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When should I stock my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When should I stock my pond?

Q: When should I stock my pond?

Floyd – Nevada, CA

A: Ahhh … there’s nothing quite like fishing for bass, perch or bluegill from your own private pond or lake. Whether you’re stocking a new pond, replenishing an existing pond after this year’s harsh winter or adding to an already-established population, here’s what you need to know about when and how to best do it.

  • Spring Stocking: Spring is the ideal time to stock your pond with fish. Temperatures are mild and oxygen levels are rising, so the stress factors affecting your fish will be at their lowest. Once acclimated to your pond, they’ll be primed to flourish. Fish can be added in the summer, but they’ll need a little more time to adjust.
  • Remove the Competition: Before you stock your pond or lake with desirable game fish, you’ll need to remove any unwanted wild fish. They’ll negatively impact your new fish population by competing for food and habitat—or they may eat your new fish. Trap them with our Tomahawk Live Trap, which will enable you to relocate them.
  • Happy Habitat: Make a home-sweet-home for your new fish by creating a top-notch habitat for the smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses, felled trees and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover, but a specially designed environment, like our Procupine® Fish Attractor Spheres, can improve on what’s already there. Just add some ½-inch sections of PVC pipe and the fish will be ready to move in.
  • Healthy Population: Keeping a healthy underwater ecosystem means creating a balanced fish population. We advise sticking to a ratio of three prey fish (like sunfish, bluegill or perch) to one predator fish (like bass) when choosing species. The number of fish you add to your population will ultimately depend on the surface area of your lake or pond. To help you calculate what’s best for your situation, here are some examples of stocking rates.
  • Fatten them Up: With your brood settled in, you want make sure they’re getting enough grub to thrive. A game fish food, like our Game Fish Grower Food, is a great way to provide the fish with protein and nutrients, bolster their immune systems, and grow healthy game fish. Plus, it’s a floating pellet—so you can enjoy watching them as they come to the surface and eat.

Spring stocking time is here! To find ready-to-stock game fish in your area, visit your local fishery. Happy fishing!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite game fish to keep in your lake or pond?

The Pond Guy(r) Promote Fish Growth This Season - The Pond Guy(r) Game Fish Grower

I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish?

Q: I thought fish were dormant during the winter. So why do people ice fish?

Keith – Commerce, MI

A: Not all fish go dormant in the winter. Some fish species, like trout, bluegill, perch and crappies, will happily bite despite the ice! There’s no reason to limit yourself to open-water fishing. With some gear and some know-how, you can sport fish or catch your dinner all year-long.

THE GEAR

Whether you plan to cast a line your own ice-covered lake or angle in a favorite fishing spot in your area, you will need some basic equipment. Here’s a quick list of expert-recommended must-have items:

  • Clothing: Water- and wind-resistant clothing is a necessity on the ice—particularly if you’re fishing in an area with biting winds and bitter cold. Make sure you have a warm hat, like a wool beanie, to cover your noggin, along with a warm parka with a hood. Dress in several thin layers, wear gloves, pull on some insulated rubber boots, and consider wearing some ice cleats to safely walk on the slippery stuff.
  • Shelter/Windbreak: In addition to wearing the right type of clothing, a shelter or windbreak will keep those cold winds at bay. It doesn’t have to be complicated: a frame with plastic, canvas or cardboard will do just fine. But there are some pretty upscale options for those who want to ice fish in style (while watching the big game on satellite TV!).
  • Hole-Drilling Tools: To get to the fish, you need a way to plow through the ice. Tools like a spud bar, or a pipe or a pole with a blade will allow you to cut through a 1-foot-thick sheet of ice. If you’re dealing with a thicker layer, consider investing in a 8-inch hand-driven or power auger with a spiral or spoon blade. It’ll slice through the ice like butter.
  • Tackle and Bait: Of course, you’ll also need tackle and bait. The kind of fishing equipment you use will depend on the type of fish you’re hoping to hook. Choose accordingly.

