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Our project with Bassmaster: ‘Let’s get shocking’

By Lochow Ranch

“It’s all about the process,” writes Bassmaster editor James Hall, referring to a favorite principle of Alabama’s football coach in the latest write-up about our Lake Y project. 

And each step of the fishery management process is important for turning Lake Y into a bass fishing paradise.

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That’s how we found ourselves in Alabama last fall conducting the second electrofishing survey of Lake Y. 

We have teamed with Bassmaster for The Lake Y Project, as we look to turn an underperforming 56-acre lake in Alabama into a thriving fishery.

Now in year 2 of the project, we are running through the steps of the process for effective fishery management, including understanding the lake’s current conditions, creating a plan to improve it, and then executing on that plan.

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“Let’s get shocking,” said John Johns, president of Lochow Ranch, as he kicked off the second electrofishing survey of the lake in Episode 6 of the video series Bassmaster is publishing about the project.

The first electrofishing survey of Lake Y last spring showed there were a number of undesirable fish species in the lake, John explained to James. The next step in the management plan and process is to conduct a second survey and take action to remove some of those fish.

The nature of Lake Y, with its water inflows and outflows, means these undesirable species will not be able to be eliminated entirely, John said, but at least they can be managed. That will give bass and forage fish the chance to thrive.

Electrofishing in action

If you have ever wondered about electrofishing and how it works, the latest Lake Y video provides a great overview of the technique.

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Electrofishing is considered by fishery biologists to be the best approach to inventorying the fish population of a lake.

An electric current pushed into the water by a specially-designed boat briefly stuns the fish. The fish are collected and weighed and measured for recording by our fishery biologists, then returned unharmed to the water.

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“We get to see the fish, how they’re doing, weigh them, measure them, check on their body condition, really get a sense of how and where a lake is in its development process,” explained Matt Ward, one of our fisheries biologists, in the video.

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Matt showed multiple examples of undesirable species of fish that the second survey found in Lake Y. These fish can end up competing with the fish you do want in the lake, such as bass and the forage fish that they feed on.

Often these fish can be removed during an electrofishing survey. Or, as in the case of Lake Y, trotlines can also be run to catch and collect the undesirable species to remove them from the lake.  

Lake Y project proceeds: pond stocking & feed

In addition to the population surveys, we conducted pond stocking at Lake Y, introducing coppernose bluegill to provide forage for bass and boost growth.

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Another step was to add supplemental food for the fish. Installing our fish feeders and providing high-quality food is an important factor to further spur growth of bass.

Check out James’ article in the latest issue of Bassmaster magazine and don’t miss the latest video in the series.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see the progress in the Lake Y project in coming month.

We’re also booking electrofishing surveys for the season, as well as taking orders for pond stocking. Get in touch to schedule yours 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.

Spring has Sprung: Pond Management Tips to Prep for an Epic Fishing Season

By Lochow Ranch

Now is the time of year that pond management activity starts kicking into high gear as we prep for a great fishing season.

If you are looking forward to catching some trophies in your water body this year, good fishery management needs to include surveying your fish population, and stocking your fish supply, as well as taking stock of their vegetation environment and deciding on your strategy for controlling pond weeds.

Smart managers recognize these as three of the most important spring tasks to ensure 2022 will be an angler’s dream.

Fish Surveys: Electrofishing

Knowing what lurks in your lake is key first step to planning pond stocking.

The best approach for inventorying your fish population is an electrofishing survey. This key action is perfect for both diagnosing problems in established lakes as well as a routine management tool to identify issues before they become expensive problems.

Electrofishing is an excellent tool for correcting an out-of-balance water body by assessing the numbers of forage and sport fish. Electrofishing also allows for assessing winter cormorant or otter damage, as well as providing a snapshot of species’ size, relative abundance and growth rates.

Through electrofishing, experts can also ID unwanted species and quickly remove them before they become a problem.

This standard scientific survey method causes no long-term negative effect for the fish. The fish are briefly stunned, examined and quickly returned to the water unharmed.

The survey result becomes a reference point for a long-term fishery management plan. A manager will use it to plan for corrective stocking and harvest recommendations.

Our fish experts can conduct an electrofishing survey for you using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. Click here to learn more.

Pond Stocking: Key Considerations

Stocking of both game fish and forage fish can maximize the productivity of your fishery. 

