The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and City of Grove have teamed up to improve fishing on Grand Lake.
Work began last week at Honey Creek State Park boat ramp where ODWC fisheries biologists and technicians pieced together new fish attractors to sink into Grand Lake.
“When you get into these aging reservoirs, like Grand Lake built in 1938, you've got very little natural habitat left,” said ODWC Northeast Region Fisheries Supervisor Josh Johnston.
That’s where Mossback Fish Habitat comes in, an Arkansas company that builds artificial fish habitats.
“It's all 100-percent recycled PVC,” said Mossback Fish Habitat Owner David King. “We want to take stuff that would normally be going to landfill and reuse it, especially for fishing because we're all passionate about fishing and making fishing better everybody.”
Johnston said the company gave ODWC a discounted rate to make up for what’s missing underwater, like trees and brush. He said about 250 fish attractors are now in water in the area around Honey Creek Tuesday.
“You need some of these [artificial] trees where you used to have standing timber or stuff that had fallen over,” said Johnston. “[They’re] something to take the place of bigger trees and they’re gonna be more on your points in 10 to 14 feet of water.”
Johnston said the attractors will give fish needed shade and shelter and they'll last decades longer natural hardwood.
“This stuff is really rough, so it will grow periphyton and your algae, sediment will collect in this and grow stuff. So it's gonna attract small fish, baitfish, and your bigger fish,” said Johnston.
Bluegill, sunfish, bass, and crappie are the main species that will use the new habitat. Johnston said it’s hard to say if the new habitat will increase the overall fish population, but said it will boost the population in the areas where they placed the habitat.
Johnston plans to research how fish in Oklahoma use the Mossback attractors but points to another study with promising results.
“The State of Florida has worked with Mossback and put some of these out they have reported not only do they attract more fish, these than the natural habitat-- their natural trees they put out, but they're also attracting bigger fish,” said Johnston.
The goal is not only to attract more fish but also more anglers.
“I hope our angler success goes up because of this and if that is the case, we're gonna try to do a lot more of this,” he said.
And for the anglers, there's another bonus to Mossback Habitat.
“It's gonna go down and look like a tree, but you're not gonna get hung on it with your hooks,” said Johnston.
Johnston said Grove donated $5,000 for the project, then ODWC added $15,000 to that using sport fish restoration funds, which comes from a federal excise tax.
“We spent no angler dollars. What we spent was matching dollars,” said Johnston.
The locations of the new habitat should go on ODWC's interactive map soon.