Title: Privately-Owned Small Impoundments of Central Alabama: A Survey and Evaluation Of Management Techniques and Enhancements
Name: Haley, Norman III
Chair: Dennis R. DeVries and Russell A. Wright
Resides: FAA library
Location: Central, Alabama
Keywords: small impoundments, management, central alabama, recreational fishing
Small impoundments are abundant and widespread throughout central Alabama, and support a large portion of recreational fishing effort. Because the quality of fishing in these ponds is directly related to the management techniques and enhancements applied by the pond owners, it is important that these valuable water bodies be properly and efficiently managed. Successful management requires that any tools that are used be accurately assessed such that outcomes can be reasonably predicted. Towards this end, I quantified the characteristics and use of private-ponds in central Alabama as well as the management objectives, pond management techniques/enhancements, and the awareness of available services of the region’s private- pond owners via a telephone survey. I surveyed 135 randomly selected private-pond owners in 23 central Alabama counties. The three most common techniques/enhancements used by pond owners were fertilization (48%), providing supplemental pellet feed (45%), and stocking supplemental forage for largemouth bass (12%). Threadfin shad were the most commonly stocked forage species (33%). The results from these surveys were used to identify 50 ponds to assess fish population response to varying combinations of the most commonly used management enhancements/techniques. Ponds were sampled using boat electrofishing to quantify largemouth bass and bluegill population characteristics. Water quality, morphometric, and watershed soil characteristics were also quantified for each site. Results showed that a great deal of variability existed within management classifications. However, threadfin shad enhanced ponds exhibited overall greater length-frequency distributions, stock density indices, growth, body condition, and density of largemouth bass when compared to those ponds that did not contain threadfin shad. Bluegill length-frequency distributions and densities were similar among all fertilizer and threadfin shad enhanced ponds and stock density indices and body conditions were similar among all management strategies. This information provides insight toward determining the most effective techniques and enhancements for the production and maintenance of quality sportfish populations in southeastern U.S. small impoundments, supporting further recreational and economic opportunities throughout the region.