Preliminary Results In The Use Of A Nursery Pond As A Tool In Fishery Management

The history of the "nursery' area concept in fisheries management dates back several years and includes varying techniques including fencing of a shallow bay of a reservoir to protect fish on their spawning grounds, utilizing sloughs adjacent to reservoirs for spawning grounds and making use of sloughs, old river lakes and small ponds as nursery areas for young fishes which during high water migrate into the river. One of the most recent modifications which has been put into effect on five of the major reservoirs in Arkansas includes a separate structure nursery pond which is built adjacent to the receiving reservoir and connected only by a manually operated gate and drainage canal system. This type nursery pond has a sizeable watershed to permit annual refilling but one that is not too extensive to cause frequent flushing of fertility from the pond. Complete control of the species of fish reared in the pond and the best known techniques of fish culture can be carried out on a highly controlled structure such as this. The primary uses of the nursery pond include the introduction of "exotic" or non-native species of fish into the reservoir, supplementing the natural reproduction of desirable fishes which are unable to maintain their numbers and producing instant fishing by stocking catchable size fishes such as channel catfish. Success of nursery pond stockings are evident as shown by before and after population samples and routine checks of fishermen's creel. Several years of stocking of millions of walleye fry in some of the deep, clear reservoirs in Arkansas have failed to established a fishable population of walleye, however, by rearing walleye fry in a nursery pond for 30 to 45 days and two to three inches in length, a substantial walleye fishery has developed in both Bull Shoals and Norfolk Lakes. Other successful nursery pond releases have been four to six inch striped bass, six to ten inch northern pike and catchable channel catfish. The results of the first year's crop from the Lake Greeson Nursery Pond have been easily evaluated since the first crop was a combination of striped bass, an exotic to this reservoir, and albino channel catfish, which could be readily identified as a product of the nursery pond. The nursery pond technique is not without its problem, some of which are: (1) Cost of construction, (2) fluctuating water level of receiving reservoir, (3) reaction of different species of fish upon draining, (4) initial predation on released fish and (5) estimating size of crop. Most of the problems encountered, however, do have solutions and it is believed that the nursery pond approach to establishing desirable species of fish in a reservoir in order to fully utilize all available niches is a major step in the fishery management of large reservoirs.

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