Lake Oconee habitat improves with water willow planting

 Lake Oconee Bassmasters
Courtesy of the Lake Oconee Bassmasters
Members of the Lake Oconee Bassmasters planted water willows as bass habitat in the club’s home fishery.

EATONTON, Ga. — Georgia’s second-largest impoundment, Lake Oconee, now has shoreline vegetation, providing nursery habitat for young bass and ambush cover for larger fish, thanks to the Lake Oconee Bassmasters.

During the summer, members propagated and then planted 150 water willows in three locations of the 19,000-acre fishery. Growing to 5 feet deep, the native non-invasive also is good for preventing shoreline erosion, explained Tony Beck, the club’s conservation director.

“It is a fairly easy plant to grow because it can generate roots from the stem,” he added. “One of the advantages of this plant is that, once it is established, it will move around on its own by breaking loose and rooting elsewhere.”

First, club members put cuttings in half-gallon pots and placed them in small pools filled with water so they would have constant moisture. “Other than keeping the pools filled with water, there is very little maintenance that needs to be done to the plants,” Beck said.

Three months later, they transplanted the rooted willows to the lower third of the popular fishery on the Oconee River.

“This is a great, long-lasting project that can really have a positive impact on the aquatic environment,” explained Beck.

 

This article is part of the Habitat Improvement segment of the larger report, 2011 Annual Achievements in B.A.S.S. Conservation.

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