Building the World Record Bass

Why Prawns Win

There are several reasons why freshwater prawns make the perfect forage for largemouth bass, according to John Jones, owner of Lochow Ranch Lake Management.

“First off, you are dealing with a dumb forage species. When these things are dumped in the lake, they don’t know to flee. So, they are easy for bass to eat. Secondly, a bass gets a lot more protein out of one prawn than he does a shad or even bluegill, which enhances growth rates,” Jones explains.

Plus, when a bass is eating a prawn, it is not eating a shad or bluegill. This gives relief to these forage species, and they become reserve food for the bass during the cold months when prawns are not available. Although Jones has not done the research on the digestibility of prawns for largemouth, he tends to believe, based on the crazy growth rates he has witnessed at La Perla Lake, that largemouth gain weight more quickly eating the shrimp than eating traditional baitfish.

All this said, prawns aren’t for every private lake. These crustaceans die when water temps dip below 55 (which eliminates lakes above I-20) and may be considered an invasive species for lake managers near the coast. Lake owners should check with area biologists before considering prawns as a responsible forage option.

Elite Input

Alton Jones (left) and SchwarzAlton Jones (left) and Schwarz
Dr. Gary Schwarz met Elite Series pro Alton Jones in 2010 through a charity tournament that raises money for underprivileged kids (www.lifelineyouth.org). La Perla Ranch hosted a portion of the event where Jones and Schwarz became fast friends.

“I was right in the middle of the La Perla project and asked Alton if he’d give me his opinions about what I had done,” Schwarz explains.

“Man, I had never seen another lake like it,” Jones says. “Gary had done an incredible job building this lake and thinks so far outside the box. I had never heard of anyone using prawns for bass. Gary is an absolute visionary.”

Jones has become a great resource for Schwarz and his passion to create the best bass destination in the world.

“Alton has fished everywhere in the world. He knows how bass use cover. He understands how the fish use the underwater landscape for seasonal movements. So, having him listen to my ideas and offer suggestions for cover, structure and design has simply made the Jalisco project even more special.”

Adding A Lot Of Air

Private lakes can be plagued with a number of issues that will kill bass. Turnover, thermal stratification and a plankton crash all can kill small fisheries. To protect against this at La Perla Lake, Dr. Gary Schwarz commissioned the biggest private aeration system in the world dedicated to maintaining a bass fishery.

“A normal aeration system has a 1-horsepower compressor and a handful of oxygen stations to help keep a stable environment in a fishery. To protect La Perla and the incredible investment of time and resources Gary has put into the lake, we designed a system unlike any other I’ve ever heard of,” says John Jones, owner of Lochow Ranch Lake Management.

The La Perla system starts with a 20-hp compressor that pumps air through more than 4 miles of hose to 52 air stations around the lake.

The side benefit of this sprawling system is that it eliminates unproductive water, vastly increasing the lake’s carrying capacity for fish.

To view more of Bassmaster Magazine, click here.

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