Homemade Fish Attractors Vs Artificial
It is pretty safe to say that if you own a pond, high up on your list of priorities is adding to your fish structure inventory. That structure can take the form of either homemade fish attractors or artificial, commercially manufactured items.
Fish structure has the ultimate goal of attracting and harboring fish and creates a place where both predator and forage fish can hide from each other on a day-by-day basis. Depending on the structure, it can even provide an area for fish to spawn and a sanctuary for newly hatched forage fry to avoid being gobbled up by aggressive and ravenous bass, which contributes to the health of that forage base. The result is that it means more food for bass to eat which equates to bigger and healthier bass, maybe even a bragging size wall hanger.
By doing this right you eliminate the potential issue of creating a “predator crowded” pond where you have too many undersized “skinny bass” and not enough forage fish to adequately feed them. That remedy to this scenario is removing a bunch of bass and increasing the forage base, which can be an expensive proposition.
I do want to emphasize that fish habitat and fish structure are the same thing…only different. Fish attractors and structure, either homemade or natural products (like trees, rocks, etc) and artificially constructed products are all meant to draw, hold and provide shelter for fish. Fish habitat, on the other hand, is more about creating and maintaining spawning areas, developing and maintaining the correct “predator to prey” ratio, building a healthy and growing forage fish food supply and providing a quality aquatic environment for all fish.
Norman Latona is president of Southeastern Pond Management (SEP) headquartered out of Calera Alabama, with offices in two other states and covers the southeastern US. SEP offers a wide range of pond and lake management services, including pond stocking, pond design and construction, liming, and lake mapping, just to name a few along with a range of various products.
Latona believes that well designed new ponds need to be “fisherman friendly”.
“By fisherman friendly I mean design the pond around elements that will attract and concentrate fish so it will be easier to target them,” Latona said. “Shape the bottom with contours, dig some deep holes and drop off, create shelves and benches so the water doesn’t just drop off to the bottom and fish have a place to hold. Create humps, rock piles, shallow water spawning areas and create a diverse environment.”
Natural And Homemade Fish Attractors And Structure
Pond owners can create their own structure out of Christmas trees, concrete rip-rap, pallets, old lumber, logs, whole trees and shrubs, and all different kinds of materials depending on how creative the depositor is and how effective they are at scavenging stuff. Keep in mind that it is a big job sinking all of that material and unfortunately, much of the time they don’t last more than a few years and it is a continuous and strenuous effort.
In a lot of established ponds, especially those older bodies of water, cover and structure which abounded isn’t always available. It may have been there back in the good old days but nature has run its course and now they have eroded down to a shadow of what they were originally.
For example, I know of an avid crappie angler who takes old Christmas trees or multi-stem bushes and sinks them in a few pounds of concrete in a bucket and sends them down to Davy Jones’ locker. The trees might not last long but the plastic buckets will and something on the bottom is better than nothing.
Homemade fish attractors and structure don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. To get ideas, just Google “homemade fish structures” or “artificial fish structures” and it is kind of amazing what will pop up. In the homemade fish structure game five-gallon buckets, with holes drilled on opposite sides with rubber hose, pvc pipe, or other tubing material or rods pushed through along with a cinder block or a few pounds of redi-mix concrete to insure it is seated on the bottom seems to be big player.
Artificial Fish Structure
There are a number of companies in the marketplace that manufacture quality fish structure but Latona has developed a working relationship with Texas Hunter Products.
In the last few years, they have been working “hand in glove” with SEPond along with Auburn University to develop fish structure and attractants to enhance the fish habitat.
“Fish are pretty adaptive and don’t necessarily care what the cover or habitat look like, they just know that they can hide in it, ambush forage fish from it and escape predators in it,” Latona said. “Texas Hunter has taken a scientific approach in developing habitat structure that is easily deployable into the lake and very angler friendly in that it is almost snag proof, lasts a long time and is very effective in attracting and holding fish.”
Chris Blood is the former marketing director for Texas Hunter Products and he said that working with the Auburn University school of design resulted in 185 different fish habitat and structure designs which was then whittled down to six new products.
“We’ve boiled it down to about six new products that we’re proud of and feel like they’re very effective and we’ve got a little bit of everything including top water, midwater shallow water, there’s even a spawning device. So, this is our initial launch into the fish habitat market.”
“Our products are made out of the same materials as kayaks and floating docks and are environmentally friendly and they are easy to assemble so you can get them out on a boat, put them together, drop them in the water knowing that you won’t have to do this job again for a long time,” Blood said. “They are basically lifetime products and once you get them in the water, they aren’t going anywhere.”
One of the new Texas Hunter Products fish habitat products is the “fish pyramid”. The best way to describe it is that it looks like a pyramid but squared on the top. It is full of slots similar to a colander, so forage fish, like shad or bluegill, have a place to escape from predators and it offers insertable “shade blades” that provide shady spots for fish to hold in. The unit has teeth on the bottom that anchor it to the ground to keep it in place or, since it is constructed of floatable material it can be attached to a weight, such as a cylinder block and be suspended at different depths.
“We make two sizes of fishing pyramids. The first one is about three and a half feet tall and an extra large version that is about four and half feet tall and four feet wide at the base and is collectively about 146 square inches,” Blood pointed out. “You can suspend them by just simply attaching them to a cinder block and dropping them off the side of the dock or the side of the boat. Or you can attach the cinderblock inside.
Latona emphasized the importance of structure, especially in shallow water. The issue all revolves about “lake stratification” which basically means that the water starts to warm up in the late spring and early summer and by the time we get to the heart of the fishing season most of the fish are living in the upper several feet of the water column because that is where the oxygen is. While they would prefer to be in the cooler water, unfortunately the colder the water is the less oxygen there is for the fish. They might make an occasional dash into the colder water to attack a forage fish but there is not enough oxygen in the water for them to survive.
“Larger items like the pyramids, with the ability to keep them up off the bottom ensures that fish can use them year-round You could take these pyramids and rather than drop them in 10,15 or even 20 feet of water, where in the summertime, that depth probably doesn’t have many fish, if any, we can take that pyramid and suspend it in 6, 8 or even 10 feet of water.“