THE KNOW-HOW

With all your gear ready, the next step is to find the fish! As any angler will attest, this is an art in and of itself, particularly if you’ve never fished a particular lake before. A hydrographic map and portable depth finder can help you find fishes’ preferred hiding spots, and a fish finder or underwater camera can help you see them swimming about. So many gadgets, so little time …

If you plan to ice fish your own pond or lake, figure out where the game likes to congregate and plan to cast your line there. If you don’t have an established habitat yet, create one before the ice covers your pond by installing some Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. When these 6-inch-diameter spheres are outfitted with 26 individual ½-inch PVC pipes, they create 5½ feet of coverage for fish to hide within—and a spot where you can successfully get a bite.

SAFETY TIPS

Safety is critical when ice fishing. As fun and relaxing as the sport may be, it can be dangerous when these basic safety tips aren’t followed:

  1. Ensure the ice is at least 3 to 6 inches thick to walk on, at least 7 inches thick to drive on with a car, and 10 inches thick to drive on with a truck. The thicker, the better!
  2. Avoid areas of cracked ice and listen carefully for loud booms or cracking sounds, which could indicate the ice is shifting.
  3. Never fish alone.
  4. If you bring pets or children with you, supervise them at all times and keep your dog on a leash.
  5. Have safety equipment, like a Life Ring or life vest, rope, blankets and a first aid kit, on hand in case of emergency.
  6. When you’re finished, mark or cover your hole with a branch to prevent anyone from stepping into your hole.

Pond Talk: If you ice fish, what’s your favorite part of the hobby?

Create a Winter Habitat for Game Fish - Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres

My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Q: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Dennis – Rock Island, IL

A: A balanced fish population in your pond is key for a healthy, thriving ecosystem. The best way to start figuring out your fish population is to know what you already have in your pond.

Start by sampling the population you already have by using a fish trap, or fishing out a sample population of fish and inspecting them for size and type.

Next, figure what might be needed to keep the population in check if something is out of balance. When sampling, if you notice you are only pulling out prey fish such as bluegill or perch, then your pond is either on the verge or already overpopulated with prey fish. To keep them in check, either fish out the prey fish or add more predators such as bass. Conversely, if you are only pulling out small bass, then your pond is in need of stocking prey fish.

If your pond is balanced, you should notice a population of fish relatively the same size, and the ideal ratio of about three prey fish to one predator fish.

When introducing the right balance, be sure there is a safe habitat for the fish, especially if you are introducing small fish with an already present population of larger fish. The Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres are perfect for this. Release feeder minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and introduce new, small fish at the other end or near a habitat so they have a chance to hide in the pond. Feeder minnows should be stocked every season as they provide good stock food for larger fish, and they reproduce quickly to maintain a living food source.

Pond Talk: How often do you check your predator:prey ratio in your pond?

Provide Refuge And Attract Fish - Porcupine Fish Attractors Spheres

I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond?

Q: I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond?

Peter – Cedar Rapids, IA

A: Great question! Sure, after the holidays have come and gone, it makes complete sense to use your dried-up Christmas tree as a fish habitat. You’re benefitting the environment by repurposing the tree rather than sending it to the dump, and you’re saving money by providing your fish a free all-natural habitat.

Plus, your finned friends will love it. Though they probably won’t pile presents under a submerged Christmas tree, your fish can use it as a cozy place to hide from predators and a safe and effective spawning zone.

There are some drawbacks, however, to tossing a spent holiday tree in your lake or pond.

Because it is an organic object, a tree’s trunk, limbs and needles will break down and decompose over a long period of time. This all-natural process will contribute to the nutrient load in your lake’s water—and that means an increase in algae and weed growth.

Not only that, but the tree’s tight interwoven branches make a great hiding place from your fish hook, which means you’ll have a harder time catching them for dinner!

So rather than throw your Christmas tree into your lake or pond, you should use it as firewood to fuel a lakeside bonfire instead. And if you really want to give your fish a new habitat for Christmas, invest in one that befits the fish while keeping the pond clean, such as the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. When you outfit these 6-inch-diameter units with 26 lengths of ½-inch PVC pipe, they become ideal habitats that are effective without impeding fish catches or adding algae-loving nutrients to your water.

Pond Talk: What do you typically do with your Christmas tree after the holidays?

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres - Provide Refuge & Attract Fish

How Can I Keep My Pond & Fish Healthy With All Of This Hot Weather? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I keep my pond & fish healthy with all of this hot weather?