After a survey of your fish population, you can use pond stocking to reconcile winter losses and establish a proper predator-to-prey ratio.

But fish stocking itself takes some planning and awareness of the factors particular to your lake or pond. You need to know what kinds of fish will thrive in your body of water. You also need to assess the impact of using non-native species as well as the types of fish that can live together and sustain a healthy ecosystem.

Professional pond stocking advice is key because pond management must be handled with skill and exactness. Indeed, small and large ponds and lakes must be stocked and managed differently. And location, fish health and condition must be considered, as well as understanding spawning and other characteristics of the specific fish you want.

Our fish stocking professionals can help you navigate the considerations for pond stocking to arrive at the best plan for your lake or pond. Whether you are selecting specific fish for stocking or need advice on which fish to stock in your pond or lake, our team can help. 

Fish stocking options often include largemouth bass Florida strain, largemouth bass native strain, trout, crawfish (or crayfish), and many types of forage fish. We are the pond stocking partners trusted by landowners across Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Pond Weeds: Get Ahead of the Growth

Getting an early start on controlling pond weeds is the right strategy to keep growth in check this year.

Now in the early part of the growing season is the time to take action. Pond weeds can dominate shorelines putting a hitch in fishing or swimming. Some vegetation is beneficial for fish and other organisms.

But out of control growth of pond weeds also can negatively impact aquatic organisms through a process called cultural eutrophication.

Your water body is a small ecosystem cut off from many of the elements that maintain balance in natural waters. This means active control of pond weeds is a must and you should plan for continuing such steps throughout the growing season for your pond or lake to be its best.

Treatments options include an array of products, equipment, herbicides, lake dyes and algaecides to help rid your property of nuisance aquatic plants or issues with floating, submerged or emergent pond weeds. There also is a chemical-free approach that can include stocking triploid grass carp and tilapia, which are among the most popular biological alternatives for removal of pond weeds.

You may also want to consider nutrient precipitation, pond liming and fertilizing regimes, and aeration systems to promote plankton blooms that improve the health of your pond, keep things in balance, and mitigate issues with excessive pond weeds.

Our experts can help you assess the right approach to controlling pond weeds in your body of water.

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.

Our project with Bassmaster: Lake structures can improve an underperforming fishery

By Lochow Ranch

Our project with Bassmaster reached a very important milestone in the latest installment of the video series: the addition of structure to Lake Y.

Structure refers to the underwater features that give bait fish and young bass shelter and larger bass a place to feed.

For Lake Y, adding structure to make a fish friendly habitat will be one of the most important steps in creating a prime bass fishery, according to Lochow Ranch President John Jones.

We have teamed with Bassmaster for The Lake Y Project, focusing on turning an underperforming 56-acre lake in Alabama into a thriving fishery.  

In Episode 4, John and James Hall, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster Magazine, dive into the importance and types of structures that can be added to lakes as part of fishery management.

The video installment can be viewed here on the Bassmaster website. The video features explanations of structure options and then follows members of the Lochow Ranch pond management crew as they add several structures to Lake Y.

“What we like to see in a lake is somewhere around 20 percent structure,” John explains. That much underwater structure helps the bait and game fish population to grow while still affording good fishing.

John and James survey the different types of structure that are commonly used.

A popular form of lake structure is old Christmas trees. A tree can be weighted at the base with cinderblocks so that it can float upright and fish can shelter among the branches.

The positives of Christmas trees are that they are an inexpensive approach and can be easy to find if you ask neighbors to let you take their trees after the holiday season.

But there are several drawbacks, John says. Christmas trees disintegrate in a few months in a lake and no longer offer adequate structure. They also can snag lures, and getting a hook unsnarled from an underwater Christmas tree is very hard.

That said, Christmas tree can work very well as fish-friendly cover while they last, John says. One pond survey the Lochow team conducted found 150 bass at a single Christmas tree.

Another structure option is to sink bundles of brush including pieces of hardwood. This can be much longer lasting than Christmas trees, John says, explaining that he has seen hardwood structure that was still effective 15 years after it was placed.

When putting in brush as structure, John says, it is best to use bundles and to place the bundles in roughly the size and shape of a semi trailer.

You want brush structure placement to be long but narrow so that the fish have cover but also so that you can get access to where the fish are for good fishing.

