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maintaining fishing pond

Ready for the season? Get those fish stocking orders in soon

By Lochow Ranch

You might already be picturing your trophy bass Instagram snaps. But before that happens, it’s time to get your stocking plans set for the season and address any issues with your pond or lake’s inhabitants.

Springtime is a great time to assess your pond’s fish populations to ensure you’ll have decades of good fishing ahead.

As waters start to warm as we head into summer, we recommend moving forward with spring stocking orders in the next couple of weeks. That’s especially true for supplemental forage or Florida Bass fingerlings.

Fish for stocking your pond in Texas Louisiana Arkansas Oklahoma trout bass 111

Balancing prey to predators for strong growth rates requires expert analysis of your pond management and fish stocking needs.

Our team of pond stocking technicians, biologists and other professionals at Lochow Ranch Pond and Lake Management can help you plan the perfect mix for your particular conditions and goals for your lake.

Fish stocking has been practiced for hundreds of years, and a lot of thought should be put into selecting types of fish, as well as whether to introduce non-native species.

What fish will work best in your pond or lake involves many variables, including its size, your goals, and other factors. Very small ponds under one acre have special considerations, and so do very large lakes of many acres. They must be stocked and managed in different ways and present distinct challenges.

A fish population analysis through electrofishing or gill netting will determine which species need to be stocked to bring your lake to its true trophy-growing potential.

trophy bass pond stocking fish for sale

Our experts create a recommended fish stocking plan that takes into account your lake size, location, health and condition as well as your desires. Lochow offers all of the region’s most popular species of fish, such as basstroutsunfishcatfishforage fish and many other species.

If you are noticing nuisance vegetation growing, this is also the right time to schedule treatments, and we offer a complete range of traditional options and natural biological alternatives based on your needs, desires and our years of expertise in dealing with similar bodies of water around Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas.

Whether you want a lake completely free of weeds, or perhaps a 25 percent vegetation coverage to promote fish growth, our comprehensive vegetation control programs offer affordable and effective solutions to vegetation control and management issues that threaten the health of your pond, its fish and the desirable plant life in it.

For landowners who want to create their own fishery experience, we provide a complete, unmatched expert menu, from construction with an initial fish stocking plan to long-term pond management.

And after all the technical aspects of your fishing hole are well taken care of, please share those great Instagram snaps with us!

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Maximize your fishery’s health by working with water

By Matt Ward

Water health needs to be managed just like fish and plant life health. In the first of these posts about water quality, I discussed the issues of water turbidity and nutrient control, both critical issues for a healthy fishery.

This week we’ll take a look at water alkalinity and hardness, two more pond water testing factors to be aware of as you look to maximize the health of your lake or pond.

Alkalinity

All lakes and ponds experience daily fluctuations in pH and this fluctuation can put stress on fisheries which in certain cases can lead to lower productivity or even minor kills.

Alkalinity is a measure of your waterbody’s ability to buffer (read “stabilize) natural daily pH swings and will certainly contribute to primary productivity (which ultimately results in gamefish biomass). Alkalinity is generally raised by adding agricultural lime to a pond or lake.

pond water testing

In general, alkalinity should be maintained above 25 mg/mL but would best be maintained in the ideal range of 50-200 mg/mL.

That being said, some lake’s watersheds are so large or lake subsoils so acidic that it is impractical to adjust alkalinity. In these cases costs and benefits will need to be weighed and other sources of productivity (like pelleted fish food) will need to be considered to promote good productivity in a fishery.

Also, lower water quality in the form of lower alkalinity can be better tolerated by certain fish species.  Know your water’s alkalinity, adjust it if you can, and then work as best as you can with what you have.

Interestingly, I have noticed that alkalinity seems to be less and less of an issue as more and more ag lime has been applied to pastures especially across the eastern half of the state.  This agriculture effort has certainly improved water quality in a large number of private fisheries.

Hardness

Hardness can be simplified to approximate the calcium content of a given water body. Fishery management is best served by adjusting hardness to promote good fish growth. Calcium is important for the development of bone and shell in living organisms and minimum levels are needed to promote their formation. Ideal hardness would be in the 50-200 mg/mL but again, the practicality of adjusting hardness should be weighed against the cost to do so.

To raise hardness you can add gypsum or agricultural lime to a given lake. In lakes with adequate or even high alkalinity, but low net hardness, hardness can be raised without affecting alkalinity by adding gypsum. If hardness and alkalinity are both low, just add ag lime. In lakes where water quality amendments are impractical, consider that fish can obtain calcium from their food.

A Note on Vegetation and Algae

Interestingly, hardness and alkalinity also affect vegetation and algae growth in significant ways.

Though most fishery managers think of water quality management as a tool to boost fish production, water quality parameters sometimes need to be manipulated to promote shifts in aquatic plant and algae communities to better support existing fisheries.

