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With the lowering of the lake, our first year at Lake Tishomingo, as non-resident property owners, has essentially ended. I thought I'd take the time to update my impressions, as a newcomer to the lake, which I shared earlier.
My opinion of the lake and the people here is unchanged. The residents and property owners I've met are friendly an helpful. I've met quite a few as a result of having my previous letter published on the website. A lot of people have asked If I was Al, identifying me and my son Joe by my mini-bassboat. I met others through the TAA and the bass tournaments.. From those I've talked to, my initial impressions, that people here are friendly and interested in others are confirmed, in my mind.
As a bass fisherman, in terms of sheer numbers of fish caught, this year has had no equal. Joe and I long ago quit keeping accurate counts, it kind of takes away from enjoying the moment, but I know we never went out and caught less than twenty fish and it usually was many more than that. We are not great fishermen, though I'm really proud of how much Joe developed in skill this year. There are just a lot of fish in Tishomingo. We never caught any over four pounds and we caught a lot more that were less than one pound, but, as Joe said, they all count and they were a lot of fun. We fished two of the tournaments and won them both, about which I've had to hear from Joe on a regular basis, "Dad, how many tournaments have you won, by yourself? I'm two for two."
As a fisherman, I think Gary Ryan did a great job this year as president of the TAA. He put in his own time, ran the tournaments fairly and championed the TAA's causes with passion. Don't think you can ask more than that.
The water willow controversy ended with the LTPOA voting for removal of all water willow. I think the board is pretty much charged with representing the interests of the majority, so, that outcome made sense, from that perspective. I haven't heard an alternative to shoreline vegetation offered up, though. The suggestion of planting "fishing huts" in deeper water seems to indicate that the board is willing to work with the fishermen, but aren't necessarily best informed in these matters. The fishing huts provide the fish cover, but do not perform one of the major functions of shoreline vegetation, providing baitfish a place to reproduce unmolested.. Fish do not spawn in deep water. Baitfish will have to continue to be stocked, costing money. I think the fishermen need to lobby and get one of our own elected to the board, to convey our interests and concerns.
That would be the only shortcoming I've seen from the board and the community. It makes me very happy to see that there is no maintaining the status quo done here. The improvements I've seen in just one season really impress me and make me think a long term investment in the lake is a good deal. The work I've seen people doing on their homes and property really are great to see. For example, we've really enjoyed watching the construction going on at Mark's house and seeing the way it has evolved ( a very good point to fish, by the way). Replacement of the docks at the ramp, paving the entrance road, paving of driveways, even the lowering of the lake for repairs, which I personally hate to see, all show a commitment to make Tishomingo a place to be a part of.
This past weekend, Joe and I made our last trip of the season, out on the lake. With the lake dropping, I don't think we'll be able to get even our little boat in again this year. We had a great morning, caught over 50 bass, they are really stacked up, with the water falling. We caught a bunch in front of that Gentleman's home who made that comment about this not being a fishing lake, which we had a laugh about.
Kind of bittersweet to have them biting so well and not be able to fish, but, as Joe said it was nice to go out with a bang and I agree. I plan on attending some meetings over the winter, so I hope to see some of you. For the others, see you next year. Hope we have a wet winter. Never thought I'd say that :)
I purchased non-building lot C71, from the LTPOA, back in April. I live in House Springs, 12 miles away from Lake Tishomingo. Twelve miles too far, but, oh well. My primary purpose for buying here was to have a place to take my 11 year old son, Joe, fishing. He loves to fish, has since he was very young, went from bluegill fishing with crickets to bass fishing with artificials, by the time he was seven. There a a lot of worse things a child can be doing these days. Spending time together in a boat is a great way to stay connected. Myself, I've fished most of my 49 years. I spent the 80's and 90's fishing Bass Tournaments, mostly at the club level. Somewhere along the way, Missouri's lakes got crowded, dangerous to navigate and the courtesy fishermen accorded one another seemed to slip, quite a bit. I sold my bass boat, started fishing from a mini-bass boat (I'm on my second) and fishing from smaller lakes. I began looking for a place close to home, where I could take Joe and searching through the internet, I found the excellent website for Lake Tishomingo. I liked everything I read, got a real sense of community. Fishing information seemed strangely lacking, but, I figured it was still close to home and when the time was right, bought my lot.
