POA ups number of fish-raising ponds
This year, the POA will have four nursery ponds, double the number used last year, but they will probably all be used to raise crappie, Lakes and Park Superintendent Rick Echols said.
He arranged to have two additional ponds on the Berksdale Golf Course drained this spring, bringing his total up to four, he said. Draining the ponds and letting the bottom dry kills some of the insects that could kill the tiny fish. Any large fish in the ponds are moved to a different pond, he said when the project began last spring.
Finding fish to put in the ponds is sometimes difficult.
Last year Echols bought 100,000 walleye fry in Iowa to raise in one pond, but after he moved the tiny fish to their new home, the state told him he couldn’t put them in Bella Vista lakes. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission oversees all lakes including the manmade ones in Bella Vista. Because the commission realized Echols had acted in good faith, they donated some walleye to stock in the area and later they allowed him to move his surviving fish. Unfortunately, by the time the state gave him permission to move the fish, only a small percentage survived.
With an empty pond to fill, Echols went to Hot Springs Village looking for walleye that would be encouraged to spawn in his nursery pond. He planned to raise enough to stock some fish in both Bella Vista and Hot Springs. But he found only saugeye, a hybrid fish that doesn’t reproduce well. The walleye in Bella Vista lakes are still too young to be used as brood stock, he said.
He has considered raising catfish in one pond. Catfish will reproduce in Bella Vista lakes, but he usually stocks some each year. He believes they would do well in a golf course nursery pond, but because catfish are easy to raise, they are also inexpensive to stock. It may not be a money saver to raise them in the pond, he said.
The crappie raised in a pond did well last year. He caught the brood fish in one of the Bella Vista lakes and eventually stocked 3,700 crappie in three Bella Vista lakes. This year he may have four times that number.