by Carolyn Weise
Question: I have strung fishing line across my pond but it didn't work. The heron got some of my fish. Do you have any other ideas?
Answer: Understanding the birds' habits is the first step to discouraging them from fishing in your pond. Here are some key points:
1. They have a "knee/leg" which flexes opposite what ours does, or backwards. It has to bend forward from the knee.
2. They do not land in a pond- they land elsewhere and walk to your pond to fish.
3. They seek a suitable fishing "station" or overlook point from which to catch their dinner.
4. They are extremely patient.
5. They will open their wings above their heads as a shade awning to attract fish.
6. If that doesn't work, they "chum" by regurgitating into the water, feeding the fish...
7. They have excellent eyesight and photographic memories.
1&2) If you look at your mono-filament fishing line, as it is, "across the pond": Can you see why it hasn't deterred the heron? The purpose of using the fishing line is to place it around the perimeter of the pond, starting about 3' back, as a baffle, to make it as difficult as possible for him to reach the pond in the first place. The reason we use the clear mono-filament line isn't for the fish, it's for us. He can see it just fine, but we don't want to look at it any more than we have to. If placed close enough together, and at varying heights, he will have trouble bending his legs up and over it. Remember, these birds can hop, skip and jump, too.
3) Pond construction dictates here that we do not provide predator "feeding stations" such as shallow areas or plant ledges (unless they are already filled with plants). It would be beneficial to use logs, rocks and plants (and whatever other structures) around the perimeter to provide protection from the walking predators. (Remember that we also have raccoons in most areas and some will have bears, otters, mink and goodness knows what else!)
4) Just because you don't see him for a while does not mean he's gone! He can out-wait you as long as there are fish in the pond. He'll be back!
5&6) I have seen them do this and it isn't pretty!! They are expert fishermen. Never underestimate them. They make their livelihood at this. The good news is that yours isn't the only pond in town.
7) People who use the heron statues have to move them around every day because these birds WILL notice. If the bird statue doesn't move, they know it is a statue. Also, please note that it could attract them during mating season (March-May in the north).
My advice? Now, I can tell you that I've heard the best results have come from using a combination of prevention strategies. Use an outdoor radio with talk station playing. Have the mono-filament line properly set up and have the pond edge completed so not to invite fishing.