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Winter allows for planning time in pond management

Oklahoma is not known for its ice fishing, so pond management tends to be somewhat ignored throughout the state during the winter months.

However, having a plan in place will allow pond owners to hit the ground running when spring rolls around.

"Oklahoma has a large number of ponds, but on average they deliver less than they should," said Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist. "Good fishing, a pleasing appearance and clean water for livestock are among the main benefits that Oklahomans can get from their ponds."

A good starting place for 2013 pond management should be recalling the problems of previous years. Were you catching too many skinny bass or bluegill? Did aquatic plants get out of hand and take over? Are pond banks being trampled by livestock?

Oftentimes, pond owners feel that stocking fingerlings will create better fishing. However, Beem offers some suggestions that will have a greater positive effect on the fishing.

"If there are big bass in the pond, fingerlings are likely to be eaten in short order," Beem said. "The first step in improving an existing fish population is to know what is there. Keep records of what you catch during the coming spring, species and sizewise."

Record keeping will be more efficient and convenient if you keep some type of chart or table when you fish. These records should be taken to the local Extension or Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation office for factsheets and personalized advice.

For a pond with plant problems, Beem suggests making a note on the calendar to collect a sample of the problem plant in April and take it to Extension or ODWC offices for identification and advice.

"Spring is the best time for most herbicide applications," he said. "The plants are more responsive to herbicides and there is less work and herbicide needed."

Ponds that are the water supply for a low number of livestock can function properly without many problems. However, when cattle numbers are increased, more additional steps are needed to keep a pond in good condition.

Planning is essential to get the most out of your pond. Your fish will appreciate it. Your livestock will appreciate it. And most importantly, you will be able to appreciate it.

Date: 2/25/2013

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