What I have discovered is that fishing, for most here, is just not a priority. As a fisherman, I find it astounding, as fishing is really, really good here. However, I also realize fishing isn't everyone's thing and there is more to do on the water than that. I hope the non-fisherman among us also realize that fishing is, in fact one of the things you can do to enjoy the lake. I attended this weeks LTPOA Board meeting and heard a few comments, which prompted this letter.
One, from a long time resident, after the meeting, was "this is not a fishing lake, this is a recreation lake. If you want to go fishing, go to Bull Shoals". Another was "fishing is terrible here, you have to catch 10 bass to catch one good one." To the first comment, my thought was, the resident was right, in one regard and wrong in another. This is not a fishing lake, but only because very few fish it. I think, even being a non-resident, I've been on the lake as much as anyone, since springtime. Mostly, if I see one other boat out fishing, it's about normal. Usually, it's me in my little boat and the pontoon boaters out enjoying the sunset. However, fishing, for those who care to do it, is outstanding. Joe and I had a spring-time day of over 100 bass. Until it turned hot, 50 or more was the norm, right now, it's probably about half that. Yes, there are more days than not when you have to catch 10 small bass to catch one good one. But to me, the fact that you CAN and do catch 10 indicates a pretty healthy fishery. There are good fish in the lake.. June 30th, the day of the boat parade, Joe and I caught over 50 and charted the bigger ones. Our 10 biggest were just under 24 pounds, which will win a lot of one day tournaments on any lake. The TAA, with the small bass tournaments, are attempting to "thin the herd" a bit, to allow the remaining population to grow. The point is, fishing is a form of recreation and it's out there on this lake, if you want it. A lot of angling organizations sponsor "take a kid fishing" events and maybe that is something we should do.
I love this place. I've yet to meet an unfriendly person. I've had many conversations with people as I make my way around the lake, always pleasant. On one occasion, I buried a treble hook deeply in my hand and was fortunate enough to meet a fellow at the boat ramp who without hesitation helped me load my boat, so I could drive myself to the ER. Just friendly people. Joe and I love to watch the ducks, geese, squirrels, chipmunks and other forms of wildlife. One day, a friend and I saw a small creature swimming across the lake, thought muskrat, were amazed when the squirrel climbed up on shore, shook himself off and climbed a tree. What was he thinking ? Lake Tish is a peaceful place to get away from the everyday pressures of life and all I can say is God bless all of you that have managed to actually make it your home.
I really have no axe to grind, in the current water willow controversy. I don't have lakefront property, so I'm not sure what kind of input a second tier property owner should have, but, as someone pointed out, the lake belongs to no one and everyone. I can see both sides of the issue as having valid points. Long time residents, remembering the past, rightly fear invasion by water choking vegetation, although water willow is not the same as milfoil, or coontail. Other residents don't want it encroaching on their property for other reasons, interfering with swimming, boating, etc. The TAA is concerned about the health of the lake, which effects not only the fishery, but the water quality in general. The board wisely chose not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as the saying goes, and insist on it being eradicated, until more information on it's control is obtained. If water willow turns out not to be the path taken, I hope the board will take into account any other suggestions the Missouri Department of Conservation can come up with. The MDC is nationally recognized, along with Texas and California, as being the model for Conservation departments. They know what they are talking about.
The people here have a really nice community and I'm happy to be a small part of it. As with any other community, there are issues to be addressed. Silting, dam leakage and water vegetation just happen to be a bit different, that's all. I was happy to see the LTPOA board seemed level-headed and engaged with all the issues at hand. There is usually a vocal minority that may not be a true representation of a community, it would be nice to see more people turn out for these meetings. The website is a great resource for passing along information, but there is probably a large segment of the long term residents, in particular, who don't have internet connections.
for those who do see it, I wanted to take the opportunity to weigh in on what a wonderful place I think Tishomingo is. I plan on being here for a long time and I hope Joe will be here even longer. Thank you.
The aquatic vegetation you see in several areas around the lake have a very important purpose. This shoreline plant is called Water Willow. This native plant has been recommended by the fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation over our area. This aquatic plant has been implemented into our lake for many important reasons.
1. Oxygen production: Aquatic plants, including algae, are the oxygen factories of ponds and lakes. Without them, most fish and other aquatic animals won't survive. Water plants convert solar energy into chemical energy for use by other life forms. In the process, they supply a large part of the dissolved oxygen in ponds and lakes.
