While determining the appropriate management plan for any pond or lake is driven by several physical factors, including size, profile and location, your goals for that body of water also dramatically influence how you'll want to manage it.
A Pond for Every Purpose
Everyone’s opinion of the purpose or usefulness of a pond can vary from one extreme to the other. With these varying opinions, come different management strategies to fulfill the goals in which they are associated. Some of these include very little effort when it comes following through with your plan, while others may require seasonal, or even monthly, maintenance to ensure the desired goal is reached.
Managing a Multi-Purpose Tank
As I said, some management plans are very simple. For example, if that pond out back is used primarily for a water source for your livestock, your management efforts are as simple as ensuring it doesn’t become overgrown with vegetation. This will ensure there is always a clean area for your livestock to access water. Going one step further in this hypothetical planning, say you occasionally want to fish that same stock pond. This adds another aspect to your management plan. On something that you will only occasionally fish, I would recommend a low maintenance stocking option of Catfish, Hybrid Bluegill and Fathead Minnows. All of these species have a low reproductive rate or are easily predated upon, helping to prevent the chance of the populations getting out of hand. As you pull fish out, you can supplement both the forage and predator species with an annual to bi-annual stocking event, depending on the harvest/ fishing pressure.
Creating an Aquatic Retreat
Maybe the goals for your pond have nothing to do with fishing. You strictly want an aesthetically appealing backyard pond or a nice swimming hole. The basics of accomplishing this goal would be stocking Triploid Grass Carp and supplemental treatments of aquatic vegetation with herbicides that are rated for aquatic use to help control unwanted vegetation. The stocking densities on Grass Carp are relatively low so there is a very good chance that these fish will not bother you when enjoying your pond. With the increased time spent in and around your pond comes the need to control unwanted and nuisance pests, such as mosquitoes, snakes, raccoons, etc. Keeping the pond areas clean and manicured will take weekly to bi-weekly efforts. This increased activity and human presence will help to keep away most terrestrial pests. Keeping all areas of your pond manicured will help to reduce areas of cover and food sources that initially brings these unwanted creatures there in the first place. If you find that you have a mosquito problem, then the additional stocking of Bluegill and Fathead Minnows will help to consume their larvae that hatch out in the pond.
Fish-specific Management Plans
As we start addressing goals that are primarily fishing-related, more of your management becomes focused on the health and population densities of your fish. Are you looking to raise trophy fish or have an enjoyable pond that produces a high frequency of catches? The answer to this question determines not only your harvest regime, but also the intensity of your other management practices as well. Vegetation management begins to turn from a completely clean pond, with plenty of fishable areas, to managed portions of vegetation to provide habitat for both juvenile fish to evade predation as well as ambush points for apex predators to maximize energy conservation. You begin to incorporate a regime of surveys to monitor both your forage populations and the recruitment of your predator species. Installation and placement of habitat starts to come into the picture, yet again to provide refuge as well as ambush points for your larger predators. The addition of extra resources, whether that be fertilizer or floating fish feed, will also benefit the food chain starting with the smallest of your fish species.
Get the Most from Your Pond Management
As you can see, before you can ever truly manage your pond effectively, you first have to ask yourself “what do I want from this pond?” If you have any other questions on creating a management plan for your pond or need help getting the most out of your management efforts, feel free to contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, check out Pond King's DIY Pond Management App for iPhones.
See y’all down at the pond.