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#497121 - 10/02/18 04:50 PM My 85 year old pond
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
Hello, new guy here. I introduced myself in the other forum.

We own property in Edna, Tx which is primarily used for deer hunting and cattle. There are 4 ponds/stock tanks on it, one of which I am wanting to create a LMB fishery. This is the largest of the 4 tanks. After talking to some neighbors and old farmers in the area, I found out that it was dug in the 1930's as part of a government program that was doing public works projects to help people recover from the depression. Pretty cool! It is roughly 1.6 acres and I am being told was initially dug to 12-14 feet deep. Im sure it has silted in some over the years but Im taking a boat to probe around this weekend and record actual depths. The water is muddy, not sure on visibility but will check this weekend. It has a large open main body with a couple shallower slews branching off. I am going to set a couple trotlines this weekend and do a survey of what fish are in there. The previous owner may have put some catfish in there that were caught in the nearby river. I have fished it, but not hard. We caught nothing on lures, and some kind of perch and a couple mud cats on bait.

My goal for this pond is to create excellent LMB fishing, along with possibly some BG or SF or something for the smaller kids. I would really like to grow some trophy bass in the 6+ lb range. We will C&R, and only remove fish when necessary to sustain a healthy population. Not really interested in catfish, as I am reading that you should pick one or the other (bass or catfish).

So where do I start? I am just beginning to do research and trying to educate myself on this stuff, because I dont know much about managing a stock tank/pond. Obviously I need to find out what fish are already in there. Is there another way to do this besides trotlines? I suspect there will be plenty of non desirable species in there. Do I kill off everything and start fresh? Anything I can do about the water clarity? I am fully prepared to spend time, sweat, and some money to get this right. I just need some guidance as to what steps to take to accomplish my goals for this pond. I am hoping yall can help me with this. My son and I are very excited to get started. We realize this will take time, but we are prepared to put in the work.

Thanks in advance for any help and suggestion yall can offer.

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#497130 - 10/02/18 07:53 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Mike Whatley Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 546
Loc: Louisiana
Welcome to PB!! Always glad to see new blood in the forums. You're in the right place to get some very good direction.

I'd say first thing is to figure out just what you have in terms of depth, chemistry, volume and finally, fish.

All of this information will be valuable when proceeding further into your management plans.
_________________________
.10 surface acre pond, 10.5 foot deep. SW LA. The epidomy of a mutt pond. BG, LMB, GSF, RES, BH, Warmouth, FHM, Longear Sunfish, Gambusia and apparently, now crappie.

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#497132 - 10/02/18 08:35 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
jludwig Offline


Registered: 05/14/11
Posts: 1456
Loc: Central Kansas
If you can, get an electroshock survey. That will tell you what kind of fish are present and what of kind shape they are in. Then you can develop a plan from there.

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#497143 - 10/03/18 01:00 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
anthropic Offline


Registered: 05/03/14
Posts: 1542
Loc: East Texas, USA
Depth survey, whether done by you or someone else, is really important. Assuming you want a good LMB pond, you will need to clear muddy water.

Bass are primarily sight feeders and usually not do well in chronically muddy water, unlike catfish.

But here's the catch: Clearing the pond water means you may have big time weed problems if there's too much shallow water. No telling how much it has silted in, needs to be checked!


Edited by anthropic (10/03/18 01:00 AM)
_________________________
8 acre E Texas, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12 inch N LMB & 1k GSH 10/17. 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18

There are only 10 types of people; those who understand binary and those who don't




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#497146 - 10/03/18 06:45 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 13633
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Step 1. Spend time really getting to know the pond and keep a log. This includes mapping it to determine depths. As Anthropic says, 75 years will mean a lot of silting. But, you already know that.

Do you know anything about the pond's history other than 75 years old?
_________________________
It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP

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#497300 - 10/08/18 10:30 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
Update...

I spent some time taking depth readings this weekend. Either it was not dug as deep as initially thought, or it has silted in a lot. The pond is currently 1' - 1.5' low. The deepest point is 7' right in front of the dam. The rest of the main body is 6' deep in the middle, going to 5' and then 4' deep in the (2) slews. Being that the pond is over a foot low, I can add 1' to the readings posted above for full pool depths. So basically at full pool I have a pond that is 6'-7' average depth, with the deepest point 8' and (2) channels/slews that are 5' deep.

The clarity is not good, maybe 4" - 5" at best. Pretty much every stock tank I've seen in Texas is about the same. It's got a muddy bottom with no vegetation or cover that I can feel in the main body. The (2) slews that branch off have some stumps and logs, but also not any vegetation other than a few weeds in the shallow coves.

