More fish-attracting structures being put in Oklahoma lakes
BY KELLY BOSTIAN Outdoors
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
3/19/13 at 6:03 AM
Go to Kelly Bostian's blog Original Print Headline: More lake fish attractors going in
Cedars, starfish and spiders, oh my!
Lake Eufaula got an infusion of new brush pile structures recently, including a new configuration regional fisheries biologist Danny Bowen had his crew constructing over the winter months.
"I call it a starfish," he said.
If ever you've wondered what was under those tall white buoys that say "fish attractor" on them, it's usually one of three things; eastern red cedars, spider blocks or, now, starfish.
Cedars are the old standby for creating structures for fish. A tree or three, a little rope and a concrete block or two and viola, you've got a brush pile. Cedars make great cover for fish. The only problems are it's a fair amount of messy work to gather up the trees, they are good at snagging lures and they do, eventually, decompose.
So along came the "spider block." A supply of cement mix, some concrete blocks, several lengths of 3/4-inch PVC pipe, a little drying time and you have a structure for fish that is easy to place and will last for practically forever.
The lengths of pipe come out of the top of the block and droop over, giving the structures that spider look. They're also nice because the mostly vertical nature of the structures makes them practically snag-free for anglers.
If you wonder what spider blocks look like you can see them along the shorelines of many or our water-poor local lakes these days. "I've got several that are high and dry on Holdenville (Lake)," Bowen said. "It's down 13 feet."
Bowen got the idea to make some structures that were a little thicker and also handy in shallow water. So along comes his "starfish."
The starfish is made with five-gallon buckets with six pieces of 1 1/2-inch plastic pipe coming out of the sides. Each pipe is about 5- or 6-feet long and has 40 to 50 cross pieces of 3/4-inch pipe (each 1- to 2-feet long).
The bucket is filled with cement mix and all the pipe junctions are secured with stainless steel drywall screws.
"It makes more of a brushy situation," Bowen said. "It's kind of like a super spider block, with a lot more structure."
The fish attractors will be placed in several lakes but Eufaula has been the focus the past couple of weeks, with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bowen said. Five of the starfish structures have been placed in the Mill Creek area. "Mill Creek is a pretty good crappie spot," he said.
Water in the lake is low so they were placed just about 3 feet deep, Bowen said. "Hopefully the lake will come back up. When the water is normal depth they'll be down about 6 feet," he said.
As crappie move up to spawn, they are drawn to structures. They like to have something overhead as they nest and they need nearby hiding places for offspring. That's why they're drawn to brushy shorelines and shallow areas loaded with buckbrush, Bowen said.
Crappie still will spawn with low water levels in local lakes and ponds, but lack of good cover likely will mean poor survival rates for offspring, he said.
The new brush piles will be in place for crappie as they move up. Bowen said he's heard of some catches in shallows near the Crowder area but said heavy spawning activity is still two or three weeks away for middle and northern stretches of the lake.
"Crowder was real busy last Saturday so that either means they were moving up shallow or people were hoping they were moving up shallow," he said.
The fish attractor sites are listed on the Wildlife Department website at tulsaworld.com/wildlife Look under the Fishing section for "Where to Fish" and click on the link for "Fish Attractor Locations" for GPS coordinates of attractors at lakes all around the state.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Southeast region fisheries technicians Jon West (left) Clayton Porter (center) and Bill Newman prepare to put some starfish fish attractors in at Mill Creek on Eufaula Lake. DANNY BOWEN / ODWC Courtesy