In this article, we will finish counting down the top ten mistakes pond owners make in regards to managing their farm pond. We will now look at numbers five through one in this article. (Click here to review numbers 10-6) 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 5, stocking hybrid sunfish as bass forage. Hybrid sunfish are the result of crossing two sunfish species, usually bluegill and redear sunfish or green sunfish. These crosses greatly skew the male-to-female ratio (95 percent may be males) and cause inadequate forage production. The result will be poor bass growth and condition. DO NOT stock hybrid sunfish in a bass lake! DO make sure that either the native bluegill or coppernose bluegill is the basis of your forage population. Other forage species (e.g., redear sunfish, threadfin shad, Tilapia) can supplement the bluegill, but none can match it's forage production capabilities.
Number 4, improperly aerating the pond during an oxygen depletion. Pond owners who see their entire fish population up on the pond's surface gasping for air go into panic mode. A common mistake is to hook up a pump and pull the cooler deep water from the pond bottom and spray it back over the surface. This is the poorest quality water in the pond and may add to the problem rather than solve it. If you need to aerate your pond on an emergency basis, set the intake of the pump near the pond surface and spray the water back over the top. An even better technique is to trailer a boat into the water and run it in place at a low speed to circulate the pond and bring more water into contact with the air at the surface. Remember, the oxygen level is always lowest just before daylight and a depletion may be compounded by cloudy, windless weather or having too many pounds of fish during the summer months.
Number 3, fertilizing ponds that already have a weed problem. The rumor that you can fertilize your weeds to kill them persists throughout Texas and the southeast. It's true that a proper fertilizer program increases the phytoplankton and gives the water a greenish hue, which can block sun and prevent submerged weeds from getting started. However, if the vegetation is already growing before you fertilize, it will effectively compete for the nutrients in the fertilizer and the result may be an increased population of healthy weeds!
Number 2, failing to have pH and total alkalinity tested. This applies only to pond owners whose ponds are on acid soils. Low pH and alkalinity will hamper fish production no matter how much your pond cost to build or how much you spend on your fish. Have a water sample tested and apply agricultural limestone if required.
And the number 1 mistake pond owners make: Number 1, failing to keep harvest records. How are you going to know what to harvest if you don't know what you have? Even if the barn needs painting, the cows need worming, and the pasture need mowing, you must go fishing and keep catch records to determine the size structures of the species in the pond. This allows you to keep track of which and how many fish should be harvested using Percentage Size Distribution and Relative Weight. And the best thing about harvest records is-they cost you nothing!
Remember, good fishing in the result of good fish populations, so make the most of your management efforts by avoiding these common mistakes. 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 at Overton, Texas. Again, to get a copy of this Wildlife and Fisheries Calendar, go to http://tcebookstore.org.
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By: Chad Gulley, County Extension Agent-Ag/NR