Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fish day

We've got a farm pond. Its about an acre which means its maybe 100 yards long and about 30 yards wide, maybe half the size of a football field. My great uncles built the pond in the '60s by scooping out a bunch of dirt around a natural brook and piling that dirt up to make a dam. The dam has a pipe running through it that lets out excess water. The pipe is an L shape with the foot of the L through the bottom of the dam and the top of the L a few feet below the top of the dam. The pipe is the magic that makes this kind of a farm pond work, if you just let the water run over a spillway it will gradually eat away the spillway and the dam will fail. The other clever trick is that inside the dam wall there is (or at least was) a rubber barrier around the horizontal part of the pipe. This barrier kept water from leaking out around the pipe when the dam was new. Considering its been standing for 50+ years I'd consider it a good design.

Most farm ponds have fish in them, its a handy way to keep down the bugs and entertain the kids. The pond was last stocked in '95 or so after a copper sulfate spill upstream killed everything in the pond. We took over the farm in 2002 and sometime around 2005 somebody stole all our fish. I don't have a problem with somebody coming down and catching a fish occasionally but these people left baited hooks specifically to steal our fish.

Anyway dad and I figured enough time has passed that its time to stock again. To do that you need to get a permit from the state which dad finally got, then you take a ride to Frenchville.

The guy's operation is great, he's got several of these tanks half submerged in his yard. Up the hill there are some ponds too but we didn't go up to see them. The guy is one of those people thats always moving and busy so we didn't want to take up too much of his time.

We bought 50 6-8" brook trout which ran about $2 apiece. The process is pretty simple, he dips a net in the tank and counts 25 fish into a bucket of water, then comes the clever bit.

He dumps the bucket into a plastic bag, squeezes out the air and inflates the bag with pure oxygen. This hyper-oxygenates the water ensuring the fish survive the journey. Its about an hour ride from Caribou to Frenchville. The fish guy said the fish would be okay for up to 3 hours so I didn't hurry too much on our ride back but neither did I dawdle.

In retrospect I'd have brought a box to put the bags in but this bag didn't move an inch. The other bag rolled around the back of the truck some but the fish didn't seem to mind.

I ripped the bag open and submerged it in the pond. The fish didn't seem all that interested in coming out so I had to pour them out of the bag.

I put them in kind of a shaded spot under a cedar tree with another cedar laying in the pond. I'd talked about cutting the dead tree last year but now I'm glad I didn't. They congregated around for a minute and then went crazy eating the bugs on the surface of the water. Within about ten minutes they'd dispersed and over the next day we only occasionally saw them come to the surface to feed.

At first I'd thought that 50 fish seemed like a really big number but when you disperse them into a pond it seems like nothing. Dad says by the time we go back in October the fish will be 10 inches long or so. We won't pull any out this year, the winters are hard and we don't want to stress them so they'll have the best chance of spawning in the spring.

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