Minding water quality

Water quality involves a variety of factors that must be considered in fishery management and lake and pond management.  We haven’t covered all the different things that you might need to consider but hopefully this discussion has given you some food for thought.  When fisheries don’t perform the way we expect them to, consider pond water testing and get some professional advice.  Your fish will thank you.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Matt Ward is a Fishery Biologist for Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management. He has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and has worked in fisheries management in Texas for 15 years.  He brings a passion for good science and an interdisciplinary approach to the natural sciences to help property managers steward their aquatic resources and achieve management objectives.

Liquid assets: managing water quality for healthier fish

By Matt Ward

In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that my academic background is in biochemistry so I get pretty excited about water quality issues.  That being said, this stuff really is important even if the details can’t quite inspire excitement like trophy largemouth.

Water quality issues across the nation go largely ignored as lake managers continue to reactively treat the symptoms of poor water quality.

Time after time, pond weeds and algae growth run rampant while water quality issues that drive this growth are not addressed. Fish kills occur and aeration systems are installed all while water quality issues that should be addressed go ignored.

Sometimes a little water quality work is all it takes to transform a water body and generate a healthy fishery with lower net annual input requirements. In other cases, fundamental water quality issues need to be addressed for fishery management techniques to even stand a chance.  Let’s take a look at the four most important pond water testing parameters and how they can be adjusted to create a healthy fishery.

Turbidity

Turbidity represents the ability of a water body to absorb light that penetrates the surface. Turbidity is measured by peering into a pond or lake and determining the depth at which a highly contrasting object (professionally we use a secchi disk) disappears from view.

This depth is reported as the lake or pond’s visibility or turbidity. Turbidity is generally caused by one of two factors (though turbidity can certainly be altered with commercially available dyes): plankton or suspended solids (especially clays).

Turbidity from plankton represents primary productivity in an aquatic system and is generally desirable in most cases.

A highly productive pond or lake should have 18-24 inches of visibility. This level of turbidity will support high levels of fish production while avoiding increased risk of a plankton bloom crash which could easily lead to a fish kill. If a given lake has substantially less than 18 inches of visibility steps should be taken to reduce plankton production to protect the fishery.

Turbidity caused by suspended solids like clay particles are another story. Muddy water shades out the bottom sediments and supports low levels of primary productivity. A pond with turbidity from suspended solids will not support as great of a fish population as a similar pond with lower turbidity.  This pond should generally be cleared.

To settle out turbid water, a clearing test should be run to determine how your water can be cleared.  Most muddy water can be cleared with a flocculent like aluminum sulfate, but some waters are simply muddy from getting stirred up by cattle or even an overabundance of bottom fish like catfish or carp.  In some cases a pond will need to be killed out in order to reset the fish populations and enable better water clarity to prevail, other times agricultural practices may need to be modified a bit to decrease turbidity.

Nutrients

The next water quality factor we’ll consider are nutrients. Ponds and lakes are nutrient sinks. All the basic nutrients in the landscape run down hill with the rainwater and end up in the pond.

In some cases, nutrient levels are low and a fishery’s productivity will need to be improved through fertilization. But in many other cases too much inflow means that pond managers must deal with endless cycles of growth of vegetation, algae, or phytoplankton.

In extreme cases, excess nutrients can lead to regular fish kills as excessive growth can easily absorb too much oxygen during the night or during cloudy weather. Excess growth can be temporarily reduced by targeted treatments, but ultimately growth should be curtailed by nutrient management.

The first step in managing nutrients is to understand where the bulk of a pond or lake’s excess nutrients are coming from. The most likely sources are applied fertilizers (both inorganic and organic), high nutrient well water, and direct animal waste.

Mitigation is both direct and indirect. Direct management might include applying fertilizers farther back from the pond, leaving a band of unfertilized shoreline around the pond or lake. It might call for reducing the fertilizer application rate or reducing the amount of well water inputs you use or even drilling another well to tap into a different aquifer. Other direct management techniques could involve herd control such as reducing herds or fencing them off of the pond or lake.

Indirect management, on the other hand, seeks to absorb the nutrients that are coming into the water body. This type of management might include establishing a buffer of marginal vegetation or other beneficial aquatic plants to soak up available nutrients. Another technique is to stocking forage that takes better advantage of phytoplankton helping to convert plankton bloom into fish biomass.

Another indirect technique is to apply inorganic minerals that deactivate nutrients like phosphorous, or using activated charcoal to directly absorb dissolved nutrients.

Some pond managers prefer to use aeration and micronutrients to create a better environment for beneficial bacteria that can also be used to process excess nutrients.

Nutrient management isn’t rocket science but best management practices will normally require a little professional direction.  It’s important to prioritize the right management tools in your specific situation to best impact nutrient loading.

We’ll continue exploring water quality and pond water testing as part of comprehensive lake and pond management in next week’s posting, focusing on alkalinity and water hardness.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Matt Ward is a Fishery Biologist for Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management. He has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and has worked in fisheries management in Texas for 15 years.  He brings a passion for good science and an interdisciplinary approach to the natural sciences to help property managers steward their aquatic resources and achieve management objectives.

