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#90924 - 07/06/07 10:26 PM My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
I am in the middle of a pretty big project and I wanted to let the community know what all I have going on so I can get some feedback and try not to relive anyone else's mistakes....and also do my part to help the forum learn from mine as I make them.

I start this thread by saying that it is very hard for me to be active on forums because my schedule hits me in spurts where I don't even have time to take a breath (let alone surf the net and post...but I'm gonna try my best to keep it up to date as I go).

So, here goes...first, I'll pull a post that I made last fall (and have failed miserably to update since).
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90925 - 07/06/07 10:28 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
This was a post I made about what I had going on is response to the PB article about Tony Stewarts pond:


I loved the Tony Stewart article because it reinforced a management plan for a recent project I headed up.

I recently renovated a 3 acre pond at our club.

We only have a few members, but they are all busy and don't have much time to come out and fish so we wanted to manage the pond to allow high catch rates with big fish as fast as possible.

Our goals were very similar to #20 and it was funny how our management plans ended up similar as well.

We stocked 300 feed trained LMB with an average weight of about 2lbs (smallest 1lb - largest 3.5lbs).

In addition, we stocked 15,000 3-4 inch bluegill and 2000 lbs of goldfish (with the plan to stock goldfish on an as needed basis as a slow and easy meal - the goldfish are so bright in color that they allow me to keep a constant eye on my forage situation without having to electro-survey too often). We also aerated with 7 bubble stations to maximize the water column.

We feed the pond about 25lbs of high protein aquamax each day and we are flushing about 75-100 gallons per minute of water. At a few dry points this summer our flush rate got a little too low for comfort. Since we are managing such a high biomass and feeding so heavily, our primary concern and limiting factor is water quality. This problem will be eased by next summer with a well installation over the winter.

So far, so good. We are catching bass that are running about 50% overweight. I'd say the pond gets about 5-8 hours of "real" fishing per month and maybe another 3-5 of just messing around with kids and guests from the dock.

If I go out and fish hard, I average about 30 bass per hour (prob closer to 60 per hour if I fish the feeders) We have 5 feeders with one going off every 15 minutes in order around the pond and I swear I think the fish follow the feeders and I can catch the aggressive ones 2-3 times in a trip around the pond.

The fish were stocked in May and our 3.5lb original fish are just a few ounces shy of 5lbs now...hopefully they will put on those extra few ounces before the weather turns cold.

We will harvest about 200lbs of the feed trained bass before winter. This was the plan all along, to basically allow the strongest and best fish to establish themselves. We will shoot for harvesting based on a % overweight versus just raw weight...meaning, I'd rather take out a 3lb skinny fish that has not adapted well and leave the 2lber that looks like a football.

I have been told that the feed trained bass will "top out" around 7lbs so we are planning to stock some non-feed trained bass during the winter (which is why I am culling down some of the original pellet trained stocking). These new fish will need to be at least 2lbs to make sure they don't become a meal for a 5lb pellet bass. These fish will be tagged and they will be the ones we hope to raise to 10lb+ trophy size (the magic number for a BIG fish here in SC).

For those that are curious, our bass are feeding actively on both live forage and pellets. We were actually out sampling bass (via rod & reel) today and almost every bass had both live forage and pellets in their belly. We believe the larger fish have made an exclusive switch to live forage and the smaller ones are feeding more on just the pellets. The ones that have stayed exclusive on the pellets are the least overweight (and most likely to be fried in my October harvest season).

Our blugill are doing great, and the pond is loaded with fry from the recent spawnings. When the feeders go off, it is like a war zone with the bluegill and goldfish trying to grab pellets while dodging the bass (trust me, the bass will take targets of opportunity when coming in to feed on the pellets and for those not interested in the pellets at all, they know that the feeder sound schools up their dinner for easy pickin).

Anyway, I guess I'll hush. I just wanted to post a little bit about our pond since it was similar to the Tony Stewart story.

I'm actually building my first ponds this year (the one above was a re-stocking of a pond built in the 50's). I hope to get 3 "stair step" ponds (2-3 acres each) done in the next year with another two 1-acre levee ponds up on a hill.

Right now I am getting a detailed topo survey completed (all I have is the old forest service topo map) so we can have exact dam placement. I will also be putting in a well to ensure adequate water to keep the ponds flushed (I feel pretty good about the watershed, but the well will help me sleep easier at night). My biggest concern right now is running into rock, so I'll also be getting some test holes dug in the next few weeks to make sure that is not a problem...I think I'll be good on clay for the cores.

