In this article, we will count down the top ten mistakes pond owners make in regards to managing their farm pond. This article is a follow up to the Farm Pond Management Calendar. We will look at numbers ten through six in this article, and five through 1 in a follow up article. Are you guilty of any of these infractions? If we try to eliminate these mistakes, we can have better fishing in our farm ponds.
Number 10, Stocking your pond with wild fish. Many pond owners decide to supple mentally stock their ponds with fish from another pond or near by reservoir. This often results in an imbalance between the forage and sportfish populations, which can lead to poor fishing. Besides, you never know if those wild fish you are bringing in are host to a disease or parasite pathogen. Stick with farm raised sport and forage fish. You won't regret it in the long run.
Number 9, stocking more bass when bass fishing is already poor. A common knee-jerk reaction to poor bass fishing is to stock more bass. In reality, if something is keeping the existing bass populations from performing well, stocking more bass will only complicate the situation. Determine what the limiting factor is, then work to correct it! The only time additional bass should be stocked on top of an existing bass population is for genetic purposes (e.g., stocking the subspecies of Florida bass into a native bass population to produce trophies).
Number 8, harvesting improperly. Yep, you know who you are! You go out there on a pretty spring afternoon and over-harvest your bass. You have removed too many pounds of bass in too short a period of time and this causes an imbalance between the bass and forage. The result is stunted and overpopulated forage species and a pond full of trotline bait! Remember that a bass filleted at 5 pounds seldom reaches 10 pounds. So if your goal is trophy bass, harvest selectively but don't release all the smaller fish you catch. What about you catfish producers? You may stock heavily and feed heavily, both of which are OK, but then fail to harvest enough fish to keep the total weight of fish present below 1,000 pounds per surface acre during the warm months. The stage is set for an oxygen depletion to occur. When you start recognizing and naming individual fish as they come up to feed, it's way past time for a fish fry!
Number 7, failing to properly identify weeds before you attempt to control. It's easy to think there is "scum," there is "moss," and everything else is a weed. But herbicides and triploid grass carp are not cheap, so make sure you know what plants you need to control so you can choose the most effective methods. Many pond owners waste lots of cash each year by guessing at the species of weeds they want to control.
Number 6, managing for bass in a muddy pond. This is a classical mistake. Remember, bass are sight-feeding predators and need 10 to 12 inches of visibility throughout the year to find their prey. Bass in water the color of peanut butter are usually in poor condition. Take steps to clear the pond, or stock it with species that will do well in muddy water, such as blue or channel catfish.
We will examine the top five mistakes pond owners make in part 2 of our series. Check back later for the number one mistake pond owners make. Information in this article comes from a Texas Cooperative Extension publication, B-6197 Wildlife and Fish Management Calendar developed by Dr. Billy Higginbotham, Texas Cooperative Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialist from the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas. To get your copy of this Wildlife and Fisheries Calendar, go to http://tcebookstore.org .
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