Fishery tips: Prepping your fishing lake for a great season

By Lochow Ranch

Fishery management experts know that year-round pond and lake maintenance is key to keeping your favorite fishing pond healthy and productive.

The leading reasons the equilibrium in your lake could be off include over- and under-harvesting of predator fish, introduction of undesirable fish species, and summer kills, as well as excessive weeds, poor water quality and lack of fertilization.

Qualified experts like those at Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management can help turn around a failing fishery or enhance a stable one by addressing these various issues in an annual plan that tracks progress and addresses needs.

Otherwise, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service warns that Texas farm ponds aren’t managed at their highest potential for fish production.

Lochow Ranch can assess fishery populations using nets or shocking equipment and use state-of-the-art equipment to collect data and determine the precise program for getting your body of water back on track.

Surveying Your Pond’s Population

Electrofishing Arkansas Louisiana Texas Oklahoma

An excellent way to begin is with an electrofishing survey, which is a primary tool for correcting an out-of-balance pond.

These surveys accurately assess current forage and sport fish populations and quantify wintertime Cormorant or otter damage. Fish populations also are sampled to determine species, size, relative abundance and growth rates. Click here to learn more.

Planning Pond Stocking

pond stocking services

Pond stocking is another important consideration when you want to maximize the potential for your fishery.

What kinds of fish will work best in your pond involves many variables, including your own goals for your pond or lake. For example, you need to carefully assess the impact of introducing non-native species into your pond. It’s important to be aware of the fish types that can live together in harmony so your pond can sustain a healthy ecosystem. Learn more by clicking here.

Getting a grip on pond weeds

Aquatic vegetation is the cause of 80 percent of low dissolved oxygen fish kills in Texas. And the issues are complex enough that expert advice is recommended.

As we detailed in a series of recent postings about pond vegetation control, there are a range of vegetation control techniques. Mechanical controls include pruning and cutting back pond weeds. Biological controls include introducing grass carp and tilapia, two types of vegetation-eating fish. Chemical means of vegetation control include herbicides and algaecides.

Click here to learn more about how the experts at Lochow Ranch can plan appropriate vegetation control for your lake or pond.

Fertilizing your fishery

Just as you would fertilize fields to increase crop yields, you should fertilize a pond or lake to provide phytoplankton with adequate nutrients for fish growth.

Proper fertilization increases food availability throughout the food chain and indirectly increases the total amount of fish a pond can support. Ponds should be limed before fertilizer is applied, which is important because it increases pH and alkalinity.

Even without fertilization, this may improve available nutrients which can support a phytoplankton bloom. Click here to learn more.

Adding aeration

In order to avoid problems, pond and lake owners also should be inspecting aeration and fountain maintenance or considering their implementation.

Repairs could address obvious signs of wear or just the cleaning of filters and   screens. Lochow offers a range of aeration systems and fountain systems for   ensuring your pond’s oxygen levels are optimal.

 

Plan for a great year

Our team of fishery management experts are standing by to help you make the most of your fishing pond. Whether you are looking for pond water testing, pond stocking, fishery management, pond renovation or new pond construction, we can help. A great lake can be a legacy that will be enjoyed by friends and family for generations to come. Fill out the form to get started today!

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Forage for your fishery: key spring lake management tips

By Lochow Ranch

As our ponds pull out of the winter cold and begin to heat up, our gamefish metabolisms rise, and the spring glut is on.

Forage populations generally take a pretty big hit over the winter. Depending on the lake, the spring glut can have a lasting impact on forage and the predators that consume them.

Forage fish are generally smaller fish or crawfish that are the food source for your larger gamefish, such as bass.

Between diving cormorants and pelicans and continual predation by largemouth bass, peak forage populations of the fall season are heavily depressed and must rebound in order for lakes to maintain peak production.

This week, we’ll take a look at some common forage management issues and how to resolve them as part of your fishery management plan.

Goal-Oriented Management

As with most aspects of fishery management, establishing your fishery’s goals is paramount to determining your overarching pond and lake management strategies.

Is your primary target feed-trained bass? Do you mostly care about hybrid stripers? If so, forage fish may not matter a whole lot for your fish. Sure, healthy forage always benefits gamefish, but fish that consume pelleted feed can pretty easily shift their diet away from forage whenever populations are depressed.

If your target species are trophy Florida Largemouth Bass, native non-feed trained bass, or crappie, forage populations are essential.

Let’s take a look at the main forage species for each target gamefish and see how their populations can be managed for the greatest possible impact.

Target Fisheries

Trophy Florida Largemouth Bass

Trophy bass require good forage availability throughout their lives to achieve the outsized proportions for which they are so prized.

Good trophy management requires regular monitoring and rapid intervention if forage populations crash. Generally, these fisheries will rely primarily on bluegill, shad, and crawfish in that order of importance, with additional forage support from redear sunfish, golden shiners, silversides, and in some cases tilapia.