I have a pretty good understanding of management for fishing purposes (both ultra aggressive like the one above and more natural balance management) but the construction process is new to me, so my fingers are crossed. I have a great consultant helping me (from Texas) so hopefully all will go well...my obvious concern there is the distance and him not being able to "drop-in" on my project so I'll have to do a lot of ground work myself (I am looking forward to the challenge), but I trust his advice and knowledge so much more than I do local SC advice. Guys around here just don't take ponds as serious as you boys in Texas...so, I had to seek help from the lone star state. I hope to also become a more active member here, and let you guys chime in on my project as you see fit...I know sometimes too many cooks can spoil the broth, but I am a firm believer that you can never have too much advice...just gotta be smart enough to pick the best advice to follow.

These new ponds are mine personally and they will be managed naturally from the ground up with a few years forage management before introducing the best LMB genetics I can get my hands on. I have a 4 year old son, and my goal is for him to hold every line class record in the state (including the all-tackle state record) from these new ponds by the time he turns 18....gotta have goals, right....oh yeah, may throw in the state BG records while we are at it.

Anyway, thanks for all the great posts...if I can be of any help to anyone, I'll do my best.

-Jeff
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90926 - 07/06/07 10:55 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
First, let me give an update on the club pond.

Since this post, we have stocked in another 1000lbs of goldfish and 1000lbs of shiners. In addition, we stocked about 50 pure Florida strain adult bass in the late fall (4-8lbs)

We have culled out every bass caught under 2lbs (prob 100 fish by now – I am keeping a count but have not added it up in the notebook). Very few (less than 10) of those are “new” fish – most are the runts from the original stocking….so the spawn has been hit hard by the BG. We have also removed 4 fish for skin mounts for children (3 “first bass” that were 2-3lbers and one a little bigger). We still catch some smaller ones but I’d say we average 3 fish over 2lbs for every 1 under.

The feed trained bass have pretty much switched exclusively to live prey now….if we catch one that has pellets in his stomach it is usually a smaller “runt” from the original stocking.

The catch rates in the pond were VERY low in the spring. As the fish started bedding we got some big rains and the pond became very muddy for about a month. In addition, the large forage stocking we made in the fall (just before it turned cold) was mostly still in place and the bass just had so much to eat…they were hard to catch.

My 4 year old son caught a 6.25lber – this fish was the bigger one taken for a skin mount. That is the biggest fish to be caught yet...I saw her sitting on the bed before the water got muddy and after about 20 casts, she finally hit and had the drag on his Zebco singing.

As the water warmed and the bass hammered the goldfish into extinction (they are at least an endangered species now), the catch rates have picked up. The bass are now thinning down the CNBG. I am looking to work with Anderson to get on their truck route for forage so that we can stock less at a time to avoid hurting the catch rates so much. The pure Floridas are really on lock down and very hard to catch with artificial baits…they are obviously harder to catch by nature and they just have so much to eat.

The CNBG are doing well. The bass have hit the small ones hard and if not for the supplemental forage plans we would be approaching a gap in the food chain. The big males are loving the pellet and we have taken a few right at 15ozs (have not cracked the magic 1lb barrier yet – hopefully by fall).

The only problem I have right now is a filamentous algae outbreak. I am affiliated with another club with a much larger pond/lake (50 acres) on the SC coast and we have used tilapia for years with great success as forage and maintenance….but like a dummy I didn’t get any tilapia in this spring…so, I am living with that mistake…don’t plan to make it again.

That’s the highlights on the club pond.
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90927 - 07/06/07 11:41 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Now…my project.

My land tract is just under 300 acres. I call it "Elizabeth" (named after my wife - gotta score some brownie points with momma). I know to you boys in Texas and the Midwest this sounds small, but for my area this is a pretty good sized tract...it is hilly terrain with elevations ranging from 250-480ft. About half of the property is in hardwood/pine mix and we manage extensively for wildlife and plant about 50 acres just for the deer and turkeys…we do trophy management along with the adjoing tracts that total about 2000 acres and basically I save the bucks on my place for guests... (I have only shot one deer with horns off this property and it was because I had my son with me and he needed to see a successful hunt to get hooked so I took a mature 7pt). I lease another 100 acres behind me to provide a buffer for hunting and bedding area….I never even go on this land and it just grows trees for a timber company

Enough about the land….lets talk water.

