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Gnats and bluegills - question for Wayne

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Flipper

Well-Known Member
The Gnats that are at the lake seem to double their population every year. I don't remember them at all 15 to 20 years ago. Last couple of years they seem to be really coming on. This year they are becoming a nuisance. Can't hardly be outside near a light after dark. They don't seem to bite, but they get in your eyes and ears ect. My question is are the bluegills getting bigger due to these gnats. You can see them floating on the water early in the morning, and fairly thick in places. I used to fish at Pelican lake up by Vernal 35 years ago and you could not stand to be on the lake after the sun went down due to the gnats. In the morning their would be a white layer over the entire lake. We wondered why the bluegill got so big their? It was not uncommon to catch them at 1 pound and a half,, and they would average a pound. The lake was really clear - not much plankton - never saw any abundance of minnows. When we cleaned them we never did find much to amount to anything to account for their size. ?????
I have seen the bluegills pecking at the mussels on the bottom of the house boat when I am cleaning/scrapping the mussels off or doing maintenance. I have seen them eat the smaller ones as they fall from the boat as I scrapped them off. I would like to think that the mussels are being eaten by the bluegills as would every one else, and will soon become 5 pounders.
One final note. I cleaned a bunch of mussels off of the bottom of the houseboat and the outdrives, in late June. On our last trip down July 4th, I was very displeased to see that areas that I had just cleaned two weeks earlier had already been over taken with hundreds of tiny mussels 1/4" and less to the tune of about 250 per square foot. Very sad.
 

Flipper

Well-Known Member
I can spell it , but don't want to use it. They need the red eared sunfish they have in Lake Havasu, they have gotten huge eating the quagga mussels.
 

Cliff

Well-Known Member
Yes but the mussels are still there so that doesn't solve the base problem. Only- wait for it-
"dry land storage" will solve the issue.
 

Flipper

Well-Known Member
Sorry you wait for it, I don't want to use my houseboat on land...…………………………………...
 

PBH

Well-Known Member
I can spell it , but don't want to use it. They need the red eared sunfish they have in Lake Havasu, they have gotten huge eating the quagga mussels.

The red ears don't prevent mussels from attaching to houseboats. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that red ears do anything to impact the mussel populations. They might utilize them as food, but they do not control them.

You might not want to use your boat on land, but I don't think you want to use it on the bottom of the lake either...


Out of curiosity: do you raise your motors out of the water? How are you (or others) preventing veligers from maturing inside your motors??
When was the last time you checked your fire extinguishers?
 

wayne gustaveson

Moderator
Staff member
The Gnats that are at the lake seem to double their population every year. I don't remember them at all 15 to 20 years ago. Last couple of years they seem to be really coming on. This year they are becoming a nuisance. Can't hardly be outside near a light after dark. They don't seem to bite, but they get in your eyes and ears ect. My question is are the bluegills getting bigger due to these gnats. You can see them floating on the water early in the morning, and fairly thick in places. I used to fish at Pelican lake up by Vernal 35 years ago and you could not stand to be on the lake after the sun went down due to the gnats. In the morning their would be a white layer over the entire lake. We wondered why the bluegill got so big their? It was not uncommon to catch them at 1 pound and a half,, and they would average a pound. The lake was really clear - not much plankton - never saw any abundance of minnows. When we cleaned them we never did find much to amount to anything to account for their size. ?????
I have seen the bluegills pecking at the mussels on the bottom of the house boat when I am cleaning/scrapping the mussels off or doing maintenance. I have seen them eat the smaller ones as they fall from the boat as I scrapped them off. I would like to think that the mussels are being eaten by the bluegills as would every one else, and will soon become 5 pounders.
One final note. I cleaned a bunch of mussels off of the bottom of the houseboat and the outdrives, in late June. On our last trip down July 4th, I was very displeased to see that areas that I had just cleaned two weeks earlier had already been over taken with hundreds of tiny mussels 1/4" and less to the tune of about 250 per square foot. Very sad.

Yes bluegill are eating both gnats and mussels. But as others have said that wont slow down the mussel population. It will allow the sunfish to grow larger. So that is a good thing.
 

Flipper

Well-Known Member
I was just curious about the gnats, and why there seemed to be so many of them, and if they where a major player in the bluegill improvement.

I think it would be nice to have another game fish with world record potential in the lake, especially if they would help on the mussel problem. I realize that they would not eat all of them, and understand that it is a big hurdle to cross to get permission to introduce a new species into a lake. It would probably be 15 years or so to do all the studies and hearings.

