I needed to find a way to protect fry and fingerlings this fall when the shoreline plants start dying back when the water starts cooling. Most cover has to have a base, or stand of some kind, and that doesn't work well for the shoreline to 2' deep. Because of the size of my big pond, there are certain criteria I look for when I put cover out. It's got to be easy to deploy and reload, it's got to be quick and easy to build, it's got to be repeatable with resources available on my property, and it's gotta be cheap.
This is what I came up with. All it requires is hardwood and cedar limbs that I got after trimming trees, one concrete block, and 5-6' of nylon rope. $2.50 max. I used a 5/8" bit to drill holes at the base of each limb.
It's easy to set out, and should be easy to move and reload after placement. I set this one out near sliding pallets that I set out for FHM in my hatchery pond that is about to have the water level raised 2'. Once the brick was drug to the bank, I just flipped the limbs over to spread the cover evenly.
I was lucky enough to have 2 Nubian ruminants offer to help get rid of most of the leaves.
8 in the morning.
4 in the afternoon.
Here's one that I set out on the hatchery pond dam.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/11/1812:08 PM. Reason: afterthought
I finally finished up placing most of the remaining limbs in the pond this morning. Due to the lack of my creativity, I've named these limb bundles brush spiders, primarily because all the bundles have 8 limbs. Any more than that, and the bundle gets to heavy to easily move.
The final placement isn't set yet because the siphon's been running off and on for the last month, and I'll finish up when the water level returns to normal. Best I can remember, I wound up placing 25-30 bundles in the pond, so 200-250 limbs were used. All limbs were water oak or hackberry, because that's what the goat's liked to eat.
Cedars will be added to these piles this winter.
The first two pics are of a finished brush pile on a shallow water point. It covers 20'X40' area, and will be adjacent to a patch of hybrid lilies. Cover and summertime shade.
These pics are of 3 brush piles that were placed in a CNBG preferred spawning flat. It was hard to get a pick of all three, but they're in 6" to 3' of water, and abut 15' apart. They were placed adjacent to hybrid lilies, reeds, and water primrose.
anthropic, not where I put them. The pond's still 8-10" over full pool, and when the water settles, that area has primrose and lilies already there. I wanted to provide cover for those fish when all the plants have died back for the winter. Anything else is a bonus.
I'll put more on the dam, and those will be a little deeper and more compact.
The oak leaves have finally fallen, and my ruminants are done with brush pile dining for the year. I'm very happy with how things turned out.
2 surprising observations were GBH(Great Blue Herons) not entering the brush piles at any time, and beavers robbing limbs from the brush piles, as opposed to stripping bark off live trees.
This brushpile started with a couple of "brush spiders", and is around 30' wide, and 20-30' out into the pond. When we hit full pool, the limbs will provide surface to bottom cover for fry and fingerlings.
This one is about 120' wide, and 10-30' out into the pond.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 12/31/1904:43 PM. Reason: sp
I love it when what I see in my head actually happens. I added an 8' bald cypress to this brushpile, and the brushpile was loaded with thousands of 1/2" to 1" fry. The summer time combo of the brush piles with hybrid lilies, water primrose, reeds, and variable pond weed seems to have worked extremely well. I found 30-40 CNBG nests immediately adjacent to the outside edge of the hybrid lilies, and the fry can literally head to cover in a matter of a few feet. I saw a few 4-5" tilapia handling the algae from the decaying limbs. The bottom of this area is rock hard red clay, and the CNBG have spawned here for years. If you plan to ever plant a tree 2' deep, I might suggest spending the money to get a mud shovel. It really helps eliminate the vacuum when digging under water. I use it for digging up lilies as well.
Here's another pile of limbs that are about to get added to this existing brushpile. My little ruminants handle 90-95% of the leaves, so I let them dry out for a few weeks, and the remaining leaves are gone by the time I drag the limbs to the top of the pond. I'm not sure I would add them if they didn't do their part. Just an obsevation, but if you can reach down in the water, and not hit cover by the time you get to your elbow, then the cover is not dense enough.
Last edited by FireIsHot; 05/31/2010:33 AM. Reason: added pics