No Rest for the Weary Pond Owner

| 12/13/2013 10:10:00 AM

pondI traveled to the little town of North, South Carolina, and turned right onto Highway 178. After crossing a tea-colored stream, I went through a gate into my friend’s property. An 18-acre lake lay about a half mile into the property and it was a mild spring day. I loaded up a Jon boat with 150 pounds of fish feed and pushed off to fill fish feeders, and to survey the lake for early weeds. The lake water was also light tea-colored; acidic, tannin-colored water is common to the central part of South Carolina. The lake was fed by a swamp to the east, separated by a beaver dam, and then the lake fed the stream, which travels to Edisto River.

The lake was completely calm, and I paddled up a channel that ran along the shore. I slowed and let boat drift to a stop. Leaning over the boat and turning it so the light was still good, I could see about 3 feet into the water with my polarized glasses. There was a Christmas tree sunken under the boat. The needles were long gone but all the small branches were still intact.  The whole tree was decorated with 1-inch fish ornaments. Young bluegill had taken up residence in this structure I installed in January.  It was a great nursery habitat. Structure refers to three-dimensional habitat for fish to enjoy in a pond or lake. This occurs naturally in the form of aquatic plants, rock outcroppings, shelves that provide rapid changes in depth, and submerged trees. Fish populations benefit from increased habitat in the form of structure.

Make Pond Fish Habitats

One of the pond management things you can do this fall to help your fish is to add three-dimensional habitat, especially if you have a bass-bluegill pond. Bass and bluegill are actually both part of the sunfish family and one of their attributes is that they like to stay near some sort of structure. It makes them comfortable. When you are trying to culture bass and bluegill in a balanced system, the bass should control the large number of small bluegill. Keeping them in close contact with one another is key. Structure does this.  It also concentrates the fish population so that you know where to go when you would like to catch a few. trees

Each year, I would cruise the neighborhoods and pick up curbside Christmas trees in January. With the trees piled high on my trailer, I looked like a Grinch that didn’t arrive on time to ruin Christmas. Using Christmas trees for structure is a common recommendation when reading pond and lake management guides. Something you learn when trying to launch them: the trees float, and it takes more weight than you think to sink them.

pond structuresThere are several tried-and-true types of structure and you can use your imagination to make more.  A good place to start is the weight: 5-gallon buckets and 20 pounds of concrete mix. Then you can add any type of structure that will make good three-dimensional habitat.

Three-Dimensional Options for Pond Habitats

• Vinyl siding that has been cut into small strips and bent in different directions

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