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Tilapia in the Glade

Tilapia Dinner   Tilapia

TILAPIA - Free for the catching

Two years ago the Community Club began stocking tilapia in some of our lakes to see if there would be observable benefit.

What are they and why do we like them.
Tilapia are a tropical fish that feed on a different food web than bass and blue gill so they do not compete with the sport fish in the lakes. These warm water wonders feed primarily on algae and detritus (organic matter) while spawning every three weeks.

While the consumption of algae and detritus is of great value to the condition of the lakes, it is the high rate of reproduction that benefits the bass. The tilapia provide a new and valuable food source for our lakes' predator fish which may result in higher populations and larger size.

The negative side to this story is that any improvements to the bass will only continue as long as the tilapia stocking continues and it is not inexpensive.

History
The first year of this program the tilapia were placed in Spring Lake and Lake Pomeroy. Following that first year there where indications that the bass in Pomeroy were benefiting from the stocking but the sample was small and conclusions are risky.

Last year the tilapia were additionally stocked in Catherine, Malvern and Oxford.

For 2013 the plan is to stock tilapia in all of the Glade lakes except for Dartmoor, St. George, Glastowbury, and Sherwood. It is only with time that we will be able to conclude what effect the tilapia have had on the bass fishing.

Bass fishing aside, the tilapia are a valuable fishing resource in their own right. The fish are stocked at 4 to 8 ounces in weight and those that survive to maturity will be about 2 pounds before they die in the late fall.

Catching Them
They can be caught using blue gill tactics and are very good to eat. Worms or dough balls usually do the trick, among other baits.

It is wise to begin harvesting the larger fish in August so that they are out of the lakes before the water temperature reaches the low 50’s and the fish die.

What happens when they die?
The tilapia that die normally will not float because the water temperature is too cool to promote bloating. However some of the fish will die in the shallows and the raccoons drag them ashore for a midnight diner.

There will be no small tilapia that die because as the water cools, the tilapia begin staggering about causing the bass to go on a feeding binge, consuming anything that can be swallowed.

There are numerous sites on the web including this one about a stocking plan in Texas
 http://www.meadowlarkponds.com/tilapia.htm

Contributed by: John Upp - Fairfield Glade Bass Club 3/22/2013

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