Author Topic: Pond Renovation.  (Read 627 times)

Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Pond Renovation.
« on: December 04, 2016, 11:51:13 AM »
I completed renovation of our pond 12 months ago and stocked the end of February this year.  This is how it looked when we acquired the property.  It had large mats of alligator weed completely around the pond, a thicket of willows, large pines and a sweetgum on the dam.  The dam had deteriorated over the years till it was a dike holding the water back.  It was devoid of bass and overrun with stunted black crappie, large green sunfish and stunted green sunfish/bluegill hybrids.       



This is how the pond looked after all the work and stocked.



The pond gained surface area, bank edge and depth.  The banks were cleared and improved such that mowing can be handled by mechanical means fully around the entire pond during dry times.  I added two earth "casting piers."  :)  The pond settled out at a hair over an acre.  We stocked 800 coppenose bluegill, 200 redear sunfish, 50 largemouth and 10 pounds of fathead minnows.  The fathead spawned early producing lots of fry for the bass, the redears spawned next and the coppernose spawned four times.  The bass didn't spawn and I added 60 small bass from another pond late in the summer to aid in bluegill predation.  At this time the larger bass are over 12" and the largest coppernose will stretch to 7" with great profile and thick.  This is a female coppernose that taped 7.25 inches when I sampled a month ago.  We have fed the coppernose on Purina AquaMax 500 [41% protein] since I trained them to floating pellets.   



I contracted with an old friend who builds ponds and other dirt work.  They worked three and a half days on the pond along with other work I needed on the property.  I stayed with them the entire time they were on the property.  Several times we encountered issues with the original plan and had to change course.  A view across the dam at, what my wife says, is my office.  :)
 


Later I will add images of the process for those who might find it interesting and my management program. 




Offline Rick Z

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 33
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2016, 01:43:44 PM »
Good looking pond.  Enjoy it.

Rick

Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 08:09:45 AM »
From the beginning our goal was to manage the pond for large bluegills, specifically coppernose while providing a user friendly and safe environment for the many youngsters in our family. 

The first item was to drain the pond as best we could without destroying the integrity of the dam.  We rounded up a pump and accessories and a semi-retired family member volunteered to supervise the operation.  He pumped during the day till dark and had full use of the cabin so he spent most of his time on site.  Our rig might not win a beauty contest but we were able to reduce the pond down to about three feet in the deep end.  We rotenoned the fish and from what I could determine, we got a 99% kill.  Rotenone is now a registered pesticide and it was quite a task to obtain and apply through a registered applicator.  When applied properly and thoroughly it does the job and breaks down quickly.  Between the birds, coons, possums and one large common snapper, the dead fish disappeared within a week.  The largest fish I observed was one catfish in the two pound range.

We allowed the exposed areas to dry for several months during the late summer before bringing in the equipment.



The big boys' toys rolled in and went to work.  We planned to increase the surface area best we could without raising the dam significantly, gain depth where we could, remove as much of the accumulated silt and junk, increase edge by building two peninsulas[casting platforms  :)], clean up all banks to allow mechanical mowing and easy access and leave over 50% of the pond with deep water starting right at the banks.  We left most of the stumps but other than that, no cover. 

 
 

Offline texanafield

  • Brim Bug
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Brian Davis
    • Texan Afield
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2017, 06:04:12 PM »
That'll provide years of enjoyment for your family.  Small pond fishing is some of my favorites!  Congrats on a job well done.
I wasn't born in Texas, but got here as soon as I moved.

Offline Catch

  • Global Moderator
  • Foam Spider
  • *****
  • Posts: 16
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2017, 12:20:26 PM »
Cliff, I've been managing a few ponds for many years. You did a first class job with yours! 

I know you're doing supplemental feeding, and that has resulted in some impressive growth, but I wonder if you've measured the water chemistry?  Particularly water hardness.


Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2017, 11:29:42 PM »
I haven't tested the water but suspect it hard because of our iron soil and is something I need to do.  There is a four acre pond on the wife's cousin's place two miles from us that is built in the same type soil and quit productive for large bass and bluegill.  I had surgery this past November to repair the tendon to my large toe on my left foot I'd severed in a freak accident.  It put a stop to my hunting and fishing and by the fourth week I needed some relief so grabbed some commie tackle and went.  I was concerned about the footing around the pond wearing that danged boot and left the fly rods at home, the commie tackle being easier to use.  I caught and released this 5.25 pound bass my first trip



and the third produced an 8.25 pound bass on a crappie jig and 6 lb. line.   



This is a nice 13 inch bass I caught in our pond on a small crawfish pattern January 3rd.  Most of the original 50 stocked bass are in the 12 to 13 inch range.  So far the bass have done a good job of predation on the small bluegills.  We have not been successful in catching any of the red ear sunfish stocked.  They will be the first to spawn in a couple months and I'll be able to evaluate them then.       



