: cool, clear and clean water is a very valuable resource as are the creatures that live there. Clear water trout
ponds, lakes and streams are the quintessential expression of clean waters. Spring Creek is a group of Aquatic
Biologists who excel in creating the most natural trout lakes, ponds and streams. Our trout habitat designs
range from small landscape or garden trout ponds up to one-hundred acre trophy fly fishing lakes and streams.
Clients across North America seek us out for anything from phone consultations for specific issues, to site
inspections, complete trout habitat design and lake design-build to ensure every detail is perfect.
Our science based trout pond and lake designs produce all the ideal qualities of the perfect trout lake: larger
fish, cleaner, oxygen rich water, optimum growing temperatures, clear water, greatly reduced maintenance and
a much more natural and beautiful body of water. They will also significantly improve your property value. The
alternative to quality trout pond design is either defaulting to stocking warm water fish or succumbing to
ongoing lake maintenance that encompasses a significant annual expense. A well designed trout lake will not
only save in maintenance, but it will greatly extend the life of your trout pond or lake.
Over four decades of our experience and trout pond research have been dedicated to getting more trout, more habitat quality and more enjoyment out of ponds lakes and streams with the minimal level of water resource. We have repeatedly bent and broken most of the rules to deliver the best experience for our clients.
We have worked with many "do it yourself" pond construction scenarios to build trophy trout environments. If the client can follow
instruction detail and is competent on heavy construction equipment, we can supply the blueprint to a great
trout pond. This avoids those painful words " I wish I knew all this before I built this pond the first time". While an
ordinary irrigation or stock pond may be a simple venture, a real trout habitat is absolutely nothing like those
simple bodies of water.
NATURAL TROUT PONDS VS TROUT HATCHERIES & FARMS
Natural ponds lakes and streams are far different than farms and hatcheries. Fish farmers are very good at growing hatchery fish. They lack the biological experience needed to be habitat designers. What works for pellet-fed hatchery trout does not apply to wild ponds where the fish are not going to be constantly fed a pelleted diet. For a deeper discussion and to learn the perils of hatchery "Kamloops and Donaldson" trout read our pond myths page. That page is a good test of knowledge when you ask the local trout farmer about these stocks of fish. Of course if a pond is intended to be fed pellets every day, it is more of a fish farm than it is a natural lake. Those suggesting trout needs to be fed daily are not knowledgeable enough to create a rich habitat to support the trout.
TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS & TROUT IN WARM WATER PONDS
Many thousands of warm water fishing ponds can be converted to trout
habitat with a bit of help from our quiver of knowledge. In poorly designed ponds, stocking trout can fail when the
water reaches roughly 70 ° F. The trout in lakes and ponds of our designs have exceeded 80 ° F
temperatures. While this is not consistent with popular publications, we have spent our careers exceeding
common knowledge. It is best to record temperatures of existing ponds during late summer, but we have
enough of a knowledge base to make a judgement call after we know a bit about your existing waters.
How Deep does a Trout Pond need to be?
The answer to this question has so many variables that an entire book could be dedicated to the subject. The three biggest factors to trout lake and pond depth are design, water supply and the genetic stock of trout. The more efficiently we design and utilize water, the shallower the ponds can be. We will say our habitats have ranged anywhere from four feet to over 20 feet deep. This may not be the simple answer people desire, but it is the responsible way to answer a complex question.
One of the main faults of most ponds and lakes is they have been dug too deep which causes the colder water of the bottom or hypolimnion to lose its oxygen leading to an anaerobic condition that kills trout. This is a leading reason why many thousands of ponds and lake owners have settled for warm water fish instead of trout. The good news is these issues can be fixed with our propietary techniques that do not involve a redesign of the habitat. It should also be noted that most owners of trout habitat should own a dissolved oxygen meter to proactively prevent leathal habitat conditions.
TROUT POND AERATION
Bottom aerators in ponds and lakes can easily kill a population of trout. While they are popular for aerating warm water bass, bluegill and catfish ponds, they are usually leathal for trout since they mix the cold refuge water with the hot surface water which leaves no suitable habitat for cold water fish species such as trout and salmon. The only exceptions we have found to this guideline are in two cases: one- summer temperatures are cool such as in high mountain habitats and, two- there is a large cold water supply that keeps the lake / pond sufficiently cool. The vast majority of potential trout habitats do not enjoy these conditions.
