Stocking Redear To Control Eurasian Clams

Rick Bramwell

Redear Control Eurasian Clams
Redear Sunfish. Photo R. Bramwell

Stocked Redear In 12 Acre Lake

In the summer of 2019, I wrote about a 12-acre lake that became infested with Eurasian clams. I’m guessing this invasion began 12 or so years ago when a boat was transferred from nearby Cagles Mill Lake. The excrement greatly fertilized the water causing blue-green algae to flourish. These clams needed a predator like the redear sunfish. The folks that own the private lake decided to stock several thousand redear sunfish in the fall of 2019 to control the problem with Eurasian clam also known as zebra mussels. I wonder where they got that idea?

I’m getting ahead of myself. In May of that year, I helped the owners treat the lake with copper sulfate. We divided the lake into four parts and treated a section at a time. A full application would have killed a lot of fish. The fish must be able to flee the chemical.

I have fished these waters for 15-years. At first, one could catch many bluegills over nine inches. Out of 50, the creel might have three that measured 10-inches.

Then, the size gradually went down. It did not seem like an overpopulation issue because there was an abundance of stunted bass that kept most of the bluegill fry from maturing.

With the diminishing size of the bluegill came an increase in dark-green algae becoming attached to my jig when I let it get too close to the bottom. By 2017, it was rare to catch bluegill that would measure nine inches.

By the time we treated the lake, there was so much algae that it was picked up on almost every cast. My favorite lake seemed ruined forever.

The copper sulfate got rid of a lot of the algae, but after the treatment, a bluegill bite was hard to come by. In fact, out of four trips last year, I caught five bluegills in total. On the last trip, I caught none.

This spring, I have had good success catching redear from a local pond and at Geist Reservoir. Last week, I was ready to see if any of those six-inch stocked redear sunfish to control eurasian clams had survived.

The lake looked decent. It had some algae but was very fishable. I looked across a shallow flat to see multiple panfish beds. I was ready to give these fish a new look with a ¼-inch cut off the head of a Slider 1-½ inch paddle tail crappie grub. The grub was attached to a Charlie Brewer panfish jig in 1/32nd ounce. My proven color was Junebug/chartreuse.

The bluegill did not like this intruder and hit it aggressively. They were large too. Most were better than nine inches and several measured 10. My biggest bluegill ever, for this lake, came to my pond prowler. It measured 11”.

A cast to deeper water, just beyond the beds, had me hooked up with something nice, a 10” redear. I soon caught another the same size. This does not tell me how many survived, but these two have been eating well. I returned the redear to dine on some more Eurasion clams.

At first light, Friday morning, I retied a big Whopper Plopper and began casting through the fog for bass. In a pocket, I had the most vicious hit ever. The big fish dove deep and was slipping a heavy-set drag on my Lew’s casting reel.

As I played the fish, I also ran the boat to the middle of the lake. Thoughts of a 10-pound bass ran through my head. What else would hit a fast-moving topwater lure?

It was 20-minutes before I got a look at the fish, a big grass carp. Finally, I beached the fish and called my friend Seth in search of a set of scales. We did not weigh the monster but measured it at 38-inches.

I’m not sure what brought this lake back to life. Perhaps, some of the fish were killed or maybe the spawn was ruined. Less competition for food usually results in bigger fish.

Did I just get lucky during the spawn? I’m not sure, but I can’t wait to try it again.

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