DWR knows enough about tilapia, and their aggressive nest raiding behavior, to know that they constitute a threat to the bass and bluegill population. But, since they do not "manage" those waters, they do not plan to conduct any kind of eradication program.
There are many waters in California and Arizona warm enough to sustain tilapia, and where they coexist with other species. They seem to be a mixed blessing. Their your provide good forage for other predatory species...like bass, catfish, etc....but they in turn take a big toll on the eggs in the nests of those species during the spawn. That keeps the numbers of both species in check, reducing the incidence of overpopulation and stunting.
Tilapia are primariy herbiborous...plant eaters. But, they also dine on insects, minnows, worms and just about anything else at times. Where they reach any size, they are often caught on artificial lures and flies. They provide a good "exotic" fishery wherever they are found and often have a following that targets them specifically. They are fun to catch and great eating.
As has been suggested, the best way to catch them is with a piece of nightcrawler...nothing fancy. However, some of the bigger fish to have been caught in the large lake at Blue Lake have been taken on small "bait bug" jigs with a tiny piece of worm for sweetener...while fishing for bluegills.
There are no size or quantity restrictions on the tilapia out there. And, like perch, there is no way fishermen can ever fish them out of any water they are in. So, catch all you can and keep all you catch. It will help the bluegills and bass and it will provide some darned good eating too.
Tilapia have a simple bony structure and fillet easily. They have a very firm white flesh, with a mild taste. You can cook them any way you like fish and they taste great. They are especially good steamed in beer and then dipped in garlic butter. Better than shrimp or crab.
If we find ourselves involvd in a little hand to hand combat with these bad guys, Your Knife weilding experience in close quarters will be a bonus for you!
Lets do it!
Live like you were Dieing!
Today is a gift, Tomorrow a dream!
Rocky Mountain Tackle, Freshwater basics,Velocity fishing international, Radical glow staff
Ever hear the saying that "The number of people who show up at your funeral will depend upon the weather"?
Seriously, Blue Lake is a good topic and we haven't had much chatter about it. It is a "sleeper" little spot for folks to hit when the water is frozen elsewhere. The main downside these days is the long drive and high gas prices. The nasty dirt road going in and the potential for vehicle burglary have also been deterrents during the last year.
By carpooling and making it a group thing, we should be able to harvest some tilapia and exercise some bass and bluegills. If we can time the weather right, it will be a fun trip.
Thanks for starting the thread and providing some fantasy recreation for some of us diehards.
Some of the nests you see are probably tilapia nests. They can and will spawn just about any time of year in the warm water. That is one of the reasons they are able to compete so well against the bass. They raid the nests when bass spawn, but guard their own with a vengeance and protect their young for a time after spawning. Divers tell of big tilapia whacking the heck out of them if they come too close to a nest.
For what it is worth, I heard a story about one diver who lured tilapia in with bits of crawler and then used a short ice fishing rod with a hook (underwater) to catch them. Feeding the fish is legal. Chumming is not.
All this legal vs illegal stuff makes my brain ache.