With expert advice from those who restored Richmond Mill Lake, these fishing pond management tips will give you the steps you need to successfully create a fishing heaven.
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1. Develop a plan outlining what you hope to accomplish, including renovations and construction on the existing body of water and the types of fish you hope to catch.
2. Meet with a professional fisheries biologist and share your goals. Discuss the expertise, time requirements and financing necessary to achieve your objectives. Then set your project in motion.
3. Sample the pond’s fish to determine the status of the fishery, including numbers and sizes of gamefish and forage fish. This is usually done by fishing, seining and electrofishing, some of which may have to be done by a professional.
4. Following sampling, discuss with a biologist ways for achieving a properly balanced fish population. If roughfish such as carp are overabundant, for example, the pond may need to be “killed out.” If too many small fish are present, you may need to keep all you catch for a while. If there aren’t enough food fish for larger fish, you may have to stock bluegills or threadfin shad.
5. Evaluate the water chemistry to determine pH, alkalinity and hardness, then get professional help to interpret the results and make needed changes. Healthy water is a prerequisite for healthy fish populations.
6. Evaluate available fish habitat. Different species and age classes of fish require different types of habitat to thrive. Follow a biologist’s recommendations for providing ideal cover and structure.
7. Get professional advice on stocking the types of fish you want to rear. If you don’t stock at proper rates, fish could get overpopulated and stunted, or you may not have enough forage fish to keep game fish well fed and healthy.
8. If you want big fish, consider implementing a fish-feeding program. If you want big catfish, you should feed a grain-based fish food. If you want big bluegills or bass, you should feed a fish-meal-based food.
9. Start catching fish, and keep records of what you catch. Not harvesting fish results in serious consequences such as fish kills, stunted fish, fish that won’t grow and loss of valuable time to get your target fish to that ultimate size you expect.
10. Be ready for what nature throws at you. Floods and droughts are game changers.
This article was originally published in the NEW PIONEER ™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.