Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Having any luck?"

Every fisherman/woman has heard this question when someone joins them at a pond, lake, or river. Fishing is at times based on a bit of luck, but there is one major requirement that can't be overlooked. The water you are fishing in has to have fish. So what kind of fish does this pond have?

When the pond was originally built (over 20 years ago) is was stocked. I'm not certain of the exact extent of the stocking, but I'm sure it included largemouth bass, channel catfish, and some type(s) of bream. (For the sake of brevity in this blog 'bream' is used more or less as a generic term to refer to several types of freshwater game fish that are not necessarily specifically related but are similar in general terms and size. Sometimes they are called pan fish as they seldom outgrow the size of a frying pan with fish weighing over a pound not common in smaller ponds unless they are fed on a regular basis. They may include several varieties such as bluegill, perch, or other sunfish. I also include crappie. If I am referring to a specific variety I will try to use the specific name.)

And, oh yeah, a few sterile grass carp were added to keep the growth of aquatic grass at some reasonable level. More on them later.

I'm not aware of any additional game fish stockings over the past few years until this spring.

Over the years the quality of the fishing experience seems to have gone through cycles. It could be that the mix of fish populations had gone out of balance at times. Or perhaps the water quality had cycled from good to bad and back again.

Over the past 2-3 years it seemed as though the fishing was off a bit. There appeared to be an abundance of smaller bass (3/4 to 1 pound) but fewer bream of different varieties. And, very few catfish were taken.

Also, it seemed that the under-water grass was more extensive. For some time the pond had two rather larger grass carp from the original stocking, but suddenly we would only see one. Last year 3 young grass carp were added to help control the grass.

Since the fishing was a bit below par last year GG decided to try to boost the fish populations a bit and this spring we added a few bream and catfish. These were added around the end of March. Of course it will be some time before we may see the results of the stocking but, hopefully, it will improve the fishing within the next year or two. I'm really looking forward to catching a few more catfish.

Already this year we are seeing an improvement in the amount and size of bream caught. This isn't a result of the stocking, of course, as those fish that survived have not had time to grow significantly. We can also see what appears to be more active bream and we have been feeding them daily so we have hopes that the fishing will be good this year.

As for the bass, there are plenty of them as always. You can normally see some of the smaller ones (3/4 to 1 pound) at various points around the lake. One day a few weeks ago I counted 25 bass from standing in one place. The were all hovering around the sides waiting for a quick meal.

A lot of the bass fishing in the pond is by different individuals who come over for a few minutes of relaxation or fun in the late afternoon and early evening. Since they are only going to catch 2-3 at the most they seldom keep the fish and will return them to the pond. This is just a guess, but I think perhaps the pond has an overabundance of these smaller predators and they consume an undue amount of the smaller feeder fish. This competition for food probably keeps many of the mature bass from growing significantly. We would probably benefit from a concerted effort to remove some of these smaller bass from the food chain and will likely do something about that in the near future. There are some larger bass in the pond, but we seldom see any caught which are over 2 1/2 - 3 pounds. Still, that's a nice size for such a small pond. And of course we all expect to be the one who catches that 'big one' which has been hiding out in the deeper water for years.

I'll try to round up some older pics of fish caught in the pond and include them in future posts.

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Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.