Stoney Creek Pond Fisheries Management Update

by Bruce Henderson, WSC Fishing Group

A group of seven WSC members, including WSC President John Tani, met with Dr. Tom Shahady of Lynchburg College's Department of Environmental Science and a staff member on Wednesday, May 25th at Lynchburg College.

The meeting was to discuss the next steps to take to enhance the health and management of Wintergreen's ponds in Stoney Creek. (See the 2015 report from Dr. Shahady here.) The meeting focused on the below three pond management topics: 1. an aerator for the new trout pond, 2. pond management priorities, and 3. the carp population.

Solar Aerator

Solar Aerator

Purchase and Installation of an aerator for the trout pond
We were all in agreement that installing an aerator in the new trout pond would be extremely beneficial in improving the oxygen levels of the pond during the summer months as well as help moderate summer water temperatures. 

Given the high cost to run electricity to this pond, we agreed with Dr. Shahady's recommendation to install a solar-powered aerator unit from Aermaster Systems. The aerator recommended and decided upon will cost $3,000. The system would require a concrete pad, a mounting pole for the solar panel, a base unit and a concrete pad positioned on the southern end of the pond on top of, or close to, the top of the dam. 

Once the pad is installed Dr. Shahady's group would install the aerator system to include  cable in tubes running from the pad to the aerators placed on the bottom of the pond and they would also monitor the impact of the aerator on the pond.

To make this a reality the Wintergreen Property Owners Association has pledged $1,000 to this project. The community will need to receive WPOA board approval for the addition of a solar panel on the pond dam. WSC will take the lead in raising the additional $2,000 from donations. The WSC fishing group will also work with WPOA to install the concrete pad and other infrastructure at the pond's dam.

Pond management priorities for 2016
We discussed at some length on May 25th how to best manage the six of the ponds surveyed last year by Dr. Shahady and his students, taking into consideration cost and manpower availability realities. 

click to enlarge

We decided to leave four of the ponds as they are for now: The three ponds off Rodes Valley road and the northern most pond nearest the intersection of Sawmill Creek Drive and Monocan Drive. The three ponds off Rodes Valley will be primarily bass ponds and the one closest to Sawmill Creek and Monocan intersection will primarily be a pond for bream.

The two ponds selected to be "enhanced" next are the "trout pond" and the pond just above it (located to the rear of the Monocan Building, where the WSC fly casting classes have been held this year). 

In addition to the aerator on the trout pond, one goal will be to add some "structure" to the trout pond by sinking some wood in various locations within the pond. Christmas trees weighted down by concrete blocks was one suggestion. A workable plan to add this structure needs to be developed with WPOA.

Curley Leaf Weed

Curley Leaf Weed

The pond to the rear of Monocan Building needs vegetation management. This pond has a serious weed problem. Curly Leaf weed, an invasive plant, takes over this pond every year, peaking in late July when the plant begins to die and gradually fall to the bottom.

Remedies using herbicides were rejected, adding more and younger carp was not desired. This leaves physical removal of the weeds from the pond as the most practical alternative. One method recommended by Dr. Shahady was to drag a rebar across the bottom of the pond to "catch" the weeds–pulled by a tractor or truck on the open side of the pond–then collecting and composting the retrieved nuisance weed choking the pond. This plan requires WPOA approval and assistance.

Carp management
A lengthy discussion was held on the large carp population in all of WPOA's 12 ponds in Stoney Creek. The pros and cons were considered and, in the end, it was decided to leave the carp situation as is. The large carp we see in the ponds pose no threat to the ponds health as they eat very little compared to the smaller fish which do help control the weeds and grass in the ponds