If you’re a member of the Fresno Aquaphonics Club, you got invited to the fish harvest hosted by John and Jackie of J & J Aquafarms.
In order to meet customer orders, John was seining out one of his ponds, and he invited us along to help, and to join in a potluck barbecue afterward.
So – just to let you know, John has a very cool job!
There were plenty of people who showed up to help out John and his employees – some in waders, some in shoes and shorts. (Just a hint, if you do this in the future, do not wear shoes that you care about. Also watch the mud, it will suck the shoes right off your feet!)
The entire pond was seined, and the sein was pulled in by hand, and by the trailer hitch of a couple of pickup trucks. Once the sein was brought in close enough to shore, small baskets were passed down and the fish were dipped out by nets and a smaller sein, and dumped into the baskets.
Algae was washed off the fish (deposited there by the action of seining) and the fish were dumped into a truck-sized water tank for transport.
Potassium Permanganate was added to the tank to take care of any health problems that the fish may have or develop during live transport.
As we pulled in the fish, we had visitors of the feathered kind. Ducks in the pond were confused by the approaching net and took off to find a more hospitable place to paddle around in.
Others, like this Great Blue Heron, stuck around to see if they could get in on the fish-catching action.
Birds are a constant concern for John. They eat an incredible amount of fish each year. They are protected by law, so John does what he legally can to scare them away from his ponds. If left unchecked, they would just camp out around the dinner table.
Still, John was happy to tell us of the Bald Eagle that stopped by his ponds one day. Yes, he grabbed a fish dinner!
Once the net created a pocket at the corner of the pond, everyone joined in to create a bucket brigade (basket brigade?) to relay the fish from net to tank.
Some of the Fresno Aquaponics Club brought their children. The kids had a great deal of fun catching fish and helping out. One particularly enthusiastic young lady was awarded a large yellow koi for her efforts.
After the nets were pulled onto the banks where they could dry, everyone made their way back to John and Jackie’s house where they could rinse off and start up the barbecue.
And the food was wonderful! They say that hard work makes for a good appetite, and perhaps that was part of it (the Winco fried chicken that Wendy and I brought was well recieved).
But it turns out we had a food artist along with us. I have no idea what to call the dish that he grilled over the BBQ, it looked like some sort of flank steak that was marinated and seasoned. And it tasted wonderful wrapped in corn tortillas with a dab of home made hot sauce and salsa.
Miguel, thank you for that dish! And someday Wendy and I will learn how to cook it!
Thanks again to John and Jackie for their hospitality, and for allowing us to offer our help. We had little training or experience, but we had muscle that could be directed. I hope we made things a little easier for John.
In return, John was nice enough to offer us a few fish for our aquaponics gardens. I picked up a 6 or 7 small bluegill which are currently residing in my half-barrel koi pond. Time for me to get to cracking and finish up my yard and fishery!