The final type of habitat elements that John and James discuss is the manmade structure. Naturally these are very long-lasting and provide excellent cover for fish. They don’t create as many headaches with snagging lures as sunken trees do, and it is relatively easier to extract a caught hook from an artificial structure.

For Lake Y in particular, the addition of structure is key to improving the lake’s performance as a fishery.

In fact, fish were spotted around the Christmas trees shortly after they were installed in Lake Y. “To say that this lake was dying for some structure, these fish were needing some structure, may have been an understatement,” James says.

Adding structure to an underperforming pond is a very important step in fishery management, John says, but you need to make sure you have your goals in mind and realize it can take time and patience for a fishery to reach its prime.

“You want to put forth your goals and you want to make them attainable,” John advises. “So it’s not reasonable to assume we can get everything done overnight. Taking something like a lake with almost no structure and getting it to 10 to 20 percent is going to take several years.

“But once you’ve got a good plan, and you’re efficient and you stay targeted with what you’re doing, you’re going to get there.”

John started his assessment of Lake Y in the first episode with a walkabout, identifying overall problems and opportunities. The second episode focused on inventorying the lake’s existing fish population, highlighting an electrofishing survey in action. The third episode explored water quality, clarity and vegetation management considerations.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see the progress in Lake Y in coming weeks.

Interested in getting your own pond assessment? Get in touch to schedule yours 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.

Our project with Bassmaster: Clues about clarity, pointers about plants

By Lochow Ranch

The third installment of our video venture “The Lake Y Project” with Bassmaster is short but important and focuses on water clarity and vegetation management.

Lochow Ranch president John Jones is quick to tell James Hall, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster Magazine, that all water’s not created equal as the two continue their conversation about how to transform an average lake into a fishing paradise. You can see Episode 3 here.

“We try to use water clarity to our advantage,” John says. “The perfect bass lake would have somewhere around 18 to 24 inches of visibility. The water would be a dark green color, nothing floating on top of the water. That would produce a lot of phytoplankton, grow a lot of baby fish and, importantly, shade out submerged weeds after a certain depth. We like to reduce light penetration.”

Lake Y, an anonymous 56-acre creek-fed lake in Alabama, has suboptimal water clarity, John says. “Certainly, it’s not horrible,” he explains. “We’ve had many, many lakes with 1 inch or less of visibility. Those lakes are generally very unproductive.”

For really “choked” lakes, you’ll find three main categories of pond weeds, he says: emergent plants such as cattails; submerged plants such as hydrilla; and floating plants such as the white water lily.

When designing a new lake, John likes to plan for 20-30 percent vegetation coverage. “That’s not always possible,” he says.

As he examined Lake Y, John says, “This is a very common plant community for a lake that’s got probably, honestly too many grass carp in it.”

Adding grass carp are an inexpensive route that lake owners often take to reduce submerged pond weeds, he says. “I like to say using grass carp to control your lake is like using goats to mow your yard,” he says. There are pros and cons.

Used correctly, they’re an affordable way to reduce submerged pond weeds at a tiny fraction of the cost of herbicides, and are a great tool with proper fencing and management. But unmanaged they will almost always cause a crash in your bait fish and bass conditions in the longer term.

John identified mainly woody, dense-type species of pond weeds that grass carp don’t like such as water willow and milfoil. He also pointed out emergent cattails in the dam area that could attract beaver dens and secretly damage the dam.

John says he’d add a couple of plant species that are easy to fish, not too invasive, would thrive and be easy and inexpensive to treat, as well as being preferred by grass carp. He says using EPA-approved herbicides or algaecides around the dock areas – which are almost always too dense – is optimal for anglers of all skill levels.

As lake owners keep a close eye on weeds, they also need to be aware of harmful or invasive species, he adds. States are already responding to problems that private owners aren’t seeing yet, but most likely will.

John started his assessment of Lake Y in the first episode with a walkabout, identifying overall problems and opportunities, then followed in the second episode with an electrofishing survey to reveal the lake’s fish population.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see the progress in Lake Y in coming weeks.

Interested in getting your own pond assessment? Get in touch to schedule yours 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.

Our project with Bassmaster: Electrofishing in action

By Lochow Ranch

In episode 2 of our Bassmaster project, we find out  what lurks in the depths of “Lake Y.”

You can see an electrofishing survey in action as we categorize the fish population of the anonymous 56-acre creek-fed lake in Alabama.

