Fishing Lake Fertilization and Liming

Liming a Fishing Lake:

  • The best time to lime a fishing lake is during construction at a stage similar to the photo (at right) of a lake under construction. Take a soil test and lime to raise the pH to 6.5 or slightly higher. Try to apply as you are placing the soil in the top foot. Mix the lime in any way you can.
  • Lime sometimes needs to be added to lakes that have already been built. This is best accomplished by applying agricultural ground limestone on the lake. There are companies that do this but it can be done by a do-it-your-selfer. This process can be as simple as loading a modest amount on a boat and move around shoveling the lime out into the water. Wave action will aid in distribution. Pelleted lime would be expensive per ton but can be spread by an over the shoulder broadcast spreader. Call us if you need help.

Fertilizing a Fishing Lake:

Fertilizing a lake will increase the poundage of fish in your lake. This is because fertilization will increase the amount of zooplankton and phytoplankton which are the basis of the food chain in the lake. You can expect a 2-4 times increase in the poundage of fish in a lake when the lake is properly limed and fertilized.
Lake fertilizer is water soluble. Some of the lake fertilizer is in pellets and can be spread with a shoulder type broadcast spreader. Other lake fertilizer comes in a form more like sugar and can be spread from a boat while pouring the fertilizer in the wake of a trolling motor. This type of fertilizer can also be spread on a small lake simply by pitching it out from a dock. Because lake fertilizer is water soluble it will dissolve in the lake by wave and wind action.

Never fertilize a lake when it is muddy.

Start the first fertilization in the spring when the surface water temperature reaches 65 degrees. When algae blooms occur the water turns a shade of green. Additional fertilizer is needed when the water is clear but not when the water is not clear. There are commercial instruments to check the clarity of water. Our staff uses a simple homemade water clarity checker. This is made by nailing an aluminum pie plate to the end of a broom stick after cutting off the broom end. Then make marks with paint around the stick 18″ and 24″ from the pie plate. When the pie plate is pushed down in the water and is not visible between the depths of the marks, fertilization is not needed. If you can see the pie plate when the surface of the water is at the 24″ mark, it is time to fertilize.
The following are estimates of the times when fertilization will be needed in the Mid-South. Just remember to check the temperature for the first fertilization and use your pie plate tool for the rest of the summer. The poundage is given for a one acre lake. Double for a two acre lake and so forth.

– March 15 – 8 pounds
– April 1 – 8 pounds
– April 15 – 6 pounds
– May 7 – 6 pounds
– June 1 – 4 pounds
– June 21 – 4 pounds
– July 21 – 4 pounds
– August 21 – 4 pounds
– September 21 – 4 pounds

Based on this information it takes about 50 pounds of lake fertilizer to fertilize each acre of lake surface per year.