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Maximizing Pond Stockings with Electrofishing

By Samuel Scott

Typically speaking, when we stock a pond or lake, it is because the owner has a specific goal in mind. That might be raising trophy-class Bass or catfish, or maybe it is ensuring there is always something biting so your friends and family have good fishing experiences. 

An electrofishing survey is a great way to determine if you need to stock more fish in your pond or not and, if you do need a supplemental fish stocking, decide which species to stock. Pond King collects data on all the fish we capture during any given electrofishing survey, recording their respective lengths and weights. Based on that data, we can then recommend which species and sizes you should use to stock your pond to achieve your fishery goals.

Analyzing Baitfish Data

Bluegill-in-livewellKnowing the baitfish populations in your pond is a vital piece of information for obvious reasons. Baitfish are your predator's primary source of food, and if you do not have a sustainable source of forage, then your gamefish will also begin to struggle in several different ways. Your predators will become skinny and underweight just because there is not enough food for them to eat. 

Whenever there is a limited forage supply, your predators have increased competition among individuals for their food. So, not only is there less forage resources available, they are having to work harder to capture and consume their prey. Additionally, whenever your predators have a limited supply of forage, their fry will become another source of forage. This drastically decreases the recruitment rates of your predator species. When we conduct an electrofishing survey, we consider all these factors as write our recommendations.

The primary source of forage we analyze during an electrofishing survey is Bluegill, specifically those in the 3-5 inch range. Bluegill in this size class are still small enough that most of your Bass will be able to eat them and big enough that a Bass can make a good meal out of eating just a few of them at a time. When stocking Bluegill, you should be sure to introduce adequate densities to survive initial predation and grow to a broodstock size. These broodstock fish will reproduce and keep their population numbers up enough that you are not having to constantly supplementally stock bluegill into your pond. By conducting our survey, we can recommend what size and how many Bluegill and other forage species, such as golden shiners, you should stock based on the numbers that we see and your Bass' condition, and your pond's size. 

Analyzing Gamefish Data

electrofishing-for-gamefish-1Many of our customers choose to perform an electrofishing survey on their property because they are worried most about the condition of their gamefish. They've either noticed a decrease in their fishing success or that their gamefish, such as Bass, are skinny or are of a very similar size. Whenever we conduct a survey, we collect all the gamefish we can and record their lengths and weights to assess their relative weights. The relative weight of a fish is a crucial piece of information that shows the condition of your gamefish. Once we have assessed the overall health of your gamefish, we'll be able to make recommendations appropriate to your goals. For example; say that during the survey we notice that your Bass are generally skinny, with low relative weights, and that you have a low number of baitfish. Then, based of this information, we'll likely recommend stocking more forage, such as Bluegill and an annual harvest of predators to reduce the amount of competition between individuals. Adding more forage fish to your pond will increase the supply of calories and the reduced competition for those calories will improve the efficiency and growth rates of your gamefish.

However, suppose we note that your Bass have low relative weights and are all of a similar size. This situation typically suggests either a overpopulated size class or, unfortunately, a stunted population. Determining the difference between these situations is based off population densities and relative weight conditions of predators both above and below this size range. In both of these situations we will typically recommend an increased harvest of predators in the targeted size range, bringing the population density back to a healthy distribution. After the predator population has been corrected, additional forage species can then be restocked to ensure there is adequate forage availability for the remaining population.

Whether you are concerned about your Bass population or just want to see what is in your pond, an electrofishing survey is a great way to see what condition your pond is in and what kind of stocking you need to do next. By having us here at Pond King conduct a survey, we can help you set up a management plan to help you reach your fishery goals when it comes to your pond. 

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a survey,  give us a call at 940-668-2573, or you can email me at sam@pondking.com

We'll see y'all down at the pond. 

Tags: Fish and Fishing, Pond Management

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