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Preparing Your Pond For Spring

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Preparing Your Pond For SpringWhile winter is still doing its last ‘hurrah’ across much of the USA, it’s just a very short time til spring-like weather is here to stay!  While we’ve had a taste of warmer weather now and again, take heart – it won’t be long til freezing nights and blustery days have completely departed – now is the time for perparing your pond for spring.

As spring is officially here, there are a number of things that we can do to get our ponds ready for the coming year.

Plus, we had the whole winter to dream about what modifications we might want for our pond, and list them on our pond “to-do’ list.

What do you want to do?

Here are some suggestions that will benefit you, your fish, and the quality of your pond!

First…

Your Fish…

The fish in your pond are beginning to come out from their winter’s rest.  Please keep in mind they are coming out of dormancy, and so just starting to become active – be gentle and considerate of the actions you take now during their transitional time.

Remember that fish eat less during winter, which can make them especially vulnerable to parasites and bacterial infections. To prevent parasites from making your fish sick, you should begin to treat your pond once the water begins to warm-up.  Do it again when you are winterizing to ensure they’re parasite-free as they come out of hibernation.

Worrying about the accumulated sludge after this winter requires prudent action, as the premature use of bottom pumps, waterfalls, and other water helps, while moving the water, will seriously diminish the warm water at the bottom of your pond where your fish have been residing, forcing them to cope with immediate, colder water.  That means go easy.. easy on your fish, especially as it relates to feeding and pond cleaning.

Feeding…

Is your water temp below 55ºF?  It is wise to know the temperature of your pond; a pond water thermometer is a great investment!  If the water temperature is below 55ºF, then it is better to wait until water temperature rises and your fish become more active before you resume feeding. It may be tempting to want to feed them now, but their metabolism is just gearing up, so they will not be eating much, and providing food which goes uneaten will contribute to waste as well as creates an increase in ammonia. This is especially true in the low oxygen conditions which exist in our ponds right now.

You can begin to feed your fish once the water temperature reaches at least 55ºF and stays there or above for at least two weeks, both day and night. The metabolic rate of fish is sluggish in the early spring, so go slow on the ramp up to regular feeding, and remember that the first food you feed them must be easy to digest.

Pond & Area Cleaning…

The area around your pond…  pick up any storm or winter debris like branches and twigs; cut and remove any large tree limbs or move to an adjacent area to where you plan to submerge later.  Rake up leaves and any blown-in litter.

Cleaning…

As for cleaning, you might use a fine net skimmer to skim off any floating debris, and some very light vacuuming in any places where plant matter in your pond has died off during the winter, creating an eyesore. To maintain the water quality of your pond, simply remove decomposed plant matter as you can and temperatures permit.  Don’t worry – as we move into the warmer weather, you can be more aggressive in your clean-up efforts without having to worry about disturbing the water layers.

That brings us to…

Sludge & Muck – Yuck!  The all too familiar black sludge – if it is too thick, you best keep an eye on the creature of the black lagoon!  Seriously, though, sludge buildup indicates that the pond is out of balance.  At winter’s end, that black muck that accumulates in ponds and lakes is typically the result of the predominately anaerobic environment that is found at the bottom of most ponds, accentuated during the winter slow-down.  As most things do not decompose well in an anaerobic environment, the muck layer grows, releasing phosphorous and other nutrients which, in turn, feed green plants, algae, and pond moss.

Worrying about getting rid of the accumulated sludge after winter requires cautious action, as premature use of bottom pumps, waterfalls, and other water helps – while moving the water – will seriously diminish the warm water at the bottom of your pond where your fish have been residing, forcing them to cope with immediate, colder water.  Yes, the upper layers are beginning to warm, but care is necessary so as not to shock your fish with extreme temperature changes as a result of disturbing the layers in your water column.

There are a variety of sludge cleaners you can consider, and when doing so keep in mind that the pre-spring temperature of your pond is substantially cooler then it will be in summer, so be sure that the product you select is not just for summer use when the water is warmer.  Another successful approach is the use of pond vacs – there are effective tools for cleaning sludge and muck from the pond floor.  But remember, go cautiously this early in the season, or perhaps wait until the water is consistently warm and can handle disruption without issue to your dear fish!