Click here to check out episode 2 of our video series with Bassmaster, “The Lake Y Project.”

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Lochow Ranch president John Jones chats with James Hall, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster Magazine, to discuss the species, sizes and weights of fish found during the survey.

Electrofishing briefly shocks and paralyzes fish and allows for a lake management inventory of the population to be created.

John first studied Lake Y with a walkabout, identifying problems and opportunities. John advised Lake Y owners start an improvement strategy with satellite photos identifying other water body influences and an examination of the lake’s history: when it was built, watershed influences and management approaches. He identified Lake Y as being off color and in a shallow ravine with a small dam.

His visual assessment also included evidence of otters, and identified issues surrounding the lake’s number and condition of boats, fish feeders and spillway.

Bassmaster says Lake Y “could well represent the majority of small lakes and ponds scattered throughout the country.” And, indeed, that’s exactly what John found after analyzing the data his team collected during the electrofishing survey.

“Really, this is a very average lake,” John said, “which is a great starting point. This is what people are dealing with all over America. You’re overpopulated with small stunted bass, not horrifically so but certainly so. You have all the right species in the lake. In addition, you have some species that, we’ll call them undesirable, stuff that’s not really adding to production.

“I feel like we got great data today,” he added.

There are lots of variations of electrofishing boats, John explained, but Lochow Ranch “basically builds ours in-house.” A generator using between 10-50 amps pushes about 10,000 volts through cables attached to the boat. The current puts fish in a state of temporary paralysis and allows for easy collection and analysis.

One survey will produce a dataset of about 3-5% of the lake. Lochow’s teams use it daily both for exploring new populations as well as for managing existing populations. Multiple electrofishing surveys over time will allow for an even more complete picture.

It’s an excellent tool for correcting an out-of-balance pond. Stunted fish or unwanted species can be easily and quickly removed as part of the service. And the survey acts as the reference point for a long-term pond management plan and provides clues for corrective stocking and harvest recommendations.

While on the boat, Lee Schoech, one of our fisheries biologists, identified several species, including largemouth bass; freshwater drum (which indicated the creek is substantial); channel catfish; carp; threadfin shad and gizzard shad; bluegill; crappie; redear sunfish; longnose gar and spotted gar among them.

Lee rubbed swabs on the tongues of the fish to get their genetic profile and establish a baseline for the fishery.

Asked about his gut feeling on Lake Y, John says, “I’m going to enjoy this project. … I believe this lake is going to take just some very traditional improvements. It’s going to do a heavy feeding program, a quality stocking program. We’re going to look at the genetics on the fish.”

But in the next episode, Lochow and Bassmaster are going to focus on ways to add structures and cover to the lake and create much-needed habitats to increase productivity. The structures also create areas where fishermen know they can find fish.

Capping off the episode, James asked John about some of the craziest things John has shocked up in his career of electrofishing surveys.

The largest largemouth bass he’s personally shocked was 19.1 pounds, John replied, as well as a lot of fish in the 15-16-pound category. He’s pulled alligator gar he believes were well over the state record; blue and yellow cats approaching triple digits; and goldfish over 10 pounds.

Aquarium fish such piranha are always a surprise, but the cormorants, alligators and the 60-70-pound beaver were also very memorable, he said laughing.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see the progress in Lake Y in coming weeks.

Interested in getting your own pond assessment? Get in touch to schedule yours 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.

Avoiding Noxious Algae: What to do when blue-green algae shows up in your lake or pond

By Matt Ward

Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae is a large group of photosynthesizing organisms that are more closely related to bacteria than to green algae or pond weeds

Technically this means that they are in a category of their own and have attributes that make them and their management unique. 

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This article will discuss cyanobacteria and their management, touching on major concerns and primary management techniques.

Blue-Green Algae Concerns

After the death of some dogs that drank water tainted with blue-green algae in Texas lakes in 2019, blue-green hysteria seemed to strike the country.

Concerned dog-owners quit allowing their dogs to enter our public waterways or drink from untreated surface water. The truth is that all surface waters contain some amount of blue-green algae and many of these algae are able to produce toxins that can be harmful or even fatal to living organisms that absorb those toxins.

Most intake is through drinking though theoretically enough toxin could be absorbed through the skin to cause harm. In short any water body could have blue-green algae toxin in them and cause harm to animals that use those waters.

