This was the contents of the first cast of the cast net tonight. 9 RES and 11 or 12 GS. No GSF (yea!) Biggest RES in the picture about 4-5".
Second cast I got about a 6" RES. All came out of this pond and went into the sediment pond.
After a few casts the fish kind of get spooked and I have trouble getting decent numbers so I quit. I throw a hand full of feed out in an area and wait a couple minutes for them to get into a feeding frenzy before casting the net.
I trust you've probably addressed this before in your thread, but is there anything you'd have done differently with your smaller ponds now that you've had them for some time. I'm thinking about building a couple small ponds for forage, breeding, grow-out, "pets", etc. I was wondering how small you think you could have gone? Would you change the shape? Would you change the medium (gravel vs mud)?
I like what I have pretty well for what I do with them. I think a person needs to know what he expects of them to design them right. For example if you plan on seining them make sure the pond is the correct shape/depth/bottom type.
I think my 1/20th acre pond is as small as I would want to go and try to maintain a fish population. Smaller would be ok for raising seasonal forage or something like that but the smaller the pond the more intense any changes that can happen will happen. For example water exchanges is something to be very mindful of in the design. This 1/20th acre forage pond I lucked out and got about the right amount of runoff and most of it is from my graveled farmstead watershed. The amount of watershed (assuming a watershed pond and not one filled by well or water table) is important because too little and your pond gets low. In a small pond that low level can be even more critical than a larger BOW. Also too little watershed means not very much flow through. This small pond is chocked full of mostly RES and GS. I feed them and that means fertility buildup. With little flow through that fertility builds and builds and becomes a problem. With occasional flow through with adequate watershed runoff this excess nutrients gets flushed out. That is very helpful in maintaining quality water.
Now the other side of the coin. Too much water and flow through. This can be very challenging and stressful on the fish in the pond. This describes my 1/10th acre sediment pond. Being a sediment pond to protect my main pond from sediment runoff, its purpose in life is to take large water flows, slow them down, and give the water a chance to give up anything unwanted from getting into the main pond. So by its nature it can have huge water amounts pass through the pond. This can make the water quality go from anything from perfect to mats of FA because of excess nutrients (in periods of low rainfall and therefore low flow through) to nearly all new, turbid water loaded with sediment. The point is, a pond with huge fluctuations of water flow through can be very challenging for the fish living there. They can go from nice water to abrupt temperature change water to nasty water in a matter of hours or even minutes. This is tough on fish.
My 1/20th acre forage pond and 1/10th acre sediment ponds are only about 50' apart. Yet the nature of the two ponds differences are like night and day. They both raise lots of fish but the sediment pond can have wild swings and even some partial or in one case nearly total fish kill (because of my dumb management mistake of the watershed).
In my three acre pond a big rain event might create a water exchange event on the order of 10 or 20% of the pond water over a day or two. Probably similar for my 1/20th acre forage pond although I have never actually tried to figure either. By contrast my 1/10th acre sediment pond could have several 100% water exchanges in a single 24 hour period in a big rain event. So one very critical aspect of a small pond (in my opinion) is managing the water shed so it is the best size for the pond and the anticipated runoff amounts for your particular area. The smaller the pond, the more critical. I have what I call the Pre-sediment pond just ahead of my sediment pond. I don't really even call it a pond any more as I have connected it to the sediment pond (via a 6" underground pipe) but it used to be completely separate. It is about 20 feet wide and 50 feet long and catches 100% of the water that the sediment pond sees (water from a field terrace flows through it before it goes into the sediment pond). It is a size I can clean the sediment out with my backhoe. I had given up trying to manage a pond this size with the flow through it gets. Parts of the year it will raise tremendous amounts of fingerling fish. But one big rain and the water flow through and number of exchanges and any fish 6" or so in size likely will be laying dead on the bank the next day. Just too much extreme water quality changes too abruptly for the fish to handle.
So if there is one thing I have learned from my small ponds it is that water exchanges and the rapidity of the exchanges can make a world of difference on how the pond performs. If you are making a small pond keep this in mind. If it is going to have valuable fish that you expect to maintain a population you might want to arrange diversion terraces to keep excess water out. If it is just for raising seasonal forage fish, it might not make much difference.
The other thing I would say is if you intend to push the pond by feeding expect it to get to carrying capacity quickly. This means the potential for a fish kill. Aeration becomes even more important in a small pond than big pond if you push the pond to its limits. If you let it progress naturally without extra feed, maybe not as much of a problem. But small ponds things can change rapidly in them. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. This means that things can go from good to bad quickly. But it also means you can make management changes relatively easy and quickly.
