Christmas Trees for Fishponds

Christmas Trees for Fishponds

A family tradition of cutting a fresh tree is something Americans have done for generations.

There is something special about the traditions of a live Christmas tree. For many families the tradition of cutting and decorating the tree is the prefect start to the holidays. But after you are done decking the halls and hanging the tinsel most of the 13 million Americans who have a live Christmas tree all find themselves asking the questions of “what to do with it?”. There is the ever-popular bonfire, while exciting, it burns in seconds and the excitement is over, so why not allow your Christmas tree to continue to give back all year round?

Did you know that Christmas trees make great habitat for fishponds?  By sinking the tree into the depths of your fishpond you can increase the complexity of the aquatic habitat. The woody debris provides a place for aquatic macroinvertebrates to live. In addition, increasing and improving the habitat availability of your fishpond will increase the health and diversity of it. Over time your tree will begin to host new vegetation which will attract small insects, snails, and crawfish. This is a buffet for bait fish and in turn will also attract larger predator species for you to catch. While the needles of the tree will likely be gone in about three months, some trees have been found up to ten years later.

Here are the steps for recycling your tree:

  1. Remove all ornaments, tinsel, and other manmade products from the tree (do not use artificial trees).
  2. Place a weight of some type of the trunk of the tree. This can be done by adding cement in a 5-gallon bucket or with other weighted items such as a cinder block. This should be attached with wire, as most ropes will deteriorate over time.
  3. Ideally the tree is placed upright in an area of the pond that is deep enough to cover the entire tree, when upright. Keep in mind that water levels will change of the year, and you want to place the tree somewhere it will be submerged all year.
  4. When picking your location remember that placing the tree in areas of the pond with limited bottom habitat will increase its effectiveness. If you have a fish finder, use it to determine the areas of your pond that are lacking bottom cover.
  5. Ideally, over the years you will place trees in a clustered area. This tends to be more effective at attracting fish than a single tree.

For every avid fisherman, recycling your Christmas tree is truly a gift that will keep on giving. While the holidays seem to fly by, your sunken tree will continue to provide an improved habitat for the fish and in a short time will become a support structure for your aquatic food chain, and that’s something even ole’ Saint Nick would be excited about!

*IMPORTANT INFORMATION: this should only be done in privately owned ponds. Before adding anything to public waters you should contact your local Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer. For more information on fish attractants visit FWC website at: FWC Fish Attractors

Bad Cat Classic Catfishing Tourament

On September 25, 2021 the Bad Cat Classic Catfishing Tournament will be hosted on the Choctawhatchee River. The mission of the tournament is to get kids outdoors and involved in natural resources conservation, while spending time with positive mentors, and what better way to do that than with a rod and reel.

The tournament will consist of three person teams, with one member of the team being 16 years of age or younger. Teams will fish from boat on the Choctawhatchee River. Tournament Headquarters will be the Caryville Boat Ramp on Hwy 90. The tournament will start at 6 PM CST on September 25th and fishing will wrap up at 8 AM CST on September 26th with weigh-ins to follow.

The Bad Cat Classic is one of a series of programs that is hosted with the mission to involve youth in outdoor recreation and conservation. All proceeds from this contest will go to the Randy Adams Memorial with the mission to purchase lifetime hunting & fishing licenses for kids in the Holmes County, FL.

IMPORTANT LINKS

Rules and Regulations 

Team Entry Form

Big Cat and Target Wt. Entry Form

For more information please call Kalyn Waters, UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County at 850-547-1108. All contest information and updates can be found at the Holmes County Outdoor Expo Facebook Page.

Fish Camp: Managing for Great Fishing

Fish Camp: Managing for Great Fishing

There are few things better than fishing, especially when you are catching fish! Taking time to manage your fish pond can make a tremendous difference in the quality of fishing you will have. In this session of Fish Camp we are joined by Dr. Chuck Cichra to learn about basic strategies to mange your pond for great fishing.

Dr. Cichra walks pond owners through pond development, management and stocking strategies that take your fishing from good to great. To view the webinar in full go to Managing For Great Fishing

Fish Camp: Managing for Great Fishing

Fish Camp: Aquatic Weeds

Weeds in our pond can be a real issue. However, much of the vegetation in our pond is beneficial to its overall health. In this edition of Fish Camp Dr. James Leary walks pond owners through the process of identifying problem plants and developing a management plan.

Once a plan is in place, pond owners should be able to manage the vegetative growth of their ponds to ensure that both native and stocked aquatic life have a healthy food source to thrive on, but also that your fishing experience is not hindered by aggravating weeds.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • How to identify what plants are in your pond
  • How to develop an action plan for your weed management
  • How to manage dissolved oxygen to avoid a fish kill
  • And more

Please use this link to view the webinar in full: Fish Camp: Aquatic Weed Management 

Determining the Volume of Your Pond

Determining the Volume of Your Pond

Father and daughter fishing in farm pond. Photo Credit: Kalyn Waters

Ponds are an important part of our lives. They add valuable water and ascetics to our properties, are home to multiple species of wildlife, not to mentions, for many of us provide our favorite pastime- FISHING! In the Florida Panhandle, many people are lucky enough to own their own fishpond. However, in many cases people do not have any idea of how big their pond is!

Knowing the size of a pond is critical for just about every pond management decision. To determine the volume of water in your pond the first step is to determine the acreage or surface area of your pond. Fortunately, there are some great online tools to help determine the acreage and surface area of a pond. One simple tool can be found at: fishhttps://findpondsize.com/nonmobile.php

This website allows you to locate your pond using your address and then determine the surface area in square feet and acres in just a few clicks. Image 1 shows an example of a pond that was measured using this tool.

Image 1: Aerial image of a fishpond on a farm. Outline of pond is measured and depicted in red.

If you do not have an electronic device to measure the depth of your pond, don’t worry! Measuring the depth can easily be done by boat and using a weighted line. Take measurements in two transects across your pond. For ponds less than two acres, take measurements at 5 points on each transect. You will then use this information to calculate the average depth.

Graphic showing how to measure average pond depth using two transects across pond.

Once you have the total surface area and the average depth you can easily calculate the total gallons and volume of your pond. If math is not your strength, there are several websites online that will do it for you. Here is one of several options: https://www.lakeandpondsolutions.com/helpful-info/acerage-volume-calculations/

Knowing the correct size and surface area of your pond will allow you make informed decisions that will increase your ability to manage everything from weed control to stocking rate. From weed control, pH balance, herbicide application, determining what size aerator to purchase or how many fish to stock, the first step is to determine the volume of water your pond contains.