Water…

This is a good time to perform water testing so you know what actions, if any, will be necessary.  As winter brings cold temperatures which slows the metabolisms of all creatures, winter lakes and ponds will have reduced rates of photosynthesis and respiration, resulting in a lowered oxygen content, a build-up of anaerobic bacteria (smells like rotten eggs), and that build-up of sludge in your pond.

If your pond needs a partial water change, this early in the season, target an 18-24% change.  If your water appears to be a tea color or darker, that is likely due to tannin released from leaves or seeds which have fallen in the water, then a greater percent water change would be needed, but wait for warmer pond temperatures to minimize the chance of shock to your fish.

Be sure to use de-chlorinated water; do not use unfiltered tap water from your hose, as chlorine is toxic to most aquatic life, and can cause irritation, burns and even death to fish. If your only source of new water is tap water, you should get a chlorine/chloramine (ammonia based) neutralizer which makes tap water safe, as tap water is usually toxic to fish with the high levels of chlorine and ammonia in it.  Tap water previously was treated simply with chlorine, but now chloramines are typically used, and unlike chlorine, chloramines do not evaporate. These treatments are good to keep our drinking water safe by getting rid of bacteria, but it does not differentiate between bad bacteria and good bacteria in your pond. You need to be sure to read the labels on the products you are considering, as with chlorine and ammonia removal agents, some compounds perform more than one action, you want to be aware of this so you do not over-apply any product.  Also, remember that many ammonia removers are acids, so repeatedly adding them will cause your pH to drop.  Carbon also can be used to bring down chlorine levels, as well as improve bacteria populations and help with sludge.

Continue with any aeration you had in place.

Filtration… very obvious and most important: make sure that your filtration system (if you use one) is hooked up and ready to go, do any necessary servicing now.  Once water temps in your pond rise to around 55-60 degrees, start your filtration.

Predators… not usually on a pond “to-do” list, but predators can sure upset the apple cart in their quest for a tasty meal!  Was your pond a popular spot for predatory pond birds last season? Or did a new family of raccoons move in lake-side? There are simple steps to address these ‘pesky’ issues before they require more aggressive measures.

  1. Get to know your local predators; if you need help, your local animal control unit should know of what animals that cause trouble in your area.
  2. Decrease the opportunities for plunder by deterring the predators that pose the greatest threat, using any combination of netting, decoys, repellents, alternate sources of food & water, pond depth changes and camouflage adjustments.

Once you have the necessary things handled, you can perhaps plan to do a little improvement!

You know how much you enjoy fishing on your pond or just relaxing near-by.  Is there a waterfall or fountain that you’d like to add to your pond?  Stock My Pond offers a sweet little fountain that will add some oxygen to your pond while making it a prettier, more relaxing place to be!  The fountain is low cost to operate and offers several different and yet unique patterns.  With only four main parts (motor, float, screen, and throat) it takes only a few minutes to assemble. It costs less than $.05 an hour to operate and offers six different spray patterns, and comes with a two-year warranty.

This fountain gives you an improvement in your fish, your pond and for you; it is sturdy, performs well, inexpensive to run, and has a good warranty.

What are you waiting for?

To order this fountain, or for more information, call Stock My Pond at (501) 676-3768.

Fishing is a Blessing!

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Fishing is a Blessing! As the end of the year draws near, it’s time to reflect on how blessed we are, and how fishing is a blessing!

During this season when we reflect on the goodness of the Lord, we can count our blessings and be sure to thank the Lord above for everything, including our home, our ponds, and lakes, and the benefit they are to our family and us.

Especially to our children.

Our children are the future of our families, and of our nation.

And while we count our blessings and reflect on this year as it is closing, we may find ourselves considering the future and what we wish for our children.

There is something we have right now that impacts our children’s positively.

Fishing is a gift that we can give to our children, and they will benefit from it their entire life.

