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#513437 - 10/29/19 06:18 AM Converting a 16-acre pond into something better
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Hello folks, I've been lurking on here for a while now and decided to finally get some more insight into a little side project that a co-worker and I have been working on. We've been given permission to stock an already-established 16-acre pond in central North Carolina. The pond is one of the amenities at a local housing community and is stocked annually with channel catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass. The issue with this pond is that everything is SMALL. My hunch is that it's overstocked and underfished and there's no real predators to control the population of the smaller fish. I hardly see anyone fishing in it either. Most of bass are less than 1 pound and the average catfish is maybe a half-pound. You can literally toss out your line and reel in these tiny catfish all day long. There are a few lurking carp as well (common carp) that are also very small.

About the pond:

Like I said, it's roughly 16 acres in size with a small creek flowing into the north end of it and a dam at the southern end. Average depth is 5' with the deepest part by the dam being 10' (wish it was deeper). There are 3 fountains in 3 different spots on the pond that run during the day.

Goals:

We want to make it a strict catfish and crappie pond (for food and for sport). I'm well aware of the drawbacks of stocking crappie but since we're disregarding the LMB aspect of the pond, I think the crappie might be a good idea. Currently, there are only channel cats in here but we want to add blue cats. We will be bucket stocking everything, so this is definitely a long-term project. I would absolutely be thrilled if we could get the blue cats to breed but I know that may be difficult. With the flowing creek into the lake and the water being moved by the dam and the fountains, I'm hoping we can make this happen. If blue cats aren't a good idea, I'd really just like the channel cats to be bigger. We've already been removing the tiny ones as we catch them and turning them into fish food so they don't go to waste. I also don't think there's any shad in this pond so that might be an issue as well? I don't know how well they would do in this size of BOW but I'd like recommendations on that as well. I'd be willing to spend a little money on stocking it with bait if it came to that.

Any thoughts and/or input on our project would be welcomed.

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#513439 - 10/29/19 07:37 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2950
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
Welcome to this Forum, it's a great place and most all of your questions can and will be answered. But I am not the expert when it comes to correcting the type of problem you seem to have. Others will most likely jump in. I will suggest you raise some money and have the lake shock surveyed so you might get a path to get to your goals. Throwing crappie into the mix right now is most likely not the right path to take at this time based on your comments about all the small fish and the regular stocking that has taken place. Another thing is you have two predators all ready in the lake and both are most likely on the top of any list of pond predators. Contact Bob Lusk here, he will guide you to your goals.
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#513441 - 10/29/19 08:01 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
jludwig Offline


Registered: 05/14/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Central Kansas
Just an initial thought: are you guys willing to feed?

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#513442 - 10/29/19 08:40 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: jludwig]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: jludwig
Just an initial thought: are you guys willing to feed?


Weve thought about but it would not be an everyday thing as I live about 25 minutes away and my co-worker who actually lives here doesnt have the resources or time to feed them everyday. If we fed them, it would more or less be a hey, were here fishing, lets throw in some food kind of thing. I could possibly only do it twice per week which may or may not even be worth it? I dont know really.

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#513444 - 10/29/19 09:45 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
jludwig Offline


Registered: 05/14/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Central Kansas
Originally Posted By: Steve_
Weve thought about but it would not be an everyday thing as I live about 25 minutes away and my co-worker who actually lives here doesnt have the resources or time to feed them everyday. If we fed them, it would more or less be a hey, were here fishing, lets throw in some food kind of thing. I could possibly only do it twice per week which may or may not even be worth it? I dont know really.


What about three or four automated feeders?

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#513457 - 10/29/19 08:05 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Freg Offline


Registered: 01/22/19
Posts: 63
Loc: TN
I can't imagine trying to hand feed a 16 acre pond even if you lived there. Multiple feeders would be the way to go. Is there decent structure in the pond for young fish to survive? Seems like adding to the forage base and providing habit would be better to focus on instead of introducing more predators into what sounds like a very stunted fishery. An electro fishing survey would be the best way to find exactly what you've got.