I ran a trot line and caught a handful mud cats, or Bull Head cats, and thats it. I used chicken livers for bait, which doesnt stay on the hook all that good so I'm going to run it again this weekend and use something different. Probably some live perch from another pond and some shrimp.

One thing to mention is that there is a water well near by that I am going to tap into and run a line to the pond. Then I will be able to keep it full at all times.

So now what? What would be your next step if this was your pond? The water clarity has me a bit bummed out. I have no idea how to clear it up, or if its even possible with the soft muddy bottom. I've got some pictures and a map of the pond if I can figure out how to post them.

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#497302 - 10/08/18 10:59 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 857
Loc: West Central Missouri
Just for point of reference...I fished two farm ponds over the weekend. One was fenced off from the cattle while the other was not. Both were muddy, 2" visibility at best, and both ponds loaded with small CC. Overstocked, I suppose, with no feeding regiment or management for that matter. Point is, the ponds were muddied up from the cats constantly foraging for food that's not there. We caught one fish after another, sometimes two at the same time (fished with two poles until I could not keep up with the catch rates). The ponds were so full of hungry little fish that there's no way to clear the water up.

I think you are on the right track by fishing to determine what's in there. My fear would be a lot of BHC...I have no need for them unless kids fishing is all that the pond is for. Those little cats can be trapped, from what I have read, and tossed or relocated. Try live panfish/perch for bait, but make they are bigger than the largest bullhead could eat that you have already caught. Target larger cats or bass. If all you have is BHC then adding bass will help reduce the survival of BH YOY, but from what others have stated, turning a bull head pond around can take some patience combined with culling dedication.


How did the fish look? skinny, fat, big eyes, light/dark coloration? Did you take weights and lengths?
_________________________
Fish on!,
Noel

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#497316 - 10/08/18 03:38 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
I didnt measure or weigh the fish. Two were maybe 8"-9" and the other (2) were 14"-15". They were healthy, but not fat. Good color, lots of yellow. I really expected to catch more, but I think the chicken livers came off the hooks too easily. Will try different bait this weekend.

I know for sure that if its full of BH then I will want to kill off all fish and start over. How do I go about doing that without draining it? I also need suggestions on the water clarity issue? Can anything be done about this?

Also, am I wasting my time with this old farm pond? Lol.... yall feel free to point me in the right direction. Even if my goal of having great LMB fishing is not within reach, I am not opposed to going a different direction. Would really like some nice bass fishing though... grin

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#497385 - 10/11/18 10:28 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
I was hoping to get a few more responses from the more knowledgeable members here, but thats ok I've still been reading as much as I can and learning. I will continue to keep yall updated with progress.

Heading to the ranch tomorrow and will run more trotlines and also set a cup of pond water on a shelf and see if it settles/clears up. Im interested in the Alum and lime treatments, as it seems to have worked for Rainman in the muddy water forum. I have 2 priorities right now, clearing the water and looking into killing off the fish if I do in fact determine that I have a pond full of Bullheads. I want to have these 2 things in place because I hope to begin stocking with new baitfish in spring of 2019.

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#497391 - 10/11/18 01:09 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
bigpullerman Offline


Registered: 12/01/15
Posts: 63
Loc: central Arkansas
I too am pretty new to the forum but this would be my suggestion. I would pump it out as dry as I could get it. Clean out all the muck and fish and start over since you want a LMB type pond. Let it dry and dig it out for more depth. Then you could do some type of structures and habitat. It has some natural drainage to fill back up with rain plus you have a well. That would be my suggestion. Good Luck with your ponds.
_________________________
Nothing like seeing your bobber bobbing.
1 acre pond with LMB BG GSF BH CC and whatever else I can find
Not after trophies I just like catching and eating fish
Buddy R Hill

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#497393 - 10/11/18 01:27 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Clay N' Pray Offline


Registered: 12/03/17
Posts: 194
Loc: Caswell co NC
I would check the PH prior to considering alum. My clay farm pond cleared a good bit
By just a big dose of ag lime.

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#497397 - 10/11/18 03:38 PM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
bigpullerman, I am not opposed to draining the pond and starting over. Read a few threads on here about doing just that. I can drain myself but dont have any idea how much the dirt work renovation would cost. And apparently the muck/sludge at the bottom can be a real issue, especially after 80 years. But the thought of being able to redesign has me very interested.

If anyone can recommend a pond builder or someone I can consult in the Houston or Victoria or Austin area, it would be much appreciated.

