Creating A Successful Fishing Program

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Learn the Essentials of Pond 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.

Outstanding Results

“We appreciate that a management program was developed that fits within our budget and that the fisheries biologists at SOLitude are available to talk with us when we have questions. The fish survey SOLitude completed for us, the recommendations on slot sizes, and the stocking and feeding program that were developed are producing outstanding results. Our club’s fishery is in the best condition it has ever been!”

John McCracken. President, Chohoke Fishing Club

West Point, VA

SOLitude Helps Community Define Vision & Achieve Goals

As the manager of wetlands and open water for my community, I work with SOLitude Lake Management closely. They have helped us define our vision and achieve our goals. Every wetland area and body of water has different uses and different needs. SOLitude understands that and ensures those needs are met all the while keeping the budget in mind. We have annual fishing tournaments and they come out and talk with the anglers, explaining what we’ve done during the past year and what our future steps will be. Management of wildlife and waters is an ongoing and long term commitment, SOLitude understands this. They have a dedicated staff that not only manages these areas but also helps educate their clients.

Robert Payne

Chair Open Waters & Wetland Committee, HOA of Brookside, Warrenton, VA

December 8, 2014

Our Club’s Fishery Is In the Best Condition Its Ever Been

Once again, thank you to David Beasley and SOLitude for all your help at Cohoke Fishing Club. Our hydrilla problem is practically non-existent now. The fish survey you completed for us, the recommendations on slot sizes, and the stocking and feeding program you developed are producing outstanding results. Our club’s fishery is in the best condition it has ever been! Your presentation to our stockholders at our annual meeting was extremely well received. We are getting ready to enhance our fish attractors as suggested.

We appreciate that a management program was developed that fits within our budget and that you are available to talk with us when we have questions. We look forward to continuing our association with David Beasley and SOLitude.

John McCracken

President, Cohoke Fishing Club, West Point, VA

February 23, 2015

Our Fish Are Thriving

I wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the results of the algae treatment. We noticed a huge improvement very quickly, and at this point the pond looks really, really great. Also, the fish are thriving – some of the bass are over a foot, and the blue gills have also gotten big. We are just thrilled.

Thank you so much for your responsiveness.

Gwen Goodkin

Private Landowner, Charlottesville, VA

June 16, 2015

Thriving, Fish-Filled Ecosystem

In one season, SOLitude Lake Management turned the two lakes on my Virginia property from dead, weed-infested, eyesores into thriving, fish-filled, ecosystems – and they have maintained them as such ever since!

Angus Yates

Private Landowner, Middleburg, VA

September 17, 2015

Excellent Pond and Fisheries Management Advice!

After I had to drain my pond in 2010 to fix the dam, I took the opportunity to start from scratch. I did online research and subscribed to Pond Boss Magazine and restocked in 2011 with the equally important goals of creating a trophy bass fishery and a “guaranteed catch” bluegill pond for my eventual grandchildren. I contacted SOLitude to begin feeding the bluegill and to begin an electroshocking program to help guide my long-term management. Two years after my original stocking, we electroshocked for the first time. I was very surprised to find that the predator to prey ratio was dangerously lopsided and my pond goals were headed toward failure. Based on the electroshock survey and Dave Beasley’s advice, I restocked 10,000 more larger bluegill. Now I have 3 feeders feeding 3 times a day while the water is warm. My friends call me when they have “Daddy day” because they know they can come to my pond and their kids will catch bluegill bigger than my hand until they get tired of it. After 4 years, the bass are reaching 6 pounds and in an hour enough heavy bass can be caught that would beat a full-day’s fishing on any lake in the region.

Dave Beasley has always been available to answer questions and give prompt advice. Without SOLitude and Dave Beasley, despite all my research, my pond would be in an ever-worsening downward spiral. Now SOLitude and annual electrofishing surveys to keep me on track are a permanent part of my pond management plan.

Marc Daymude

Private Landowner, Cameron, NC

October 7, 2015

What A Great Company!

When looking online for a new fish feeder, we had unpleasant experiences with two local fisheries. I decided to call a feeder manufacturer in San Antonio, who recommended SOLitude Lake Management. They were terrific! Paul Dorsett called me directly and was so kind and helpful. He arranged a feeder to be delivered and set up for us. Although Paul was out of town, he sent his “ace” out, Ryan Young. Ryan and Alex Harrison were efficient, answered all questions and were very nice young men. Paul even followed up to make certain that everything went smoothly. What a great company! Customer service is what it’s all about these days and SOLitude Lake Management knows exactly that.

