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OCdockskipper

Can a Few Cormorants Be a Positive?

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I know that cormorants typically illicit a visceral negative reaction among sport fisherman and have read the negative affect they have on sport fishery's.  I wanted to throw this up for discussion not necessarily to get a scientific response, but more of peoples opinions based on personal experience.

I like on a small lake (about 100 acres) surrounded by homes in a suburban environment.  It is a catch & release fishery and doesn't get that much pressure despite the number of people who live on the lake (more So Cal anglers focus on saltwater fishing or stocked trout than largemouth bass).  About a decade ago, the average bass I caught here was about 12" long & often were skinny.  There are no shad in the lake and all of the bluegill were either under 3" long or over 10" long.  Like many ponds & small lakes, I believe the lack of any harvesting stunted much of the bass population.

Now the bass population is very different.  There still seem to be just as many numbers of fish, but the average size is closer to 14" and nearly every fish has a bit of a belly on them.  Larger fish are showing up, 7 & 8 lb fish, good for a So Cal lake without Florida strain.  The two differences I believe are instrumental between now & then are 1) the stocking of crayfish & 2) a pair of cormorants that have made this lake their home.

The crayfish are stocked 3 times a year, a natural method the HOA chose to fight off zebra mussels.  Just 2 days ago, two of the bass I caught had crayfish antenna sticking up from their gullet.  While I believe this increase of high protein forage has helped, I think the pair of cormorants have also helped by culling down the numbers of 6" - 10" bass.  They are in effect the only "meat fishermen" on the lake, taking a fish or two a day and helping keep the fish population in a healthy balance.

Now I am fully aware that if a flock of 50 plus cormorants descended on the lake, it could be devastating.  I think that the large human presence, between homeowners and pleasure boaters, keep other cormorants from joining in.  In fact, the only time I see the cormorants fishing is at dawn, when I pretty much have the lake to myself.  As the day progresses and people scurry about, the pair of birds retreat to a tall Eucalyptus tree until the next morning.  I was original concerned that they were a nesting pair, but in the past few years, neither has made nor sat on a nest.  Apparently they are just a couple of bachelors hanging out.

The HOA has a policy of harassing migratory waterfowl to keep them from making the lake a home, often chasing off the loud Canada geese.  I haven't mentioned anything to them about the cormorants because I don't know if they are a positive or negative in these small numbers, although I am obviously leaning towards them being a plus.

Has anyone else had experiences with cormorants that would confirm or contradict what I believe to be occurring? 

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You are lucky there are only a pair of comorants, they tend to be flock birds in numbers of dozens.

I doubt seriously if a pair of comorants could harvest enough bass to impact the population density. Planting crawdads 3 times a year is the reason those bass are growing.

Tom

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They are evil evil birds. They destroy fisheries and vegetation. Couple weeks ago I was the victim of a fly by pooping. My son and I were about 100 yards from a known nesting area. A small flock that was flying back towards the trees intentionally shat on us. Normally they save this delightful experience for those who choose to approach the nesting grounds. Guess the birds decided we were fair game. They are evil....

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40 minutes ago, slonezp said:

They are evil evil birds. They destroy fisheries and vegetation. Couple weeks ago I was the victim of a fly by pooping. My son and I were about 100 yards from a known nesting area. A small flock that was flying back towards the trees intentionally shat on us. Normally they save this delightful experience for those who choose to approach the nesting grounds. Guess the birds decided we were fair game. They are evil....

Cormorant poop .jpg

We call it Bird Gravy.

:wacko:

A-Jay

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Makes you wonder what type of person waits for a camera shot like that. I would get rid of the cormorants asap if possible. I would rather have 100 Pelicans than 2 of those vermin. (I am fond of Pelicans though)

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58 minutes ago, GetBent said:

Makes you wonder what type of person waits for a camera shot like that. I would get rid of the cormorants asap if possible. I would rather have 100 Pelicans than 2 of those vermin. (I am fond of Pelicans though)

We get those in early spring. Sorry for the sideways pic. Ill fix it when im at a computer 20160403_113516.jpg

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We had a guy hit one at WOT several years ago in a tournament. Thankfully it hit the front deck or TM or something to slow it down a touch before it hit him, but it still broke/fractured several ribs.

They're nasty eating machines. Maybe not a big deal on lakes with really big shad populations since I'm sure those are easier to hunt and catch than a bass hiding in cover, but I still hate seeing the things when I'm on the water. 

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THE ONLY GOOD CORMORANT IS A DEAD CORMORANT. THEY ARE BAD NEWS AND ARE CAPABLE OF WIPING OUT A SMALL BODY OF WATER WITH A HEALTHY POPULATION OF BASS AND BLUEGILLS. SEEN IT IN TEXAS. BAD NEWS.  

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We have to constantly chase them off our ponds.  They are a nuisance and come in flocks down here.  Some people employ the use of timed propane cannons to keep them scared off their private fisheries.  They are a protected bird, so you can't kill them without a permit.  

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Well you don't have to slap me too many times before I get the message...:D

I think I'll start carrying a laser pen and a Super-Soaker on my boat when I go out.  As I mentioned, I know where they roost, so maybe continued annoyance will get the pair to move on to quieter pastures.  

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410 doesn't make a lot of noise.

Tom

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I have too many cormorants around here, thats why all the fish in my #1 pond are under 3.5lb. Had one come up next to me today with a gill that was impaled by it. Cormorants are baddd news!

Its impossible to get them to leave here too, they hang out in super thick trees all day. 

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I visited my favorite big-bass lake today and witnessed about 50 cormorants and 10 Pelicans floating around. I had never seen any cormorants on the lake before, and I've been fishing it for 7 years. I really hope they move on and find a nice wind turbine to nest near. 

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