What is Riparian?

By Lysle Mockler

 Management of creeks, streams, stock tanks, and ponds was the evening’s topic presented by Ricky Linnex at the recent Indian Trail Master Naturalist meeting. The vegetation growing along the bank of a stream or pond plays a valuable role in a healthy riparian area. Land without vegetation creates water runoff. Plants catch and hold the water allowing it to be absorbed by the water table. Creeks and ponds naturally try to heal themselves not only with their embankment vegetation, but also with the formation of deposited sediment.  Floods are naturally healing to a creek or pond. They help water return to and build up the water table. Low velocity floods are valuable as they help the water to soak into the ground. Erosion and bare creek edges cause the water to increase in speed and not be absorbed. Droughts strengthen creeks by having grasses’ roots grow to a greater depth in search of moisture. The roots will form a mesh under the creek.

Stocking guidelines for ponds were given. Flathead minnows are feed for channel catfish and bass. One acre or more is necessary for stocking bass. You would want 2 to 3 pounds of fish per acre of surface water. Channel catfish are fine for a small or large pond. Blue gill will reproduce 2 to 4 times a year. Redear Sunfish eat snails and provide food for bass. Do not stock Green Sunfish as they eat small bass. Cull Green Sunfish by throwing them on the bank. (A lucky dinner for wildlife). Although White Crappie is good for ponds, do not stock them as they reproduce too quickly. Tilapia is good forage for bass but cannot survive water temperatures below 50 degrees. However, when they are dying they provide food for other fish.

Fingerlings need protection from hungry larger fish. The speaker mentioned throwing a dead tree in the pond. The more little branches, the greater the hiding places.

Ricky Linnex received the 2009 Educator of the Year award from the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society and has worked for 29 years with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He has written Common Rangeland Plants of North Central Texas, Their Identification, Value and Management, which is to be released in the spring of 2012.

An assortment of valuable web sites come up, if you google Texas Farm Ponds Stocking Management.

www.pondboss.com has varied, useful information for creeks and ponds.

www.aquaplant.tamu.edu.com gives valuable information about beneficial plants and problem growth in the ponds.

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