AS SEEN IN The Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapter of CAI's COMMUNITY ASSETS, July/August 2014: Written by Industry Experts David Beasley and Aaron Cushing, Fisheries Biologists
Your stormwater ponds and lakes provide great opportunities for community events and bonding. If you are thinking of developing a neighborhood fishery or planning a community fishing event, experience has taught us that everyone will have a good time as long as they catch fish.
Establishing a fishing program is a wonderful way to get families and neighbors outside and also strengthen the community. Fishing in neighborhood ponds or lakes is an activity that does not require extensive fishing gear to be successful. A simple rod and reel with a bobber, hook, and worms or other bait is all anglers need when getting started.
Before your community considers hosting planned events, the first step is developing your pond to support a fishery. To establish goals for your community, connect with your pond management company's fisheries biologist. Together, you can create a successful management plan that includes the answers to questions such as: How can I improve my pond for fishing? What kind of fish can I have in my pond? What kind of fish can I stock and when? Are you interested in having tagged fish for tournaments or fun fishing games? Discussing these questions with your community will assist your fisheries biologist in developing the best plan for your neighborhood members.
Our experience is that bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish work well year round, rainbow trout in the winter, are the best fish for both casual fishing and community fishing events. The best thing is these fish are easy for both kids and beginners to catch. They may occur naturally in your pond already or can be purchased for stocking. Adult bluegills are easy to catch and they also serve an important role in the food chain. Cold water fish, like trout, make a great seasonal addition for some fun and easy winter fishing. Also, consider annual supplemental stocking of golden shiners. These fish help bring a natural healthy balance to the pond.
If you already have fish in your pond, consider giving your community anglers some “surprise” fish to catch in your pond. You can stock a few big fish to add some excitement. Trout, bluegill, largemouth bass and catfish are available in many sizes. For example, if you plan on stocking 11-14 inch catfish, also consider adding a few larger fish. Nothing is more exciting than reeling in a “big one.” You can also stock some amazingly colorful and beautiful fish too. Ever hear of a Golden Rainbow Trout? They are a rainbow trout with a gold and white creamy color. These fish are awesome to catch and see up-close.
After choosing the right fish for your community, don't forget about the environment... for both the anglers and the fish. Most people fishing a neighborhood pond will fish from the edge of the pond. It is best to mow the grass down to the edge of the water in a few small areas so people can access the water easily. Docks also make great access points. Placing natural or artificial fish cover and spawning gravel off shore in areas within casting distance will help keep your fish population balanced and improve catch rates. The addition of an automatic fish feeder is also a great idea to grow your bluegill and support the forage base. All of these tips will increase the health of your fishery while also making it more enjoyable for everyone.
Once you have a healthy, sustained fishery, your community can consider holding a fishing event or possibly even a fishing tournament. Anglers, young and old can compete for prizes or bragging rights. Awards can be presented for the longest, the heaviest, or even shortest or lightest catch. Many smaller tournaments are held on a single day over a few hours; however a community might hold a contest over a longer time period –like a season– as well. Another kind of friendly competition with the possibility of prizes is to have several fish in the pond tagged, and then over a period of several months’ people try and catch the tagged fish.
Fishing is a lifelong hobby and there is no better place to fish than in your own backyard. While your community is considering a fishing program to strengthen ties and create opportunities for camaraderie, be sure to share some of these ideas, and others found at www.solitudelakemanagement.com/communityfishing, to capture your neighbors' interest “hook, line, and sinker.”
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
David Beasley and Aaron Cushing are experienced Fisheries Biologists with SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.