We realize these recommendations differ from what is read across internet forums and trout farm websites. This explains why we create successful trout habitat where very few others have succeeded.
TROUT LAKE & POND WATER QUALITY REQUIREMENTS
The general rule is colder, cleaner and oxygen-rich water makes the best trout habitat. The good news is trout ponds that are well designed can overcome the challenges outlined in the
table below. There are hundreds of thousands of bass and blue-gill ponds today that can be converted to trout habitats without completely rebuilding the basin. People may say to simply
dig the pond deeper, but that can be a big mistake as lakes with poorer quality water lose oxygen when they get deep enough to hold cool water for trout. We will get into depth further down the page.
The next thing one might hear is "add an aerator to the pond". There are a great deal of potential trout waters that have been ruined by aerators since they mix the hot shallow water with the
cold bottom water. The best strategy is to reduce the oxygen consumption in the pond via good design. At that point, the cold water on the bottom will sustain at least brown and rainbow trout.
These types of habitats have several moving parts that complicate the overall goal. If we can identify critical elements, then we can correct them without having to restore the entire system.
The most popular and practical water source for trout lake and pond habitats is well water. Wells allow habitat creation over a much wider geography than streams and springs. Futher, land values without livewater springs and streams is often much less costly. The key to creating trout habitat from well water is in extremely efficient designs. This is especially true in warmer climates. Considering we are now able to create viable trout ponds and lakes in regions with ground water approaching 70 degrees F, this map demonstrates just how much of North America can now become home to trout. These upper limits apply to warmer water tolerant rainbow trout. Species like brook trout require cooler water. The amount of time and flow rate required from a well depends on the length of the hotter summer season along with details about wind and humidity.
Trout are very demanding of quality aquatic habitat. Lakes and ponds designed for trout are easily the most
difficult yet rewarding fish habitats to design and build. Each site has a set of unique circumstances that must
be addressed in order to achieve successful trout habitat. Combining the desire for clear water and trophy size
trout along with colorful wildflowers for natural aesthetics makes the pond design that much more challenging. After we identify what is missing in your location,
we create a pond design to address the deficiency. The result is a completely naturally functioning trout
environment including trout spawning habitat. We improve the biology, geology, chemistry, geography, and physics of aquatic environments.
Getting the sun to shine more often is the only element beyond our control. When the trout lake design and
construction come together with careful guidance, the results are incredible.
Knowledge of habitat by itself is not sufficient for the best trout stream, lake and pond designs. We
work with a wide range of trout and salmon, which are threatened and endangered species. Trout pond habitat
design and genetic stocks of trout are matched together in order to ensure your project's success.
HATCHERY TROUT VS WILD TROUT FOR PONDS & LAKES
Many people love the romance of truly wild trout in their waters. The wild fish actually adapt better to natural ponds than do hatchery trout. The question is should wild trout be transplanted to a new pond? Most of the time in smaller ponds we are going to suggest hatchery trout that are sterile triploids. These are inexpensive, they live longer and can grow larger than typical hatchery trout. To be the best stewards of wild stocks of trout, only large ponds and lakes should be stocked with natural wild stocks of fish. Spawning habitat should also be available when stocking wild trout. If those two conditions are met, then a sufficiently large population of trout can be maintained to avoid the perils of genetic inbreeding. These waters become an asset to wild fish as a refuge in case of catastrophic loss to the wild population.
For those keenly interested in having pure wild trout genetics for their ponds and lakes, read about our Wild Trout Refuge program where a landowner can help save sensitive and threatened stocks of wild trout and salmon.
