ANNA — At first glance, Bryan Williams’ creation could be a time machine, perhaps a super-cooling unit or even a high-powered vacuum.
But, the plastic, corrugated hose and weed trimmer line contraption is a fish habitat structure – a slightly-altered version of the Georgia Cube. The structure is also Williams’ Eagle Scout project. He plans to build 10 of the cubes and place them in Kinkaid Lake.
Williams’ father, Frankie, works with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at the Little Grassy Hatchery. His association with IDNR fisheries biologist Shawn Hirst led to Bryan deciding to build the cubes.
“I started talking to him about how we could do the project,” Bryan said. “I kind of volunteered myself as the guy to lead the project. In doing so, we started working together creating a plan, the kind of way we wanted it so look. Now we’re here. We’ve built our very first cube. We’re making modifications and trying to make it the best we can.”
The fish attractors stand about five feet tall. The frame is made of PVC pipe with about 92 feet of corrugated hose wrapped around it. The pink mesh used as snow fencing along highways is attached at the base.
“They were trying to find different ways of building these to be more effective than the porcupines,” the Anna-Jonesboro sophomore said. “A guy up in Shelbyville, he changed it a little bit so that he could use it for his area specifically. We took the Shelbyville design and used it in this area with a little bit of modifications.”
The primary modifications being strands of weed trimmer attached to the corrugated pipe.
“We were trying to figure out ways to improve the cube, to put our own little spin on it,” Williams said. “To see how we could make it better. We looked into problems the cubs have had before and one of the problems is having areas for algae to grow. And, so from there we put two and two together and started testing it out. We contacted Mr. Hirst and he really liked the idea.”
The algae is the first step in the food chain that will eventually attract game fish. Hirst is hoping the cubes will provide good bluegill habitat.
Williams has completed his prototype and eventually hopes to build 10. He will also build a pattern for the cube. The pattern will be donated to IDNR as well.
It took several hours to build the prototype.
“The very first one took us about 2-4 hours because we were trying to figure out the best way to do certain things,” Williams said. “We’d take breaks and talk about things we had done. I roughly estimate 1-2 hours now that we know what we are doing.”
Each cube weighs about 60 pounds. The bottom part of the PVC is filled with pea gravel to provide weight and ballast. Holes are drilled into the pipe, allowing the structure to fill with water and provide additional stability. And, the plastic mesh is designed to work into the lake bottom.
“The one goal of cube is to make sure it does not move,” Williams said.
He hopes to have the cubes completed by May 31. The entire troop will help Hirst place the attractors in Kinkaid Lake. Hirst will make maps available to anglers that have the GPS coordinates of the cubes.
“The reason I like this project a lot is the fact that it kind of deals with everything I’m wanting,” Williams said. “What I wanted in an Eagle project was something that would be here for a while, something that would be extremely useful for the area and something I could go to in a few years and tell my children, ‘Hey, I did something to benefit this area.’”