Consider, if you will, just how blessed you are, being able to have your children fish! Seriously.. when you give it some thought, you’ll discover that with fishing, the blessings for our children are many. There is more than just what meets the eye when you watch your child reel in their first catch.

Teaching your child to fish gives them a life skill that provides food, and allows them to develop skills that build self-confidence, and improves with age. Fishing is one of the few types of nature-based recreation that scales our childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senior years.

Educating your children about this sport brings environmental awareness into focus, cultivates rational thinking and enhances decision-making abilities. And the educational efforts that you do today ensures that our recreational fishers of tomorrow understand sustainable fishing practices.

Considering that physical activity has been declining in our youth, with electronic media and other sedentary pursuits having become so consuming, fishing helps stop this trend from having its destructive effects on your family.

Studies have shown that children continue to spend less and less time engaged in physical activity outside, placing them at risk for obesity and other detrimental health effects. Promoting enjoyment of the outdoor recreation of fishing, all through your child’s life offers them the prospect of a longer, healthier life.

Being outside and fishing is good for the soul, deterring electronic media preoccupation, as well as the anti-social and withdrawn behavior that often accompanies it. It helps you by offering your children something far more valuable than social media and video games. Fishing also provides benefits to our youth suffering from behavioral and mental health issues and reduces ADHD.

Fishing also teaches patience, perseverance, and development of motor skills.

Recreation fishing blesses your children by allowing them to interact with children and adults outside of their regular circle of friends, forming new acquaintances and beginning new friendships. Continuing to fish provides experience, which in turn allows our children the opportunity to talk about and demonstrate their knowledge of the sport, further increasing their self confidence.

If you are struggling with your child’s hyperactivity issues, take heart – studies have found that hyperactive children enjoy sitting quietly by the water for long periods of time. Interest in fishing has also proven to coax withdrawn children out of their shells, where they initiate their participation in the sport!

Should you have family members with disabilities, whether children or adults, they will typically enjoy family outings which provide companionship, interest, and challenge. Fishing in itself is recreational, and the therapeutic benefits help individuals with disabilities emotionally, intellectually and physically. Fishing rods and reels can be designed for folks with limited or no movement in their hands and arms, and there are specialty shops which make equipment specifically for the disabled. There are many charitable groups which excel in helping disabled persons to the shoreline with a reel, catching smiles along with the fish!

Fishing offers any participant the ability to unwind from the stress of everyday living – we do not forget that the relaxation that fishing provides is worth more than gold. The peace that we get when we are gone fishin’ and out in nature, enjoying the beauty of the Lord’s creation, is without measure. Enjoying the quiet on the lake sure goes a long way in contributing to goodwill towards all, as fishing is enjoyable whether or not one catches any fish!

During this time of the year when we reflect on the blessings of the good Lord, there are numerous benefits of fishing for which we should be thankful for, especially having the ability to fish. If you don’t yet have your pond, now is an excellent time to consider one. It’s a gift for your children and family, the gift of fishing at home.

If you already have a pond, that is another blessing to be thankful! And it is your responsibility to care and maintain your pond to the best of your ability.

One of the responsibilities of caring for our lakes is harvesting, and this is the time to do it – once the temperature dips below 50 degrees, fish just do not eat like they regularly do, and lose weight. So harvest as needed now, as the chilly days are upon us and the temperatures are dipping! Cooking a superb fish dinner during the holidays is another treasured memory to be created.

And is it true that fish are more likely to be caught when you are wearing a Santa hat? 🙂

We wish you the enjoyment of yet a few more days of fishing this year, a lifetime of fishing with your children, and a very Merry Christmas.

Thank you for your business, and we look forward to serving you in the New Year!

And oh yes, don’t forget, after the holidays are over, de-trim your Christmas tree and take it out to your pond – Christmas trees are excellent brush fish attractors!

