So you’re thinking about building a fish ladder to help your angling catch more fish. Congrats! It is a bit of an addiction for anglers to keep on coming back for more, but the satisfaction of landing a big fish is well worth it. While you’re super happy accomplishing this feat, there is one thing that you should probably know before you begin your construction journey.
The process of creating a fish ladder can be quite challenging, even if you have all the right tools and the know-how. You may not be prepared for how long it really takes to build one. Here is a rough estimate of how long it takes to build a functional fish ladder using common tools available at home.
Depending on how big your pond is, you’re either going to need a few cheap electronic tools or one expensive piece of equipment to easily measure the conductivity of the water. If you decide to go with a few inexpensive tools, you probably don’t need a KI sensor fence or an underwater wireless camera to do your job. You can get away with just using an Ohmmeter and a multimeter.
If money is no object to you and you want to build the best possible fish ladder, you may want to consider investing in a probe arm to test the conductivity of the water. This can get quite expensive, so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to spend the money before you make a purchase decision. Your other option is to use the Ohmmeter and multimeter to test the conductivity of the water in your pond.
If you don’t have the money to invest in a probe arm, you can go with some PVC pipe. You’ll need at least 4 feet of 18-gauge PVC pipe in order to create a complete circuit with 2 connections. You may need to go up a size or two depending on the width of the area where you’ll be placing your ladder. Using a few different colors of plastic pipe to blend in with the terrain can also improve your camouflage in order to not attract any fishmouths or other aquatic life. Depending on how many times you’ll be connecting and disconnecting your pipes, you may need to go up a size or two. If you live in a colder climate, you may also want to consider using aluminum tape to protect your fingers from freezing. You’ll need to leave at least 1/2 inch of space at the end of each run so you can grab the fish and pull it up into your net.
If money is no object to you and you want to build the best possible fish ladder, you may want to consider investing in the best quality materials. You’ll need at least 4 feet of 18-gauge stainless steel that is a bit larger in diameter than your wrist. The diameter of the shaft is going to dictate how easily you can move it around. Bigger diameter equals easier movement and less friction. You’ll also need some 20-penny nails to affix the ladder to pieces of wood or concrete depending on what type of surface you have available. If you have a concrete surface, you may want to consider using a waterproof pen to mark the spot where the ladder will go before beginning your construction process. This way you’ll ensure you dig the appropriate hole and place the ladder where you marked it. There is also a tool available called a stainless steel hole saw that can make quick work of this task.
If you have a relatively small pond and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on materials, you can go with either a tub or large bucket. You’ll need at least 4 feet of the former to completely immerse yourself when you’re pulling weeds. The reason why you want to choose a tub is because it’s wider than a bucket, meaning it will fit more soil when filled. If you live in a colder climate and you put a layer of ice on top of your water, you may want to consider using a tub instead of a bucket. This is because a tub will keep your water at the right temperature for the fish to live in. If you put a bucket in the freezer, your fish may become sluggish due to low temperatures. Additionally, you can always place a heater in the bucket to keep your water at the desired freezing point.
Of course, one of the most essential elements to building a fish ladder is the rope. You’ll need at least 10 feet of 12-ply climbing rope at least 6 feet in length in order to safely climb up and down your structure. The diameter of the rope is going to determine how much friction you have while climbing. The larger the diameter, the less friction. You’ll also need some prongs or hooks on one end of the rope in order to affix the other end to a fixed object. If you don’t have a fixed object, you can always use the other end of the rope to create a noose and let the fish jump in order to catch them. You can get away with just about any type of rope as long as it is not too thick and has the appropriate diameter to create the proper friction.
Another essential element to building a fish ladder is wood. You’ll need a few pieces of wood to create the stairs, as well as a couple of pieces of wood to create platforms or landings on which your fish can jump. You can use any type of wood as long as it is not too soft and has the right thickness to support your weight. Make sure to plane or saw down any rough edges that may be sticking out on the sides of the wood before you begin your construction process. Additionally, you may want to consider using cedar wood for these structures because it has a pleasant aroma that will help keep your pond clean. You can sand down the surface of the wood to further blend it into its environment.
Once all of your materials are in place, you’ll need to start packing. Even though you probably have a small pond, it’s still a large amount of water, and a lot can go wrong during the packing process. You’ll need at least 2 people, one to help carry the materials and another to help unpack the materials after the job is done. Make sure to bring a flashlight and gloves along so you can easily see what you’re doing and keep your hands free from wet or grimy materials. Additionally, you may want to wear clothes that are a bit dirtier so you can better blend in with the environment around your pond. Always make sure to bring a pair of wet-weather gear along in case any water gets on the gear you’re wearing. This is especially important if you’re working outside during inclement weather. If any water gets on your skin or clothing, it can cause irritation and fungus growth that may be harmful to your health.
If you have a bit of an aggressive personality and aren’t scared of a little tough manual labor, you may want to consider welding during the construction process. You’ll need to carefully measure the distance from the top of your ladder to the start of your pond (length) and from the side of your pond to the end of your pond (width). If you’re using a tub or bucket, it may be a good idea to drill holes in the bottom of the container so you can attach the ladder with nails or screws. Make sure to wear safety gear (masks and goggles) before beginning your task and be careful not to overexpose yourself to the welding fumes. Remember, this is dangerous work and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Carpentry is a great way to save money while still accomplishing your goal of constructing a fish ladder. If you live in a colder climate and have a lot of experience working with wood, you may want to consider using this method of construction. You’ll need to carefully measure the height of your ceiling to determine how many rungs you need in order to reach the highest point. Additionally, you’ll need to take into consideration how much space you have between the ceiling and floor for your wooden structure. This is where most carpentry mistakes occur because people measure the distance from the floor or the ground without taking into consideration the height of the ceiling.
Another cheap and easy way to build a fish ladder is to tile the area around it. This way you’ll avoid the possibility of your ladder being damaged by sharp objects such as shovels or hay forks. Additionally, you can use this space to grow plants or flowers for a more natural look. You’ll need 5 mm thick porcelain or glass tiles to complete this process, and you’ll want to make sure to use a waterproof sealant to protect your work surface from water damage. If you live in a hot climate and have a lot of ground space, you may want to consider using tiles to build a fish ladder.