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Joined: Apr 2016
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Hi folks,

It has been a good while since I’ve posted here, but last fall my wife and I finally got our dream spread in the mountains of southeastern West Virginia. The land is at good altitude, is far enough south to have mild winters (I dug the trenches for the electrical and water lines by hand on New Year’s Eve, where it was in the mid 70s and thunderstormed 3 times), has lots of forest (some deciduous with lots of Tsuga canadensis, Pinus strobus, and feral Picea abies), and most importantly has 2 all-weather springs, 1 of which is quite a gusher and is one of the headwater springs for one of southern WV’s more famous trout streams.

My wife and I have dreamed about this since we were first together back in undergraduate, and I have researched trout spawning habitat, forage, and pond design for the last 14 years in preparation for this. We will be breaking ground this summer for our initial construction of 1 larger pond of 3-6 acres on the big spring, and enlarging and improving the current 1-acre pond on the smaller spring to 2-3 acres. The small pond will likely be the locally-native southern Appalachian strain of Salvelinus fontinalis, while the larger will either be Oncorhynchus mykiss newberrii or O. clarki virginalis.

One critical item on which we have not been able to find answers, however, is what kind of trees we should plant, and at least as importantly, which trees not to plant. We know, of course, to avoid walnuts like the plague, and no oaks, hickory, pawpaw, or ginkgo will likewise come anywhere near either pond due to their toxic or noxious additions to the water. We also want to avoid willows because of how much they drink and alders because of how they are short and bushy and make casting difficult.

The only tree I have been able to find that is recommended for fish pond banks is Acer palmatum, due to its fine roots and the fact that it does not use much water. However, we not only want more variety, but there is another wrinkle; the benthic macroinvertebrates that form the forage base for trout just plain don’t like the leaves of A. palmatum (Japanese Maple). We keep as pets several species of the invertebrates that trout prefer to eat, and we test different leaves on them. They gobble down alder and absolutely devour mulberry, so we want to plant something the leaves of which will actually be eaten and processed by these detrivores that are the preferred food of trout, instead of just rotting and taking up oxygen.

We already successfully grow and are very happy with the Illinois Everbearing Mulberry, which is a white/red hybrid (Morus alba x rubra). We have an orchard of these started on the same mountain spread, and not only do these trees provide such copious quantities of fruit that a couple young trees’ crop is enough for jams and pies for the whole family for a year, but their leaves are the absolute favorite foods of our different species of scuds and other macroinvertebrates. We hope to be able to use these on the banks, but are afraid they drink too much and their roots will interfere with the banks. They are thirsty trees, but I gather that a lot of that is from their very deep taproot. Other than mulberries, we hope to plant things like peach, plum, cherry, pear, apple, and Bradford Pear. These trees all bloom beautifully and most produce fruit that we eat. Also, we will leave the rhododendron and mountain laurel that abound on the property, and let them help stabilize the bank where they are.

Does anyone have any experience with ideal trees for trout ponds, particularly whether mulberry works? Any other species we should use or avoid?

Thanks so much!

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Hi AR - thanks for your great post. I'm the furthest thing from a horticulturist so I'm not able to understand all the latin in your post above. It sounds like you have a done great job so far and congratulations on you and your bride seeing your long term dreams come to pass!! I do not know the best trees/shrubs along side a trout stream

Your post prompted me to try to see what hybrid of mulberry might be able to live where we are in Michigan and then if they even sell them around here. I've never seen a mulberry tree much less tasted their fruit but it sounds wonderful! The online info I found about mulberry says they produce enough fruit to nearly feed a pen of pigs just with the droppings of the tree over the pen, WOW!!

I'm very very interested in your note that SCUDS love the mulberry leaves. What other species of invertebrates do you keep as pets? I know fellow member Azteca would love to hear about your tiny pets too. I'd like to try to grow a mulberry just to feed scuds in my pond, or in a test cage within my pond. I would need a dwarf variety as I can't handle a 50-70 foot tree and certainly would have a hard time reaching the leaves to harvest them at that height. Is the Illinois everbearing a dwarf variety?

Also, as an aside we drove through W Virginia for the first time as a family this spring and we were so impressed with the rugged beauty. Driving through the mountain passes was stressful, especially when temps were approaching freezing at night and we were driving in the dark in rain that threatening to freeze with tires that we knew we should have changed before the trip but was hoping the weather would be 'warmer in the south'. Apparently the semi drivers felt very comfortable as they did not mind passing by at ruthless speed despite dark and rain.

We saw many beautiful sites but my hat is off to all the emergency first responders who find their ways on roads that are rarely straight for more than 100 feet and where there are endless alleys and driveways that wind into the hills and more variations of campers, converted tin sheds, mobile homes, and other improvised housing then I have ever seen in my life. To think they can find all those folks having chest pain and safely haul them miles away to the nearest hospital really impressed me!

Please post pictures if you can figure out the clunky interface for hosting them or upload them using the attachment manager. We would all love to see your trout streams, orchards and pond(s)

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The more leaves and organic matter that you have falling into your ponds, the shorter the lives of the ponds.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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AR,

I am not a trout guy, but I am confused about your goals for the pond. Do you want a tree-lined pond to provide shade (and cooler water temps) for your trout?

As esshup says above, more trees equals more leaves equals more muck.

I have thrown some creative casts in some pretty tight spots while fishing tree-lined creeks for bass and bluegill. There is no way I could have cast a fly in those tight spots against trees (but I am a poor fly fisherman).

My advice would be to calculate the required free space from the edge of the pond for fly casting. I would then plant my trees at the distance that the branches of mature (pruned as needed) trees would not intrude into that space.

At that distance from the pond, I would think you could plant almost any trees you desired without having much effect upon the pond. Although I would still stay away from the oaks and walnut trees.

Good luck on your pond dream. It sound awesome!

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
I have thrown some creative casts in some pretty tight spots while fishing tree-lined creeks for bass and bluegill. There is no way I could have cast a fly in those tight spots against trees (but I am a poor fly fisherman).

Sure you could. Look up how to do a roll cast.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).

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