To read more about the benefits of youth and recreational fishing, see these sources:

ghof.org.uk

telegraph.co.uk/education/3352940/Why-its-good-to-catch-em-young.html wideopenspaces.com/health-benefits-fishing-infographic

Information about fishing for the disabled:

disabledsportsusa.org/sport/fishing

archive.disabledsportsusa.org/fishing fishingworld.com.au/news/fishing-4-therapy-achieving-amazing-things

Benefits of recreational fishing: selfgrowth.com/articles/what-are-the-benefits-of-fishing-to-your-health

dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/top-10-reasons-to-go-fishing

taskandpurpose.com/fishing-benefits-man

Oxygen Depletion

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

“All I need is the air that I breathe” may just be an old song by The Hollies, but if your fish are singing it to you, and you better listen!

We’re halfway through these blistering hot, dry days of July and August when ponds most often suffer oxygen depletion which causes fish populations to drop.

If your pond is experiencing fish die-off, you can almost bet it is from oxygen depletion, as a lack of dissolved oxygen is the most common cause of fish kills in ponds.

When trying to determine if your pond has sufficient aeration, it can be a simple as seeing your fish at the surface in the morning, gulping for air. Morning is the time when there is the lowest amount of dissolved oxygen, as photosynthesis (photo = light and synthesis = make) does not operate at night, so it will be most obvious in the morning if this condition exists. If you see your fish gasping for air, or if your fish are not consuming their pellet feed, the problem is acute and must be addressed immediately.

Gasping fish are a good indicator that oxygen is low, as oxygen is vital to fish, and integral to the ecological processes that keep water inhabitable to aquatic life – both fish and plants. And the factors that add oxygen to your pond water – wind, rain, and waves – they all help, but sometimes oxygen depletion threatens, and it is up to you to stop this thief in its tracks.

Weather is often a direct cause of depleted oxygen, but too hot of temperatures and low water levels are not the only culprits! Yes, oxygen depletion typically occurs when water levels are low, during drought conditions. But rainy and cloudy weather with reduced daylight means less photosynthesis, which means lower levels of oxygen production from plants, which in turn means less oxygen available to your fish on the following day. High winds can do it too, racing across shallow ponds, causing a mixing of the low oxygen water throughout the pond, even more toxic to your fish when dense blooms of algae are present. On the other hand, when there is a case of algae death, you’ll see a change in color from green to gray or brown, with a loss of oxidation within one to two days. As summer weather conditions considerably deviate from those beautiful, spring days with moderate temperatures where easy-going, single celled algae thrive – it’s time to put on your cape and guard your pond against the evils of oxygen depletion!

As August arrives and mid-summer thrives, water warms and so retains less oxygen than cooler water. Consider this: fish are cold-blooded, and they have a rise in metabolic rate when water temperatures rise, which in turn spurs the need for oxygen at the same time that less oxygen is available! So it is a double whammy right about now, as fish often are not getting their oxygen needs met!

This is even more likely when ponds are overstocked, that being too many pounds of fish per surface area of water. It is important to examine the ratio of pounds of fish to the available surface area of water. Knowing surface area is the key element in good pond management, affecting not only determination of adequate aeration for your fish but also impacting many other areas including fish stocking and harvest, herbicide, chemical, fertilization, and alkalinity applications. It is critical that the initial effort is made to correctly measure surface area. Should a pond be of irregular proportions, it can be plotted and broken into a variety of geometric shapes, such as circles, rectangles, triangles and ellipses, then simply apply the proper geometric formula(s) to compute surface area. You can get your formulas from most high school geometry books, or see the links below on measurement procedures. Measure out your pond en masse, or do it in pieces, by feet, then compute the surface area of your pond in acres. Tip: there are 43,560 square feet in an acre.

Once you determine your pond’s surface area, then you can use a rule of thumb that your total pounds of resident fish should not exceed 1,000 pounds per surface acre. Even close to this puts your pond in line to experience oxygen depletion. And don’t talk yourself out of this concern when you have a deep pond, as the water column may stratify, with the upper, warmer layers saturated with oxygen, and the deeper levels depleted of oxygen. This can stress fish and cause a drop in population.

