Most winters, we haven’t worried about ponds icing over—until the past few years. After portions of Lake Texoma froze, Biologist Chad Fikes heightened his awareness of conditions accompanying such events.
Although water freezes at 32 degrees, Chad explained it’s most dense at 39 degrees. As the upper layer cools, it sinks to the bottom, forcing deeper warmer zones to mix toward the surface. This reaction cools the water and leads to icing. However, when the surface temperature cools more rapidly, ice can form and actually insulate warmer temperatures below.
In a past article, Chad related benefits of aeration. As aeration keeps water moving and temperatures constant, it also helps prevent ponds from icing over. In fact, bottom diffuser systems originally were invented to prevent ponds from freezing during harsh winters in northern regions. Ponds frozen solid for extended periods may experience oxygen depletion and fish kills. However, northern ponds are often left with a thick ice cover, in part because safety is an issue.
If you elect to stop aeration during winter months, Chad suggests cutting power to the system, disconnecting air lines, and storing the compressor cabinet away from elements. Same with fountains. If not operated during winter, remove the unit just in case your pond freezes.
Have you drained water pumps and PVC lines? If you don’t store solar powered feeders, disconnect power to the motor and prevent off-season wear and tear. Don’t store batteries on concrete. Regularly charge them to keep fresh.
During the winter, Chad meets with customers to review harvest records and bass relative weight surveys. These important statistics help form management strategy for the New Year. Please call if you need help with a records keeping plan.
He reminds folks with crappie that winter months offer great angling opportunities for this species. Crappie compete with bass for baitfish. Reduce pressure on the forage base by making crappie the featured item on fish fry menus.