Having some diversity in your forage species helps to provide food for bass as certain populations experience natural fluctuations.

It is important to have good forage diversity in both species and especially size. To ensure all of your bass have plenty of food, careful and regular analysis of small, medium, large, and jumbo-sized forage should be made to determine if your forage is adequately supporting your lake’s bass.

Early in life, bass consume all sorts of fry (recently hatched fish). As they grow their diets shift to small sunfish and fry. In the next stage of life, threadfin shad can really make a huge difference in pushing bass growth. These fish combine with medium sunfish and medium shiners to supply bass to a couple of pounds in weight.

Next your bass will shift to eating large sunfish, threadfin shad, shiners, goldfish, and crawfish. Finally, if all goes well, bass begin to push into the trophy stage where they will continue to consume the latter forage but also begin to take larger meals, which could include jumbo sunfish, gizzard shad, jumbo golden shiners, larger goldfish, trout, and any other large fish they can swallow.

These various forage populations should be supported through supplemental feeding, habitat management, and pond stocking as appropriate.

Non-Feed-Trained Largemouth Bass

Even if you aren’t trying to grow the next world record, home-grown bass fisheries still need adequate forage to develop good populations of healthy fish.

Keep an eye on your forage and develop good populations of fish fry, and small, medium, and large forage.

Most forage is principally helpful in the 1-4” range, with some benefit being had from forage up to 6” in length. In general, forage above 6” in length are too large to serve as much benefit to your average native bass, which generally tops out around 7 pounds in weight.

Threadfin shad are excellent supplemental forage for spring stockings with golden shiners a close second. Golden shiners and goldfish are excellent supplements in the fall.

Once established, bluegill and redear should generally be maintained in perpetuity in well managed fisheries (assuming you don’t have a bunch of hungry cormorants or pelicans land on your lake) and generally won’t need to be restocked.

Crappie

Crappie are notorious for boom and bust reproductive cycles and slow growth.

Care must be taken to help these fish have plenty of food at the right times. Generally, fish fry, silversides, small threadfin shad, small shiners, and small sunfish are paramount to a healthy forage supply.

Large forage will actually remove the food base for these smaller fish, which would depress their numbers and easily result in stunted crappie.

Forage Specific Management

Regardless of your desired outcome, a few key factors must be considered in order for forage to thrive. Let’s take a look at three primary factors, habitat, food, and predation.

Good Habitat

First, habitat must be maintained to provide shelter for some of your forage.

This helps a given lake maintain a breeding population of various forms of forage. Habitat like cover is particularly important for bluegill and redear sunfish. Generally good habitat will involve some beneficial vegetation and some non-living habitat like felled trees or artificial structures. Habitat for open water schooling fish is just going to be that, expanses of open water where they can shelter by schooling together.

Food For Forage

Second, forage food must be plentiful for strong populations.

Sunfish diets can be supplemented with fish food as can that of golden shiners and tilapia. Otherwise, healthy populations of aquatic insects and fish fry are necessary to maintain those populations. Threadfin shad are planktivores and a healthy plankton bloom is essential for these fish to thrive and achieve their potential.

Moderate Predation

While we certainly grow forage to be eaten, we want predation to be commensurate with forage populations.

If the right number of gamefish is maintained, forage numbers will stay high and gamefish will thrive. If predator populations exceed what the forage base can support, forage populations will crash.

Be sure to conduct the necessary annual harvest of predatory fish to ensure that forage populations thrive. It goes without saying that no fishery can sustainably support predation from huge flocks of avian predators without some supplemental stocking from time to time.

Plan Forage For Your Dream Fishery

Forage matters. Know what forage your preferred gamefish need and make sure you have stocked the right species. Make it a regular part of your fishery management and pond stocking plans.

Assess your lake forage on a regular basis and adjust management strategies to promote healthy forage populations.

Adjust the habitat as needed, keep your forage fed, and limit predation as appropriate.

Your lake will thank you with smiles and your fish will thrive.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

On the way to Trophy-Catching Glory: Eight lucky Texas electrofishing survey winners

By Lochow Ranch

Response to our electrofishing sweepstakes was through the roof!

In fact, we have decided to up the awards to EIGHT free surveys instead of the original five.

If you missed it, we announced back in February that we would give away five free electrofishing surveys to lucky Texas pond or lake owners.

electrofishing services for pond management

Electrofishing is the state-of-the-art way to start maximizing the potential for your fishery.  It’s the safe and effective way that biologists measure fish populations and is key to effective fishery management.

We bring out our custom electrofishing boat and run a mild electrical current that briefly stuns the fish in your lake or pond. Our experts then examine each fish to log its species, size, health and other characteristics.

In the end you have a clear picture of what lurks beneath the surface of your lake. Electrofishing allows our biologists to make scientific recommendations for improvements based on the current condition of your pond or lake.

