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Care of Trout in Recreational Ponds During the Winter

Trout will generally do well during the Winter months with very
little care, although there are a few things to be aware of:

Frozen Ponds
In ponds that normally have water flowing through them, it is
important to maintain the flow (into and out of the pond). The pond
surface can freeze for an extended period (2-3 weeks or more) with
no harm to the trout as long as the flow is sustained. It is not
necessary to break the ice in the pond, except as needed to
maintain the flow.

It is unlikely but if the pond is static (no inflow and outflow),
it may be necessary to break and remove the ice. With a static
pond, most of the oxygen in the water is resulting from contact
with the air during the winter. If the pond surface is completely
frozen for an extended period, this can act as a barrier to
replentishing the oxygen in the water. This is especially true if
there is snow covering the ice. Most trout ponds have constantly
flowing water so this is usually not an issue.

Feeding Trout
Decrease the feeding rate as the water temperature declines. For
example; At a water temperature of 40oF, 300 trout that
are 14 inches in length should consume about 1.5 pounds of feed,
1-3 times per week. These same trout at 60oF can be fed
4.5 pounds of feed each day. Refer to Feeding Trout in Recreational
for more information.

If the pond surface freezes for an extended period of time, it is
not necessary to break the ice to feed the trout. At water
temperatures below 40oF, trout can survive for a month
or two without feed.

Spring Mortality
Rainbow trout will typically live about 5 years. With trout that
are two years old and older, some mortality is usually experienced
in late winter or the spring. This is caused by what is commonly
called ‘egg block’ and results from the female trout being unable
to release their eggs. There is no cure or way to prevent this from
happening, except to request sterile (triploid) trout from your
supplier. You can expect to pay a higher price for these trout, but
if you plan to keep the trout longer than 2 years, it may be worth
the additional cost. Ask your supplier for more information about
pricing and availability.

Written By

Photo of John Dorner, IVJohn Dorner, IVArea Agent, Information Management (828) 290-9876 john_dorner@ncsu.eduMadison County, North Carolina
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