Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Christmas tree farm's off-season activity

Wow, a fascinating article at of all places popped up today on my google alert. A Christmas tree farm hosts a professional disc golf tournament. The course is laid out around the tree farm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

why do trees help fish?

How Does a Christmas Tree Improve Fishing?

Let me say up front, I’m not a biologist. I don’t even play one on TV. This is not my field of expertise. I am, however, an avid and frequent angler. I fish as often as possible from March through November. I fish most often for largemouth bass, but I have targeted many other species as well.
I have been asked in this capacity why or how sinking Christmas Trees into a pond or lake improves fishing. There are three main reasons this practice impacts fishing, so the answer is not as simple as most people who ask hope it will be.
First, the impact has a lot to do with the food chain in a fresh body of water. As woody plant tissue decomposes in water, more so than leafy material, the nutrients released spur a bloom of new aquatic vegetation known as phytoplankton, along with filamentous algae (moss) and rooted plants. This vegetation forms the bottom of the food chain. The first animals in the food chain are zooplankton (such as the water flea, seed shrimp and copepod). Zooplankton feed on the phytoplankton. Aquatic insects, snails, crayfish, mussels, etc. are next in the food chain, feeding on the zooplankton. Small, non-predatory fish are also part of the food chain at this point, feeding on phytoplankton, zooplankton and small aquatic insects. Different species of shad and minnow are the most common of these small, non-predatory fish.
At this point, the predators enter the picture, starting with small predators such as sunfish and crappie. Then moving on up the food chain to the bigger predators such as the largemouth bass … and then me, or at least homo sapiens in general, armed with a rod and reel and bait.
It is also known that in any impoundment of fresh water, whether natural or man-made, woody mass decomposes fairly quickly. So dropping farm-grown Christmas Trees into lakes and ponds helps restart or at least rejuvenate the food chain, which leads up to popular predatory fish targeted by anglers. Simply put, decomposing woody mass leads to a healthier ecosystem in fresh bodies of water.
Confused yet?
Reason number two that dropping trees helps fishing has to do with the instinctive behavior of the popular species of game fish targeted by anglers. Many of the predator species are structure-oriented, meaning, they relate to, move around and live on/in/near structure(s). The term “structure” can refer to any item in the water large enough for fish to see and identify from the area surrounding the structure.
Imagine a plain, round swimming pool. No matter where you were in the swimming pool, your surroundings would be the same and unidentifiable from anywhere else in the pool. Now, if I throw your poolside chair in and it sinks to the bottom, it becomes an identifiable object, or structure. You could find that structure even if you were swimming underwater with your eyes closed.
This instinctive behavior to relate to and move around structures exists in both prey and predator species but more so in the larger predators. Now, it’s certainly not the only thing impacting where fish are in a body of water; water temp, dissolved oxygen, presence of prey, water clarity, etc. all have great impact as well. However, when angling, one smart tactic is to find an underwater structure and fish near it, since it’s common for fish to be near.
Make sense?
The third way sinking Christmas Trees improves fishing has to do with the predatory techniques of the popular game species. Like many other predators in the animal kingdom, game fish often execute ambush tactics to catch and consume prey. This is true for all species of freshwater fish predators – from bluegill to crappie to bass and even for northern species such as pike, walleye and muskie. What’s an ambush? It’s when a predator is hiding somewhere and prey comes by and gets eaten. It’s the opposite of stalking or chasing prey; instead of expending energy to go find prey, the predator waits for the prey to come to it.
Largemouth bass are very versatile and efficient predators; in fact, they are credited by biologists and enthusiasts with being among the best predators in the entire animal kingdom. So, while they are quite capable of actively foraging and pursuing prey and often do, they also use ambush tactics. Simply put, big fish eat smaller fish, and they find it easier to do so if they take them by surprise or ambush them from a hidden spot, like a sunken Christmas Tree.
So the trees draw prey (small fish which feed on the phytoplankton and zooplankton) and the predators – crappie, bass, etc. – are waiting to eat them. Again, the smart angler understands this dynamic and uses things like sunken Christmas Trees as locations to fish for game species.
And that’s the long answer to the question “How does a Christmas Tree improve fishing?” They help boost and support the food chain, while providing structure-oriented fish with identifiable objects to live in/on/around and provide ambush cover for predators.