Texas experienced a rather mild winter this year, and luckily for pond owners, springtime weather is here already. With average daily temperatures on the rise, the trees and flowers are starting to bloom all around, critters are coming out of their hiding places, and wildlife is kicking into high gear. Changes are happening, and your pond is no exception.
Down at the pond, fish are emerging from their winter patterns to feed, preparing for the spawning season, but what is spawning season? For each species of fish spawning season is different, so lets follow the temperature scale to learn more.
The first spawning activity that you will observe will come from crappie. They begin their spawn when the water temperature hits the mid 50s to lower 60s. Black crappie tend to spawn before white crappie, but both fall into this same temperature range. Crappie tend to spawn in groups, so if you locate one there are probably more in same area.
As the water temperature increases to the mid 60s bass will begin their spawning. Bass will also spawn in the same areas, but are a bit more isolated. Male and female couples will stick to their own nest.
Once your water creeps into the 70-degree range, the bluegill in your pond will spawn. Bluegill spawn in clusters and are very aggressive to anything that enters the area. For all three of these species, the roles of male and female are basically the same. The males are in charge of making the nest, and protecting that territory. The female shows up, drops her eggs and has little to do after that. The male will then protect the eggs, and stick with the fry until they are big enough to live on their own.
Catfish are slightly different in their spawning requirements. Their temperature range is 70-85 degrees, but the process is more complicated for them than that of crappie, bass, and bluegill. Unless your pond has large holes, rock crevasses, or overhangs, you will most likely not experience very successful catfish spawning. Catfish like to get into tight areas to spawn, often times you can find a group of them stacked into a hollow log.
With the temperatures rising, your pond is getting ready to become a thriving ecosystem. From the time your water hits the mid 50s until the mid 80s your pond is going to be littered with spawning fish and fish fry. It’s time to gear up, and get ready for the enjoyable weather, and fun days of fishing down at the pond.
Brad Metzler, President