we feed the bream it attracts the bass that also to eat the high-protein pan fish.”
Higginbotham has 10 fish feeders strategically located around the shores of his pond, and the units dispense food four times a day. The food he uses is a 32 percent protein pellet made locally for feeding catfish fingerlings.
For a pond or lake to be successful it must have a good food supply. Bodies of water without adequate food supply will have stunted fish, and cause the entire balance of the ecosystem to be out of whack. This factor alone is one that lends itself towards supplemental feeding, as a source of improving the overall quality of the fish inhabiting those waters.
Even though not all species of fish will eat fish food supplementally fed, nonetheless, all species of fish will benefit from the efforts in better health and vitality.
One of the biggest reasons for feeding fish is to enhance the catchability of fish in your fishing hole. Any angler catching fish will have a better time than one that rarely gets a bite. This factor is important when introducing a child or a new angler to the sport. Let them have a great day of fishing and they will likely be hooked for life.
To surmise, if you have a large body of water you are managing, using fish feeders will definitely help you concentrate the fish in the particular areas that you desire. For small ponds however, using a fish feeder is vital in helping to supplement the growth of the fish inhabiting its waters.
Where Do I Start?
For optimum results on a pond or small lake care must be taken when choosing a site to place a feeder. First and foremost, you need to place the feeder in a location where it can be easily accessed for refilling.
Experts suggest picking a spot where the water is 2- to 4-foot deep, and away from traditional spawning areas. The area should be fairly devoid of moss and timber or anything that would hinder good dispersal of the feed.
Fish are more active feeders when water temperatures are 60 degrees or warmer. Also remember that the fish you will be feeding will have to be “trained” or conditioned to come to the feed. Be patient if less than stellar feeding occurs the first few times, as fish have to become accustomed to eating this new source of food that magically appears each day.
Dunn’s a well-known fish farm in Oklahoma suggests that you start out by feeding a 16 ounce cup full of feed daily, until you notice some activity. Then access the size of the fish you are feeding, and only feed what can be completely eaten in 10 minutes.
A major concern is that any food that doesn’t naturally biodegrade quickly can cause algae blooms, which deplete the oxygen level of the water dramatically. The result is usually a major fish kill, and the long term effects are detrimental.
The rule of thumb for fish feeding is to broadcast enough food that the fish in the area will eat it completely. Remember any food left over can be harmful to the water’s ecosystem.
Selecting a Fish Feeder
Before purchasing a fish feeder you must decide what your objectives are. Do you plan on using the feeder intermittently to feed fish, or do you desire a unit that will daily feed the fish – maybe multiple times? Remember not all feeders are not created equal. With a myriad of models to choose from today, finding a quality fish feeder is not a hard proposition.
When selecting a feeder, I suggest looking for a company like Moultrie with a long track record of building dependable feeders and accessories. Remember, though most feeders look similar, not all of them perform the same. Buy a model that is sturdy and will withstand the harshest of outdoor elements.
Moultrie’s fish feeders are endorsed by Bill Dance - one of the most well-known anglers in the outdoor industry. Dance uses Moultrie feeders himself and is proud to endorse them due to their quality and features.
For individuals wanting to purchase a stationary feeder to sit on a dock, or on the bank, then look no farther than the Moultrie FeedCaster Fish Feeder. This sturdy model is constructed from 20 gauge galvanized steel and holds 100 pounds of fish food. The 30-gallon hopper is digitally programmed for up to six feedings a day. Feeding durations can be set from 1 to 20 seconds, and the feeder casts the food 35 feet.
Best of all, the hopper closes after dispensing, making it completely varmint-proof. The unit comes with a 6-volt 12-amp battery that is rechargeable, and an optional solar panel can be purchased. Another neat feature is the unit comes with a remote controlled activator that can be triggered from 300 feet away.
Moultrie also offers a 30-gallon FeedCaster Pro with many of the same features as the stationary FeedCaster model. The difference is the FeedCaster Pro will directionally cast the fish food out to 20 feet. It too, can be programmed for up to six feedings a day and the battery operated unit will adapt for a solar panel.
This barrel-type feeder includes hardware for mounting the feeder on any 4x4, 6x6, or round pole. This highly functional feeder features a weather-resistant box which protects the control panel from the elements.
Perfect for small docks and small ponds, is the 6.5 gallon FeedCaster. This compact unit will directionally cast feed 20 feet, and can be programmed for up to six feedings a day. The food is kept in a metal bucket that is finished in an attractive “weathered dock” design.
When feeding fish understand the goal should be to improve the quality of fish and fishing in your area. That said; refrain from feeding any foods that will be detrimental to the overall health of the water environments.
Fisheries biologists suggest never feeding fish with hog pellets or dog food, since both supplements have ingredients that can be harmful to a fish’s digestive system. Though dog food and hog pellets can be purchased cheap, the long-term effects of these foods are disturbing.
A major concern is that any food that doesn’t naturally biodegrade quickly can cause algae blooms, which deplete the oxygen level of the water dramatically. The result is usually a major fish kill and the long term effects are detrimental. With several varieties available, finding a good high-protein fish food is a relatively easy task. Most feed stores and co-ops sell fish food, however, be sure to match the food predominantly to the fish you are feeding. Since different foods have different ingredients and protein levels vary, a safe precaution is to contact your local wildlife department to implore their suggestions for the fish in your locales. Experts suggest using a protein pellet having 28 to 32 percent protein.
Several nationally known companies like Purina, Diamond V, Zeigler just to name a few, make scientifically formulated fish foods that when used properly, tend to lend to prolific growth, and well being for most fish species in water ecosystems.
In these days of economic uncertainty, there are certainly bright spots on the horizon. Nevertheless, in an effort to be good stewards of the monies we possess, I believe we must maximize every trip afield. Being successful when we go afield now seems paramount in light of the expense to do so. Fish feeding is a great management tool that will allow you to experience some of the best fishing you’ve ever had. Although feeding fish isn’t a way to guarantee fish catching results, nonetheless, it is almost fool-proof.
Simply put, feeding fish is a great way to insure the overall health of your favorite fishing waters, while helping to make your future fishing trips more successful!