Electrofishing surveys are the most important tool in making informed management decisions for your water body. Whether it be pond stocking, control of pond weeds, fish feeding, habitat enhancement, or anything else, a survey allows us to make a tailored management plan fit for your lake.

Well, the response was so good to our contest for free electrofishing surveys that we hated to disappoint too many people, so we increased the giveaway to eight surveys.

The winners of the free surveys are:

  • Nick R. of Huntsville
  • Clayton C. of Brenham
  • Angela K. of Rockwall
  • Michael H. of Tira
  • Jim G. of Columbus
  • Stephen S. of Chandler
  • Kurt B.  of Wilcox
  • David C. of Cameron

We will be in touch with all of you to arrange your surveys.

If you did not win, do not despair. You can still take advantage of this great technology to create your dream fishing pond.

Electrofishing Arkansas Louisiana Texas Oklahoma

Just drop us a note with the form below to learn more about scheduling your electrofishing survey.

Be sure to follow us on social media to be notified about more of our exciting giveaways! Just click below:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lochow_pond_and_lake_mgmt/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LochowRanch/

itter:  https://twitter.com/LochowRanch

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Time to treat: consider your treatment options for control of pond weeds

By Matt Ward

At some point in the life of any body of water, pond weeds or algae growth is going to have to be controlled. In last week’s blog posting, we mentioned that most of the time this is going to involve herbicides and algaecides.

Think of these chemistries like scientifically tried and true pharmaceuticals for addressing pond weeds or algae growth. Treatments can be short term or provide extended control. Treatments can target all of one species of plant or target a broad spectrum of growth. Treatments can be in a particular area of a pond or occur across an entire water body.

All herbicides and algaecides serve particular purposes in particular situations. Just like any designed chemistry, these products are designed to be safe to use in the manner directed on the label.

Determine your target growth, select the appropriate chemistry, and learn the appropriate application method for that chemistry. In short use these products only as appropriate and only as stated on the product label.

Always remember that proactive control of pond weeds is essential to a healthy fishery. You should plan your vegetation treatment as part of the big picture as you consider your pond stocking plan and other pond management.

We obviously can’t go into detail on how to treat every kind of pond weed or algae you might encounter, but let’s go over a few basic uses of aquatic herbicides or algaecides ….

Marginal Growth

Sometimes pond weeds grow around the edge of a pond and create a significant barrier to access.

Pond weeds control and removal services Texas Louisiana Arkansas Oklahoma 012

These pond weeds may need to be treated in their entirety or lanes cut into the growth to allow point access to a water body. This kind of growth can be treated with some full lake in water treatments but will generally best be addressed with foliar treatments with either systemic or contact herbicides.

Contact foliar herbicides usually only take a few days to work and rapidly turn growth brown beginning decomposition of plant material immediately.

Contact herbicides work quickly but often leave basal or root material viable. This live tissue often regenerates, rapidly regrowing a treated plant.

This means that contact herbicides are best used when plants are dormant or when rapid results are required.

In most cases, foliar systemic treatments will be used in lieu of contact herbicides. These chemistries tend to be slow acting taking many days to several weeks to kill the target pond weeds. These chemicals enter the plants through the leaves and then move through the plant to the roots killing the plant all the way down.

Systemic herbicides usually provide the best control but must be applied to actively growing plants.

In some situations a combination of contact and systemic herbicide is used to provide quick knockdown and extended control. Do note that seeds will generally escape various treatments eventually resprouting in the cleared area. Depending on the plant this can occur in a few weeks or up to several years after treatment.

Submersed Growth

matt ward may submission 2

Most of the growth that lake managers struggle with is submersed pond weeds.

Whether algal or vegetative, submersed growth fills a lake’s water column, clogging up a waterway and causing the oxygen and habitat issues we have previously discussed.

Depending on your goals, treatments should be conducted whenever vegetation growth hits about 20% coverage. Treating proactively when growth is at lower levels reduces risk to the fishery and preserves good habitat.

With experience, a good fishery manager will know what the most problematic vegetation is and which treatments to prioritize.

Often certain pond weeds can be left alone because they have less aggressive growth habits or because they are easier for fishermen to fish.

Other pond weeds are prone to top out in deep water or grow very quickly.

These latter are always prioritized for treatment.

A plethora of chemistries is available for treating submersed plants and care should be taken when selecting the preferred product or application method.

Matted growth in deep water often responds well to the use of droppers to place the product directly on the growth. In other cases, granular products can be used to great effect. When you are dealing with topped out vegetation, sprays are usually employed for best effect. That being said, care should be taken to get the applied product down into the mat and not just misted out over the surface.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about submersed vegetation is the extreme amount of vegetation you will have per surface acre of water.

Many types of pond weeds can produce many tons of vegetative material per acre. This means that when you treat vegetation there is a lot of material that needs to break down.

