Lots of fisheries and clubs have a stock pond facility, but we see so many which aren't utilised to there full potential.
Often they will be far to small to support any weight of fish at all. The purpose of a stock pond is normally just to hold unwanted fish from a main lake, however a stock pond is a valuable asset to any fishery. Its an opportunity to produce your own fish which is the safest source of stock fish for your own waters.
So its worth making the most of your assets by creating a productive environment that your fishery/club can benefit from. Our recently developed stock ponds were created for fish production so they need to suit the requirements of growing carp, if your going to invest in feeding your fish then its important to create an environment which will allow you to take full advantage of the growing season so the fish can fully utilise their diet at key times.
The key ingredients to a productive growing pond are:
Exposing the water to light and air
One of the most common and underestimated feature of stock pond is tree cover. This is the easiest and most productive job a fishery manager or club can do to make a water 10 times more healthy and productive. A shaded pond can be as much as 3 or 4 degrees cooler than an exposed pond during the summer, bad news if you want to make the most of the growing season! By cutting down trees and strimming around the pond you are exposing the surface of the water to air flow which will maximise oxygen diffusion and minimise leaf fall and silt build up. Light and air restrictions over water will disrupt the whole ecology of the pond, preventing the bloom of healthy algae which play an important role in the natural food chain and convert organic waste into healthy forms of nitrate.
An exposed pond in the middle of an open field is far more productive than a sheltered pond surrounded by trees!
The depth of the pond is key to making the most of a growing season, the shallower the pond, the quicker it will warm up. Fish will feed more actively in warmer water and will convert food into bodyweight much more effectively.
A featureless lakebed is a key property of a growing pond in order to keep fish actively moving and burning energy, so they need to feed to replace that energy. This is also important for harvesting, draining and sterilising the pond.
Having a drainable water makes stock management so much easier, if you cant drain the pond then you cant catch 100% of the fish. A simple down pipe on a 90 degree elbow which can be tilted to drop the water level is as simple as it gets.
Marginal plants not only look nice but they will protect the margins of the pond preventing bankside erosion and slippage, they also play an important role in the nitrification cycle of the pond.
Any feature in a stock pond will have an effect on the performance of the fish, snags and deep areas provide a feature where, at certain times, fish will spend a lot of time, which is fine from a fish husbandry point of view, but from a productivity point of view this is not what we want. You want fish to be constantly on the move and burning energy making it difficult for parasites to complete a life cycle by transferring from fish to fish. It also makes it more difficult for predators if fish are constantly moving around the pond rather than localised around a feature.
Cormorants, mink and otter are becoming a more widespread problem. The stress predators cause on fish is just as damaging as the physical damage they cause. Its important to keep stock ponds a stress free environment to prevent fish from taking refuge from predators. It doesn't take long to set up lines across a stock pond to prevent cormorants from landing. Fencing out otters and mink is slightly more labour intensive but if your not protected from them then you're on borrowed time!
If you have a stock pond, they are a very useful tool if taken seriously and you can achieve brilliant growth rates if you create the right environment, which will provide you with a useful source of home-grown fish.