Q: My pond is weedy and looks bad...what can I do to make it look better?
A: Sunlight hitting the bottom of the pond causes the weeds to grow. There are
three tools that are commonly used to treat aquatic weed problems. The first and
most cost efficient is to stock grass eating carp. We usually stock 10-20 large
fish (12 inches long) per acre of water. They may take a few years to get the
weeds under control, but they are a great long term alternative. Herbicides work
very quickly, but the weeds will return unless you limit sunlight penetration
with shading dyes or fertilizer applications. Consistent effort will eventually
get the weeds under control. Destratification bubblers can circulate the water
in the pond and make the pond look better.
Q: Does my pond need aeration?
A: Most sportfishing ponds do not require aeration. If you are feeding over 10
pounds of feed per acre per day you might need aeration. If you have suffered
from a sudden destratification of the lake (usually occurs just after a violent
summertime thunderstorm) and accompanying fish kill, a destratification device
is what you need. Generally there are three types of water circulation devices.
Aerators, fountains and destratification units. Aerators move large volumes of
water and can be used to increase the oxygen levels in the waters of your pond
(usually only for a short time). Fountains are aesthetically pleasing but do not
move enough water to actually improve the oxygen concentration of the pond. Destratification
devices send fine bubbles up from the bottom of the pond and constantly mixes
the water to prevent the natural layering of hot and cold water (stratification)
during the summer.
Q: What can I do to make my pond hold more fish?
A: The number of pounds of fish held in each acre of water is known as the lake's
standing crop of fish. In the southeast, standing crops of fish in sportfishing
ponds can range from 50 pounds of fish per acre to 1000. Soil types, water flow
and the types of fish in your lake can influence standing crop. The most cost
effective way to significantly increase your lake's standing crop is to start
the lake on a fertilization program. If you have water with low alkalinity (hardness)
you may have to spread agricultural limestone over your lake first. This can dramatically
increase the standing crop of fish in your lake. Another way is to feed the fish
in the lake with automatic fish feeders. Supplemental stocking of fish can also
increase your standing crop.
Q: What kind of fish should I stock in my pond?
A: New ponds are stocked differently than ponds that already contain fish. In
new ponds, it hard to beat the bass / bluegill combination. Usually 10% of the
bluegill are actually redear sunfish and these fish are stocked in the fall. The
following spring bass are stocked. Other species for consideration are fathead
minnows (lots of them in the fall and spring), grass carp (help keep the weeds
down) and catfish (not too many!)
Stocking existing ponds is more difficult because bass will usually eat many of
the fish stocked if they are small. We do ocassionally stock fish just to feed
the bass (crayfish, fathead minnows, golden shiners) but we also like to try and
offset predator crowded environments by having a significant portion of our supplemental
stockings live to reproduce (threadfin shad, bluegill).
Q: I just bought a new property that has a pond on it. How do I start improving
A: The best thing to do is have a population survey completed by a fisheries biologist
(us!). It should identify species of fish present and relative abundance. It will
also identify problem aquatic weeds and water quality information that will be
crucial to adressing the most pressing needs of your pond. Patience is required
when developing a quality fishery from scratch...usually 2-3 years.
Q: What does it cost to develop and maintain a quality fishery?
A: Not all ponds are created equal. A well designed lake with deep edges, good
surface acre to watershed acre ratios, natural fertility and hard water can be
much easier to make a fishing haven out of than a swampy, flood prone, shallow
lake with very soft water. Generally, our clients spend about $500.00 - $1000.00
per acre per year to maintain a high quality fishery. There are other expenses
such as initial purchase of feeders, fish or repeat herbicide applications that
can blow that budget, but in general that is the ball park. A fertilization program
can be run for as little as $150.00/year (if you do it yourself) and a feeding
program is about the same (not including cost of feeders). When compared to the
average cost of wildlife food plots (usually $ 350.00 - $500.00/year) or your
lawn/gardens at your house (at least $1000.00/acre/year), it is not out of line.