That being said, problems are most common when blue-green algae growth is dense.  This growth can produce turquoise or emerald green film or sludge, dark green matted algae, particulate plankton aggregates, or many other forms of singular or collective cellular growth.

This growth is typically accompanied by strong smells and is almost universally judged as unsightly. Dense cyanobacteria growth always has the potential to suddenly release cyanotoxins which in turn can produce acute and chronic health consequences for other living organisms including fish and mammals.

Ultimately if your water body has dense cyanobacteria growth, fish and mammals that utilize that water are potentially at risk. If you don’t have that dense obvious growth the risk is greater than zero, but certainly reduced.

Particularities of Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae has a handful of attributes that lake managers need to understand to better manage its growth.

First, blue-green algae loves phosphorus. In scientific terms, low N/P (nitrogen to phosphorus) ratios favor blue-green algae over vegetative and green algae growth.  Practically speaking this means that when fertilizers containing phosphorus are applied to a watershed, or manure builds up in the same, phosphorus levels will peak along with blue-green algae growth.

Second, even in the absence of excess phosphorus, blue-green algae have adapted to their environment by developing a phosphorus-mining technique. To do this, filamentous blue-green algae will smother the substrate, causing the pH to drop along this interface which in turn releases phosphorus from the sediment where it is commonly found.

Regardless of how the phosphorus ends up in the water column, blue-green algae soaks it up and grows extremely rapidly in the absence of competition. This means that ponds that have a lack of beneficial growth will tend to grow more cyanobacteria than those that do.

Finally, blue-green algae grows perfectly well in extremely hot water and while other plants slow their growth in the middle of the summer. This leads blue-green algaes to experience peak growth in mid-summer.

Management Objectives

The first step in managing blue-green algae is to kill excessive growth when it shows up.

Treatments can be done with various copper formulations but may also be done with various peroxide based chemistries. Growth forms will dictate which product and what formulation is best but know that granular and liquid products are needed in different situations.

It is also important to note that sometimes when algae is treated it can actually release toxins into the water column as it dies. This is where peroxide-based chemistry is particularly useful as peroxides are able to actually neutralize some of the algal toxins.

Proactively speaking there are two main approaches to managing blue-green algae growth.

First, N/P ratios can be manipulated and, second, total phosphorus can be reduced.

Many articles have been written about manipulating the N/P ratios in a given fishery. But in our experience it is seldom that adding some nitrogen to a waterbody suddenly shifts blue-green algae growth to green algae or vascular vegetation. More commonly, reducing phosphorus is key to pushing the N/P ratio in a positive direction and reducing the amount of blue-green algae growth a lake experiences.

There are three methods for accomplishing this:

  1. Take steps to limit phosphorus inputs by reducing livestock densities and reducing fertilizer applications in watersheds.  
  2. Remove phosphorous that does end up in a lake through mineral sequestration via applications of aluminum sulfate or lanthanum bentonite or through uptake by beneficial aquatic vegetation.  
  3. Limit phosphorus levels by aerating a lake to prevent anaerobic conditions on the sediment interface.

Vigilant Algae Control

Keep an eye out for blue-green algae and if you have it take steps to reduce the growth. Treat excessive growth, limit phosphorus inputs, and when growth is dense keep your livestock off the pond or lake. Management of blue-green algae growth is a key to pond management success and maintaining a healthy water body.

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.

Our project with Bassmaster: Will Lake Y become a bass fishing heaven?

By Lochow Ranch

Turning an average, underperforming lake into bass fishing heaven requires some thought, planning and know-how.

Getting those details right is the goal of our new project with Bassmaster, “The Lake Y Project.”

The resulting project is a complete video series, which just aired its first episode at: https://www.bassmaster.com/lakey

The series examines how we tackle Lake Y, an anonymous 56-acre creek-fed lake in Alabama. Bassmaster says Lake Y “could well represent the majority of small lakes and ponds scattered throughout the country.”

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In Episode 1, James Hall, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster Magazine, introduces the project with our president, John Jones.

John first studied Lake Y in the spring and did a walkabout, identifying problems and opportunities.

Overall, John says “there are a lot of chances to grow a lot of fish,” but Lake Y also has a lot of problems that need to be addressed.

“Left unmanaged, small fisheries, say from 3 to 100 acres, can get out of balance a lot faster than you would imagine,” Bassmaster explains in its series description.

