Before a group of fish can be considered customer-ready, several months of careful monitoring must be carried out to optimize the quantity and quality of the fish. Ponds are managed for variables such as fish density, fish health, feed consumption, water quality, fertilization, algae, and aquatic weeds. Carefully balancing these parameters will result in a quality product for our customers. After it is determined that there is customer demand for a variety of fish and a pond is chosen, preparations for harvest begin.
Seine netting (seining) in ponds is the primary method used to harvest fish. The other method is the total emptying of the pond through a drain pipe. Prior to seining, the fish are fed in one small area of the pond. The harvest crew will then carefully surround the fish to catch them in a 50' seine and net them into five gallon buckets. The buckets are carried to a tank truck equipped with oxygen and fish are taken to storage pools to be prepared for shipment.
The winter months in south-central Pennsylvania can create a very labor intensive harvest situation because of the formation of ice on the ponds. Surface ice 4-20" thick is cut with chainsaws and lifted from the pond with a boom truck. The pond water level is lowered through the drain pipe and the fish are harvested. It should be noted that this process does not hurt the fish, and many people believe that the weather conditions in Pennsylvania actually make our fish hardier than those grown in a more moderate climate. Ice removal can be a long, cold, and unpleasant task; however, this is another example of our dedication to provide customers with a steady supply of quality fish year round.