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    Creating A Successful Fishing Program
    Learn the Essentials of Pond Fishing

    Get your community fishing!Your ponds and lakes provide great opportunities for community events and bonding. Establishing a fishing program is a wonderful way to get families and neighbors outside and also strengthen the community. If you are thinking of planning a community fishing event, it can seem overwhelming if you try to get every detail perfect. The reality is, regardless of how organized the event is everyone will have a good time as long as they catch fish.

    If you are considering the idea, here are some of the most common questions we answer from communities and individuals looking to host either a single fishing event or looking to design a program that will last all season long. Contact a fisheries biologist for even more ideas on how your community can start planning a successful fishing tournament today.

    What fish are easy for kids and beginners to catch?

    Bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout are the most common fish that work well for community fishing events. They may occur naturally in your pond or they can be purchased for stocking. Adult bluegill are not only easy to catch, but they also serve an important role in the food chain, so it is important to have a healthy population of bluegill in your pond.

    What equipment do I need?

    Community Fishing TournamentThe good news is you do not need much equipment to catch most of the kinds of fish found in your pond. A simple fishing rod and reel with a bobber, hook and worms or other bait is all anglers need when getting started.

    What do I do if the kids don’t have any equipment?

    If people do not own any fishing gear and are unable to purchase any, consider budgeting some funding to purchase basic equipment, or find some gear that can be borrowed for the event. Sporting goods stores may sometimes be able to donate some equipment as well.

    What else do I need?

    • Have prizes to give out. Inexpensive fishing rods, lures and tackle boxes and even gift cards are all great prizes. As with the fishing gear, you can likely find businesses that are willing to make donations. If you are going to award prizes based on length or weight, a yard stick and good scale will be needed.
    • A table or pop-up tent for registering anglers and weighing and measuring fish.
    • Have food or snacks available to provide a nice break.
    • First aid kits for any small cuts or bruises.

    Where should people fish?

    Consider the ease of access to the pond. Most people fishing an HOA pond will fish from the edge of the water. It is best to mow the grass down to the edge of the water for the event in a few areas so people can access the water easily. Docks also make great access points. Placing fish habitat and cover off-shore or on the edge of the dock in areas where people have fishing access will improve catch rates and help make the fishing event a success.

    When should I hold the fishing event?

    An event lasting a couple hours on a weekend will allow for the highest participation. Consider the kinds of fish you are targeting when you choose when to hold the event. If you are targeting bluegill, bass and catfish, the spring or early summer is the best time before the weather gets too hot. If targeting trout, then late fall or early spring is best.

    Who organizes the event?

    Usually one or two community volunteers bear most of the responsibility of making the event a success. Although the event comes together easily with community and volunteer support, one of the biggest hurdles will be pinpointing individuals willing to put the time in to do initial planning. As the event gains momentum; however, you will likely find that more people are willing to become involved. But, until that occurs, you will need to seek out those homeowners or board members who are willing to initiate a fishing program.

    Should food and drinks be available?

    If possible, consider having some snacks and drinks available for a fishing intermission or immediately following the event. Adding food will make it more exciting for the kids (and parents)!

    Should I charge for my community fishing event?

    Entry fees are not a normal way to cover the cost of fishing events in communities. If you are awarding prizes such as fishing gear to participating kids and also providing food for the event, you should have the community set money aside in the annual budget. The primary purpose of the event should be to encourage kids and adults to get outside and have some fun. If fees are involved, participation will decrease, and the opportunity for less fortunate kids to participate will be lost. You will find that the synergy within the community created by the fishing event is well worth the expense. If funding is limited, you can always seek donations either within or outside the community.

    How do I get the word out?

    If you live in a community with a pond, promote the event at board meetings, through newsletters and in signage around the common grounds, and be sure to spread the word through friends and neighbors. If you have your own private pond, let people know by word of mouth, or, if hosting a group, let the group do their own advertising. Consider pre-registration to get an idea on the size of your turnout.

    Set yourself up for success

    One of the best ways to successfully establish an annual fishing event is to have board members who are interested in fishing. With support from the board, it will be much easier to budget for the event. If someone is involved with the pond and cares about the fishing, they should consider running for a position on the board.

    Any other fun ideas?

    A great way to kick-start your first fishing event, or to add something different throughout the year is by adding a few twists:

    • Add some big fish. Trout, bluegill, largemouth and catfish are available in many sizes. For example, if you plan on stocking 8-11 inch catfish, consider adding a few 11-14 inch fish. You may catch one of the big ones!
    • Tag some fish. Having a small number of fish with individual ID tags allows prizes to be given away for each fish caught. Consider asking your fisheries professional to tag a small number of fish with unique ID tags.
    • Add some color. Ever hear of a Golden Rainbow Trout? They are a rainbow trout with a gold and white creamy color. These fish sure are cool and are awesome to catch and see up-close.

    How can I improve my pond for fishing?

    Community Fishing EventDepending on how familiar you are with your pond’s fish population and habitat you will want to consider the following:

    • Have a Fisheries Management Plan developed. A fisheries biologist can recommend any needed habitat improvements including water quality. These plans are designed specifically for your pond and your community’s goals.
    • Stock target fish species such as bluegill, largemouth bass and channel catfish, to ensure there are easy to catch fish that will live in your pond all year long. Cold water fish, like trout, make a great seasonal addition for some fun and easy winter fishing.
    • Look to add natural or artificial fish cover and spawning gravel needed to help keep your fish population balanced and provide some great places to catch fish.
    • Consider supplemental stocking of golden shiners annually. These fish help bring a natural balance to the pond.
    • Add an automatic fish feeder to your pond to help grow your bluegill and forage base.
    • Establish and maintain a healthy fish population to help naturally reduce mosquito populations and keep those pests from trying to ruin everyone’s fun.

    Overall, remember that any successful event is meant to be fun from start to finish. Have a great time creating bonds in your community through outdoor fishing!

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