The breakdown happens by decomposition, which is an oxygen-intensive process.  It is easy to kill too much vegetation at a time and this can cause an oxygen depletion event which can easily lead to a partial or catastrophic fish kill. This risk is multiplied in the heat of summer when water’s oxygen carrying capacity is already strained.

Floating Vegetation

The last category of pond weeds is floating vegetation.  This can range from duckweed to water hyacinth or the infamous giant Salvinia.

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Some of these plants are native and many are exotic invasives.

Know that floating vegetation makes a barrier between your water and the air and as such can prevent oxygen exchange.  A solid covering of floating vegetation can cause an oxygen depletion event which leads to a fish kill.  Treatments are certainly species specific, but include systemic whole waterbody in-water treatments, contact foliar herbicides, contact herbicides, and foliar systemic treatments.

It’s important to target all of the growth as most of these pond weeds reproduce quite quickly.  Look for brushy banks where floating plants can hide out.  Selecting the right product to use is integral but correct application methodology is equally important to ensure you get the growth as thoroughly as you can.

When treating floating vegetation always take a look up the watershed from your pond or lake. Is there another water body that flows into yours? If so, try to find out if the floating vegetation comes from there.

Oftentimes a well-designed treatment is undone after a heavy rain brings a fresh batch of floating plants down from another water body. This is the time to get to know your neighbors and try to design a watershed wide management plan when possible. If you can’t address water bodies upstream it is occasionally appropriate to erect a floating barrier to prevent plants from washing into the main body.

Manage Pond Weeds for a Thriving Fishery

Know your plants, learn the correct product to address the growth, and learn the correct application technique or hire someone who does.

Correctly controlling pond weeds is key to fishery management, the first part of our fishery threesome (Habitat, Fish, and People). Correctly managed vegetation helps your fishery thrive, improves fish fecundity, improves water quality, provides aesthetic benefit, and allows access for fishing and other water activities.

Take a look at your lake and take care of the growth now, so as to avoid considering heavy treatments in the heat of summer.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Matt Ward is a Fishery Biologist for Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management. He has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and has worked in fisheries management in Texas for 15 years.  He brings a passion for good science and an interdisciplinary approach to the natural sciences to help property managers steward their aquatic resources and achieve management objectives.

Pruning around the pond: vegetation control is important for lake maintenance

By Matt Ward

There are many aspects to aquatic vegetation and we’ll explore several of them over time with this blog, but here we want to focus on management and control of pond weeds.

Pond weeds control options 22

With everyone receiving their spring pond stocking, it is important to not neglect the vegetation, which may prevent pond managers from getting the most out of their stockings in the year to come. 

Certainly, not all vegetation is a detriment to a healthy fishery and moderate amounts of growth are to be encouraged in some situations. Desirable growth will not detract from your lake’s aesthetics, and will also absorb excess nutrients, reduce erosion, and allow you to effectively fish the lake.

Vegetation in the right amounts can also give small fish a place to grow up and avoid over-predation, and even provide bass with quality ambush points for efficient feeding.

The rest of the time, some form of vegetation management will be in order to maintain the fishery and the overall function of the lake. It’s a good idea to make vegetation management part of your overall pond management and maintenance activities.

Why Manage Vegetation Growth?

Of course there are always functional and aesthetic reasons to control vegetation growth on ponds and lakes. Many good resources are online to help you identify vegetation and learn how to control it, such as Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension AquaPlant site.

But in a broader sense, control of pond weeds boils down to extending the life of a pond or lake by slowing the aging process (the technical term is eutrophication).

In short, lakes fill up over time with plants and sediment, so controlling vegetation means slowing the fill-in process. This is a long-term benefit of vegetation control but there are many more immediate benefits to good vegetation management.

Dense vegetation growth will actually allow your baitfish to escape predation and make your bass go hungry. A fresh pond stocking of bluegill could very well hide in dense vegetation, preventing your bass from benefiting from the effort.

Healthy bass fisheries usually only have 10% to 15% vegetation coverage. Vegetation should be controlled when coverage hits or exceeds 20% coverage. The right amount of vegetation is especially helpful to fishermen as it will help them easily identify the “fishy” areas of the lake since vegetation provides a simple visual cue for fishermen to target.

Too much vegetation can put too much demand on your dissolved oxygen levels, especially during warm weather or in the presence of a healthy fish population.

Certainly, plants produce oxygen during sunny weather and during the day, but at night and in cloudy weather, plants use oxygen just like all other living organisms. If dissolved oxygen levels fall too far, a fish kill could result.

This kind of kill is especially likely when dealing with floating plants like hyacinth or duckweed, which can literally smother a pond. Interestingly, studies done on dense stands of vegetation have found oxygen levels to be near zero in the heart of the vegetative stand – meaning there can actually be too dense of growth to allow fish to live inside that stand even when the lake in general is perfectly habitable to fish.

Apart from biological reasons to control pond weeds, excess growth can block recreational access, preventing fishermen from having clear casting lanes from the shore or from accessing various portions of a waterbody by boat.

