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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

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

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

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?
Kyle – Portland, ME

The fish in your farm pond or lake will definitely use weeds as a source of food and shelter but providing additional habitat is key for pond owners looking for a balanced fish population with large game fish.

Using pond weeds as a source of habitat for your fish population is an at times be a double edged sword to pond owners. While your fish will have somewhere to eat, hide and spawn you may not exactly enjoy seeing weeds taking over and greening up your pond. Snagged fishing hooks, expensive chemical treatments and a downright ugly pond can ruin any pond owner or fishermen’s day.

Porcupine® Fish Attractors are constantly growing in popularity as they provide excellent structure for your fish population without the headaches caused by an abundance of aquatic weeds. Unlike pine trees and pallets these Fish Attractors will not bio-degrade or promote algae and weed growth. The PVC spines are easy to fish within and do not snag lures or tangle fishing line. While they are essentially a simple concept these plastic spheres go a long way in maintaining a healthy stock of fish. Simply use PVC Primer and Glue to secure ½” PVC pipe within the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres and you have an instant fish habitat. The Fish Attractor structures sink to the bottom of your pond on their own but can be secured to weights using the pre-drilled hole in each plastic sphere for areas with wake or strong currents. When placed in small groups the fish attractor spheres create hiding places for both large and small game fish. Smaller fish can maneuver closer to the center of each sphere while larger fish can utilize the outer portions. Minnows and fry hide within the hollow interior of the PVC tubes. Providing an adequate amount of fish habitat gives your smaller species an opportunity to grow and reproduce.

If an unbalanced fish population is a concern click over to our Pond Stocking Blog for some tips on what to look for when stocking your pond and how to select the right types of fish for your pond. You can also read more on natural fish habitats versus their man-made counterparts another of our Fish Habitat Blogs.

Pond Talk: Have you tried the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres? What do you use to create fish habitat?

Fish Attractor

How Can I Create a Fish Habitat Without Overtaking My Pond With Weeds? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Porcupine Fish Attractor
How Can I Create Fish Habitat Without Overtaking My Pond With Weeds? Tyler – Elmo, UT

There’s No Place Like Home

Your fish require adequate habitat to live, reproduce, and grow but who’s really keen on letting weeds overtake their entire pond to aid the cause. Fortunately there are some tricks to help control the natural habitat in your pond and even a few alternatives that can work just as effectively.

Most of us can agree that having a bit of plant life in our ponds is a good thing, but at what point does it get out of hand and become a nuisance? Aquatic Plants help reduce your ponds sun exposure and nutrient load which naturally encourages a cleaner pond with less algae blooms. Lillies can add some color to your pond while cattails will provide a natural wall around areas of your yard giving you a little extra privacy. When aquatic plants are appropriately implemented  they are both functional and attractive. The key to keeping your plants in check is by giving them boundaries. Mark the areas of your pond that you feel are best suited for aquatic plants, away from your beach area and dock, this way you will have a visual reference when checking if the plants are trying to spread out of control. You can then remove the plants that grow outside their appropriate areas with Pond Tools or Aquatic Herbicide when necessary.

For those of you with no interest in flexing their green thumbs, Fish Attactors may be the perfect habitat for your pond. These plastic spheres accept 1/2″ PVC pipe which you cut to a length of your choosing. The PVC pipes form a pattern that provides shelter for smaller fish while keeping larger predators at bay. The hollow ends of the PVC pipe also provide an excellent place for minnows to spawn. If you like to fish in your pond, these attractors have a huge advantage over natural habitat as they do not hang up your lure. Man made habitat like the fish attractor won’t contaminate your pond or bio-degrade so you don’t have to replace your habitat each season.

It is not uncommon for people to sink pine trees, pallets, cinder blocks, bricks, and other miscellanous items in their pond. These things will provide coverage to your fish but they may also have adverse effects on your water quality as well. Items that bio-degrade in your pond will add to your nutrient load, so if your are considering sinking a tree or some wood skids in your pond make sure you are compensating with additional PondClear™ or MuckAway™ to keep nutrients at bay. Also if you swim in your pond, keep in mind that while some products are degradeable they may be held together with nails or staples. Before adding objects into your pond make sure they are clean and they do not contain any contaminates that will pollute the water. Plastic containers, for example, may provide shelter to your finned friends but what were they previously holding? Oily residues or trace chemicals left that remain on these products can be harmful to your ponds ecosystem so use caution before you sink them in the water.

Advanced planning and considerations will make all of the difference in keeping your pond and its inhabitants happy and healthy. Choosing the habitats that work best in your unique scenario and implementing them correctly will ensure your pond is full of life for years to come.

POND TALK: What types of fish habitat do you use in your pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractor, Pack of 3 Spheres

Building Fish Habitat for Ponds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Porcupine Fish Attractor Fish Habitat.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What types of things can you put in your pond to create more fish habitats for a better population of fish? – Jacob of Texas

A: Fish habitats offer more than just a cozy home for schools of bass in your pond or lake. They also create an ideal spawning habitat, a spot of refuge and shade for young fry, a safe haven from swooping predators, and a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots.

Though fish habitats range from inexpensive (or free!) items laying around the yard to high-tech store-bought devices, here are just a few artificial and natural underwater structures you can use:

Artificial Reefs: Artificial habitats have been shown to attract just as much plankton and provide just as much protection from prey as evergreen alternatives. Some come manufactured and ready to install, like the Porcupine® Fish Attractor. Others, like bundled pipes, can be put together yourself by bundling lengths of 10- to 12-inch pipe (PVC, clay or concrete) with or without one end plugged, anchoring with cinder block and submerging. You could also drop a barrel and turn it on its side. Regardless of your artificial reef type, simply place them in lines extending out from the shore in depths of 6 to 25 feet; the steeper the slope, the less structure is needed.

Boulder Clusters and Rock Piles: Piles of boulders or concrete blocks placed individually or in clusters can attract a variety of fish, not to mention providing a healthy medium for beneficial bacteria and tasty string algae to flourish. Use large boulders (more than 2 feet in diameter) and place them away from the shoreline. Boulders can be useful if you have small streams or rivers leading to your lake or pond, too, as they can break fast-moving currents and provide a resting place for fish.

Root Wads, Brush Bundles and Submerged Logs: Stumps, lengthwise-sawed logs, root wads, brush bundles — and even last year’s Christmas tree — can provide important habitat. Simply gather the materials, attach a weight (like a cinder block), and sink them in the shallow waters of streams or in the near-shore areas of lakes and ponds. Create three or four groups of these bundles per acre, and place them in 6 to 10 feet of water, no farther than 30 feet from shore. Keep in mind that these “natural” habitats will introduce nutrients to the lake and cause unsightly algae blooms, which can be controlled using Algae Defense®.

POND TALK: What do you use to create fish habitats in your pond or lake?

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