That is probably enough for now. Probably put everyone attempting to read this to sleep.
I see no disadvantage (in my acid soils) to the limestone rock lining. In a small pond it is practical to do it.
Did a few throws of the cast net tonight mostly to get a few GS for my wifes little concrete pond and to show her some fingerling RES. Lo and behold this nice RES was caught in the first cast. Just a hair over 10". Not bad for a 1/20th acre pond.
I moved this one to my main pond. There are still lots of fingerling RES in this pond so trying to get some of the biomass out so the ones left can grow. This has been one of my breeders to produce fingerlings but time for him to go to the main pond and make some babies. No monster but a nice, plump, good looking fish.
Been removing lots of unwanted GSF from this pond. Fish pictured in bucket were caught tonight by hook and line. Caught about that many last night also. Have been trapping the smaller GSF and I think the numbers are getting thinned out because getting just a few in the traps where I was getting lots. I think I have them back down to manageable levels again. Will fish it a time or two more to make sure. No way of getting all of them, just have to keep their numbers in check. Notice the fat bellies on the GSF. Pellet hogs. My CC and a pet LMB in my main pond sure like the GSF with their tails cut off fed to them one at a time. Fun to watch them hammer the GSF.
Have been adding some additional SMB fingerlings to this pond and the larger ones I added last fall should start to make a difference on controlling the smaller GSF. Saw a big splash near shore tonight and a GSH leapt out of the water nearly on the bank so I think the SMB are starting to put the hurt on some of the smaller fish.
The other pictures are of overachiever RES fingerlings. About 7pm all of the sudden started catching small RES. No big ones, just the fingerlings. Caught all 6 fingerlings within 15 minutes.
My clover leaf perch trap arrived yesterday. I plan to set it Friday after work in the shallows. Hopefully it's full of 3" GSF by Saturday afternoon. My minnow trap has been less than productive, so high hopes for the cloverleaf. A cast net will catch fish of all sizes and I have no help, so traps are my best bet.
Catching fish by various means is interesting to say the least.
If I put a minnow trap out with feed in it, a person might think I only have GSF in this pond or sometimes GSH. It is kind of funny, if I catch GSF I sometimes catch quite a few at a time. Like they travel in schools and I either get a bunch or none (occasionally I will get one or two at a time but usually a bunch or none). I'll get a few RES but not a lot.
Yet if I throw a cast net around dark I will get mostly RES fingerlings and rarely a GSF fingerling.
My conclusion is the GSF are chow hounds and go into the trap and the RES mostly stumble in by accident (though when I do get RES in the traps their bellies are usually extended full of pellet feed so they are eating it).
If I throw a minnow trap in my main pond I will get bunches of BG fingerlings (there are no BG in this forage pond so never get any).
Will be interesting to see how your cloverleaf trap works. I have another style of trap I rarely use any more. Will try to remember to take a picture. It is for larger than fingerling fish. I have caught BH and GSF with it in the past.
Here is the content of two minnow traps. Can you pick out the RES from the GSF? Look at the center of the bucket then just to the left. There is a GSF about the size of the two RES laying beside it. Also some smaller GSF around the edge and at the bottom. That is what I have been doing for the last couple months. The GSF get their tails cut off and tossed off the dock to waiting LMB and CC. The RES get moved to one of 4 other ponds.
At the beginning of the trapping most of the fish were GSF and only a few RES in the trap. Sometimes a get quite a few GSH which are also in this forage pond. But as you can see by the picture my trapping over time has removed many of the GSF and in the bucket are mostly RES fingerlings now.
I've also removed a lot of the larger GSF by hook and line. Will never get rid of all of them (without nuking the pond and starting over) but by taking the time to manage what I have it keeps the GSF numbers down to a manageable level. And my CC and LMB that hang around the main pond dock love it when I toss the tailless GSF to them. They act like a kid going after candy.
Last fall I put 10 SMB in this pond Two died that I know of and I think maybe more) and this summer I have put probably 20 more fingerling SMB in. These should start putting the hurt to any new GSF fry to help me with my trapping and fishing removal. You will notice in the bucket along with the one GSF that is about the same size as the RES some smaller GSF around the edge of the bucket. That is what I have been getting mostly lately in the GSF is the smaller ones from a later spawn.
As those SMB get to 10" or so I will fish them out and move them to my main pond for a bonus fish to finish growing up there. I have tried to be careful to remove lots more fish than I put back in with the SMB additions. And the pond is chock full of 1-2" GSH so the SMB should have plenty to eat for a while. I hope to remove several of the SMB right before winter so the pond has less bio load over the winter.