Vegetation can also prevent effective fishing when fishermen spend more time cleaning pond weeds from their lures than actually fishing. This is, of course, particularly frustrating to young anglers.

Begin with the Outcome in Mind

Most discussions on vegetation devolve into management methodology, but never forget that determining the desired outcome is certainly the first step in determining the best strategy to manage your vegetation.

In fishery management we are always encouraged to pursue integrated pest management strategies for best results. Once growth of pond weeds has reached the management threshold (growth exceeds desired level), we want to generally consider three options for management: mechanical, biological, chemical.

Mechanical

If the amount of vegetation that is growing is light or you need to quickly remove growth from a particular area, mechanical control may be the best management option.

Most of the time this would involve raking up vegetation around a dock, removing a few plants that grow up in the wrong location around a lake, or perhaps clearing pond weeds from around a water intake.

In some situations, mechanical harvesters could be employed to remove larger stands of vegetation to open up water and remove some biomass. In general, mechanical removal is labor intensive and results are short lived.

Biological

Next, biological control should be considered.

Triploid grass carp have particular vegetation preferences that should be considered, but in general, these sterile vegetation-eating fish can provide general and non-specific control of vegetation growth.

When stocked at the right level, some vegetation can persist while the bulk of the vegetation stand is reduced. In general, grass carp will take a couple of years to reach their management potential and then may persist in a given water body for up to around 15 years.

It should be known that in certain situations, grass carp will exceed their management objective and need to be removed after introduction in some waters. Excess grass carp prevent all forms of vegetation growth and may muddy the water.

Note that triploid grass carp stocking requires permitting in the state of Texas and must be planned for in advance.

Tilapia offer a second form of biological control. Tilapia are omnivores and do eat plants, but tilapia really shine in their ability to control algae growth.

Each water body is different, but at high densities, algae control has been consistently achieved in a variety of water bodies. Be sure to follow state rules on stocking tilapia, but at the moment no stocking permit is required in Texas.

Do note that tilapia will compete with sunfish to a degree and ultimately reduce your lake’s sunfish carrying capacity.

Tilapia provide a decent alternative forage for bass, but check with your biologist to consider the impact tilapia will have to your water body before stocking. Do note that tilapia are tropical fish that can survive some mild Texas winters (especially in southern Texas), though they generally require annual stockings for their populations to be maintained.

Chemical

In most cases, chemical control will be required to achieve the desired level of vegetation control.

There are a lot of factors to consider in how to approach managing vegetation and algae with chemistry and we will go into this in more detail next week.

Until then, go check on your lakes and ponds and see if you can begin to identify vegetation issues before they start to get out of hand. This is the time of year we can actually get a jump on pond weeds before they get out of control.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Matt Ward is a Fishery Biologist for Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management. He has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and has worked in fisheries management in Texas for 15 years.  He brings a passion for good science and an interdisciplinary approach to the natural sciences to help property managers steward their aquatic resources and achieve management objectives.

2021 can be an epic fishing year if you win one of our free electrofishing surveys

By Lochow Ranch

Time is quickly running out to register to win a free way to gauge your Texas pond or lake’s fish population!

There is just over a week remaining to enter our contest. You might be one of five people to snag a free electrofishing survey for Texas ponds from Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management.

The contest is open to Texas pond owners who want to turn their lakes into an angler’s paradise. Knowing the number and size of species present in your fishing hole, as well as the amount of forage fish available to them, is key to making your pond exceptional.

Electrofishing is safe and effective and a standard way biologists determine fish populations – and it does not harm the fish.

Lochow Ranch uses a custom electrofishing boat with state-of-the-art systems to briefly stun fish in your pond with a mild electrical current. Our experts then examine the fish to determine species, size, health and other characteristics.

A completed survey will give you a clear picture of the fish population in your pond and you will then know exactly what needs to be done to turn it into your dream pond for fantastic fishing.

It’s an important first step in pond and lake maintenance, along with exploring the right way to feed your fish, what sort of pond stocking is best, and options to control pond weeds.

To enter to win a free electrofishing survey, just fill out the entry form before March 31, 2021.

If you are one of five lucky entrants whose name is drawn at random, we’ll conduct an electrofishing survey of your pond this season. You will be well on your way to enjoying your new fishing paradise!

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, buying fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond lime and fertilizer application. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Bang for the Buck: Building a premier fishery with pelleted food

By Matt Ward

Fisheries at their most fundamental are a combination of habitat, fish, and people.

The perfect blend of these three ingredients should create a healthy system with plenty and bigger fish for fishermen to target.

Many factors go into creating a successful fishery, but likely the single most efficient step toward improving an angler experience is a fish feeding program.

High Points

After 15 years of doing this job, I already know that some of your eyes are glazing over as the image of little brown pellets of feed flying out over your pond fails to inspire.

But try a few of these facts on for size:

Did you know that when you feed fish with a quality feed their conversion factor can be upward of two pounds of fish food to grow a pound of fish?

