When it comes to providing a sustainable ecosystem, especially one that contains largemouth bass and/or a variety of top freshwater predators, it is important to optimize habitat in your water. This is also especially true for those lakes and ponds that have uniform bottoms (i.e. a bowl dug into the ground without contours) or without a plankton bloom to limit visibility of sight predators such as largemouth bass. In the majority of lakes we survey, there usually is not enough cover, which most commonly leads to increased supplemental stockings and predator fish that have a tough time putting on weight. When deciding what to utilize as habitat, lake and pond owners have to decide whether to go the natural or artificial route. Below, I will get into the benefits of each so that our customers can be better informed about whatever route they choose to explore.
Natural habitat refers to organic and inorganic material that occurs naturally, such as stumps, logs, rocks, and brush piles. Sinking old, felled trees and/or Christmas trees is a great way to provide lots of cover. A benefit of natural cover is that you likely already have some in your pond without even trying. Adding more is often easy as natural cover is often free and easy to find. For those trying to keep as natural an aesthetic as possible (e.g. no feeders etc.), natural cover is likely the way to go. One consideration with natural habitat is that organic natural habitat (e.g. wood/timber) will degrade over time and lose their effectiveness as they degrade.
Artificial habitat refers to anything man made added to the water to enhance cover, such as PVC. The largest benefit of any type of artificial habitat over natural habitat is simply the fact that it doesn’t break down and lose effectiveness over time. With artificial habitat, you can go with professionally designed products, such as the Mossback products that we offer, or you can go the DIY route. The benefit of Mossback products is that we can come install them for you and they come with a lifetime warranty. Mossback products have products specially designed for different depths to make multiple sections of your water body productive. Mossback also specifically designs their products to reduce lure hang-ups and to promote the growth of periphyton (beneficial microscopic organisms like algae and bacteria). The downside to their products is that they are fairly expensive, so many people on a stricter budget attempt to DIY artificial habitat themselves, often in the form of making “trees” out of PVC and putting them in concrete blocks to create a similar effect as Mossback products.
Whichever route that you choose, be sure to place your habitat strategically. Usually, the more vertical you can make your habitat in the water column, the more effective it is. If you have automatic fish feeders, putting habitat near/in front of those will maximize its benefit. Putting habitat near shallow areas is a great way to protect your fish fry from excessive predation while putting habitat in deeper areas is also very important to create ambush points for your larger fish, letting them live the lazy lifestyle that helps them pack on the pounds. Additionally, we recommend adding some markers (i.e. buoys, duck decoys etc.) over the areas where you have placed large pieces of habitat. You may have heard the saying that 90% of fish are in 10% of the water. This saying alludes to the fact that fish will go to areas that have the best conditions to ensure their chances of feeding and survival. Habitat is one such condition that makes an area much more productive. Therefore, marking areas of dense habitat is a great way to give yourself a cheat code to the fishing hot spots in your water body.