“Bass can become scarce from predation of other critters, or worse, overpopulate a lake and stunt. Non-desirable species (at least to hardcore bass anglers), like catfish, gar and carp, can create such a biomass in limited space that largemouth simply cannot thrive. Cover and structure can deteriorate, vegetation can choke out open water and water quality can become unbearable for fish in a matter of a few years.”

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In the video, John advises that Lake Y owners start an improvement strategy with satellite photos identifying other water body influences and an examination of the lake’s history: when it was built, watershed influences and management approaches. He identified Lake Y as being off color and in a shallow ravine with a small dam.

A lot of people find a great dam site, John explains, but they don’t put money into deepening the lake, which could have cost 10 times as much. But that doesn’t have to be a hindrance, he adds.

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His visual assessment also included evidence of otters, and identified issues surrounding the lake’s number and condition of boats, fish feeders and spillway.

It’s a beautiful lake, John says, but multi-owner lakes (as this one appears to be) have to be handled very differently, and multiple ownership could be a help or a hindrance with different priorities. Among many other observations, he also notes the creek could present some challenges with species diversity, and managers should probably come up with a catfish control program.

John notes, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great lake, but money speeds things up.” He says he asks customers to give him a budget or a timetable for goals. Now that the visual assessment is complete, the next Lake Y episode will focus on its electrofishing survey.

Electrofishing uses an electric current to briefly stun the fish population. This then allows for an accurate assessment of species, size, relative abundance and growth rates of a lake’s fish.

It’s an excellent tool for correcting an out-of-balance pond. Stunted fish or unwanted species can be easily and quickly removed as part of the service. And the survey acts as the reference point for a long-term pond management plan and provides clues for corrective stocking and harvest recommendations.

“In the end, we hope to inspire you to not settle for unimpressive or average fishing, because you can do something about it,” Bassmaster says.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to see the progress in Lake Y in coming weeks.

Interested in getting your own pond assessment? Get in touch to schedule yours 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.

Fish Kills: What to watch out for as summer heats up

By Lochow Ranch

Summer is officially here, and all lakes and ponds are at an increased risk of a fish kill.

While they are not necessarily common or completely preventable, it is good to be advised on what can happen and what to look for because lately we’ve had a sharp increase in fish kill calls.

By far, the overall most common cause of fish kills is lack of oxygen and summer is the deadliest season.

During the summertime as air temperature and length of day increases, most lakes (if not fed by a well) begin their annual drop in water level.

Surface water becomes super-heated during the day and since water density decreases as temperature increases, stratification or separation between water masses at a thermocline occurs.

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That is the cold water you feel at six or so feet deep. Little to no mixing occurs below the thermocline, which results in the water below the thermocline becoming anoxic or depleted of oxygen.

Depending on the surface area to volume ratio of your lake, this stratification is currently occurring to some degree, except in lakes that have appropriately sized subsurface aeration systems.

These conditions put lakes at an increased risk of a fish kill.

Other anoxic conditions can occur when weather changes drastically, for example during big rain events or very windy days lakes can experience a turnover. This normally happens because high amounts of rain can super-cool surface water causing it to sink, which causes the anoxic bottom water to come to the surface.

The combination of sharp changes in temperature and low oxygen levels can cause a fish kill. Small deep lakes with large watersheds have the highest risk of a turnover-related fish kill.

Some other causes of fish kills are:

  • very dense plankton blooms or green water
  • blue-green algae blooms, which produce toxins
  • weed decay, which uses oxygen
  • excessively dense weed growth, which consumes too much oxygen overnight

Lakes that have dense phytoplankton blooms are also at risk of a fish kill. If the phytoplankton biomass exceeds a critical level there can be a simultaneous rapid die off. The resulting bacterial oxygen usage from the decomposition of algal cells can reduce oxygen levels low enough to kill fish.

Extended periods of overcast skies and increased turbidity from rain events can also cause a rapid die off of phytoplankton.

All lakes, including those with subsurface aeration, are at risk of this type of fish kill. Closely monitoring water color and taking visibility readings using a Secchi disk can help with management decisions.  Assessing summer kill causes and weed control are among the most vital management duties.

Certain corrective measures can be taken to reduce phytoplankton density but must be done so proactively.

As always, please let us know if you notice something “off” with your lake, especially during these hot still days.

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.

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.

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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.

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