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Sampling Method Alternative
#524219 08/02/20 09:42 AM
Joined: May 2017
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bemdh8 Offline OP
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Hello all. I have determined that my 2 acre pond needs to be sampled before deciding whether to restock. There were a number of otters visiting the pond this last winter and spring, and my catch rate has dramatically decreased from previous years. The pond used to have nice populations of catchable bluegill, crappie, and lmb. Additionally, I stocked 300 YP and 20 HSB last fall.

I visited with a regional lake management service that offers electrofishing sampling. While this would prob be the gold standard, they charge $2,400 to shock and I get to ride along and jot down relative numbers and sizes on a notepad for records. For $3,600, they will record the numbers, lengths, relative weights, etc., compose a formal report and help develop a plan to achieve my goals.

While this is a project that I care about, and truly want to develop a quality fishery for my children as they grow up (daughter is 3, and son is 1), I don't feel like it is worth that amount for a 2 acre recreational pond. My reply to the management service was that I hate to spend $2,400 on sampling to realize that I need to spend $2,400 to restock.

My question is there another method of sampling that could be used to gather relative counts of fish? I've been researching using an underwater video camera, like is used for ice fishing in northern states. A descent machine can be purchased for around $300-400. There is a few research papers written that suggest it may be a way for sampling in dense vegetation, but I think it may be a viable/affordable option for the backyard pond. I think you'd need to sample multiple sites, for a specified period of time, a multiple number of times to get a representation. I searched the forum and couldn't find where anyone has asked or mentioned this.

Thoughts?!

Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524230 08/02/20 07:45 PM
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Don't know current costs so bump for you.


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Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524241 08/03/20 06:39 AM
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I've had my 3+ acre pond electroshocked twice. I don't think it was priced as high as you quoted but last one was 3 yrs ago. E surveys are nice to have but it needs to be done when the water temps put most of the fish in shallower waters. And it's nice to have someone who is educated/experienced in evaluation.

There are some other ways to personally survey your pond. May not be as good but it can still give you an idea on what you may have. First I would suggest observation of the fish in the pond. Maybe feeding until you get some coming to the feed, where you can see sizes and numbers. You can fish the pond using different sized lures for different sized fish. And using live baits will usually work pretty well if wanting to catch some fish. Worms, Crickets and live minnows, both fathead and Golden shiners work really well. Small Bg may also work. You can also purchase a 20' sein at Walmart, buy two zip tie them making a 40' sein and pull it through the shallows,4' depths or so. Keep records of what you get.

And Welcome to this place, lots of help here and lots of Information.

Last edited by TGW1; 08/03/20 06:44 AM.

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Re: Sampling Method Alternative
TGW1 #524243 08/03/20 07:46 AM
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You can try Bill Cody's "small piece of worm on a small hook" method, that is designed to catch every kind/size of fish. Have to spread fishing effort around in 3 dimensions. (Bummer - have to go fishing.)

Originally Posted by TGW1
I've had my 3+ acre pond electroshocked twice.
That explains the double post. smile


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Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524245 08/03/20 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by bemdh8
Hello all. I have determined that my 2 acre pond needs to be sampled before deciding whether to restock. There were a number of otters visiting the pond this last winter and spring, and my catch rate has dramatically decreased from previous years. The pond used to have nice populations of catchable bluegill, crappie, and lmb. Additionally, I stocked 300 YP and 20 HSB last fall.
.....

While this is a project that I care about, and truly want to develop a quality fishery for my children as they grow up (daughter is 3, and son is 1), I don't feel like it is worth that amount for a 2 acre recreational pond. My reply to the management service was that I hate to spend $2,400 on sampling to realize that I need to spend $2,400 to restock.
.....

Thoughts?!

OK ... I have some thoughts smile. I guess the first thing I would say is that for most recreational ponds ... creel surveys are generally sufficient. Electro-surveys have their place and their cost is justified in the cost of the equipment, expertise, and commitment of time. That said, I don't think the cost is worth it ... given your goals ... I will suggest some ... at least in my humble opinion ... better ways to spend your money.

1. Make sure all of your losses are due to natural predators. You didn't mention whether you lived there are not and people can reduce the number of fish too ... pretty quickly I might add ... and even if they are releasing fish ... they can have an effect on catch per unit effort.