Cheryl – Cheshire, OH

A: If you’re feeling the heat, there’s a good chance the game fish in your pond are feeling it, too. Not only will they sense the temperature increase in the water, but they’ll also be affected by a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen in their environment.

So what can you do to keep the fish in your lake or pond cool and comfortable? Check out these four expert-recommended tips:

1. Provide a Cool Habitat: Like humans and other land-dwellers, fish like a place to hide to get out of the sun. They’ll slip under the shade of plants, swim inside logs and take advantage of spots like the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres, which encourage plant growth and give them a place to feel safe, shaded and protected.

2. Keep the Water Moving: When the water moves and circulates with an aeration system like an Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System or an above-surface fountain like a Kasco Decorative Fountain, it allows for greater gas exchange at the water’s surface, expelling dangerous ammonia and taking in healthy oxygen. This provides more “breathable” space for your fish to swim deeper in the pond – where it’s cooler.

3. Rake Out Dead Debris: To cut back on the dangerous gasses being produced in your lake or pond, remove dead debris and decomposing plant matter with a pond cutter and rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake & Weed Cutter Combo. Less debris in your lake means less gas is being produced.

4. Be Cautious of Water Treatments: Dead or dying organic materials can reduce oxygen levels quickly, so be cautious when using algaecides or herbicides to treat algae and other weeds. Rather than dosing your entire pond or lake, treat one section at a time, waiting a week or two before treating another area. This allows the fish to remain in the unaffected areas.

With a little planning and a some regular maintenance, you can keep your recreational pond or lake healthy no matter the temperatures. Your fish will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep cool during these scorching heat waves?

Kasco Fountains - Add Tranquility To Your Pond

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others?

Are Some Fish Species More Difficult To Keep In Your Pond Than Others?

Steve - Delaware, OH

Whether you are an avid fisherman, fish grower or a regular homeowner with a pond, many questions exist in regards to common fish like walleye, tilapia and trout. Depending on your location and pond type, these facts will help everyone get on the same page.

Walleye – Typically raised by avid fisherman and fish growers. They are a great game-fish and are highly palatable. Walleye usually reach an average length of 14 inches and are sensitive to light so they require deeper ponds with murky water or lots of shade. A water temperature of 65-75 degrees is preferabl. A deep water aeration unit helps oxygenate deeper ponds for walleye.

Tilapia – Very popular among fish growers all over the world and are known for their taste and nutritious value. They are generally difficult for homeowners to keep because they tend to dig up the bottom areas of ponds, fight with other fish and also require warmer temperatures to thrive – usually between 75-85 degrees. Tilapia are a fast growing fish, but temperatures below 68 degrees drastically slow their reproduction.

Trout – Trout are popular among anglers and put up a great fight. They are also common among fish growers, but not as popular as tilapia due to their somewhat boney flesh. They prefer clear, cool waters of 50-60 degrees that are highly oxygenated.

Airmax® Deep Water Aeration Systems

How Do I Balance My Fish Population? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

How Do I Balance My Fish Population?

Diana - Aurora, OR

A balanced fish population is key for creating a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Getting a handle on your current pond inhabitants is a great 1st step to achieving balance.

Start by sampling the current fish population using a fish live trap or fishing pole to catch and record the number, size & species of fish in your pond. You may notice, for example, that you are catching a large number of small predator fish like bass but very few prey fish like bluegill, perch or sunfish. This could signal an unbalanced ratio of predator fish to prey fish.

After analyzing your catch, determine the types of fish that are needed to rebalance the population. The ideal stocking ratio is 3 prey fish to each predator. If you are experiencing an abundance of small predators then stock up on prey fish or vice versa if you are catching an excessive amount of small prey fish. As your pond begins to balance you should notice an overall increase in the size and health of your fish along with an even yield of both predators & prey when trapping or fishing.

It is important to provide adequate habitat for young fish to develop and grow before being consumed by larger established fish populations. Fish Attractor Spheres are an ideal addition to any pond with fish. Smaller fish can hide in the narrower spaces closer to the sphere, large fish can navigate only the outermost regions of the attractor and minnows can hide within the open holes at the end of each pvc “arm”.

When adding your new fish to the pond, try to introduce feeder minnows at one side to preoccupy predator fish while your new fish are being added at the other end of the pond. This will give them more time to acclimate to the pond and find a place to hide. Feeder minnows can be added each season as they reproduce quickly and provide a naturally replenishing food source for your large fish.