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#513463 - 10/29/19 09:47 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 421
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Steve_
... The issue with this pond is that everything is SMALL. My hunch is that it's overstocked and underfished .... .


There is your answer but how will you and a friend fix this problem in a 16 acre impoundment?


Quote:
Goals:

We've already been removing the tiny ones as we catch them and turning them into fish food so they don't go to waste.. . Any thoughts and/or input on our project would be welcomed.


How are you harvesting fish. Are all the fish cut up and fed back? What are you doing with 1/2 lb CCs?




Edited by jpsdad (10/29/19 09:53 PM)

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#513464 - 10/29/19 10:05 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 6055
Loc: Boone County Illinois
I read that the LMB and CC are all small. I may have missed it but, how are the BG doing? I would continue to remove every LMB and CC caught. If you want to bucket stock then put in adult BG for now. You don't need more predators. I am also in agreement with an electro shock survey but I would not return any LMB or CC to the lake. Any chance you can get the budget that was used to yearly stock in the past to help with the expenses?

IMO 2 guys angling in a 16 acre puddle stand no chance of changing the dynamics.


Edited by Bill D. (10/29/19 10:23 PM)
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#513466 - 10/30/19 01:25 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Thank you all for the replies.

@Jludwig - Automated feeders would be great, and I've started pricing them. I am not too familiar with them and if they need electricity to run, I'm not sure if the manager over there would be willing to accommodate for it (he doesn't show much interest in investing in his pond/lake and is happy with the tiny fish it holds).

@Freg - Yes, there is some structure here. There's a relatively large pier/dock, a few submerged trees, the dam and the northern part of the pond is covered in lily pads. That particular area is only 1 or 2 feet deep however. Electro-fishing isn't really an option at this point but I would be interested in adding to the forage base. As far as hand-feeding goes, yes, it's a daunting task lol. I guess we were thinking we'd go there a couple times a week and chuck out handfuls of food. Not exactly efficient but I think it would help a little bit. Also, I guess my train of thought was that adding a larger predator (such as a few decent size blue catfish) would help get rid of the smaller fish (CC, BG and LMB), and get fat on them to boot wink

@jpsdad - It is a 16 acre BOW but in all reality, I feel like most of the fish gravitate toward the end with the dam. Its deeper, has more structure and aeration from the fountain. At least a third of the lake is very shallow (1-2') and probably doesn't hold many fish. And yes, we're harvesting the tiny ones, chopping them up into bite size chunks and throwing them back in. I bet we could easily catch 100 of them each on a good weekend. It does seem like a drop in the bucket, but it feels like we're doing something positive (and it's fun).

@Bill D. - For the most part, all the BG I've seen are small. You will occasionally get a bigger one if you fish in the deeper part of the pond but all the ones that you can see along the shoreline are maybe 4-6" in length? I'd have to actually catch a few and measure them to give you more of an idea. In short, I haven't caught one that I would even deem to be eating size.

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#513470 - 10/30/19 08:07 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Freg Offline


Registered: 01/22/19
Posts: 63
Loc: TN
Electricity is not needed for feeders, they run off of batteries and a solar panel. Generally with feed, fish get used to being fed at a particular location at a particular time which is why feeders would be much better given that you're not there regularly and the size of the body of water.

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#513472 - 10/30/19 09:18 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2950
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
Sounds like you're having fun for now. I suggest you get more people involved in the lakes management. Maybe getting the lake manager to let you have a day or two where you have your church or a group get together for fishing at the lake, reducing the numbers of fish. Fish and feed the fish like you have been doing but you need to do it more often if you are going to improve fish size. Adding fish feeders (enough to make a difference) will cost some bucks and keeping them full of feed 8 or 10 months per year add more expense. Continue fishing, add at least a thousand adult bg with them adding their babies to feed the fish. The bg need to be large enough that the one lb lmb and catfish can not eat the ones you add to the pond. Like others here, I enjoy lake management but it's on a smaller lake making it easier than managing a lake like you have. Lots of work but it's fun.
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#513475 - 10/30/19 09:28 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
roundy Offline


Registered: 09/10/16
Posts: 265
Loc: Central Illinois
It sounds like quite a project in front of you. Member Snipe uses a Fyke net setup to sample his pond in lieu of electroshocking. Your shallow water areas sound like they may be ideal for you to do the same. Youtube has many videos on how a Fyke net is installed and works. This may be a relatively low-cost way to see where you're at fishwise, and then make plans to adjust the population.

