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Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
#288678 04/21/12 12:52 PM
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I'm new, so please bear with me -
Lst March, I built a house on an existing 5 acre wetland. I've been using a minnow trap and find there to be a population of fathead minnows. I can drop the 2 foot long trap baited with 5 or 10 pieces of dry dogfood and will have 20 to 30 minnows in the trap in a few hours - the trap is in about 3 feet of water.
Last spring I fished a neighboring lake, caught some sunnies, largemouth and pike and planted them in the wetland in the following numbers respectively, 100, 13 and 3.
The wetland is spring fed, has a large hole in the middle that reaches 25 feet in depth and is ringed with lilly pads and cattails. There is a small number of rushes in addition to some type of grass weed. There is an active beaver house - not sure how many beaver it supports. In the spring we have Loon, Canada geese and assorted ducks use it for nesting.
I'd like to try to manage this resource responsibly and am open to ideas on how to do that. I don't plan to purchase and fish - I' like to continue to catch from area lakes and transplat those. This wetland has an entry point that is used by some folks in the winter who trap the fatheads - other than that, it is just us and the wildlife who care to visit.
I'm hoping to reach a point where I can expect my kids and grandkids to catch something when they throw out a baited hook or can learn how to use artifical bait presentations from me and/or my brother.
Any ideas/comments are welcome. This wetland is located in the central part of Minnesota in the Brainerd lakes area, freezes over in late November or early December and opens by early April at the latest.
Thanks in advance -
Jim

Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
ejime #288681 04/21/12 03:49 PM
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Jim - Welcome to Pond Boss.

How big is the open area, and can you safely get to the water when the ice is out? Does it have shallow edges where bass and bluegill can spawn?

I've got a lot of family on both sides of the MN/WI border, from Duluth/Superior, down to about Grantsburg/Pine City/Siren, etc. A number of them are contractors/excavators, and they sure do complain about what they can and cannot do when it comes to wetlands - or anything that has water on it for a few days a year.

My niece and her husband ran into all kinds of problems a few years back when they inherited a number of acres from his family's farm. They decided to build a home on the back of the property, which required about a 1/3 mile driveway through pasture area that stays wet several months a year. It was such a hot topic, I don't even dare ask what the outcome or what current situation is/was. But, the DNR and a few other agencies got involved, and ... At this point, I'd be afraid to snag a lily pad and pull it out in WI or MN.

Anyway, give us a little more info. Maybe, hopefully, some of our MN friends can shed some light on what you can and cannot do, even around the edges of the wetland.

Depending on size, the ratio of the fish you put in is probably about right. I don't think I'd put a whole lot more of anything in there for at least another season. If the bass and bluegill have a good place to spawn, you should achieve a good base starting this season. I'd not put in too many more pike in a small water. Our friend Dwight, who is a little south of you, can probably make some good suggestions about that. He's had good success with all three species. What you have in there now will probably wipe out the fathead minnow population, unless they have a way of getting in there from outside water sources -- or they have lots and lots of places to hide where the northern and the bass can't find them.

Regards,
Ken



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Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
catmandoo #288741 04/21/12 10:24 PM
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Hi, fellow Minnesotan! I have done a lot of wetland work in MN and it can be done if you get the correct permits. But, doesn't sound like you need to do much other than manage the pond. Some things I could imagine you might want to eventually do are: install an aerator, stock more fish, build some solid ground up to the waters edge. I have done all these things on a MN wetland but they all require permits. You can't even catch fish in one lake and move them to your pond without a stocking permit. Fortunately most of these permits are easy to get if you own the entire pond and it is not classified as "protected" wetland. If you want to stock fish you just contact your local fisheries office and fill out a form. No cost involved last time I did this. They will let you stock anything that is native to your watershed. However I think you need to buy certified healthy fish rather than take from another lake. If you want to install an aerator, you need to own the entire pond and you need to get a permit from the DNR. I had to fill out a form and include a map showing the pond on my property and it was easy. If there is no solid ground access to the water's edge you can fill in the bog to build an access if you get a permit. Wetland laws in MN allow you to fill in 10,000 square feet of wetland per permit. This permit is a little harder to get, first you make a request to the Corp of Engineers, they need to provide a letter stating that the wetland is not under their jurisdiction (i.e. not part of navigable waters), then you need the DNR to provide you a letter that the wetland is not "protected". They simply look it up on a map. Then you need to get approval of your county soil and water district. They just want to make sure you aren't going to screw up the watershed. Lastly you get a county permit which they won't give you unless you have all of the above in hand. They may try to tell you that you can't fill in wetland but the law allows 10,000 square feet per permit. Stand your ground and as long as the Corp has no jurisdiction and the DNR verifies non-protected the county cannot turn you down unless you are messing up the watershed. As far as fish, as mentioned by ejime the guy named Dwight has had great success with ponds in southern MN. I am located near St. Cloud and I also have had good luck. My pond is only 3/4 acre, 8 feet deep, aerated. It was built in a spring fed bog just like yours. I stocked fish 10 years ago and now regularly catch 2 pound crappie and sunfish. I take my bass out when they reach 2 pounds. I have not stocked pike since I really don't want to be losing fishing rigs every time I fish. The only warning I would give is don't do any dirt work without a permit. Dirt work can be readily observed and proven and the state will make you put it all back the way it was if you don't get permits. The DNR flies around in airplanes looking for wetland violations. Do it all by the book and you'll be a lot happier in the end. Read everything on this forum regarding stocking so you don't make a mistake there either. Good luck!