SPAWNING HABITAT IN TROUT WATERS
Once the best species of trout are established in the pond / lake, the next goal is usually to ensure a sustainable population of fish. There are two main approaches to this goal, one being to continually stock sterile fish from a trout hatchery and the other being to provide viable spawning habitat for the fish to reproduce either within the pond or in a stream constructed as part of the lake habitat. The first method is the least expensive since trout fingerlings can be purchased for a very reasonable price. Providing habitat for spawning goes well beyond providing ongoing restocking of trout ponds. Allowing the fish to spawn relieves the stress of maturation that kills many fish during the spawning season. If fishing for larger trophy size wild trout is important for the habitat, then a spawning habitat will be important. Spring Creek can design a uniquely simple spawning habitat in leui of a major investment in a stream. Many clients prefer a stream since they can be built large enough for fishing and floating in small boats. To answer the question "Can trout spawn or reproduce in a pond", the answer is yes. It just takes more knowledge to accomplish.
TYPES OF TROUT PONDS & LAKES
A wide range of reasons and goals for building trout habitat exist. A few of the more popular types of habitats include:
- Trophy trout fishing lakes These are most often public waters and private resorts. Guest ranches and resorts with trout waters are very popular destinations.
- Fly Fishing Lakes Fly fishing lakes are a bit different than other trophy fishing waters in the idea these waters are designed to grow very large crops of invertebrates and bugs
- Farm Ponds for Trout These are usually meant to supply a few dinners each month while still providing for recreational fishing
- Pay to fish Trout Ponds This type of water should be considered more of an outdoor amusement park instead of the common idea of a place to grow trout. The successful pay to fish trout pond will sell many times more fish than they can grow themselves.These pay for fishing trout ponds are not all created equal.
- Backyard Trout Habitats Small backyard ponds are a very good place to enjoy the beauty of trout when size of real estate is an issue. We often ask why create still waters when a small trout stream produces gorgeous aesthetic qualities to a home?
EXPERIENCE AND CREATIVITY. With over thirty years of biological experience and creative problem
solving across North America, along with the practical construction experience, we provide you with scientific
and practical solutions to build trout pond habitats correctly the first time. Because of our uniquely effective
trout habitat designs, we build trout ponds, streams and lakes all across North America, including some very
surprising southern locations. Our projects have ranged from trout in small landscape ponds, up to large lakes
and analyses of entire watersheds. We have a great deal of experience pushing the limits of temperature
tolerance of trout. We have developed a range of creative methods to accomplish what many will claim is not
possible. From decades of experience, we know what is required. If we do not believe it can be done, we will
happily give you a conservative assessment. Your successful trout habitat is too important to our business.
WHAT HAVE WE DONE LATELY? We recently completed a small trout pond project in the searing heat of
central California. While we ensure success by layering additional design features, we did not have to
go to the nth degree to achieve success on this project. Again we learned how to push the boundaries of
possibility even further via this experience.
YOUR VISION IS OUR VISION.
Our clients know what they want in a trout pond. Usually the answer is: everything. Clear water, trophy size trout, beaches, natural beauty and low maintenance. We rely on our wealth of fish pond construction experience across the continent to deliver and exceed those goals. We may add a beach for families or a stream large enough to catch over-sized trout on very light tackle. We will blend our creative solutions with your dreams to build an outdoor recreation dream for not just the trout fisherman, but everyone who enjoys cool clean natural water.
click on 3d lake for larger view
We have an outline for your use to plan and carry out your project
with as much or little help as you require from us. Spend some time looking through our aquatic PLANNING GUIDE to assist you in developing the best aquatic habitat possible. Be sure to visit our TECHNICAL FAQs page for answers to your important questions.
Looking for pond, lake or waterfront property? Take a look at our new PROPERTY LISTING PAGE to locate or sell existing prime property for aquatic habitats.
If you are in the real estate market with particular interests in waterfront properties, spend some time reading the WATERFRONT and LAKE PROPERTY BUYERS GUIDE to evaluate river and lake front properties.
IN THE NEWS: Our Senior Fishery Biologist was the Technical Adviser for an important new trophy trout fishing book titled: Big Trout. This book will change the way you think of chasing trophy trout.
If you find this information valuable consider spreading our message by copying a link to any of our pages into places you frequent on the internet. link to Spring Creek.
Virtually every habitat we create increases habitat for species of native rare wetland plants, sensitive species of fish or wildlife such as frogs.
If you "like", others may benefit from this information.