Edit: some of the smaller fish could be RES (but I do not think so) but I never trust my ability to properly ID those smaller fish. I only transfer to another pond the ones large enough that I can positively ID as RES. Sometimes I get hybrids RESxGSF (but not many lately) and those I will transfer to my main pond or sediment pond (because I like the hybrids) but I never take anything that I might suspect hybrid to my RES pond. And transfers to my RES only pond get scrutinized the most.
Caught this 13" SMB from this forage pond today. I stocked ten 6-9" SMB last December. Two that I know of died because I removed them floating. That happened a couple days after catching two fish but also when I reduced the aeration run time. Not sure which done them in but I went back to a 24-7 aeration run time after it happened.
But I had not caught any more since those two earlier this spring. So I was not sure I even had any of the original SMB left. I have put around 50 4-6" SMB fingerlings in this pond over the last couple months transferred from my RES/SMB pond to grow them out to a size capable of avoiding predation in my main pond. But now that I know there was at least one 13" SMB in this pond the fingerlings might have been as well off where they came from Oh well.
Catching any of the larger SMB (if there are any more) is tough because the pond is thick with 3-4" GSH so getting them to bite on an artificial lure is a challenge. I have fished this pond quite a lot to remove GSF and in fact was what I was attempting to do when I caught the one pictured below. Nice fish for a December stocking. I hope there are more. I had not noticed any SMB recruitment in this pond like I have had in my RES/SMB pond, thus the reason I was putting the fingerlings in here to grow them out. There is plenty of live food for them and I feed pellets too.
Edit: the tape is up above the fish a little and makes it look to be only 12" long but I did measure it and it is a full 13+".
It got transferred to my main pond. I figure a 1/20th acre pond can't stand too many of those that size and I had tremendous BG multiple spawns this year and need the predators to help clean the small ones up.
I'm very careful to try and remove multiple times biomass in any pond I am adding fish. Don't want a fish kill from over crowding.
Reminds me, I need to go fillet about 30 HBG and BG in the holding pen in the main pond.
I continue to move biomass out of this pond while adding some small 3.5-4" SMB to grow out this winter through next spring/summer. Added 18 3.5-4" SMB.
Caught a number of RES via the cast net to transfer, some to my sediment pond and some to the main pond.
Moved a few GSH also but the numbers that will stay in the cast net have been reduced significantly as I catch fewer and fewer. I still see lots of 3" (that slip through the cast net mesh) and smaller but the SMB are also making an impact on their numbers.
Also caught one nice 8" SMB. Don't know what I was thinking but I put it back. It should have went to the main pond. That is the size, 8-10", that I am growing the 4" SMB to so they are large enough to escape predation in my main pond.
I want to put a link to Nedoc's thread on raising HSB because I have a lot of discussion there about using this forage pond for HSB raising. With any luck will be starting notations here about the progress once I get the fish in the pond.
After trying the cast net a few throws for a couple days and nothing I was beginning to worry they were all killed out. But a couple of minnow traps baited with feed and in about ten minutes had a dozen or so small FHM in each. I think the cast net mesh was just too big or I was not throwing it in the right place.
Put some in this clean pond last fall. They reproduced and I took numerous pounds out and placed in my RES/SMB pond last fall.
This pond is going to be dedicated to growing out some HSB latter this summer. Will put some RES in soon to control snails and get some RES fingerling reproduction for next year.
Got the RES from the fish truck today. They looked pretty good.
I ended up getting 100. I think maybe 40 is a better number for this pond as suggested by jpsdad, but my thinking is I will let these grow a while and when they get up to 4-5", maybe about the time I will be getting the HSB, use a cast net and remove all I can down towards the 40-50 level to leave in the pond.
I have had pretty good luck catching RES fingerlings out of this pond in the past by doing it right about sundown near the shore. It appears they come up to shallow water to eat that time of day.
There sure are enough snails for them to eat. Snails are thick in this pond with lots of eggs too so going to be lots of baby snails for the growing RES to eat, at least for a while.
I would guess inch and a half to two inches. Most 1.5". They were nice looking fingerlings.
I may have a few moralities. I did not do as good of job of acclimating them as I should have. A couple swam out of the bag ok after mixing in some pond water and waiting for a while so I thought they were ready. Dumped them out and a bunch (10%) sunk to the bottom in 6" of water. I picked them up and moved some around and they swam off and acted better. But I think I rushed it too much.
Will go out in a little while and check for floaters.