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Fisheries Management

Fisheries Management

Imagine yourself after a long day of work and all you want to do is relax on the edge of your pond and take in the symphonic sounds of Mother Nature. Along with you are your kids or grandkids who want to cast a line and reel in a fish that will be on the top of the families story-telling list. After fishing for an hour or two, you realize that your loved ones can’t seem to get a bite. Years back you were able to hook into a fish without a problem; what happened?

Maybe you’re a serious angler who loves to fish for that trophy bass. Just as the sun sets, you head to your favorite spot on your property, your pond. You grab your favorite rubber frog and cast it along the shore. Not a moment later and you have strike after strike. Catching bass after bass is fun, but you scratch your chin, wondering where that 8-pound lunker is hiding. Does your pond have trophy bass in it? You don’t have a problem catching those 10-12 inchers, but you can’t seem to find what you’re truly after.

These scenarios along with many others often occur more times than not. But how come? Where do you begin? Many pond owners overlook the idea of managing their pond and assume that everything will always be in order. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Over time, the ecology of your pond may be changing, habitat may be dwindling, water quality may be declining, or you don’t have enough forage to keep your fish growing. Every pond is different, and the conditions and circumstances may vary, that’s where us professionals come in. Surveying your pond and analyzing the data to determine what may be happening is what we can do to help you solve your problems and meet your goals.

Managing your pond starts with a biological and chemical approach, both directly affecting each other. Water quality measures including pH, alkalinity, hardness, conductivity, and the amount of dissolved oxygen available are the primary measures of your ponds chemical health. Having a healthy biological ecosystem can help benefit your water qualities. Starting from the ground up, you need a healthy food chain in your pond from your producers to your consumers. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it is much more complicated than that. If you just threw all kinds of fish in your pond, you run the risk of having too many predators, which in turn will decrease the amount of forage and the fish will not be able to grow. Also, without proper harvest rates, you can have the issue of stunting, which means the fish will reach a certain length and stop growing because of over population.

Habitat is also an essential part of a healthy ecology. Giving your fish a chance to feed, hide, and reproduce is a significant factor. “Survival of the fittest” is a good way of looking at it. Fish need a proportional amount of cover so that some fish can escape predators and continue their life cycle while others will fall prey. It is a cycle that can keep your overall populations healthy and continuously growing. Improving your natural habitat along with using the newest technology of artificial structures can have a huge impact on your fishery. Some may think that nothing is better than throwing a Christmas tree in your pond for habitat. While this is a popular and effective tactic, decomposition will occur over time. An excellent alternative is the creation of artificial habitat. You can place your structures to your fit and not worry about them turning into organic material that degrades the quality of your pond. Our artificial structures are snag resistant as well as hang-up free with your fishing tackle. Having a diverse array of structure only serves to better your fishery from rock piles to fallen trees to stumps and artificial structures. Every pond is different, and fish may be attracted to one type of material over the other. In addition to preferred, everyday habitat, to have successful reproduction, quality spawning habitat is necessary. Simple structures among a fine sand or gravel along the shorelines can be an outstanding way to provide spawning habitat for your fish.

If you’re a serious angler or even recreational fisherman that loves to catch that trophy bass, supplemental feeding can be a great way to help your fish grow bigger, faster. Supplemental feeding is a proven technique to hold more big fish in your pond. In addition to supplemental feeding, proper aeration and filtration in the pond keep the water chemistry of your pond in the optimal range. As funny as it may sound, feeding your fish has the same effect as feeding your loving pets. The better quality the food, the better the overall long-term health is for your fish.

With all of the different goals that each person may want to achieve, we offer a full line of fisheries management so that we can accommodate each individual and hone in on each factor to help reach your fishery goals.

Fisheries Management Services

The Natural Waterscapes team offers many different levels of fisheries management for our clients. We can develop a simple survey that gives you an approximation of your fish diversity, population, and health. We can also offer a more in-depth survey, which will include detailed documentation of what we found, how we found it, and what it means to our clients. With the initial consultation and documentation, we will also be able to give you a sense of direction on how to make your pond healthier and meet your overall goals. For the “do it yourself” landowners, the documentation will tell you everything that you need to know to achieve your goals. If you feel more comfortable having experienced professionals implement your pond's needs, we are more than happy to get your pond on the right track.

Our Services

-Water Testing (pH, alkalinity, conductivity, hardness, dissolved oxygen)

- Physical Characteristics (vegetation-submerged, semi-submerged, floating. Fish habitat (vegetation, woody debris, pond bottom characteristics) Biologist will help assist in meeting goals of clients fishery.

-Proper fish sampling to analyze fish species diversity as well as populations and overall balance. Fish will be measured, weighed, and scale samples are pulled to determine the age classes of fish as well as fish health.

-Seining is completed to evaluate baitfish health as well as looking at fish fry to see what fish are reproducing.

-A detailed report will show findings and interpret data for the landowner. It will also include implementations needed to meet the client's goals. A management program is them detailed with habitat improvement, fish stocking densities, harvest rates, potential slot limits, water quality improvements, and any other necessary practices.

-Our services include the implementation of the management practices stated in the report.

- We recommend surveys be completed annually to maintain healthy populations and prevent potential problems from upsetting the ecosystem balance.

What we offer that others may not

-Scale samples will be taken and carefully analyzed under a microscope to determine fish aging.

-All of our services will be done and handled in a professional manner, striving to create more than a client-business relationship, but a relationship where we can be in contact at any time in case of an emergency or just to check up on the pond and its performance.

-Our reports and all data will be saved and stored for your future analysis and comparison. Looking at past data can help show results and productivity of our work.

-We provide quality work in everything we do. No cut corners and no questionable work. We are confident in what we do and will do whatever it takes to meet and exceed your expectations.

Fish Survey Methods

-Seining- A long net with desired mesh sizes to catch desired length fish. This method is used in shallow areas of the pond to survey baitfish and fry communities. This provides data for evaluating the producer populations and distribution of species with successful reproduction.

-Hook and line surveys- Studies show that hook and line surveys can have a direct correlation with electrofishing for largemouth bass if properly done.

-Electro-Fishing- This method can be very productive in sampling your pond. Sending electricity through the water will temporarily stun the fish, and it becomes immobile for safe capture. Each fish is measured, weighed, and scales sampled for fish aging. Clipping the fins or tagging to identify individual fish can be completed to prevent skew in the data. Electrofishing also works best in shallow water up to 4-5 feet.