RALEIGH — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently received the 2013 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project award in the category of Research and Surveys, for its evaluation of fish attractors.
Mike Stone, president of the American Fisheries Society Administration Section, presented a commemorative plaque to Jessica Baumann, the Commission’s fisheries biologist who oversaw the fish attractor study, at the Commission’s May business meeting in Raleigh.
Baumann’s research project was titled “Using the DIDSON to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Different Fish Attractors in Turbid Reservoirs.” She worked with other Wildlife Commission staff to evaluate the effectiveness of four different types of fish attractors — both natural and artificial — to assess how well they congregated fish and how well they held up over a three-year period.
“Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project awards are given annually to recognize excellence in fisheries management, research and education,” said Mike Stone. “We selected the Commission’s project for this award from a field of strong contenders nationwide.”
Fisheries biologists began the fish attractor study in June 2008, sinking three different types of artificial attractors — commercially available Porcupine™ attractors, attractors constructed of PVC pipes and corrugated plastic pipes, and attractors constructed of PVC pipes and halved plastic barrels — and one natural attractor constructed from Christmas tree bundles into Lake Townsend in Greensboro and Lake Cammack in Burlington. They chose the two lakes because of their abundance of sport fish, similarity in size, and lack of underwater structures.
After evaluating each attractor site every fall, winter, spring and summer for three years, using a high definition imagery sonar unit called the DIDSON (Duel-Frequency Identification Sonar), biologists concluded that artificial fish attractors held similar numbers of fish and lasted longer than the Christmas tree bundles.
As a result of this study, the Wildlife Commission has begun using artificial structure constructed from synthetic materials to help congregate fish in many bodies of water. In 2013, staff deployed 19 fish reefs made of Moss Back Fish Attractors™ in Hyco and Mayo lakes near Roxboro. They also deployed nine fish reefs in Lake Thom-a-lex, four fish reefs in Shearon Harris Reservoir and two in the Tar River Reservoir. They plan to deploy similar fish reefs in Lake Raleigh, Lake Holt, Farmer Lake, Lake Michie and Lake Reidsville this summer.
“This study proved that artificial structures made from synthetic materials are a better option for us compared to attractors constructed from Christmas trees, which we would have to replace on a regular basis in order for them to attract the same amount of fish as the artificial structures,” said Jessica Baumann. “With artificial structure made from synthetic material, we feel as if we are being more efficient because once the artificial structure is deployed we know that it will be attracting fish effectively for years to come.”
AFS is the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science and conserving fisheries resources. The annual Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project awards highlight the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration program. The Sport Fish Restoration Program is funded by excise taxes collected on fishing tackle, boats and motorboat fuels and are apportioned to states to enhance fisheries and boating programs.
For more information about AFS or the awards program, visit www.fisheries.org.