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#513487 - 10/30/19 12:45 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: TGW1]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: TGW1
Sounds like you're having fun for now. I suggest you get more people involved in the lakes management. Maybe getting the lake manager to let you have a day or two where you have your church or a group get together for fishing at the lake, reducing the numbers of fish. Fish and feed the fish like you have been doing but you need to do it more often if you are going to improve fish size. Adding fish feeders (enough to make a difference) will cost some bucks and keeping them full of feed 8 or 10 months per year add more expense. Continue fishing, add at least a thousand adult bg with them adding their babies to feed the fish. The bg need to be large enough that the one lb lmb and catfish can not eat the ones you add to the pond. Like others here, I enjoy lake management but it's on a smaller lake making it easier than managing a lake like you have. Lots of work but it's fun.


I never thought about adding large BG to increase the forage base. That sounds like a lot of fun and something we could pull off in a reasonable amount of time. The pond really needs more forage but stocking it with Shad or FHM isnt something I can afford right now and bucket-stocking Shad would take forever and they dont live very long in small spaces.

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#513509 - 10/30/19 06:23 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2950
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
Be sure to read Snipes comments here on salting fish before restocking into other waters. There is a lot of reading you need to do here if you want to reach your goals. Best of luck to you
_________________________
Do not judge me by the politicians in my City, State or Federal Government.


Tracy

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#513511 - 10/30/19 07:06 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Snipe Offline


Registered: 10/26/18
Posts: 761
Loc: NW Kansas
" I'm not sure if the manager over there would be willing to accommodate for it (he doesn't show much interest in investing in his pond/lake and is happy with the tiny fish it holds)."


This would really bother me.. to a point I wouldn't put a minute of effort into this until you have some sort of understanding (maybe in writing) that he's not going to change something or decide after you've put in considerable effort, that he doesn't want "X" and isn't going to flip-flop on you.

That extremely shallow water (1-2') if vegetated at all, may hold more fish than you think.
I would approach this with either electrofishing samples by someone that really KNOWS what the results mean, or Trap nets (Fyke) to see just what you have. At 16 acres, there's a LOT of areas that may or may not hold fish that you think are there-and possibly some you don't think are there.
Not to be negative but I feel you have quite a bit of work to do here before trying to add other species that may cause a less than desirable effect.


Edited by Snipe (10/30/19 07:08 PM)
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#513524 - 10/31/19 02:54 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Snipe]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: Snipe
" I'm not sure if the manager over there would be willing to accommodate for it (he doesn't show much interest in investing in his pond/lake and is happy with the tiny fish it holds)."


This would really bother me.. to a point I wouldn't put a minute of effort into this until you have some sort of understanding (maybe in writing) that he's not going to change something or decide after you've put in considerable effort, that he doesn't want "X" and isn't going to flip-flop on you.

That extremely shallow water (1-2') if vegetated at all, may hold more fish than you think.
I would approach this with either electrofishing samples by someone that really KNOWS what the results mean, or Trap nets (Fyke) to see just what you have. At 16 acres, there's a LOT of areas that may or may not hold fish that you think are there-and possibly some you don't think are there.
Not to be negative but I feel you have quite a bit of work to do here before trying to add other species that may cause a less than desirable effect.


