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#53233 - 04/18/05 02:58 PM New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
tecman Offline

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Coast, CA
I have been reading the helpful information for a few days now and decided to come on board in the quest for some opinions from the far more educated and experienced on ponds than me.

Last year we purchased a 10 acre tree farm in the Central Coast of CA that has 5 ponds. The largest (1/2 acre surface, 6' deep, steep banks) and the smallest (45'X 25'X 5') were kept "active" by topping off with well water in the summer. Apparently there were fish, frogs and plant life in the two that were kept "active" while the other three would dry up. They would all get this eerie, bright green film on top in the summer that seemed to go away by mid afternoon. Story is, the larger pond was treated with something to control algae that killed enough life to start a chain reaction and everything eventually died. The small pond was fairly clear and had a lot of plant life in the bottom. We let them all dry up last summer to see what we had. There was no visible life in any of them except the plants in the smallest one.

The bottom of the larger pond had a black, kind of smelly muck. We could lift out pieces that were 8-10" thick, maybe thicker in some spots. Some advised us to clean it out and others advised us to leave it in to retain the water. We compromised and scrapped off the top with a box blade with the intention of removing some of it. The unusually heavy rains in California caught us before we could extract any appreciable amount. After the rains, all the ponds filled up spilling one into the other. The "active" ponds with the black layer have held water; the other 3 have receded considerably.

The ponds filled up (overflowed actually) and soon hundreds of mosquito fish and thousands of tadpoles appeared. The banks had a solid black band about 4-5" wide of tadpoles. The tadpoles now range in size from a BB to 1 1/2" long. None have legs yet. The mosquito fish look like they about to burst with young. Plant life started growing and we added some fish. More on that later.

From a distance the "active" ponds look like black coffee. Closer up the water is fairly clear to about 8-10" and brownish beyond that. Visibility is about 3 feet. We have very hard water, PH 7.5-8.0 in the pond and the well. The temporary, shallow ponds are all murky.

On April 1st we stocked LMB 3-4", BG 2-3", channel cats 3-4".
Small pond: 20 LMB, 5 BG and 5 CC
Larger pond: 85 LMB, 20 BG and 15 CC
From what I have read, we probably overstocked LMB and under stocked BG and should have put in fatheads or the like. We have good cover in the small pond and the fish are very active. We enjoy watching them daily often 20 or more gathered together. The fish in larger pond are not visible.

I have read many posts and am overwhelmed with all the information on aeration, fertilizing, feeding, stocking, etc.

I wonder if I should just do nothing at this point and see what happens or...are there steps I should take now that will promote balanced, healthier ponds?

I welcome your constructive feedback, opinions or questions.

#53234 - 04/18/05 03:29 PM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
Dave Davidson Offline

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
I would immediately start removing the LMB's and replacing them with large bluegills. The mosquito fish won't last and your bass and catfish are going to be in trouble. As long as the fish are living I wouldn't worry too much about water color. Other than removing the water, you can't do a whole lot. You can read in other posts here about appropriate stocking rates.

#53235 - 04/19/05 10:48 AM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
tecman Offline

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Coast, CA
Thanks for the input. How does one go about removing 70, 3-4" LMB when I can't find them? Now that I am more informed, I'm thinking more like 10-15 LMB, 100 BG and 10 CC in the 1/2 acre pond.

#53236 - 04/19/05 06:24 PM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
Meadowlark Offline

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas

Maybe I missed reading it but what are your objectives for your ponds? This is the first standard question we usually ask so that we can help you achieve those objectives.

Are catfish part of your objectives? Food? Sport? Growing record size fish? Just have some good fishing? None of the above?

#53237 - 04/19/05 07:35 PM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
tecman Offline

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Coast, CA
Good questions. First, both ponds are pleasant to look at. The larger pond's perimeter is lined with a variety of trees including palms and has a partial island that is a nice place to sit. The smaller pond is more landscaped and only about 20' from the house, so we see it more often. I would say there are similar but slightly different purposes for each of the ponds.

A primary reason for keeping the ponds full is to provide water in the event of a fire. So long as there is a need to do that, we would like to keep them beautiful and provide some fishing while we are at it. We need to control the mosquitos in both of them.

In the larger pond we hope to create a natural balance and use it for fishing, floating around in a small boat and enjoying the scenic views.

In the small pond, the view, some occasional fishing for visiting nephews and watching the LMB/BG school at the top is also relaxing.

My son and I like catching bass/catfish and suppose we would eat some of them if it were a part of the balancing process, but that is not a primary objective. Good size fish (2-5 lbs., is that realistic?) seems fine but growing record size fish is not a priority.

Thanks for the reply and follow up questions.

#53238 - 04/19/05 08:58 PM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
Theo Gallus Offline

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12394
Loc: Central Ohio
If your 3"-4" LMB aren't responsive to fishing yet, they soon should be. We were having LMB bite on worms by the time they were 6" long. They are very aggressive even at an early age, and if they get a little hungry, you shouldn't have any trouble pulling some out.
"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling

#53239 - 04/20/05 06:59 AM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
Dave Davidson Offline

Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 1892
Loc: Hurst & Bowie Texas
Like Theo says, without an ongoing forage base from bluegill, they should get real easy to catch. The recommended "recipe" is 1,000 bluegill per acre to provide a renewable food source for predators. Of course, that assumes that you let the BG's go thru a couple of spawns before letting them get hammered. It also assumes that the water is fertile enough to support an ecosystem. Not all are without manipulation. Bob Lusks book "Raising Trophy Bass explains this concept very well. One thing you might try to clear the ponds is to spread OLD hay on the surface at the rate of 10 square bales per acre. One of the Game Biologists on the Mississippi Fishing website recommends that idea. I've never tried it.

#53240 - 04/22/05 02:11 PM Re: New member, 1st post, opinions welcomed
tecman Offline

Registered: 04/18/05
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Coast, CA
I read the information re: spreading hay and followed the suggestion to check the water first.

After taking a sample at 5 feet (about a foot from the bottom), I expected to find brown, cloudy water but found it was almost clear with a slightly brown tint; about the same as leaving a teabag in hot water for 30 seconds. It's wierd because when you look at it from the surface it looks dark and murky with visibility to about 3 feet.

Probably best to leave well enough alone, for now.


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