2. Fish food: Water plants are the foundation of the aquatic food chain. Dense communities of microorganisms grow on the leaves and stems of aquatic plants. Aquatic insects and snails feed on these organisms and on the plants themselves, and are, in turn, eaten by fish. Numerous studies have shown that the abundance of food organisms for fish is many times higher in areas colonized by plants than in bare pool areas.
3. Wildlife food: The fruits, seeds aand foilage of water plants are the most important food of many types of waterfowl. An extensive study done in 1939 showed that nearly half the food eaten by ducks in the continental United States was derived from higher freshwater plants. Geese, swans, coots and grebes also rely heavily on water plants, and they are part of the diets of many marsh, shore and game birds.
4. Nesting and breeding habitat: Aquatic plants are essential breeding habitat for many fishes, amphibians and reptiles. Nesting and egg scattering species deposit eggs among aquatic plants, which later provide protection, shade and food for the young. Shoreline plants provide nesting cover and nest material for many water birds, shorebirds and songbirds.
5. Erosion control: Water plants are very important for natural erosion control. They prevent wave damage to the shorelines of ponds and lakes, and hold stream banks in place. Rooted underwater plants stabilize the bottom sediment and keep the water clear.
6. Wastewater treatment: Aquatic plants show great potential for the treatment of wastewater. Experiments using Water Willow to remove contaminents from effluent and natural waters have met with some success.
7. Can be controlled non-chemically: Water Willow can be kept in check by removing new growth. Weeding isn't a particularly enjoyable task, but it does work and is safe. Some people mistakenly lump all aqautic plants together, referring to them as "seaweed" or grass. While some species cause problems for boaters, swimmers or anglers, many native species are desirable in lakes and ponds. Your Tishomingo Anglers Association has seeked professional advice in choosing the right non-invasive plant for our lake. The 2001 and the 2006 electrofishing surveys both stress the need for aquatic vegetation in our lake. The TAA has done its homework and hard work to respond to this need. Your TAA has also worked hard to convert your donated aluminum cans to stocking of bait fish, catfish and redear sunfish to promote the growth and healthy population of your desired gamefish. Fish tournaments are scheduled for anglers whom recognize the importance of the conservation of this lake.
The tournaments are serving a purpose to make this a better fishing lake by harvesting and documenting certain size bass and stressing catch and release and the proper methods of release to assure a healthy fisheries. The TAA has worked with the LTPOA board on less desirable fish structures and the concerns of the present aquatic plant that lines some of our shoreline by scheduling a meeting on April 12th, 2006 with two members of the LTPOA board that included the presence of our MDC fisheries biologist Kenda Flores. Kenda stressed the need for fish structure and the need for aquatic vegetation with Water Willow being a great choice. This need was then stressed in her October 6th, 2006 report, which can be viewed on our Lake Tishomingo website.
Please give me or any board member your wish to be involved with the welfare of our fisheries by joining the TAA. Also, if anyone has a concern with any unwanted Water Willow that looks to be on the waterfront that faces their property, contact the TAA and we will remove it. Our wish is not to infringe on peoples rights, but to strive to help make this community the type of community one of our signs boasts as you enter," Lake Tishomingo is a nature preserve".
Gary Ryan, President of the Tishomingo Anglers Association
Speaking of good fishing...see the attached picture of a May topwater Tishomingo bass. This was the longest bass I have seen or caught out here, maybe 23-23.5 inches. It appeared to be spawned out and was not as heavy as it would have been a month ago. I did not weigh or measure it. I lipped it, got a picture, and released it immediately unharmed.
The fish was caught on top water in 2 feet of water in emergent water willow. The biggest thing I learned in tournament fishing is that if you find the green plants (oxygen), you will find the bass. Lakes need natural plants for oxygen and they also act as natural filters for sediment, pollutants, etc.
So, thank the residents who planted water willow on their property and made the trips to Sullivan. The great thing about water willow is that it is natural to Missouri, non-invasive, carp won't eat it, and it dies back in the winter (manageable). It is easy to plant and easy to remove once planted. A healthy lake should contain up to 20% aquatic vegetation. We are below a fraction of 1%.
I think we are doing a good job of managing the fishery. Improvements could still be made by:
Catch and release of big bass is the only way to make a trophy fishery. To release a bass in perfect condition:
Thanks for your efforts to be good stewards of Lake Tish.