Remediation – Docks, Cover, and Structure
The chance to more easily replace or create a dock, structure and cover in recreational fish ponds is another ‘positive’ brought on by drought. If fishing is a point of interest, then having areas for fish and anglers to congregate can greatly improve angler catch rates and enjoyment.
The terms of structure and cover are often used interchangeably, but they are very different terms. Structure should be known as changes in depth or bottom contour, such as break lines, troughs, underwater islands, ridges, etc.
Cover, on the other hand, are things that provide a ‘roof’ over the fish’s head, things like rock piles, brush piles, pallets, stumps, stake beds, etc. In the case of both, as ponds age much of the cover and structure degrades, but drought is a time that both can be carefully and easily placed or replaced throughout the pond.
This is because working with dry soils makes forming bottom sediments, backing a truck down the pond bank, or dragging trees a much easier proposition than when wet soils or a boat is involved.
When placing cover be sure to anchor it well and don’t place it any deeper than 6-8’ as most ponds won’t have suitable oxygen levels beyond those depths in the summer. Also, keep in mind the average annual low water level and keep cover as deep or deeper, otherwise the cover can be exposed or end up entirely out of water which could create an eyesore and limit its effectiveness.
Do not overdo it, too much cover or structure can be as bad as none at all. By creating too much habitat fish can be spread out and make the fishing slow. Finally, be sure to GPS the locations or place markers, such as duck decoys or anchored jugs over the habitat so you and your anglers can know where to focus their efforts. In terms of dock construction, be sure to construct it at a height that will not be flooded or far above water line at full pool.
Norm Haley, Forestry, Wildlife, and Natural Resource Management Regional Agent