I've yet to decide on a harvesting strategy but thinking about removing bass at 14 inches.  With bluegills I'm leaning toward a slot system where we keep those between 6 inches and 8 inches, releasing those under and over.  I plan to allow removing some females over 8 inches.  Fishing with bait will be limited to children to reduce the mortality on our big fish caused by deep hooking.  Our best bet to produce copper nose in excess of one pound will come from the original stocking.  This pound plus bluegill my buddy is holding is what they look like.  :)   


Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 09:22:13 AM »
My brother-in-law stopped by recently and this was his first attempt at fly fishing since his youth when he played around with one of those old automatic fly reels.  One of several nice coppernose taken on a small while popper using a 4wt I keep at our cabin.  Here is one of the largest, a fat and sassy eight inches.



I caught this bass the other day with large crawfish lodged in its throat.  Greedy little sucker.



Our first bass moved on a bed yesterday, the 20th of March.  My wife even dropped by after work to observe the spawning ritual with male bumping and pushing the female and continually having to run off other suitors attempting to sneak in on his lady.  That's her in this photo. 



I have changed one item in our feeding program and that was to mix Aquamax 600[9/32"] with the 500[3/16"] in a 50/50 ratio.  We still have a number of bass feeding on the pellets.  We plan to remove them for a fish fry when they reach 14 inch mark.  :)

The pond has quite a number of year old bluegills about the size of the ones we stocked the pond with.  With four or so spawns this coming summer our bass will be pressed to managed the additions.  It will be critical to do so and i likely will manually remove a number by trapping.  I found last year that you can teach bass to accept manual feeding small bluegills.  I found bass can see the fish coming and have tossed the bluegills 10 feet past the bass and they reacted immediately and were waiting on the bluegill when it landed.  At times I had a dozen or so lined up watching for me to toss them lunch.  :)     


 

Offline qualey99

  • Brim Bug
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 01:59:43 PM »
Looks beautiful, Cliff.
The enemy of Good is Better

Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2017, 03:16:55 PM »
I had to meet a fellow at the cabin this afternoon and while waiting I walked around the pond and notice two fish hanging around some of the old beds from last year.  If was difficult to tell if they were redears or coppernose so I walked up to the cabin and grabbed one of the kids fiberglass poles and a box of worms I keep around for them.  They were coppernose.  The first one was about as big as I'd checked lately.



The second one turned out to be largest I'd checked to date.  I cannot wait to see what these bigger 'gills will look like by summer end.  The photos make the first 'gill look larger but it is an illusion.  :)


Offline Flydude

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 29
  • Thomas
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2017, 06:24:02 PM »
Hey Cliff,

They sure look healthy and hopefully will get even bigger.
May the sun always shine and the wind be to your back, Thomas

Offline chunting

  • Foam Spider
  • **
  • Posts: 21
  • Cliff Huntington
Re: Pond Renovation.
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2017, 07:43:20 AM »
Our coppernose bluegills are finishing up their second spawn and we've left them alone to tend to their business.  I just recovered from my first kidney stone episode and started back working on the pond house this week.  Yesterday I slipped one of my favorite rods, an older Sage SP 586, in the back of my old Suburban[1997] after deciding to do a little sampling along with some renovation work.  A fellow has to take a break now and then.  :)

One of our problems has been the number of the original bass stocking that are addicted to the Aquamax pellets.  They act more like trout when we feed.  We are paying these guys to eat small bluegills instead of panhandling on the pellets.  :)  So, time to check their size as many of them look to be approaching the magical 14" length at which we will begin to remove.  The kids will enjoy this culling work. 

I caught four bass and six bluegill.  Two of the bass were smaller, bluegill eaters I'd stocked as four to seven inches last year, to aid in bluegill predation, now in the 10-11 inch range but slimmer than the stockers.  I fed the fish and duped two of the pellet eating, stocker bass and put them on the tape and Bogagrip.

This 13 incher weighed 1.25 lbs.



The second taped 14+ inches and weighed 1.75 lbs and put up a really spirited fight on the five wt. 



Four of the bluegills appeared to be smaller females and I took two from one of the bedding area to see what size the bulls doing the spawning were.  Both bulls had great form and taped a solid eight inches plus.



We are really pleased with the growth of our bluegills to this point.  But here forward, reaching that magical size of one pound, will depend on adhering to our management plan.  My hope is to move the larger bulls into the 10 inch range by fall.  We will be almost there at that point.

I'm using Aquavet products to control the alligator weed and soft rushes in and around the pond edges.  Snakes haven't been an issue this year but I did remove a couple cottonmouths last year with the old .20 gauge.  :)  All none poisonous snakes get a free ride.

We began feeding a mix of Aquamax 500 and 600 pellets earlier this year.

So far, all is going pretty much as planned.