As far as the implications on our houseboat if any one is interested. When we got our house boat, it was on Lake Pleasant near Phoenix. I don't know how long mussels had been in Lake Pleasant, but there were about 10,000 mussels on the boat when we pulled it out and the boat had been on the Lake for 3 years. I spent 3 days cleaning every speck of a mussel off of it so we could transport it to Powell. I had a hard time finding any mussels at all three summers ago. Two years ago I cleaned off maybe a hundred from the entire boat, mostly around the rear motor compartment where is it the most shaded. Last year I scrapped the entire boat with drywall knifes on the end of a 5' piece of electrical conduit. Took me half a day. This year they were twice as bad as last year. There were at least 300 if not 500 every square foot, about 250,000 of them. This was 25 times as bad as it was when we pulled it out of Lake Pleasant. I also checked/cleaned the intake tubes for water slide pump - the 2 intakes for the toilets - the generator intake and the intake for the air conditioner. Did not find any evidence of mussels in these tubes which is what I was most worried about. There were a couple of dead small ones in the strainer baskets for one of the toilets and the water slide pump. I was also worried about them getting into the motors and growing shutting the cooling water off or causing over heating problems. I did not find any evidence of mussels in the intake hose to the water pump when I winterized the boat last year. I constantly watch the temperatures on the motors while we are underway, and have not noticed any overheating problems. I have noticed a difference in fuel consumption. A trip to the upper end of Good Hope Bay is a 70 mile round trip, and it used to take 80 to 90 gallons. The same trip now takes at least 120 gallons!

We use the boat as often as possible and go sometimes on a days notice. Keeping the boat off shore/dry storage when not in use is not an option for us. Would be like buying a corvette and keeping it on blocks in the backyard.

My outdrives are on inboard motors, and I can lift them but it only gets about 1/3 of the prop out of the water, and the props hit the frame work of the boat when you turn either way when at the top of their travel. I have two fire extinguishers on board and check them often. Had to replace the one on my fishing boat last year due to it's age. The expiration date had ran out, kept it as a spare which is legal as long as you also have one that the date is current on.

I have spent a lot of time recently trying to research on how to combat these little pest with little reward. I will continue to battle with them because I will not let them keep me from enjoying what I love to do.
 

PBH

Well-Known Member
I think it would be nice to have another game fish with world record potential in the lake, especially if they would help on the mussel problem.

I can't fault you for the wishful thinking. My personal opinion is that Lake Powell is not a lake that will grow any world record fish. There are just too many things working against Powell to produce any world records. It had a chance when the lake was new, the nutrient load was high, and flooded vegetation was abundant. But today that vegetation is gone leaving poor habitat for many of the species currently in the lake that depend on flooded vegetation (crappie, lmb, bluegill). SMB should be the "king" of the lake, with very good habitat throughout (broken rocky shorelines). However, the lake is full of predators (lmb, smb, crappie, bluegill, walleye, STRIPERS, catfish, etc.) with [relatively] few prey species. Shad have helped, but the stripers certainly do not help those other species grow to world record sizes. Mussels now have the potential to change many things -- and most notably is that they pose a significant threat to young-of-the-year shad, which depend on the same food source that mussels utilize.

this is where many anglers start hoping for red ears. While red ears certainly may utilize the mussels as a food source, I personally do not see them doing anything different than the existing populations of bluegill and crappie. Sure, we might get some good fish, but on average I think they'd just add to the bucket another predator species to a lake already full of predators.

Don't get me wrong -- Powell is fantastic fishery! It is a world class fishery! But it isn't a fishery pumping out records. Who knows, maybe the mussels will change things with some unexpected result? Maybe red ears will eventually be introduced (hopefully legally) and do what many hope? Time will tell.

I have spent a lot of time recently trying to research on how to combat these little pest with little reward. I will continue to battle with them because I will not let them keep me from enjoying what I love to do.

Keep it up. Many of us are determined to not let them prevent us from enjoying the beauty of Powell. Mussels have certainly changed things in many waters across the country, specifically in the Great Lakes area. There is no doubt that the problems they present are difficult to deal with. Solutions are not going to be easy to come by. We all need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts of keeping our equipment clean and safe. We'll deal with them at Powell -- but let's do everything we can to stop their spread to other waters too!
 

Flipper

Well-Known Member
In my experience with red ears, they eat small mussels and snails mostly as adults. They don't compete much with the other game fish because their food source is different. They have plates in their jaws that allow them to crush their prey and take advantage of food sources that other fish cannot digest. When small they provide minnows/forage for larger game fish. Many of the farm ponds I fished in Kentucky as a kid had only largemouth and sunfish in them, no shad, and would grow Bass over 10 pounds. With an unlimited food source I don't see why they would not grow to sizes seen in Lake Havasu which is approaching 6 pounds.
I have a niece that is making a marine biologist, I have challenged her to come up with a plan to kill or at least manage zebra and quaqqa mussels. Lets hope she comes up with something!
 
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