Ask Outdoors Girl

August 30, 2009|By Candus Thomson

Rich Wilson of Salisbury writes: "Could you please find out from the Department of Natural Resources the policy for restocking the freshwater ponds on the Eastern Shore? The ponds are being fished out at an alarming rate. I am an avid fisherman and I know what I am talking about. An example would be Allen Pond. Take a survey of that body of water and you will see fish populations totally out of whack."

Don Cosden, chief of inland fisheries for the Department of Natural Resources, replies: "Our staff annually performs fish population surveys on public waters across the state. Information from these surveys is used to determine, among other things, the balance both between the abundance of various species and size and age groups within a species. If a fishery is determined to be out of balance, our managers may use 'corrective stocking' of fingerling game fish or prey species in order to create healthier populations and better fishing.

"Stocking is not always the solution to poor fishing, however. Bass are prolific spawners, often producing more young than is optimum for growth. If anglers remove too many of the large fish, then predation may not be high enough to keep bass and sunfish numbers down and stunted fish populations result. We are continually encouraging anglers who want some fish for the dinner table to take the smaller fish. In particular, removing small- to medium-size bluegill from a pond is often a healthy practice. Other measures that we use to improve fishing include habitat-enhancement projects, such as Christmas tree reefs, or special regulations - activities that are funded nearly 100 percent by license sale revenues and federal grants.

"Due to staff and funding constraints, some of our public waters may be surveyed only once in five years. Regional manager Rick Schaefer says that Allen Pond is on the fall survey list this year. Rich should check our Fishing Report Web site later in the winter for our 'Year in Review' to see what our survey revealed. If he doesn't see information on this pond or others he is interested in, he is welcome to speak directly to our Eastern Regional staff by calling the Unicorn Fish Hatchery. The number is on the back page of our Maryland Fishing Guide.

"Finally, with no disrespect to Rich's fishing prowess, we often hear of a pond being fished out. Yet our surveys will reveal some quality-size bass and other game fish. Increasing fishing pressure often results in fish that aren't harvested becoming very difficult to catch. If I had an answer to that one, I'd probably be on the tourney trail myself."

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