Once you have a good estimate as to the surface area of your pond, you need to estimate your fish population. You know what you stocked and what you’ve taken out so far. To estimate the pounds of fish, simply catch a few fish and weigh them. Multiply your average weight by the estimated number of fish in your pond and you can now compare your pounds of finned friends to the available surface area with confidence. Alternatively, you can shoreline seine, but this is best done during June. If your resident fish population exceeds the recommended population, you have a perfect reason to go fishin’!

But before you’re sauntering off with your reel, you still need to get more oxygen into your pond. And you know, it’s not just your fish that need the oxygen, either! Oxygen is needed for aerobic digestion of algae, ammonia, and nitrates. Plus oxygen is vital in the bacterial decomposition of fish waste, debris and many types of organic matter. The whole pond ecosystem depends on oxygen. It’s time to swing into action!

Aeration is the best way to halt oxygen deprivation. To increase oxygen levels, pond water must be brought into contact with air.

If you have a motorboat, a quick and efficient fix is to back your trailer into shallow water or lodge your boat and allow the motor to run in place, thus aerating the water and saving your fish. You’re a hero!  The prop will function to aerate the water as long as it is stationary; if you are cruising around the pond, then the prop is pushing the boat, not the water, which results in substantially less oxygen absorption.

Another way to aerate is to use a pump, but remember to position the intake a good two to three feet below the surface. Alternately, you can pull water from near the surface and spray it back across the pond. There are many types of pumps and aeration systems to help you combat even the murkiest water and pond muck via submerged and surface equipment, but take care to consider the pros and cons of each approach, to see what best addresses your situation. For example, when extreme masses of anaerobic material are present, as toxic hydrogen sulfates may escape and poison your fish, you must continue with caution and knowledge to properly handle your particular situation.

Should you discover you have an emergency situation, you can put together a paddlewheel to run off the PTO of a farm tractor. The paddlewheel is used to break up the water into droplets which absorb oxygen from the air.

So the next time you hear The Hollies’ winsome tune, give a thought to your fish! Don’t wait until they’re gasping at the surface.

 

Further reading:

Summer Months Stress Fish & Water Quality

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Heat From Summer Months Stress Fish in Your Ponds

Ponds, especially small ones, are entering most stressful months of the season. Carefully monitor changes in water color or odor. Closely watch fish behavior such as gulping at the surface. Quick, corrective action could prevent harmful effects to fish.

Professor Billy J. Higginbotham and Asst. Professor Todd Sink with the Texas A&M AGRILIFE Extension Service has found small ponds intensively managed for catfish are most susceptible to die-offs. Other common causes are large quantities of vegetation, heavily fed ponds, or sudden die-off of dense phytoplankton. Here are questions they ask to help frantic pond owners:

1) When did fish start dying and how long have they been dying?

This helps determine if the incident was rapid or prolonged. Rapid fish loss typically occurs from oxygen depletion, lasts a few hours, and mortality ends. Chronic or prolonged events span days or weeks and stem from disease or parasite symptoms. Exposure to pesticides or herbicides may cause rapid or chronic mortality, depending on the dose of chemical in the water column.

2) How many fish have died and what size are they?

Loss of a single or small number of fish is not considered a die-off. Biologists define a fish-kill as mass mortality involving 10-percent or more of the entire population of a single or multiple species. It’s disappointing to lose a big bass or catfish, but some occur from natural causes or old age. This may occur during stressful times such as spawning or low oxygen levels during hot summer months. Small fish are less mobile and more susceptible to localized, rapidly changing environmental conditions. Heavy rain runoff may alter pH or cause a turnover. Although they require less oxygen, small fish are more sensitive to depletions.

Most oxygen depletion die-offs occur near sunrise

3) How many different species are dying?

If one or more species is dying, you probably are faced with a water quality problem. If only one species is affected, it may be a disease. If there is only one species in the pond and you experience a die-off, you’ll need more information for a diagnosis.

4) Have pesticides or herbicides been used or introduced into the pond?

Pasture spraying could wash-in with rain. Cattle treated with insecticides could wade into the pond. If these sources are suspected, determine if such products had been applied within 250 to 500 feet of the pond four to seven days prior to the last rain. If you recently treated a large area of aquatic vegetation, oxygen depletion from plant decomposition could be the culprit.