Let’s just start by saying that I ran into problems with my original site for the “stair step” ponds.

Not one to give up easily, I identified a few other sites and finally found a few that I could make work.

The problem with these sites is water flow...no biggie I have a creek nearby and I own a big 500gpm diesel pump...fill with the creek, sterilize, stock and then maintain water levels with a well. This is where I hit my next problem…filling with the creek is good, but the well plan did not work out (dug a few wells that were basically dry – just 2-4gpm). So, I’ll have to maintain water levels with the creek and that is causing me heartburn because of trash fish getting sucked into the ponds…so I’m trying to crack that one right now (comments welcome – I also made another post earlier about this problem).

I am not building the ponds myself. I have a good contractor with a great local reputation…I have researched enough to be dangerous, but I am pretty confident these guys know what they are doing….they don’t take shortcuts on the core or slope ratios…the only thing I questioned at first was that they use a big D5 to pack but they are constantly using the pans and dozer and I’ve looked at several dams they have built over the years and they all have held up great.

OK – so here is the status:

Pond #1 - 2.5 acres - is fully built and filled with water. I botched 2 things on this one. I didn’t replace topsoil on the hill beside the pond (where we pulled clay for the core) and I can’t get anything to grow – so every time it drizzles rain the pond goes muddy. We also didn’t want to risk the dock being under water once the pond filled so we tried to “error on the high side” and we built the docks too high. I think I did a good job with structure and the construction was solid (nice core trench and a good seal – only water loss seems to be evaporation). This pond was built at the back of the property during the winter to give me a chance to cut my teeth. I learned a lot about what I want and like and am now applying what I learned on the new pond. I’ll also go back and add some topsoil and fix the docs…so no killer problems yet.


Pond #2 - 2 acres– just finished the dam last week. This pond is AWESOME. Nice and deep with some great natural and man made contours. A great view down the pond from the ridge and this is where I will be building my cabin (hope to get that started in the next month or so once I get my septic permit – another long story). We did a “bowed” dam on this pond to add to aesthetic appeal. We got most of the core clay from the pond bottom and up on a hill behind the pond, so hopefully erosion will not be as bad here. We have already top-soiled, seeded and matted all exposed slopes to get it greened up before we fill it….will do better on the dock ;-)

Pond #3 – 2 acres – in process now. We have shot the lines and we’re just getting it rolling. Have a timber crew coming in Monday to get some saw timber in the pond basin and then we’ll get started. In the meantime the pond crew is putting in 2 duck ponds in the back of the property behind pond #1. We will plant corn and flood the duck ponds during duck season with water from the fish pond…should be an easy limit of wood ducks any morning we decide to hunt. This new pond will be the most unique shape wise and is in a more wooded setting.

Pond #4 – TBD – will be a small put and take CC only pond…not sure yet where I’m gonna put it.

I want to share my stocking and management strategy for these ponds and get some feedback but it is getting late and I’m meeting a friend at 5am to take him fishing (at the club pond). I’ll try to write some about the management plan later in the weekend. I plan to get started with the stockings as soon as the weather cools down for transport.

Good luck to anyone fishing this weekend...don’t catch ‘em all!!

If you do, throw the big ones back!!
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90928 - 07/07/07 06:35 AM Re: My Big Project...
Brettski Offline
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Field Correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 6908
Loc: Illinois
What a great story; please find the time to keep us current. Pics are always appreciated.
-
Thanks for sharing this one...looking forward to developments and updates.
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#90929 - 07/07/07 09:47 AM Re: My Big Project...
jeffhasapond Offline
Ambassador
Field Correspondent
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Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 7613
Loc: Pond in No CA, Me in So CA
Hi Jeff, great read. The scope of some of the projects being worked on by members here at PB is staggering.

One item that struck me as interesting with the "club" pond was the stocking rates. 300 bass averaging 2 lbs is 600 pounds of bass in a 3 acre pond. And 15,000 BG and on top of that 2,000 lbs of goldfish. WOW. I'm a complete novice when it comes to ponds but those numbers seem very high to me. Yet it appears that you pulled it off. Amazing!

As far as your property, what can be said. I have all I can do to manage 30 acres and a 3 acre pond. 300 acres that's HUGE (even if you are a Texan). And four ponds!!! What a fantastic project.