Very understandable point of view and I appreciate it. From what he tells me, they dont have anymore intentions of stocking it again and will leave it as is since no one really fished it anyway. The few people Ive seen trying to fish it are always targeting bass and Ive never seen anyone catch any. Im not putting much, if any, money into it. Its just something were doing for fun and Im more interested to see if we can get blue cats to breed in there and make it a nice little catfish lake. If we could consistently pull 2-3 pounders out of it at some point, Id call it a success.

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#513525 - 10/31/19 04:26 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Snipe Offline


Registered: 10/26/18
Posts: 761
Loc: NW Kansas
Understand.
Something that might add to the fun and still provide some sort of understanding is to keep a record of Species, length and weight. If nothing else you are establishing a baseline of sorts so when/if you add other species you should see a change in number, body condition and maybe even size-eventually-in the existing species. Make it fun in that aspect and you may well end up with data that shows a trend. Granted it will be slow but you quite possibly will see changes-maybe subtle- that I think you will find interesting when you keep what you can on paper. That in itself can add enjoyment just to see what changes do happen.
Good luck!
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#513526 - 10/31/19 04:47 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 421
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: Steve
Im not putting much, if any, money into it.


This speaks volumes. It tells me you won't feed. You won't buy fyke nets. You won't do electrofishing. You won't purchase fish to stock. And likely plan on transporting adult fish from other state waters. There is a lot of good blue and flathead water in your state. But now there is some regret of having done this and anglers are highly discouraged from moving THESE species to new waters. To catch large catfish, I don't understand why you wouldn't just use the waters where they currently exist for free as they grow large fish without any effort or expense on your part.

I wouldn't want to expend money on this project either. The problem is that the obstacles faced are complex and are not easily or cheaply solved.

Originally Posted By: Steve
Its just something were doing for fun and Im more interested to see if we can get blue cats to breed in there and make it a nice little catfish lake.


Blue cat recruitment probably won't happen. But even if it does, they will grow much slower in that BOW than in the waters their parents came from.

Originally Posted By: Steve
If we could consistently pull 2-3 pounders out of it at some point, Id call it a success.


This will only happen on your budget through harvest. You need help thinning the herd. Just a few thoughts.

There are too many CC but they aren't too small at 1/2 lbs to eat. There is actually market for them and similar sized BH for restaurants that sell pan-fried catfish. Two 1/2 lb CC make a good meal for 1 person. They are EASY to clean and below is a video that describes the same method my grandfather taught me 48 years ago. He called it "shucking".



If the pond supports 150 lbs/acre of CC. Then there may be 2400 lbs of CC in the BOW. If you harvested 1200 lbs of CC today, then the remaining fish could grow to a pound. Now I ask again. How will you and your friend solve this problem alone? You need help because all you intend to put into this is your time.

So what about a neighborhood fish fry where you could recruit and enhance interest in harvesting the overcrowded fish? If you want the place to yourself I think you will only have more of the same ad infinitum. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can appreciate the resource for what it is.

The carp aren't helping you. The small ones you see are just a little too large for the predators. Maybe you could have some tournaments for largest number caught. I don't know. They require a very tenacious predator.

Finally, about returning fish to the pond in chunks. Make sure the species you are doing this with are legal to use in this way. The chunks must be small enough for the "tiny" fish to eat. If not cut small enough there will be a turtle explosion and instead of catching lots of CC there will be turtles that get to the bait before them.


Edited by jpsdad (10/31/19 05:26 AM)

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#513537 - 10/31/19 10:29 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: jpsdad]
Augie Offline


Registered: 10/29/18
Posts: 232
Loc: Boone County Missouri
Originally Posted By: jpsdad

They are EASY to clean and below is a video that describes the same method my grandfather taught me 48 years ago. He called it "shucking".




That's the most valuable thing I've learned all week. Thank you for posting!

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#513554 - 10/31/19 06:26 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Augie]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 421
Loc: Texas
You're most welcome Augie. It's a fantastic method for cleaning small catfish.

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#513560 - 10/31/19 10:56 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: jpsdad]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: jpsdad
Originally Posted By: Steve
Im not putting much, if any, money into it.


