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Iowa Outdoors

Fishing area farm ponds

July 15, 2014
By Brett Reece , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

If you're like me, you've been spending some time recently fishing area farm ponds. Unfortunately, many of our ponds are not in good shape due to the winter we just experienced. A couple of weeks ago, I spent three hours fishing my favorite pond near Vining only to catch nothing. My bobber didn't move once during those three hours. I wasn't surprised to learn from the landowner that his pond suffered a substantial loss of fish due to winter kill. I measured up to 36 inches of ice on area ponds last winter. That ice and snow led to low dissolved oxygen levels which spelled doom for many a pond.

Over the course of the past two months or so, live been getting quite a few calls from area pond owners inquiring about fish restocking and the overall health of their ponds. This would be a good time to think about the future of your pond. If you don't have one, an aeration system would be a good thing. Understanding the plants in your pond would be another.

Pond plants are necessary for healthy fish populations and good water quality, but can become a nuisance and cause frustration to pond users. In trying to make pond access easier, the trick is to reduce plant abundance without getting rid of them altogether. Correctly identifying the plants is the first step to controlling their abundance. To help with this, the Iowa DNR has just posted a Pond Plant Identification Guide at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/AboutFishinginIowa/IowaFarmPonds/FarmPondPlants.aspx.

Article Photos

Brett Reece

This interactive, visual guide identifies 26 most common aquatic plant species in Iowa ponds and lakes.

The DNR will provide fish for a fee if your pond meets the following criteria:

1.New or renovated and free of fish. 2.Surface area of at least 1/2 acre. 3.Maximum depth of at least 8 feet. 4.Fenced to exclude livestock with a 60 foot minimum buffer between pond edge and fence.

If you feel your pond meets the above criteria, contact your local DNR Fisheries office and sign-up for fish. You can also download the Farm Pond Stocking Application (PDF) at the DNR website which will need to be completed to start the process. The deadline for this application to reach the DNR is August 15.

Years of experimentation have shown three fish species are best suited for Iowa ponds. Largemouth bass and bluegill are the primary species stocked in ponds, and must be stocked in combination with each other if a good fishery is desired. Channel catfish are also recommended for pond stocking because they are popular with Iowa anglers and provide excellent fishing.

Iowa ponds contain about 250 pounds of bluegills per surface acre of water; hence, this species will provide most of the fishing in a pond. Harvest of bluegills can be started the second year after stocking.

Bass populations in a balanced Iowa pond will reach 50-75 lbs/acre, approximately 1/5 that of bluegill. Bass should not be removed from the pond until the fourth year after stocking. No more than 15 bass/acre over 14 inches in length should be removed annually. Greater harvest rates will reduce the quality of both bass and bluegill fishing.

Key to management: harvest most bluegills, release most bass.

Channel catfishing can begin three years after initial stocking. Harvest should not exceed 15 fish per acre.

Many people like to have species of fish in their pond other than the usual bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Several species are available for sale from private hatcheries in Iowa.

Walleye and northern pike are trophy fish and highly sought by anglers. These fish can be stocked into farm ponds and will cause no harm. Neither species will reproduce, however, and they must be stocked periodically if the population is to be maintained. Walleye seldom grow large in ponds, but northerns often do. A major disadvantage of stocking northern pike is when they become large they feed heavily on largemouth bass.

Redear Sunfish, another member of the sunfish family, are often stocked into lakes or ponds as a control for yellow and black grubs. Redears work well with the DNR recommended stocking as they don't compete directly with bluegills but provide fish that are on average larger than bluegills.

Crappie are often stocked in ponds although they usually produce little fishing, seldom grow to acceptable size in ponds and compete directly with bass. They are not recommended for ponds.

Bullheads are also popular with Iowa anglers, but should not be stocked in ponds. Bullheads often become over-crowded, are very slow growing and muddy the water.

A list of private fish hatcheries in Iowa which sell fish is available from the Department of Natural Resources through our website: www.iowadnr.gov. This website is an additional source of information regarding general pond questions you may have. A DNR fisheries biologist may be contacted at 319-624-3615 if you have questions you'd like to address over the phone.

Over the course of the past two months or so, I've been getting quite a few calls from area pond owners inquiring about fish restocking and the overall health of their ponds. This would be a good time to think about the future of your pond. If you don't have one, an aeration system would be a good thing. Understanding the plants in your pond would be another.

Pond plants are necessary for healthy fish populations and good water quality, but can become a nuisance and cause frustration to pond users. In trying to make pond access easier, the trick is to reduce plant abundance without getting rid of them altogether. Correctly identifying the plants is the first step to controlling their abundance. To help with this, the Iowa DNR has just posted a Pond Plant Identification Guide at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/AboutFishinginIowa/IowaFarmPonds/FarmPondPlants.aspx.

This interactive, visual guide identifies 26 most common aquatic plant species in Iowa ponds and lakes.

The DNR will provide fish for a fee if your pond meets the following criteria:

1.New or renovated and free of fish. 2.Surface area of at least 1/2 acre. 3.Maximum depth of at least 8 feet. 4.Fenced to exclude livestock with a 60 foot minimum buffer between pond edge and fence.

If you feel your pond meets the above criteria, contact your local DNR Fisheries office and sign-up for fish. You can also download the Farm Pond Stocking Application (PDF) at the DNR website which will need to be completed to start the process. The deadline for this application to reach the DNR is August 15.

Years of experimentation have shown three fish species are best suited for Iowa ponds. Largemouth bass and bluegill are the primary species stocked in ponds, and must be stocked in combination with each other if a good fishery is desired. Channel catfish are also recommended for pond stocking because they are popular with Iowa anglers and provide excellent fishing.

Iowa ponds contain about 250 pounds of bluegills per surface acre of water; hence, this species will provide most of the fishing in a pond. Harvest of bluegills can be started the second year after stocking.

Bass populations in a balanced Iowa pond will reach 50-75 lbs/acre, approximately 1/5 that of bluegill. Bass should not be removed from the pond until the fourth year after stocking. No more than 15 bass/acre over 14 inches in length should be removed annually. Greater harvest rates will reduce the quality of both bass and bluegill fishing.

Key to management: harvest most bluegills, release most bass.

Channel catfishing can begin three years after initial stocking. Harvest should not exceed 15 fish per acre.

Many people like to have species of fish in their pond other than the usual bass, bluegill and channel catfish. Several species are available for sale from private hatcheries in Iowa.

Walleye and northern pike are trophy fish and highly sought by anglers. These fish can be stocked into farm ponds and will cause no harm. Neither species will reproduce, however, and they must be stocked periodically if the population is to be maintained. Walleye seldom grow large in ponds, but northerns often do. A major disadvantage of stocking northern pike is when they become large they feed heavily on largemouth bass.

Redear Sunfish, another member of the sunfish family, are often stocked into lakes or ponds as a control for yellow and black grubs. Redears work well with the DNR recommended stocking as they don't compete directly with bluegills but provide fish that are on average larger than bluegills.

Crappie are often stocked in ponds although they usually produce little fishing, seldom grow to acceptable size in ponds and compete directly with bass. They are not recommended for ponds.

Bullheads are also popular with Iowa anglers, but should not be stocked in ponds. Bullheads often become over-crowded, are very slow growing and muddy the water.

A list of private fish hatcheries in Iowa which sell fish is available from the Department of Natural Resources through our website: www.iowadnr.gov. This website is an additional source of information regarding general pond questions you may have. A DNR fisheries biologist may be contacted at 319-624-3615 if you have questions you'd like to address over the phone.

 
 

 

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