Tomahawk Live Traps

What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond? What Is A Hybrid Bluegill? Should I Put Them In My Pond?

Richard - Sheridan, IL

Stocking up on fish for your pond can be fun and exciting, but if you’re thinking of adding bluegill, knowing some of the key differences between hybrid and regular bluegill will help you maintain a balanced pond.

Regular bluegill can grow to be anywhere between six and ten inches, and are olive green with an orange underbelly. They have uniform blue-black markings on the gills and fins, hence the name bluegill. The issue with regular bluegill is they reproduce quickly and can take over a pond very fast if there is not a suitable predator fish population keeping them in check. We recommend stocking your pond with hybrid bluegill to help prevent overpopulation.

Hybrid bluegill are a cross between male bluegill and female sunfish, which result in an 80%-90% of the population being reproduced male. This slows down fast reproduction by keeping the female population to a minimum. Do to their hybrid nature, they can also be slightly larger and have a bit more coloration to them than regular bluegill.

Whenever stocking any type of bluegill, keeping the population in check is key. To do this you must have the correct ratio of predator fish such as bass or walleye. We recommend a 3 to 1 ratio between prey and predator. This means for every 3 prey, you need one predator. For example, if you stock 150 bluegill you will want approximately 50 bass.

When stocking your pond with bluegill, use hybrid bluegill. They are still great for fishing and with these fish attractors, you’ll have plenty of action!

POND TALK: Have you ever had an overpopulation of bluegill in your pond? What did you do to keep the population in check?

Tomahawk Live Traps - Fish Trap

Should I put catfish in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Should I put catfish in my pond?

Should I put catfish in my pond?
Steven – Middlebrook, VA

Catfish are some of the most diverse fish on the planet, both in behavior and appearance, and inhabit just about every continent except Antarctica. They live in shallow, freshwater environments, which can make them ideal for pond life here in North America. We generally only recommend channel catfish for ponds since they are the most common, but it will largely depend on your pond type and temperature. Catfish generally prefer warmer water (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit) with little to no currents, and since they are bottom feeders, they are drawn to darker areas.

They are also known to make for good fishing, and in warm environments they can be easy to farm and/or eat, and are very tasty if cooked properly. Fisherman and pond owners alike can use these Porcupine Fish Attractors to help improve fishing conditions and to provide an adequate habitat for Catfish to spawn and grow. In addition we also recommend using this Game Grower Fish Food to guarantee your fish have food and to increase their overall size.

Catfish have little effect on the predator-prey relationship in freshwater environments comparative to predators like bass or prey like bluegills. They also pose no threat to humans, unless you’re planning on doing any swimming in eastern Europe, where there have been rare instances of large catfish (the 6 foot, 200 pound kind) attacking humans. Their only relative drawback is that they tend to kick up a lot of bottom debris, which can lead to cloudy, murky pond water.

In the end, putting catfish in your pond comes down to personal preference, rather than something that should or should not be done. They are well suited for pond life and will have little (if any) negative impact on the ecosystem already in place. It also doesn’t hurt that they can be pretty good to eat and easy to farm.

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?
Stephanie – Harpursville, NY

Fish are survivors. And when the water starts getting cold, they head for deeper waters, where the chilling effects of winter air are less pronounced. Provided there’s adequate aeration, your fish will likely linger at the bottom throughout the colder months. As a result, they’ll be much less visible – but the odds are extremely good they’re doing just fine.

In order to ensure there’s sufficient oxygen for the winter, some people opt to keep their aeration systems active all year ‘round. At the very least, though, it’s important to maintain a vent hole when – or if – your pond ices over. The vent hole allows harmful decomposition gases to escape, allowing fish to winter safely. And because their metabolism slows during the winter months, a properly vented pond will likely have sufficient oxygen to ensure the survival of your fish until springtime.

Fish, it turns out, are extremely resilient. After wintering in the lower reaches of your pond, your fish will gradually return to the upper levels once water temperatures start to rise. In general, it’s probably a good sign when fish become less visible. If they’re struggling, it’s far more likely you’d see them at the edges of your pond. So while you might miss them, your invisible fish are probably doing just fine.

Pond Talk: Have you noticed less fish movement in your pond recently?

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