2. If natural predators are the cause it may be an ongoing problem and if you are going to stock fish ... I would be careful about what is stocked. The LMB, crappie, and BG are going to reproduce on their own but growth may be rather subdued in a mature pond. The critical piece is apex predators they are the keystone to the pond ecosystem. If there are sufficient number of them in the right size, things won't get out of whack with the crappie and BG. Were it me ... I would consider an annual spring stocking of 10" HSB. One option may be to stock 15 per acre-year (30 annually at a cost of $300). Each fall, harvest them at weights of of 1.25 to 2.5 lbs (depending on whether you feed them). I would want to stock in the spring to avoid the winter otter predation and harvest in the fall for the same reason. When your catch rates recover on the other species, you can curtail stocking the HSB if you like.

Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524255 08/03/20 10:52 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I guess I should have provided more information, initially. In the past, the pond produced sufficient catches on small soft plastic jigs. I could go out for an hour or 2 and catch 30-40 fish (male bluegill were returned, bass over ~13-14" removed, and returned some crappie if I didn't feel like cleaning them). When fishing this earlier spring, I couldn't catch anything on the jigs, so I tried worms. They didn't provide acceptable results, either. I don't have specific catches per unit time, but I was fishing for an hour before losing interest, and only catch 1 or 2 bluegill. Then, this past Thursday afternoon/evening I set out to fish the entire pond (spread around in 3 dimensions) in the boat with live minnows. 5.5 hours of continual fishing produced 3 bluegill, and 1 LMB ~13". These are the results that triggered my quest for sampling the pond to determine what is there.

The pond is visible from my house, and I really don't think there has been any prowling fishermen. My neighbor's house is only about 60 yards from the pond, and he's never seen anyone there, either. He is the one who clued me in on the otter info. He has permission to fish, but rarely does.

Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524570 08/11/20 12:36 PM
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The otters are probably eating most of your fish.

My pond had low numbers of LMB & BG and a number of midsize crappie when I bought the farm.

I spotted an otter last winter and between shooting and trapping manged to remove 7 otters total (only actually saw two in pond). Would trap them every couple weeks. I suspect the circuit of otters was cleaning out a lot of the fish each winter and the crappie managed to survive them them by being prolific breeders (and eating the fry of the LMB & BG).

Last edited by nvcdl; 08/11/20 12:37 PM.
Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524574 08/11/20 01:32 PM
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Agreed on Otters being the problem.
There are only two ways they will leave your pond.

1. When all your fish are gone.
2. When you relocate them to that Big Pond in the Sky.

Hopefully not in that order.

Last edited by Journeyman; 08/11/20 01:35 PM.
Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524576 08/11/20 01:41 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,356
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Online Content
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 1,356
Likes: 3
Originally Posted by bemdh8
Hello all. I have determined that my 2 acre pond needs to be sampled before deciding whether to restock. There were a number of otters visiting the pond this last winter and spring, and my catch rate has dramatically decreased from previous years. The pond used to have nice populations of catchable bluegill, crappie, and lmb. Additionally, I stocked 300 YP and 20 HSB last fall.

I visited with a regional lake management service that offers electrofishing sampling. While this would prob be the gold standard, they charge $2,400 to shock and I get to ride along and jot down relative numbers and sizes on a notepad for records. For $3,600, they will record the numbers, lengths, relative weights, etc., compose a formal report and help develop a plan to achieve my goals.

While this is a project that I care about, and truly want to develop a quality fishery for my children as they grow up (daughter is 3, and son is 1), I don't feel like it is worth that amount for a 2 acre recreational pond. My reply to the management service was that I hate to spend $2,400 on sampling to realize that I need to spend $2,400 to restock.

My question is there another method of sampling that could be used to gather relative counts of fish? I've been researching using an underwater video camera, like is used for ice fishing in northern states. A descent machine can be purchased for around $300-400. There is a few research papers written that suggest it may be a way for sampling in dense vegetation, but I think it may be a viable/affordable option for the backyard pond. I think you'd need to sample multiple sites, for a specified period of time, a multiple number of times to get a representation. I searched the forum and couldn't find where anyone has asked or mentioned this.

Thoughts?!

Hey there,

You *can* sample on your own with nets or rod and reel. With a ruler and an accurate scale, you can do a lot. It will, however, take a lot of your time to do it. How much is your time worth?

I would seek a definitive problem to the otter problem before spending another dollar on fish, though.

Re: Sampling Method Alternative
bemdh8 #524588 08/11/20 07:02 PM
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A half dozen Conibear 330s should cure the otter problem.


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