Pond Fisheries Management
What is pond fisheries management? Simply, it is taking care of all elements that interact to keep our ponds thriving for the fish, wildlife and plants that live in, on or around the Carillon Stonegate Ponds. These elements include maintaining water quality, fostering the appropriate plant and vegetation habitat, and achieving an optimum mix of fish species.
Why is pond fisheries management important? Ever wonder why fishermen and fisherwomen seek out Carillon Stonegate Ponds? Or, for that matter, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Osprey, Caspian Tern and even an Bald Eagle? Our ponds are part of the Kane County Forest Preserve. These ponds are readily accessible to anybody. But, most importantly, they are full of fish. And taking care of these ponds is critical maintaining the Carillon Stonegate Ponds as a home for all of the birds and wildlife that we love to see and the variety of fish in our ponds that we love to catch (and release)!
What are types of pond fisheries strategies? Experts will tell you that there are many – and yet few. First, you can do “Do nothing”; but this option not only rarely yields good fishing but may lead to the demise of our ponds. You can choose an “All-purpose” approach or equal amounts of all types of fish; but, while this approach may work in the near-term, it will be difficult to maintain. You can pursue a “Big Bluegill” strategy, which could be a big hit with families and children. Or you can pursue a “Big-Bass” strategy for the fishing purist. And remember, you cannot have both big Bluegills and big Bass; and you are also not likely to have both large numbers and large sizes of any fish species.
What species of fish are in our ponds? Three types of fish are typically found in the Carillon Stonegate Ponds: (1) Channel Catfish, (2) Bluegill, and (3) Largemouth Bass. This is one of the most widely used and successful stocking combinations for ponds in Illinois. But why? Sure, the Largemouth Bass is immensely popular among fishermen. Its success lies in the food chain concept that underlies this fish stocking combination. The Bluegill eats small aquatic insects and serves as a food for bass. The bass control the numbers of small fish so that those remaining grow to size. And the Channel Catfish - scavengers - that keep the pond clean by eating just about anything they can find on the bottom of the pond. Ultimately, this is the buffet line for that venerable game fish – Largemouth Bass.
How do we maintain our fish populations? Every other year, the pond should be restocked with channel catfish as channel catfish are unlikely to reproduce in our ponds. There may be no need to stock any other fish if the ponds are effectively managed. But that is difficult to achieve. And with birds and wildlife hunting and fishing on our ponds, normal reproduction may not be sufficient to achieve a growing, thriving population. So, every few years, largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish may also need to be restocked. And remember, our objective is to establish a balanced predator-prey population between bass and bluegill. Therefore, no other species should be introduced as these new species will negatively affect this balance.
For more information on Pond Fisheries Management and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit these articles from Illinois Department of Natural Resources Pond Management, Clemson University College of Agriculture, and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Management.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!