Compare that to forage fish, for which bass must consume 10 pounds to generate one pound of body weight.

As for cost, quality fish food can be fairly expensive compared to some other animal feeds. But considering our conversion rates, we can usually grow forage like bluegill for around $2 per pound, which is much less expensive than purchasing bluegill from a hatchery.

In the end quality fish food is about 20 times more efficient than fish stocking when it comes to feeding fish in an established fishery.

Why Does the Type of Feed I Use Matter?

Different fish have different nutrition requirements.

Catfish can often be efficiently grown on relatively inexpensive low protein feed. Higher order predators or insectivores generally thrive on higher protein feed.

At Lochow Ranch, most of our pond management and lake management services and products focus on feeding largemouth, hybrid striped bass, bluegill, and trout, all great choices when pond stocking.

We manufacture a custom feed specially formulated for accelerated fish growth in intensively managed lakes. This feed blend approximates natural foods for target fish.

Testing indicates that quality feed, though more costly than the cheap stuff, will generally grow more fish per dollar spent. In the end, this means that if your goal is growth, you are better off feeding a lesser amount of quality feed than to settle for a bottom shelf bargain.

How Do I Feed?

The key to a successful fish feeding program is consistency.

If you can visit your pond multiple times per day, every day, hand feeding will easily accomplish your purposes of feeding the fish.

For the rest of us, this means using an automatic fish feeder. A quality fish feeder should hold an appropriate amount of feed to allow you to avoid having to constantly fill it. The feeder also should keep the feed dry and work consistently for years with limited repairs.

That being said, even the best feeders will occasionally have issues and require maintenance. Be sure to check your feeder’s operation each time you fill it. Filling and maintaining feeders is standard fare for all of our regular maintenance accounts.

How Much and How Often to Feed

This is a highly subjective decision.

A good biologist will weigh fish density, time of year, type of fish, daylight hours, and a budget to determine how much and how often to feed.  A conversation with a good biologist should help you determine the amount that is appropriate for your pond or lake.

A few general principles apply: First, feed during daylight hours. Feeding during the day avoids allowing predators to grab a quick meal under the cover of darkness.

Fishermen generally visit ponds and lakes during the day so daylight feeding also will encourage the fish to be active when fishermen can most easily target them.

Second, spread feedings out over the day. Fish are similar to us in that they can only digest so much at a time. Feeding multiple times per day is better than all at once.

Third, you should expect your fish to eat more during the warmer months of the year than the cold. Feeding can be turned down during the winter. The one exception to this rule is trout. Trout can feed steadily all winter long.

What About Waste?

If you have fed fish for long, you are no doubt familiar with the occasional sight of a little leftover feed sitting at the edge of the lake.

Most lake owners are immediately concerned about this wasted feed.

But let’s dive into a few other things to consider.

First, know that fish have moods. Being cold blooded, they won’t feed evenly every day of the year. Occasional bits of leftover food are to be expected.

Sometimes fish experience delayed feedings, waiting 15 minutes or more before hitting the feed. Other times leftover feed might indicate that predators are terrorizing your fish. Keep a close eye on the feeders at feeding time and look for birds or otters that might learn to hang around the feeder.

In the vast majority of cases of leftover feed, marginal vegetation and algae is trapping the feed and fish just can’t get to that feed.

Effective management of pond weeds will reduce the growth and most of the time the fish will start cleaning up the remnants. If these reasons are explored and you are getting consistent waste, it’s time to turn down the feedings.

Turn the feeders down slightly and monitor excess feed to find the proper levels.  Make sure to give your fish a couple of weeks to adjust to new feeding levels.  Of course, on the flipside, if your fish are eating all the applied feed you can likely increase feeding levels to boost your fish production.

Fish Follow Food

In the end, fishing requires fish.

The more fish your lake contains, the more fish you will be able to catch when you fish.

If you remember nothing else, remember that fish food is the most cost-effective method we have at boosting the productivity of a given pond or lake. Establish a good feeding program as part of your fishery management and pond stocking plans and your fishing will improve.

Why Choose Lochow Ranch for Pond & Lake Management

Serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management proudly puts more than two decades of experience to work for you. Our team includes biologists, technicians and other professionals with deep expertise in pond and lake management services.

Check us out if you are considering building a lake, looking for pond stocking services, to buy fish for a pond, or getting professional pond management and maintenance or fishery management. Our services include lake design, pond construction, pond renovation, pond water testing, electrofishing, pond stocking, control of pond weeds, and pond liming and fertilizing. Let us help you build your dream pond that will delight your family and friends for generations to come.

Click here to get in touch to get started today.

Matt Ward is a Fishery Biologist for Lochow Ranch Pond & Lake Management. He has a Master of Science in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University and has worked in fisheries management in Texas for 15 years.  He brings a passion for good science and an interdisciplinary approach to the natural sciences to help property managers steward their aquatic resources and achieve management objectives.

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