ANGLERS FIND FISH PLENTIFUL IN NATURE PRESERVE POND
Nearly 85 participating fishermen caught more than 1,300 fish in the Bluffton University Nature Preserve pond as part of a grant-funded project last spring and summer.
Tami Forbes, the associate professor of recreation who received the Bluffton University Research Center grant, presented the results during a campus colloquium, "The One That Got Away."
The catch-and-release project aimed to identify what species are in the pond and to determine how best to achieve a balance for recreational fishing, which has been proposed on a limited basis by a nature preserve task force. The pond hasn’t been fished in more than 30 years.
Forbes, also chair of Bluffton’s health, fitness and sport science department, arranged two fishing derbies where friends, alumni, employees, children and families competed in games catching the most, and the biggest, fish. "It was neat to share the experience," she said. "They were also learning about what they were catching."
In most cases, the catch was either a bluegill or a largemouth bass; smallmouth bass was a third species identified. Bluegills accounted for nearly 71 percent of the total, with 56 percent of them measuring at least eight inches and the longest, 9.5 inches. Almost 28 percent of the fish were largemouth bass, 47 percent of which were 14 inches or longer, including a 24-inch catch.
Among Forbes’ goals for the pond are several days of "slot" fishing to manage the population and size of the bluegills and bass. Her goals also include developing a fish education program for area youth; managing and maintaining the shoreline; creating an area for picnics and bird watching near the pond; and consulting with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for "maximum effectiveness of the pond area and our land resources," she noted.
Project participants "learned a lifetime leisure activity," said Forbes, a longtime angler. For example, Bluffton junior Lando Goins of Detroit, Mich., engaged in his first fishing experience. Forbes demonstrated how to bait the hook, cast the line and record the fish he reeled in. "He was so excited to have caught his first fish, and that was worth my whole summer," she said.
"Fishing is a great activity for families and friends, and makes for a great date night," she added. "Everyone who fishes has a great story."
Photo: Nathan Kreider '04 and his son, Zach, landed a 21-inch largemouth bass.
Bluffton public relations, 11/1/12