Ashton Park Pond
Amenities at Ashton Park Pond include:
Fall 2008 Tandem Hoop Net Assessment - A total of 7,658 channel catfish (1985 – 2005) (425/year, 53 fish/acre) have been stocked in Ashton Pit; however, little is known about the status of the catfish population and effects stocking rates may have on the overall fish population. Tandem hoop net sampling was conducted from October 11th – October 14th , 2005 (54° F) , October 10th – 19th , 2006 (58° - 48° F) and October 16h – 25th, 2007 (55° F) in Ashton Pit to determine channel catfish population densities and biomass; however, lower water temperatures may have strongly influenced the overall catch. Water temperature was around 55°F at the start of the hoop net assessments which is the lower end of the minimum recommended water temperature for fall tandem hoop netting (55° - 70°F, fall tandem hoop net sampling range). It is believed that the cooler water temperatures resulted in limited catfish movement, influencing the overall catch.
Tandem hoop net sampling was again conducted from September 2nd – 18th, 2008 (72° F) in Ashton Pit to determine channel catfish population densities and biomass. Channel catfish catch rates have steadily declined the past four years suggesting a diminished channel catfish population in Ashton Pit. During the 2005 assessment, channel catfish was very prevalent within the catch (114 fish per series) suggesting a high density present in Ashton Pit. A channel catfish catch rate of 6 fish per series (2008 tandem hoop net assessment) was approximately 19 times lower then the 2005 assessment suggesting a declining population in Ashton Pit
The 2008 population estimate for the channel catfish population of Ashton Pit was 31 pounds per acre (17 fish per acre). RSD values also indicate a shift in the channel catfish population of Ashton Pit. Stock (11 – 15.9 inches) size fish declined to 48 (82, 80 and 71 percent; 2005, 2006 and 2007 tandem hoop net assessment) while quality (15.0 – 23.9 inches) size fish increased to 47 percent (18, 19 and 27 percent; 2005, 2006 and 2007 tandem hoop net assessment). Preferred (>23.0 inches) size comprised the remaining 2 percent of the sample.
To better assess the channel catfish population, pectoral spines were collected and analyzed. The 2004 - 2000 (age V- IX) year classes were once again present in the catch. Overall growth rates of the channel catfish population of Ashton Pit continue to be significantly less than other channel catfish areas within the Spirit Lake District; however, individual growth rates of the 2003 and 2004 year classes reflect an overall improvement in growth. This improvement in growth rates could be an indicator of a lower catfish population and decreased competition for available food and space in Ashton Pit. Growth rates of the Ashton Pit catfish population will continue to be monitored in future surveys.
Channel catfish relative weight, an indice of body condition the past three years had remained relatively unchanged (92, 93 and 91; 2005, 2006 and 2007 assessment).
Relative weigh improved to 99 during the 2008 tandem hoop net assessment and is within the 95 – 105 target range reflecting a fish population in good body condition.
Relative weights for stock (11.0 – 15.9 inches) and quality (16.0 – 23.9 inches) size channel catfish was 98 (89, 90 and 88; 2006, 2005 and 2004 fall hoop net assessment), and 100 respectively, indicating improvement of the overall body condition of the catfish population of Ashton Pit.
Length frequency analysis continues to reflect a crappie population dominated by of one year class exhibiting continued slow growth. Overall growth rates (2005 age and growth analysis) were significantly less than indices for small impoundments within the Spirit Lake District. Relative weight of 85 declined (92; 2007 fall hoop net assessment) and is below the target range of 95-105. The overall poor body condition of the black crappie population and the stunted nature of this population suggest excessive numbers exists in Ashton Pit.
Bluegill were also sampled in the highest numbers (n=154) since 2005. Length frequency analyses reflect stock (3.0 – 5.9 inches) size fish, comprised of two year classes make up the bulk of the bluegill population in Ashton Pit. To better assess the bluegill population, whole otoliths were collected and analyzed. The 2005 - 2006 (age III and IV) year classes comprised 19 and 79 percent in the catch. Overall growth rates of the bluegill population of Ashton Pit are good with growth rates comparable to other bluegill areas within the Spirit Lake District. Overall a relative weight of 79 reflects a bluegill population in relatively poor body condition.
Rough fish comprised of white sucker, carp and bullheads were sampled during the 2008 assessment. It is apparent that these undesirable fish species may have migrated into Ashton Pit from Otter Creek during periods of high water. It is imperative that control of these species will be needed before any improvement to the panfish populations can be made.
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