Because this is the Ozarks, one of the things we have plenty of is rocks. And because the dam leaks, another thing we have plenty of is the opportunity to wander about the empty lakebed. When we do, we try to use the chance to build structures to nurture the fish we will some day have.
Any kind of structure in a lake is beneficial for fish. It gives the littles ones places to hide from predators, and it gives predators places to ambush little ones. (That whole circle of life thing.) There are also certain types of fish (flathead minnows) that prefer to lay their eggs on the undersides of submerged flat surfaces.
When the dam was being constructed, the builder piled all of the trees he had cleared from the Central Valley in the lakebed and burned them. A small part of this never burned, so we tied it down with nylon rope so that the snarl of branches and trunks could be fish structure.
The builder also pushed several very large limestone boulders into place along the northern shoreline. These are (or . . . will be) in about 5-10 feet of water, which is supposed to be ideal for fish structure. The boulder I carved our initials into is one of these beauties.
In addition to these, though, are the many structures L and I have constructed with the extra rocks that happen to be in the lakebed. When we have the chance, we stack rocks to create walls and chambers and piles. Presumably, the fish will find these and make use of them. (Knowing approximately where they are will also make me a better fisherman some day.)
Once I got the mania, I began to see everything as potential material for fish structure. Lawn furniture, cement blocks, PVC pipe, old tires, the old cars the old tires came from, and so on. L, who is much more level-headed and sensible, cautioned me about going overboard. Did I really want to fill our lake with trash? Would we begin to call it Lake Landfill?
Her wisdom eventually reached me, but not before I managed to get three old tires piled within casting distance of the shore. When the USDA man visited, he commented that old tires are now considered bad things to put in bodies of water because of their petroleum origins. I’m not sure if he meant that they have been found to leach toxins into the water or if he just implied the possibility of it. Either way, next chance I get, I will pull them out.
(This photo was taken with a convenience store disposable camera and then developed onto a CD. Sorry about the quality.)