Fish attractors: Improve the conditions on your favorite lake - Part 2

Constructing your fish attractor.

Fish habitat structures or “fish hotels” are easy to construct and a great project for youth and adults to do together. This project will assist youth in their development of stewardship and natural resources conservation.

As discussed in the previous Michigan State University Extension article (Fish Attractors: Improve the conditions on your favorite lake – Part 1), permission must be obtained from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) before you begin your fish attractor project. Permit applications can be obtained on line through the State of Michigan website.

There are things to consider before embarking on your project such as the availability of materials, cost, handling and location of fish attractors and life span of the unit once submerged.

Two materials that are readily available are tree branches and dead evergreen trees, which provide great habitat for fish. You will need cinder blocks, plastic rope, quick set cement, pruners, utility knife and gloves. Remember that soft wood has a shorter life span than hard woods once submerged.

Building a fish attractor out of evergreen trees is simple. Remove the bottom branches of the evergreen tree and taper the trunk so it will fit into one of the holes in the cinder block. Make sure the branches are at least four inches away from the cinder block. Mix the quick-set cement so that it is easy to work with and flows smoothly, then pour the cement into the hole in which the tree has been placed and allow hardening. Repeat this process in the second hole of the cinder block. It is very important that you balance the fish attractors so they stand up straight once they are submerged. At the base of the evergreen trees use the plastic rope to secure the evergreen trees to each other.

To build a fish attractor out of tree branches, you must keep in mind that you want a full canopy, three- to five-feet tall, when building a fish attractor out of branches. You need to taper the bottoms of the branches that are going to be inserted into the holes, in the cinder block. Tapering the branches will allow you to insert more branches into the holes in your cinder blocks. You may need to prune the bottom of branches to maximize the number of branches than can be placed in each hole. Use the plastic rope to secure the branches to each other. Mix the quick-set cement so that it is easy to work with and flows smoothly. Pour the cement into the hole in which the tree has been placed and allow it to harden. Repeat this process in the second hole of the cinder block. Balance is important when constructing a fish attractor. You want the fish attractors to stands straight up once they are submerged. This provides more cover and enhances the habitat.

Placement of your fish attractors is crucial. The first consideration is not to place the attractors in or near navigable waters. Ideal placement areas would have a hard bottom with minimal vegetation growth and close to deep water. Locations 10- to 20-feet deep are good depths to attract blue gills, crappie and bass. Lake points are another great location to position a fish attractor. I suggest positioning fish attractors off of points in a little deeper water.

Start thinking about your fish attractor now, as one of the best times to position your “fish hotels” on the lake is late winter, just before the lake begins to thaw.

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