Cindy & Jim Bandy

Private Landowners, Centerville, TX

August 22, 2016

Educated and Helpful Team

I wanted to take this opportunity to say how amazing Cory Smith has been with my new ranch. I have two ponds that have never been managed and he has helped me put a plan together. We have added fish, fish feeders and even planned changing the size of the lakes. He has been an amazing asset to have. He loves his job which makes it enjoyable to email and text him to ask questions. He is a huge help and always provides an amazing amount of information. I appreciate all his help! He is an invaluable asset to your team and me!

Courtney Lindley

Private Landowner, Eustace, TX

May 15, 2017

In Awe of SOLitude’s Knowledge

I want to thank you all for coming out to Fort Pickett and for an excellent report and meeting. SOLitude’s knowledge about the industry and all of the different species, habitat and needs was impressive. Between Brandon and myself, I think we were both sitting there with our mouths open in awe of SOLitude’s command of the subject. You all really know your species and their requirements. It was excellent!

Ken Oristaglio

Fort Pickett, Blackstone, VA

June 7, 2017

Proof Is In The Pudding

Paul Dorsett and the rest of the team at SOLitude have done an absolutely wonderful job in helping us to create Lake Willis! In just a few short years we have gone from having just a few baitfish and perch, to catching a nearly 9-pound bass (our new record). Now if we could just have more time to fish as recommended, we could take out the 300 fish that need to come out. As far as we are concerned, we followed SOLitude’s recommendations and our fish have averaged growing of 2 pounds per year…proof is in the pudding! Thank you, Paul. I look forward to seeing you and your team again soon.

Weston Willis and Family

Private Landowner, Abilene, TX

June 9, 2017

Could Not Be More Pleased

Logan Cowan has for the last year or so been the person I work with on my ponds. I could not be more pleased with his work. He works hard, is always on time, he calls and keeps me informed, he explains the pros and cons of treatment alternatives, etc. I could go on. Bottom line – this young man is an asset to your company. Keep him and promote him. Thank you for all you do for me.

Billy Payne

Private Landowner, Navasota, TX

July 3, 2017

Truly Valuable Investment

We began with two small lakes that were never managed 10 years ago. With SOLitude’s help and expertise we expanded both lakes from 2 acres to 6 acres and began a monthly management program. We went from a spotty fish population to trophy bass with some over 10 pounds! SOLitude is efficient and really cares about the lake ecosystem. Seeing my three-year-old granddaughter catch her first bass makes the investment truly valuable. Thanks SOLitude.

Ric Campo

Private Landowner, Houston, TX

October 12, 2017

Frustrating to 100% Fishable

When we hired SOLitude, our 12-acre lake was about 1/3 full of lily pads and hydrilla which were frustrating to the fish. Within 4-6 months, the lake became 100% fishable and the coloring and bloom were much more attractive. The recent addition of 8 or so built brush piles has added much needed structure for bait fish and is now a great target that is producing bass on every other cast! A very common afternoon will produce 100 fish a day. Cory Smith and Stan Smith’s team communicates well and we feel confident that a game plan is in place form year to year.

Darrell Hernandez

Private Landowner, Athens, TX

April 5, 2018

The Best Choice Is SOLitude Lake Management

If you’d like to manage your waters (or watershed) professionally – then the best choice is SOLitude Lake Management. If you fish, then it’s the more important. I had the good fortune to fish a property managed by SOLitude BEFORE I needed a pond management company…those excellent results made my final choice easy. I’m sure that every firm is good – but if the phrase “by fishermen for fishermen!” rings true with you – then there is one choice: SOLitude Lake and Pond Management. They care and it shows.

Carlton Howard III

Private Landowner, Raleigh, NC

June 18, 2018

Our club’s fishery is in the best condition it has ever been!

We appreciate that a management program was developed that fits within our budget and that the fisheries biologists at SOLitude are available to talk with us when we have questions. The fish survey SOLitude completed for us, the recommendations on slot sizes, and the stocking and feeding program that were developed are producing outstanding results. Our club’s fishery is in the best condition it has ever been!

John McCracken 

President, Chohoke Fishing Club, West Point, VA

BF Photo Contest_James Markey_Largemouth Bass

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?

The 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.
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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.

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?

Depending 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!