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#497407 - 10/12/18 07:09 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 13633
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Cost isnít the only factor. After 75 years you will have a lot of sediment. That stuff will be the consistency of pudding that neither a dozer or track hoe can do much with. It can take years of drought for that stuff to dry out. Your area isnít known for droughts. Best bet might be to break the dam to let it out. Then, with a really experienced dam builder fix the dam by knitting new and old soils together.
_________________________
It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP

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#497411 - 10/12/18 08:04 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
bigpullerman Offline


Registered: 12/01/15
Posts: 63
Loc: central Arkansas
One idea of how to get some of all the muck out of you pond. It would be a labor intensive deal but might work. Use a waterpump but plum a line off of the discharge, maybe 1/2" back down to the suction to create water going back in and disrupt the muck so the suction could suck it out. You would have to operate the suction from a boat so you could move it around. I know when my pond level dropped a few years ago I got in there with my tractor and scoop and dug out what I could as far as the waterline would let me. The dirt on top was soft and I got stuck several times. No doubt that you will have some pretty serious muck to deal with but if you have the time to let it dry out so you could get it out I think it would be good for your plans for the LMB pond. Good luck with your ponds and I look forward to seeing your progress.
_________________________
Nothing like seeing your bobber bobbing.
1 acre pond with LMB BG GSF BH CC and whatever else I can find
Not after trophies I just like catching and eating fish
Buddy R Hill

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#497414 - 10/12/18 08:45 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 857
Loc: West Central Missouri
If you choose to drain and de-muck, I can give you my experience...

1/4 acre pond, originally 10 foot deep, after years of filling in the water was only 2 foot deep.

Broke the dam in early June with a mini excavator and managed to drain all but about 100 square foot in a low spot (water was about 10 inches deep.

The pond hole set while the weeds took hold in the muck, before the slightly dry summer was over the weeds where 5 foot tall and the ground could be walked on but it would pump under your feet even with 1 inch wide cracks that went 1 foot deep.

My dirt guy attacked it in October of that year by cutting the dam further with a track loader so that his track loader could drive through it then he started at the original shoreline and started removing the muck and putting on the back side of the dam. It did not take long for it to get real soupy again. If you would try and walk on the muck pile on the back side of the dam, you would sink and not return (or at least sink up to your hips I suspect). The muck at it's deepest was 8 foot thick and we found the original clay base and stopped there. So long as he dug the muck out as he went into the depths of the original pond, he kept his loader from getting stuck.

Once the muck was all but gone, he scavenged enough clay from the perimeter, making the banks steeper, and filled in the break in the dam. He did this 6 inches at a time all the while compacting with the tracks. Not exactly the most risk-free approach, but it work real well. The extra muck that did not nicely fit on the back side of the dam was spread out in a nearby field to dry, all clumpy and ugly. It dried well enough to move and work into some low areas of the surrounding yard by the end of the summer. It was anywhere from 1 to 2 foot thick.

The pond did not fill back up until the next late spring and only the top foot or two of the backside muck could be worked with a rubber tired skid steer. It would pump under the weight of this midsized skid loader which worried the operator imensly because the muck,in places, was 10 foot deep. By the end of the summer and 4 visits from the skid steer the muck had been worked and smoothed out well enough for me to grade with my 8N tractor and spend countless hours with a rake removing rocks...I have a lot of rock at my place. Then I seeded with a fescue/rye mix and it turned back into a pond, eventually. Luckily, we did not get a lot of heavy rains that summer because most of the summer the dam was bare dirt getting worked and worked again.

This work cost about 4.5 to $5000 and included the breaking of the dam, all the de-mucking, the 60 foot of 15" plastic corrugated drain pipe with trash guard and install(the dam was extra wide now), the skid steer work, and grass seed. I don't knokw how to scale the cost up for your size of a pond, but the steps and time frames should still apply.

My many days of labor was free, but I still have nightmares about picking up rocks.

Right or wrong, that's how it happened!
_________________________
Fish on!,
Noel

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#497416 - 10/12/18 09:30 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
Good information. Thank yall for posting! The muck is a big concern. I really dont want to break the damn, as I just had it reworked and enlarged 2 years ago, along with 2 other pond damns on the property.

Hoping I can drain with a siphon. Then I guess just wait until it dries enough to get equipment in there? Sounds like a good chance I wont make my deadline for getting all this done and new forage fish in there by spring time however.

Back to researching for the time being...

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#497494 - 10/15/18 09:58 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
45ACP Offline


Registered: 10/01/18
Posts: 10
Loc: Texas Gulf coast
Ran trot lines this past weekend..... nothing but bullheads. Used live perch and some fresh shrimp for bait.