5) How big is the pond?

Learn the surface acreage of your pond. It’s valuable information for many management projects. Measuring tools are available on Google Earth and similar sites. The professors point out, excessive depth does not make up for a small surface area when it comes to fish production. In fact, excessive depth can cause a fish kill. Deep lakes stratify with distinct temperature zones during summer months. Warm, upper areas contain oxygen. Cold, deep areas are void of oxygen. If a rapid destratification or turnover is triggered by specific weather events or heavy, cold rain, a fish kill may occur.

6) Was there a water color change?

A change in color and oxygen depletion is common. Ponds can go from light green or clear to a brown, coffee color. Such action signifies phytoplankton loss and a corresponding drop in oxygen. This often occurs when extended periods of cloud cover prevent direct sunlight from reaching the pond.

Oxygen Depletion

Professors Higginbotham and Sink remind when a pond exceeds its carrying capacity for fish during summer months, the stage is set for a die-off. Why in summer months? Because warm water cannot hold as much oxygen as cool water. Fish require higher oxygen this time of year because their metabolism increases as water temperatures rise. Oxygen levels show lowest readings at daylight. This is the best time to check for piping or fish gulping at the surface. Here are other conditions that cause oxygen depletion:

  1. Successive, hot, still, cloudy days reduce photosynthesis and oxygen production.
  2. Overfeeding or excess fertilizing prompts nutrient decomposition.

How do you correct low oxygen?

  1. Reduce fish volume below 1,000-pounds of fish per acre.
  2. Have an emergency aeration plan. Back a boat on a trailer into the pond. Run the motor in a fixed position to circulate water and increase oxygen.
  3. Add fresh Well water, but aerate it well before it enters the pond.
  4. Circulate water with a pump. It’s important to intake water from the surface and spray outflow over the surface. Don’t draft from the bottom.
  5. Add bottom diffused aeration systems to prevent stratification.

Let’s make a plan to prevent these potential events in your pond.

Source: Bob Lusk Outdoors

Summer Temps Toll on Big Fish

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

How High Summer Temps Toll Impact Big Fish

During summer months, we hear reports of big bass dying from stress of landing and handling in warm temperatures. One lake recently had heavy weekend fishing pressure with catches to 10 pounds,10 ounces. The following day, the ranch manager found two floating carcasses. Even though turtles had consumed part of one, remains still weighed over eight pounds. The second tipped scales near seven pounds. There were no other dead fish to suggest a damaging water quality event. Years ago, I watched a companion land an eight and one-quarter pounder in August temperatures. He never removed her from the water and executed quick release. Sadly, she rolled on her side and didn’t survive extended efforts at resuscitation. At least the grand lady holds a place of honor in his den.

big bass

Cradle lunkers. Don’t hold by the jaw.

We understand your frustration. You followed a successful plan and invested five or more years growing eight to 10-pound hulks. It’s time to celebrate by catching and admiring a few. Safely savoring that moment requires a little patience this time of year. Keep in mind; eight to 10-pound bass are entering senior citizen age. The average life expectancy of a largemouth is 10-years. Those fish could be six to eight years old. Imagine yanking them from a shaded, cool 10-foot depth to a shocking near 90-degree surface temperature. That’s stress! Like leaving air-conditioned comfort and getting in a sweltering car. Some of us relate when recalling that mowing the lawn at age 65 isn’t as easy as it was at 35.

     From now through fall is a stressful time for fish. Please follow these hot weather handling tips:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Fish early morning and late afternoon to sundown. Working a topwater on a moon-lit night is exciting.
  • Land and release fish quickly. Keep them in the water while unhooking. Please don’t hold them for extended periods to photograph. A bass can live out of water about as long as we can hold our breath.
  • Soft plastic baits are popular this time of year. If one swallows the hook, cut the line and leave it. Surprisingly, body chemistry will erode the hook and cause less injury than attempted removal.
  • Don’t hold big bass horizontally by the jaw. It could break the jaw. If holding horizontally, place your hand under their stomach to support weight.