Gotta get back to fishin!
Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
bz #288752 04/21/12 11:46 PM
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Any idea which species of sunny you caught and transferred to your pond? In MN there are a few options.

Bluegill
Pumpkinseed Sunfish
Green Sunfish
Longear Sunfish
Orangespotted Sunfish
Warmouth

Most like candidates are the bluegill(BG) and the punpkinseed sunfish(PSS), either is fine for your pond. Green sunfish(GSF) can be a bit more of an issue, but with bass and pike present they shouldn't cause an issue.

I too feel the initial numbers stocked were reasonable for creating a good fishery with adult fish. The only other species you can consider would be yellow perch. Hopefully the fish will over winter without issue. The fact that a wetland with the large amount of water seems to have only had fatheads to this point makes me believe it may be prone to winter kill. This is where adding an aeration system may be worth the expense...


Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.
Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
CJBS2003 #289001 04/23/12 07:40 PM
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Guys -

Wow, thanks for the input - all great ideas and worthwhile info. I'll ramble through my responses and comments, if that's OK. Yes, I understand about the permiting process. I worked in IT for a local govt agency and know full well the requirements, impact and enforcement in this area. Currently, the Brainerd Lkes area is under attack from both sides - lakeshore owners want to do whatever they darnned well please - "It's my land" - and regulators want to manage and preserve the resource for everyone's children and grandchildren. It's a hot topic and not one that will ever be solved, at least not in our area I don't think. regradless - Before we bought this hunk of land, I checked with the state and DNR and found neither cared about the wetland - it's too small to be a designated and enforced body of water - at their level. I was surprised to hear that but got it on good authority so believe it. However, my local jurisdiction, the city, does care and needs to be consulted if I want to do anything. I already asked for and received their approval for a "boardwalk" across the wetland - I installed a dock which is pretty close. I had the county Soil and Water folks out and they determined the OHW - ordinary high water mark - and told me not to pass that point with any construction - no problems there we are nowhere close. we do not own the entire wetland - it is bordered by Northwest Paper Company land and some private outlots. Any and everyone from this area treats paper company land like public land - they go where they please and use it how they want. Because of that, I don't want to invest large sums of $$ into a resource I can't manage completely. However, I still want to try to get a population of some species going. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to be able to guarantee our kids and grandkids a good time and give them the opportunity to come to love being close to and on the water as much as we do.
CJBS2003 - Yes, BG and PSS are what I dumped in. I just can't see any reason why that big 25 foot deep hole in the middle of the wetland wouldn't be enough space for the fish during the winter. Not being too smart on this subject, my concerns for the fish in the winter would be oxygen. There is plenty of plantlife but if it all dies off in the winter, doesn't that take away the oxygen? I don't know if the springs provide oxygen for the fish but the ice sure looks cool around those areas - lots of frozen "bubbles" in the ice make pretty patterns.
BZ, thanks for the heads up regarding my "rights". I would have folded at the first sign of trouble - even with all my experience in the govt world. I don't plan to move any dirt in as the area where my land meets the water is below a bluff - it would be too difficult to access. If I can get to a point where I can harvest 2 lb panfish, I'll be one heck of a happy camper. I am a little concerned with the lack of lots of hard bottom for the fish to use for spawning - I'm hoping there are some areas they can use that I'm not aware of. The 5 acres I mentioned as far as size goes encompasses the water part of the wetland. There is another 10 or 15 more acres that is grass and true wetland.
I'm sure this is a pipe dream but I'd like to have one or two "hawgs" in there to chase. And, if I could get one or two big pike, I'd be happy with that too.
I guess I'll sit tight this year and see what happens with the stocking I've already done. Except for the little BG one of the minnow trappers caught in his trap, I've seen no indications of live fish. However, it's late April, the tadpoles are swimming all over the place and the water walking bugs are just starting to come out. Wouldn't it be be cool to sit on the dock in the evening with a cool one and watch the LM go after those water walkers?
Again, thanks guys for the input and suggestions. I'll be monitoring this forum regularly from this point on.
Jim

Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
ejime #289007 04/23/12 08:21 PM
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Only time will tell if the pond can over winter fish. Good luck and keep us posted on the progress...


Men and fish are alike. They both get into trouble when they open their mouths.
Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
bz #293443 05/26/12 07:02 AM
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Hello again, BZ-
Short update and a few questions. How the heck did you get to a point where you are harvesting 2 lb panfish? Stupid question, you must feed and nurish them. I've got a minnow trap next to my dock in about 3 feet of water. To this point, I've trapped fatheads, what we call chubs - not sure what they really are - tadpoles and some 1 inch long bluegill!!
Are these BG the result of last year's spawn from the fish I planted? Can sunfish reproduce and can their spawn grow so quickly? Or, do you think these are native fish to the wetland? What happens with LMB? Do their spawn grow as quickly??
Bass opens today - guess I may go down the road to the spillway and harvest a couple small guys. Early in the year, the 10 to 12 inchers are still firm enough to eat.
Regards,
Jim

Re: Manage existing wetland in Minnesota
ejime #293465 05/26/12 10:55 AM
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ejime, it has taken 10 years to get fish that big but I do feed them on a daily basis. I use aquamax 500. I don't know how one gets wild fish to eat pellets. I bought my fish from a fish farm and they had been feed trained prior to buying them. It only took about 3 years to get 1 inch BG up to a half pound. I have had no trouble with crappie and BG reproducing even though my pond bottom is mostly muck. They find areas near shore where they sweep away the muck and make nests. Good luck fishing.


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