The option I am most interested in is to drain and start over. The thought of being able to reshape and dig deeper has gotten me excited. The muck is my only concern. Could it really take months before it dries enough to get a dozer in there?

Is there any downside to draining and starting over? Other than dealing with all the muck and silt?

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#497495 - 10/15/18 10:25 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Pat Williamson Offline


Registered: 08/08/14
Posts: 2446
Loc: Oakwood,Texas
A trac hoe can dig muck out from a distance. Not sure how big your pond is but it might speed up the process a little

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#497496 - 10/15/18 10:32 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
snrub Online   content


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5288
Loc: SE Kansas
In my opinion your best bet for cleaning out the pond and starting over is contacting a pond builder that is experienced in both new pond construction and rebuilding. For reclaiming an old pond you will be dollars far ahead if the builder has both a dozer and an excavator (compared to only having a dozer).

You can pump a pond that size (1.6 acres) dry with a three or four inch pump but it will take some time. As far as using a siphon that is only going to work down to a certain level unless you have a pretty good elevation drop lower than the bottom of your pond behind the dam. For a siphon to work the discharge has to be lower than the intake (I forget by how much but it is several feet). So likely best case is the siphon will get you maybe half way drained. Then it is down to a pump.

I would talk to the contractor and see which way they think it will be most economical. Depending on how your pond is laid out, if it is in a ravine it may be most economical to break the dam to provide an exit to push the muck through. If most of the muck has to be lifted out, an excavator is almost a must. Once a dozer gets on slimy muck they are down to pushing about a quarter blade full, especially up hill. Those steel tracks get slick on a muck covered bottom. For a dozer to have any pushing power they have to get down against a solid bottom and crowd the muck along one side of the cut. If you have both an excavator and dozer the dozer can push the muck mostly down hill to a point the excavator can scoop it up and throw it on the back side of the dam. This is the best case scenario. You are paying the cost of two machines running but they may be able to accomplish the job in a fraction of the time. Two large machines could get it done pretty quickly. One small dozer could be working on it for weeks. All the while worrying about rain coming and stopping the job in its tracks.

It may be better breaking the dam again, depending on the equipment available and the size of the equipment.

My experience mucking out and rebuilding an old pond


Edited by snrub (10/15/18 10:33 AM)
_________________________
John

I subscribe to Pond Boss Magazine

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#497497 - 10/15/18 10:40 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: snrub]
snrub Online   content


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5288
Loc: SE Kansas
Another serious thing to consider is leaving that pond as is and just building another brand new pond in the location you want it.

You very likely may be able to build a completely new pond elsewhere cheaper than what it will cost to renovate your existing pond. Also you then know what you have as far as the dam being sound.

If an old pond is in a strategic location exactly where you want it the only option may be to clean it out. But if you have the option to build new somewhere else, you could potentially have two ponds for the price of one. The old pond could be your trash fish or kids pond (or forage or bait pond) and let it be what it is or have fun with it trying to manage it into something better. All the while the new pond starting out fresh the way you want it.

In my case I was able to manage my old refurbished pond with advanced size BG and LMB taken from my new pond after it became established. Buying advanced size stocking fish (to escape predation from fish already in an old pond) is very expensive and for some locations almost impossible to get. But if you can grow your own it is a pretty easy option. Having multiple ponds makes possible numerous more management options compared to only having a single pond.
my experience managing a pond older than me


Edited by snrub (10/15/18 10:52 AM)
_________________________
John

I subscribe to Pond Boss Magazine

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#497548 - 10/16/18 10:24 AM Re: My 85 year old pond [Re: 45ACP]
Rainman Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
Hall of Fame

Lunker

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 6982
Loc: St Louis, MO area
45ACP. if you do not want to breach the dam, AND you want to kill off all the current fish, use a fairly high dose of nothing but Hydrated Lime. The HY lime will turn the water Gin clear, kill every living thing in it (plants and fish), and the high pH will drop back to a safe zone for stocking in only a couple weeks. Scavengers, eagles, buzzards, etc will gorge themselves on the dead fish and do the nasty work of cleaning the carnage for free, and fast. Even if rhe dam needs breached to de-muck (and it will), use Hydrated Lime to kill off all fish with the pond full of water first....let it work 3 days, and then breach...Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like to know more.

EDIT: Hydrated Lime is by far your least expensive option and the best way to ensure no fish are left alive, and water is clear.


Edited by Rainman (10/16/18 10:30 AM)
_________________________
Rainman

www.TilapiaStockers.com


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