Inland Fisheries Management in North America Third Edition

Chapter 16: Farm Ponds and Small Impoundments

David W. Willis, Robert D. Lusk, and Jeffrey W. Slipke

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874165.ch16

A wealth of recreational fishing opportunities exists in farm ponds and small impoundments, and many anglers have had their first angling experience on such small waters. Recent estimates indicate that there are at least 2.6 million small, constructed water bodies in the USA (Smith et al. 2002). In 2006, 25.4 million anglers fished in freshwater, and 84% of the overall angling effort occurred on lakes, reservoirs, and ponds (USDI 2007). The last year that the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation further categorized angling by water type was in 1991 (USDI 1993), when 35% of 30.1 million anglers fished in ponds smaller than 4.2 ha.

Ponds and small impoundments are defined as waters less than 40 ha in surface area. However, such a size definition certainly is arbitrary, and other authors have used various size definitions. Predator–prey interactions tend to be similar in small ponds of 1 ha and small impoundments up to approximately 40 ha. Larger waters tend to have more diversity in both habitat and predator–prey relations.

Ponds can easily and consistently be manipulated by a fishery manager to produce desired results, especially in comparison with other habitat types. In larger reservoirs and natural lakes, environmental conditions can override fishery management attempts. In large rivers, which are open rather than closed systems, results from management efforts can be difficult to discern. In contrast, various management strategies can be attempted in pond management with relatively high confidence for success. Many urban fishing opportunities occur in ponds and small impoundments (Box 16.1).

Despite the small size of ponds, pond management still involves the same three primary management components as all fisheries: habitat, biota, and humans (Nielsen 1999; Willis et al. 2009). Thus, these three management components are emphasized throughout this chapter. In addition, whether developing a pond for personal use, helping a private landowner, or managing a public water body, clear management objectives must precede pond construction, stocking, and habitat management. This chapter provides the management options; managers or pond owners need to decide which are feasible and, of those, which are desired.