Harvested fish should be placed in a cooler with ice. They will not survive current surface water on a stringer or in a live well.

Source: Bob Lusk Outdoors

Introducing Fish To Your Pond

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

We hear this question a lot, and we should. We deliver fish to feed stores around the South. Folks want to know how to protect their investment and bring it safely back to their ponds or lakes.

How can we transport our fish? The fish truck provides containers (bags) for all fish except the 11″ channel cats, so please bring your own containers for them. Suggestions for the larger containers include trash cans or water troughs. The fish are added to a bag with water and oxygen.

How long can the fish be in the bag? No longer than 1 hour! Determine how far a drive you have before purchasing your fish. Transport the fish in a cool and shaded area of your vehicle. This is key. Many folks think they can travel longer than an hour and end up with dead fish.

Once you arrive at your pond or lake it’s time to introduce your fish their new home. Here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

    1. Introduce the fish to their new habitat as quickly as possible.  Don’t delay in getting the fish to the water.
    2. Once on site, let the fish rest while in their bags in a cool, shady area.  Be aware that the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.
    3.  Introduce your fish slowly to the pond, pouring a small amount of the pond or lake water into your open bag to even out the water temperature and acclimate your fish. Do not dump the fish from the bag into your pond or lake!  Take time to acclimate them to the temperature of your pond or lake.
    4.  After a few minutes, a few fish should swim away.  If they do, release the rest in that bag.
    5.  If the fish do not swim away, repeat the process, adding more pond/lake water to the bag to let the fish adjust to the water temperature.
    6. Floating the bags is discouraged as the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.

8 Ways to Introduce Fish to Your Pond or Lake

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Fish in bag2You’ve invested in new fish for your pond or lake!  Make sure to treat your fish with care when handling and transporting them from the hatchery or fish truck to your pond or lake.  Introducing the fish to their new habitat causes stress.  Here are ways to minimize the experience.

  • Introduce the fish to their new habitat as quickly as possible.  Don’t delay in getting the fish to the water.
  • Transport your fish in a cool and shaded area of your car.
  • Once on site, let the fish rest while in their bags in a cool, shady area.  The sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.
  • Introduce your fish slowly to the pond, pouring a small amount of the pond or lake water into your open bag to even out the water temperature and acclimate your fish.
  • Do not dump the fish from the bag into your pond or lake!  Take time to acclimate them to the temperature of your pond or lake.  
  • After a few minutes a few fish should swim away.  If they do, release the rest in that bag.  
  • If the fish do not swim away, repeat the process, adding more pond/lake water to the bag to let the fish adjust to the water temperature.
  • Floating the bags is discouraged as the sun can quickly raise the temperatures inside the bag.  Instead pour a small amount of pond or lake water into an open bag, allowing the fish to adjust to the water temperature.

fish in bag

 

 

 

 

5 Areas to Consider for the Perfect Pond

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

5 Areas to Consider for the Perfect Pond

5 Areas to Consider for the Perfect Pond

Fall is the perfect time to reflect and note how your pond performed.  When reviewing your pond management consider these 5 areas: Habitat, Food Chain, Genetics, Harvest, & dam maintenance.

Habitat

Is your water clarity 18 to 24-inches with a healthy plankton bloom or three to six feet with runaway vegetation?  Did you have adequate cover to protect bluegill recruitment for the next generation of bass forage?  Do bass have preferred habitat to forage efficiently and loaf between feeding periods?  Would you describe water quality as appealing with a green tint or unpleasant with brown tones and foul odor?  Did you have a medical physical this year?  Did you likewise submit a water sample to check the health of your pond’s environment?

 

Food Chain

How would you describe the appearance of bass?  Like footballs, or big heads with small bodies?  Have you observed bluegill in all size classes or mainly adults over four inches?  Are you pursuing continuing-ed information about benefits of supplemental forage such as tilapia?  Have you learned latest benefits of feeding fish to bolster baitfish? Did you stock a new pond with scientifically based ratios or just transplant some random fish assuming they’ll do just fine?  If one bass must eat eight to 10 pounds of food to gain “one single pound”, is your forage base strong enough to sustain healthy growth rates for a lake full of bass?

