Pond Fishing At Its Best

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Published on: May. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

bass wasn't anywhere close to a record catch, it made a mighty fine breakfast the next morning, along with some fried potatoes and eggs.

Managing fish populations is as much fun as a day's fishing because that's how it's done. To do it right, you need to keep accurate records of the dates the pond is fished, hours each angler spends fishing, number of anglers, the types of fish caught and the lengths of fish kept and released.

To get the best results, the Conservation Department's "Missouri Pond Handbook" recommends that you fish until at least 10 bass and 10 bluegill are caught, or that you take at least five fishing trips with at least 10 hours of total fishing effort. The more time spent fishing, the better your records will be. It's not often that anyone gets to put down on their "to do" list, "Fish until catch 10 bass and 10 bluegill."

You will be more inclined to go fishing and to keep close tabs on a fish population if your pond is close to home. My future dream house consists of a second-story bedroom that juts out over a 5-acre pond, a pole holder attached to the window sill and a brush pile in the water within casting range of my bed.

If you are like me and don't have a place for a pond of your own right now, don't despair. Pond owners who have stocked fish from the Conservation Department have agreed to allow "a reasonable amount of fishing" in their ponds. Since access to ponds remains in the landowners' control, they have the right to chose who can fish. Usually this means family and friends.

So if you are pondless, befriend a pond owner. Offer to help with pond maintenance. In the spring, help pull out excess cattails. In the winter, collect old Christmas trees that can be used for fish habitat; and in the summer, trim trees and shrubs to keep them from growing on the dam. During the winter trapping season offer to trap nuisance muskrats that are tunneling into the pond dam. And best of all, promise to keep accurate year-round records of the fish population - in other words, fish as often as possible.

Even when the fish aren't biting, a pond is a great place to be. Stake out a spot near a wildlife trail and watch deer and raccoons make their evening rounds. Watch for ducks and geese that may choose the pond as a resting spot. Spy on a turtle as it suns on a log. Whether you're fishing or just soaking up nature, a visit to a pond can renew your outlook on life and help you avoid the other items on your "to do" list.

Characteristics of a Good Fishing Pond

  • The pond is easy to reach so you will use it often.
  • Pond is stocked with the right mix of bluegill, bass and channel catfish. Other problem species have not been introduced.
  • Largemouth bass are not over- or under-harvested.
  • The water is clear enough for sight-feeding bass to find food.
  • There is enough aquatic vegetation to provide hiding places for fish, but not so much that the larger fish can't locate and eat too many of the small fish hatched each year.
  • Pesticides and other pollutants are kept away from the pond's watershed.
  • The pond is at least 8 feet deep, and is fenced to exclude livestock.

More detailed information about pond management, construction and stocking can be found in the Conservation Department's newly revised pond booklet. To request a copy, send a postcard to "Missouri Pond Handbook," Fisheries Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City 65102-0180. Allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.

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