Channel Catﬁsh is the ﬁsh of choice when stocking a small farm pond with catﬁsh and they are great fun to catch. They are a great predator ﬁsh because they do not interfere with the management of your other ﬁsh, meaning they pair well with other predator ﬁsh such as bass. These catﬁsh are bottom feeders that eat insects, invertebrates, ﬁsh and sometimes aquatic plants. A pond that is shallow could be muddied as catﬁsh forage the bottom.
Channel catﬁsh can grow up to 15 inches in a small pond within 5 years. You may increase this rate with periodic stocking of bait ﬁsh or by feeding ﬁsh pellets, which they can easily be trained to eat. They are not self-sustaining in most ponds because they require cavities to spawn. Structures to mimic cavities can be added to the pond or fish can be periodically restocked.
Many people stock their ponds from other sources where ﬁsh are harvested in the wild. However, it is recommended to purchase your ﬁsh through a certiﬁed hatchery to minimize the risk of contaminating your pond with diseased ﬁsh, thus ruining your ﬁshery. Check out local hatcheries where ﬁsh can be purchased. Bullhead, ﬂathead and blue catﬁsh are either undesirable in small ponds or are not suited to the type/size of environment. Contact our oﬃce at 513-732-7075 or our website for additional advice on pond management.
As many of you know, ponds are not natural in Clermont County. All the ponds that you see have been constructed throughout the years for many different purposes. Today there are over 5,000 ponds that dot our landscape. Why are there so many and how has SWCD helped residents plan, install and maintain these features?
In 1943, when Clermont SWCD began helping landowners with soil problems, ponds were installed to remove livestock from creeks and provide a source of water during drought. Beginning in the 1940’s ponds were designed and constructed throughout the county by Soil Conservation Service (now NRCS) and SWCD for this purpose; 207 were installed by 1954. Hundreds were constructed throughout the 1950’s to 1980 with over 500 more constructed.
Cheaper means of getting livestock water, such as public waterlines that were crisscrossing the county caused a shift in funding away from ponds. The district now designs livestock watering facilities from some of these ponds, but most water comes from public water systems.
Fishing lakes also became popular during this time with 19 reported lakes in 1970 including the colorful named Bob and John’s Ding-a-ling Lake. Eventually larger lakes were installed in the county for flood control and other purposes including Stonelick Lake in 1950 and Harsha Lake (East Fork Lake) in 1978.
Many of these ponds are still on the landscape today, with many landowners still seeking assistance from SWCD for continuing maintenance. In 1958, SWCD began partnering with other organizations and professional pond care specialists to educate pond owners at pond management clinics. These clinics were held every two years or so into the 1980’s. In 1992 after a few years absence, SWCD began their annual pond clinic that is still popular today.
The purpose of a pond today has changed from when we started constructing them for drought purposes, but ponds are still desired for other reasons and each year more are constructed. Most ponds constructed today are for recreational or storm water control. If you own or maintain a pond built through the drought program, most likely it may not meet the needs of today. Most of these ponds have outlived their life expectancy and will need to be rehabbed as per the pond owner’s desires.
To find out more, join us at our next Pond Clinic on April 10th. Learn how to combat nature that is always affecting a pond and learn new techniques and stocking recommendations to maximize your pond potential.