 

Genetics

Is your pond over five years old?  Have you stocked new blood lines to refresh genetics?  If the answer is no, ask us about the consequences.  Keep in mind fish are in confined areas like cattle or high fenced deer.  Without new bloodlines, the population inbreeds and dilutes genetic integrity.  Stocking new fish can restore vitality.  Success can be achieved without adding large numbers.  Stock them this fall so they’ll be acclimated and productive for next spring’s spawning cycle.

 

Harvest

Did you meet annual harvest goals?   You can follow other basic management principles to the letter, but failure to harvest will jeopardize achieving the pond’s potential. No ifs, ands, or buts!  There’s no easy makeup test if you don’t get a passing grade on this subject.  It can take years to rebalance neglected population management of any species, especially bass.

 

Dam Maintenance

Have you inspected flood control systems for rust or seepage that could lead to catastrophic damage?  Are you procrastinating removing trees sprouting on the dam?  Does the spillway need a “ladder” feature to prevent undesirable fish from migrating into your lake during high water events?  Noticed beaver burrows that could contribute future complications?

Need help or have a question? Give us a call!

 

How To Grow Big Bass

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Something magical begins when you release a three-inch largemouth bass into a lake. It’s a huge place for a small fry that’s only 90-days old. Most creatures the young bass encounters are large enough to eat it. Several years later, you revisit the tiny critter and can hardly believe your eyes–it’s a BIG BASS!

The spindly creature, once no longer than your finger, now has a bucket mouth you can stick your fist through and not touch the sides. Ironically, “it” now can eat anything in the lake. The lunker is so feisty, you must have a strong grip to hold it. After the release, you must pause five minutes to catch your breath and resume a normal heart rate. If you have never enjoyed that moment, let’s review your lake management plan. You could be missing life-long memories with action-packed angling.

Bass - five years oldBass are top-line predators and eat anything that fits in their mouth. Besides other fish, that includes crawfish, turtles, snakes, frogs, a mouse, or other prey passing through its territory at feeding time. To achieve optimal genetic potential, bass MUST have a strong food chain.

If your dream is bragging-size bass, and by the way, big bluegill, learn how to fulfill that dream. Bob Lusk Outdoors has biologists that can help develop a management strategy. They have forage management plans to help you—grow big bass.  Visit their website or give them a call at (903) 564-5372.

Source: Bob Lusk Outdoors

Evaluate & Rebuild Your Pond: 3 Steps For Pond Success

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

3 Steps for Pond Success

Do you evaluate your pond each year?  What has changed over the course of the year? Did you experience drought?  Is the vegetation changed?  Take the time to evaluate your pond and put a plan in place to rebuild.  Do you know the 3 steps for pond success? The 3 steps for success are fertilizing, stocking supplemental forage, and aggressively fulfilling harvest quotas.

Fertilization grows plankton, the first stage of a pond’s food chain.  Newly spawned fry are hatched with a yolk sac to nourish them only a few days.  When depleted, they must feed on microscopic plankton.  Without this vital nutrition, fry survival rates decline.  If present, survival rates dramatically increase.  Greater bluegill recruitment means more forage for sportfish.  Biologists estimate healthy plankton blooms can triple the productivity of a pond.  Lakes with heavy vegetation should not be fertilized.

Supplemental stocking includes threadfin shad, tilapia, and/or adult bluegill.  All are prolific spawners.  Threadfin and tilapia are stocked around April as water temps reach safe levels. Stocking rates are contingent on the lake owner’s management goals.

Achieve harvest quotas early.  Less competition means more food for remaining fish.  Remove bass 14 inches and under.  Annual harvest should be 20 pounds per surface acre.  If fishing opportunities limit meeting goals, you can expedite results with electrofishing.  Please remember, the only thing limiting your fish from reaching their potential is availability of food.  When bass populations exceed the carry capacity of a lake, they quickly damage food chains. It can take several seasons to correct.  Don’t let your fishery slip into this category.

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