In and Around the Pond
Looking For Trouble, Before It Starts
What activity or duty in pond management gets most often overlooked? Pond Boss asked a panel of the nation's leading fisheries managers and they gave us their candid replies:
Bill Cody, Malinta, OH
"The most overlooked activity is not keeping a pond log book, to collect info about pond maintenance."
"Every pond owner should record when and how many fish are stocked or harvested, fish deaths or kills, weed treatments with the amount of compound and the results. What types of weeds are prevalent? What about fertilization info, noting any new structure added and its location, and any other things done to and around the pond?"
"The log is also a good place to keep track of the sizes and weights of fish caught to help in the management planning and adjustments."
"If a pond owner ever needs a professional to come and help with the pond, the records will really help the professional give better and more accurate advice. One easily forgets details and the log book serves as good reminder and documentation."
"In my log books (one for each pond) I also keep temperature records for each year. Since I'm in the north, I keep track when ice forms and leaves the pond and the maximum thickness. It also helps when I want to refer back to mild or severe winters."
"More Buffalo Bill wisdom -- or droppings (his words, not the editor's). I think serious pond meisters should have or get a thermometer."
I really like the one out now sold as "Airguide Temperature Sensor" sold at Bass Pro or Cabela's and some boat/ marine dealers for $19.99. It has a 23-foot long remote electronic ( AAA battery electronic) sensor that can be used to detect the thermocline and water temps at most any depth. Attach a fish sinker and you're in business."
"Probe length of 23 feet is long enough to hit bottom in 98 percent or more of your reader's ponds. Many regular electronic home temperature gauges will also work but they have shorter probe cables, usually 10 feet."
Knowing the depth of the thermocline is important for many reasons when fishing or managing a pond. You could do a whole article on what the water temps mean at the various depths.
"That said, I'd wager that the springtime pond-fertilization window (if required) as being the most overlooked action-item on the pondmeister's calendar."
"The ideal situation is to establish a good phytoplankton bloom before water temperatures become warm enough for filamentous algae populations to explode. A good plankton bloom helps reduce sunlight penetration to the pond's bottom (the nursery for filamentous algae) and should greatly reduce future problems with the dreaded "pond scum."
"The second most-overlooked action-item is the monthly (if not more often) inspection for looming macrophyte (visible to the unaided eye) plant problems. Some species and quantities of aquatic plants are usually desirable and rarely pose a biological impediment."
"However, other noxious (aggressively populating) and/or exotic (non-native) plant species can spell disaster if they're not noticed early enough or, even worse -- ignored. Like a disease, they are much easier to manage or eliminate if caught in their earliest stages of development."
"That's my 2-cents -- and worth every penny, maybe."
Dennis Rhoades, Marshall, TX
"In early spring, people need to look at aquatic vegetation. It's a good time to drain down the pond or lake to get it ready for fertilizer, if needed. Take a routine water analysis. Install an aerator before your fish really must have it in the summer. Oh, yes, and go fishing."
Todd Overton, College Station, TX
"Check the water quality. Water testing during the fall/ winter season to determine whether your pond needs lime before the growing season. We do this for free for our customers every time we get near their water. It's that important."
"Watch for new arrivals of problematic vegetation. Sample potential nuisance vegetation early in the spring and act early to save money. We identify vegetation samples, free of charge."
"The need to harvest bass. So many pond owners neglect this part of their management plant."
"Utilize fish feeders in a feeding program. Keep feeders operating to feed to saturation during the growing season."
"Fertilization needs must be the most overlooked in general. Once in a blue moon I stumble across a lake that has a natural plankton bloom, even an 18-inch bloom. No doubt, a survey reveals that the fish under that bloom are in great health and problematic submerged vegetation can not get a foothold."
"Ever wonder how many ponds and lakes suffer a partial fish-kill due to low dissolved oxygen? A pond owner may not even be aware this has occurred if he isn't making daily trips to the lake. Later he'll wonder why his biggest fish are not biting ... they're dead."
"Aeration is insurance that pays even when you don't file a claim."
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine