It's late April and I woke up to a couple inches of fresh snow on the fields, but a few hours later it's gone. Free fertilizer! And a last boost for sap runs to end sugaring season.
With the ice already gone, the snow melted right into my pond. Frogs are already singing at dusk, and salamanders are swimming in the shallows. All sure signs of spring in Vermont.
For pond owners it's cue time to attend to tasks that spring calls for.
If fish stocking is on your to-do list, now's the time. Not only is spring the traditional time for stocking, to gain the full season of growth and fishing enjoyment ahead, but uncertainty about lockdown duration has people ordering garden seeds in record numbers ("Out of Stock!"). So it goes for fish. I recommend you get your fish while they're still available. I was talking to Matt Danaher in Shrewsbury, Vermont, about interest in stocking, and he told me he'd been flat out trucking trout up and down the state. "I've never seen fish sales like I've seen this year," he said. "People want bio security in the backyard."
Danaher sells three varieties of trout - rainbows, brookies, and browns - as well as a limited supply of crayfish (when available). If water quality maintenance or improvement is a concern, he also supplies bacteria blends as a water conditioner. The fish and bacteria are generally limited to Vermont distribution. Check out the hatchery website here.
For additional hatcheries in Vermont and beyond, check with your state fish and game department for recommendations, and Google.
Spring is also time to get your aeration system underway. Aerators that have been asleep all winter may need cleaning for maximum oxygen diffusion, and compressors sometimes need maintenance.
If you're thinking of using aeration for the first time, you'll get maximum water quality maintenance and improvement if you start aeration in the spring. (Same for adding water conditioning bacteria in spring.) Waiting until later summer when algae and weeds get a head start will likely be too late for water improvement by aeration or bacteria or both.
Spring is also time to check the pond for possible winter damage due to pond ice and shore frost. Ice can shove piping out of kilter possibly leading to leaks. Ice can also push around structures like piers and docks and rafts and stonework; check them for damage. Earthen inflows and spillways can take a hit due to freeze and thaw cycles, so look for problem erosion, including sediment loading.
Now is the time to rake out leaves and dead vegetation (and perhaps some dead frogs and fish). Remove this detritus from the pond shore so it doesn't wash back into the pond; after aging it can make good compost for garden and landscape plants.
Early spring is generally not a good time to run heavy equipment over saturated shore areas. So you may want to hold off on mowing and other work to prevent field damage.
In this time of indefinite quarantine, pulling fish out of your pond is the kind of food shopping a pond owner should consider. And you don't have to wear a face mask.
Photo courtesy www.danaherfishery.com
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