This speaks volumes. It tells me you won't feed. You won't buy fyke nets. You won't do electrofishing. You won't purchase fish to stock. And likely plan on transporting adult fish from other state waters. There is a lot of good blue and flathead water in your state. But now there is some regret of having done this and anglers are highly discouraged from moving THESE species to new waters. To catch large catfish, I don't understand why you wouldn't just use the waters where they currently exist for free as they grow large fish without any effort or expense on your part.

I wouldn't want to expend money on this project either. The problem is that the obstacles faced are complex and are not easily or cheaply solved.

Originally Posted By: Steve
Its just something were doing for fun and Im more interested to see if we can get blue cats to breed in there and make it a nice little catfish lake.


Blue cat recruitment probably won't happen. But even if it does, they will grow much slower in that BOW than in the waters their parents came from.

Originally Posted By: Steve
If we could consistently pull 2-3 pounders out of it at some point, Id call it a success.


This will only happen on your budget through harvest. You need help thinning the herd. Just a few thoughts.

There are too many CC but they aren't too small at 1/2 lbs to eat. There is actually market for them and similar sized BH for restaurants that sell pan-fried catfish. Two 1/2 lb CC make a good meal for 1 person. They are EASY to clean and below is a video that describes the same method my grandfather taught me 48 years ago. He called it "shucking".



If the pond supports 150 lbs/acre of CC. Then there may be 2400 lbs of CC in the BOW. If you harvested 1200 lbs of CC today, then the remaining fish could grow to a pound. Now I ask again. How will you and your friend solve this problem alone? You need help because all you intend to put into this is your time.

So what about a neighborhood fish fry where you could recruit and enhance interest in harvesting the overcrowded fish? If you want the place to yourself I think you will only have more of the same ad infinitum. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can appreciate the resource for what it is.

The carp aren't helping you. The small ones you see are just a little too large for the predators. Maybe you could have some tournaments for largest number caught. I don't know. They require a very tenacious predator.

Finally, about returning fish to the pond in chunks. Make sure the species you are doing this with are legal to use in this way. The chunks must be small enough for the "tiny" fish to eat. If not cut small enough there will be a turtle explosion and instead of catching lots of CC there will be turtles that get to the bait before them.


Maybe I jumped the gun a bit. Im sure if we can get some blue cats in there or even see our harvesting efforts are producing bigger CCs, Id be more likely to put a little money into it.

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#513562 - 11/01/19 05:36 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
Forgot to mention: we went there yesterday and caught a few CC on micro tackle that were maybe only 6-7 long. Since the community manager did not stock the pond this year, could this be a sign that the CC are breeding? I cant imagine a CC that hatched in 2018 would only be 7 a year and a half later, despite the large amount of them in the pond.

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#513567 - 11/01/19 08:06 AM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
jludwig Offline


Registered: 05/14/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Central Kansas
Originally Posted By: Steve_
Forgot to mention: we went there yesterday and caught a few CC on micro tackle that were maybe only 6-7 long. Since the community manager did not stock the pond this year, could this be a sign that the CC are breeding? I cant imagine a CC that hatched in 2018 would only be 7 a year and a half later, despite the large amount of them in the pond.


They could be if growth is stunned. Would need to take length and weight measurements to find out relative weight to be sure though.

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#513571 - 11/01/19 12:58 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Snipe Offline


Registered: 10/26/18
Posts: 761
Loc: NW Kansas
Going off of data I have on a 15.03 acre community lake, 1.5yr old is highly possible for 7". It is less likely to be 0 yr due to no management and no supplemental feed.
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#513573 - 11/01/19 02:09 PM Re: Converting a 16-acre pond into something better [Re: Steve_]
Steve_ Offline


Registered: 10/29/19
Posts: 18
Loc: North Carolina
There are also a ton of yellow bullheads in there. We probably catch those more than the CC. Should we leave them be or start removing them? I know some flathead fishermen around here would love some.

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