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Lake management first requires a survey of existing physical factors that contribute to the lake's condition. Everything that occurs in the watershed area effects the condition of the pond or lake. The materials that enter the pond with the water usually end up on the bottom, which causes the build-up of organic "muck" (the black, smelly material). This robs the water of oxygen which can cause poor fishing in warm weather, and can lead to low-oxygen fish kills in summer and winter. This black smelly material is loaded with nutrients that feed aquatic weeds and algae growth. This condition accelerates with age unless steps are taken to correct it. There are practical solutions that slow and reverse this process. But just as the problem did not develop over night, it can't be corrected over night. Lake management is a continuing process that can be undertaken by any pond or lake owner.
Having a clean lake with good fishing, swimming, and boating is no accident. Whether you do it or it occurs naturally (very rarely in the midwest) two requirements must be met: (1) there must be an abundance of dissolved oxygen and, (2) there must be an abundance of food for fish and other organisms. Most ponds and lakes provide neither of these most of the year!
The ideal situation is to have little or no organic deposits on the lake bottom. The ideal bottom material is clay and or aggregate material like stone, sand, or gravel. Such material provides excellent habitat for fish and fish food organisms and does not rob the water of life-giving oxygen. The water stays clearer, and both algae and rooted weeds do not thrive because there is nothing to feed it. Most lakes are slowly dying from a build-up of too much fertilizer from lawns, effluents, crop run-off, and other organic debri. These materials break down rapidly in the air and sun, but not on pond bottoms.
It is best to use nature to control nature. Biological control of problems is ideal but not always workable. Dependence on herbicides alone to control aquatic vegetation leads to an even greater problem as the decaying weeds and algae add to the organic muck accumulation on the bottom where it feeds the next crop of weeds and algae.
A lake management practice that does the most for the least money is regularly dropping the water level to expose as much of the bottom as is practical to the air. This allows the natural breakdown of bottom materials and stimulates fish growth by pooling the fish population together which allows the predators (such as bass) to eat the smaller and often over populated fish. This provides a better balanced and larger (individual size) fish population. This practice also reduces shoreline erosion, can drive out muskrats, and reduces structural ice damage.
On site Management begins with a survey that is followed with specific recommendations. The survey can include: depth sounding, sediment sampling, checking the water shed area, and water sources, water tests, inspection of the dam and overflow, checking shoreline erosion and animal damage, identifying plant and algae growth, and general fish health. For consultation by correspondence, the pond owners will need to provide as much information as they can. More pond management information.