Feed Fish and Maximize Your Next Fishing Trip
By Mike Lambeth
My first encounter with a fish feeder occurred several years ago when I was invited to a friend’s farm for a day of bass fishing. Stopping first at his muddy catfish pond, my friend grinned excitedly when he told me he had something for me to witness. He then walked over to the edge of the turbid pond with two sacks of fish feed, which he proceeded to pour into the top of a metal box sited at the waters edge.
After filling the feeder, he pressed a button and for nearly 10 seconds small floating pellets were hurled across the water. Within seconds, scores of whiskered tentacles began probing the surface after finding the “manna” from Heaven, and soon a feeding frenzy erupted. The water boiled as the once small, hatchery-sized channel catfish - now averaging 4 to 5 pounds apiece - devoured the floating protein.
The water churned with activity until most of the food vanished. I told my friend, “I wish we would have brought some catfish bait after seeing those big fish surface. Those cats were huge!”
Ironically, the cats only weighed a half-pound each when stocked 18 months earlier. My friend’s automatic fish feeder and high-protein feed had produced amazing results fast!
Even more recently, I was in Macon, Mississippi turkey hunting with Dale Grissom who operates Lifetime Hunts, http://www.lifetimehuntsllc.com/index.html. One day, during an afternoon break, I rode with Grissom and turkey guide Ronnie “Bodock” Sciple to a lake where they had numerous Moultrie fish feeders in operation. They told me the bluegill in the lake had grown to super-sized proportions and as a result, the largemouth bass, which feed on the “bream”, were growing quicker than ever before.
With a sheepish grin reminiscent of Box’s, Grissom manually set off the feeders and the bluegill boiled like piranhas.
After never considering the plausibility of feeding fish before, now I was a believer!
According to a fisheries expert, feeding fish serves a two-fold purpose. First, it helps to supplement the diets of the fish in a pond or lake, while allowing them to put on more fish flesh. Or in other words, feeding fish helps them grow larger, quicker. Secondly, feeding fish is a good way to stimulate the feeding activity of the fish in a given area, and thereby improving the chances of the anglers catching fish there.
Although most ponds have small baitfish and crustaceans for the larger spiny inhabitants to forage on, supplemental fish feeding can boost growth rates substantially.
Many offshore fishing captains know that by chumming with chopped up fish - or by throwing handfuls of live bait in the water - they can start a feeding frenzy. If you’ve ever fished where the fish were schooling or during a feeding binge, you know the action can be non-stop.
However, before feeding fish consult your local wildlife department’s regulations. Though most departments allow fish feeding, there are a few basic rules to follow.
FEED WITH CARE:
When feeding fish, understand the goal is to improve the quality of fish and fishing in your area. That said; refrain from feeding any foods that will be damaging 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.
The rule of thumb for fish feeding is to broadcast enough food that the fish in the area will eat it completely in 15 minutes. Remember, any food left over can be harmful to the water’s ecosystem. I reflect back on my adolescence days when I literally killed most of my goldfish by overfeeding them.
Remember when feeding to err on the conservative side. Trial and hopefully not too much error will help you discern the correct duration of your feeder’s dispersal.
When choosing a fish feeder, finding a quality unit is paramount. Since most feedings will occur without supervision, having a reliable unit is essential.
Insure durability, make sure the fish feeder is built to last and has a degree of waterproof capabilities since the unit will be used extensively in or near the water. Although the feeder will not be submerged during use, splashing and stability are two concerns.
A friend of mine shared an interesting story recently about the trials and tribulations of fish feeding. After buying a high-protein fish feed and completely filling his feeder with a month’s supply, he returned a few days later to find his feeder completely empty.
After previously placing the unit a foot above the water’s surface, and well pleased with the prescribed amount the unit dispersed, he was now dumbfounded with the empty barrel. Puzzled as to why the food had vanished, he soon found the culprit.
After surveying the area for awhile, he was amazed when he saw a resident Canadian goose swim up to the feeder and turn the spinner with its beak. My friend was aghast, in just a few days the gregarious gander residing on the pond had learned the secret to accessing the great tasting food from the new floating contraption.
USE A QUALITY FEED:
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.
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.
With several commercial feeders available today remember all feeders aren’t created equal. Choose a model that is durable and right for your feeding needs.
Feeding fish daily is a great way to make your next trips to your favorite fishing hole more productive. Good luck and good fishing!
Click here to view Moultrie's complete line of fish feeders.