Post photos, diagrams, napkin drawings, crayon representations anything. We gotta get a look at your property! Keep us posted we love stories like this.
_________________________
JHAP
~~~~~~~~~~

"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives."
...Hedley Lamarr (that's Hedley not Hedy)

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#90930 - 07/07/07 12:21 PM Re: My Big Project...
bobad Offline
Lunker

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
 Quote:
Originally posted by jeffhasapond:
One item that struck me as interesting with the "club" pond was the stocking rates... Yet it appears that you pulled it off. Amazing!
Amazing indeed!

I guess it couldn't happen without 25#(!) of feed per day, and the in/out flow.

I think that other Jeff is sandbagging us. I think he could give seminars! \:D
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Shrimp

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#90931 - 07/07/07 06:26 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Before I get into the management plan I’ll talk a bit about the stocking levels at the club pond since some people had comments about that.

When we made the decision about the stocking levels I took several scenarios to the members. I basically gave them my best SWAG at what growth rates and catch rates would be with each scenario….how much it would cost upfront and ongoing….and how high the risk level was for failure.

Being the maverick group of guys they are, everyone wanted to try DEFCON 1 and see how it would work.

Lets talk again about the feed trained bass first (which they are not so much feed trained anymore, so prob best to just start calling them northern/native LMB) Of the 300 original bass we were estimating that about the best 150-175 would be left in after the cull (and after my trip this morning and looking at the log book for the past few weeks, I think we are very close to that level – I only caught a few runts from the initial stocking this morning and had 2 very small culls from reproduction that my friend caught while fishing a beetle-spin for big BG – this from catching 37 bass total with an average weight….I’m guessing just over 3lbs – I have not punched them all in to calculate the average yet…I need a nap before I embark on any serious math.

So, assuming we get down to 175 native LMB and a target growth rate of 1lb per year - we will need them to eat about 10lbs of forage to hit the 1lb goal – assuming it is the right size forage and they don’t have to chase it too hard – so that’s 1750 lbs per year.

Now, the 50 pure Florida’s need to be fed too. These fish we want to see grow at 2lbs per year so they need 20 lbs each…so that’s another 1000 lbs.

Now, we stocked the bluegill so heavy numbers wise because we wanted to have a lot of 6” fish when the Floridas went in (and the bigger natives were hurting them from the very beginning too – understand those initial 15K stockers were smaller than the goldfish)….and we knew they would get thinned down heavily. I never mentioned this before but we also stocked 500 “jumbo” bluegill that were 6”+ with the 15K smaller ones. These went in a little too big for the feed trained too eat and the idea was that these would be the ones that would stick around for the kids too catch as nice BIG CNBG. So long story short, is that the initial CNBG stocking had a purpose and they have served it pretty well and they have been hit hard…..very hard.

So, lets go back to the overall forage picture. We now need 2750 lbs per year to support our bass growth objectives. We will manually add that much forage each year and then allow the CNBG (and next year Tilapia) to push us over the top and hopefully give the native LMB a chance at 1.5lb per year and maybe let the Shaquille O’neil of the Floridas get to 3lb per year (rare I know)….also, we know that every native won’t just eat 10lbs and every Florida 20…so the CNBG and tilapia just round it out to make sure everyone can find a snack when they want one.

Now, notice the only fish we take into account here are the original stocking (ie we don’t have any food plans for the natural reproduction fish). The goal is to get them out as fast as possible before they hit the middle/top of our food chain where our native LMB and Floridas are feeding. (I know this is not really a “food chain” because we manually adjust with forage – so I am using our normal management jargon here very loosely at best) But what I mean here is that, I don’t care if the reproduction munches on some fry but I don’t want them getting big enough to eat my mature goldfish and GS. This year, we still had a high enough CNBG population to really hit the bass fry but to make sure we don’t mess this up we will keep 100% of bass regeneration caught while fishing and we will also cull 100% found during an annual electrofishing survey (which we are scheduled to do in October). Then, as to offset mortality we will come back and do some supplemental stocking to control the population right where we want it. Also, I’m gonna risk some loss of tilapia and try to get them in as early as possible next year because I hear they can hurt the LMB spawn if they are present in early spring…we will see.

As some of you guys pointed out…our biomass levels are very very high (esp right after these big forage stockings…and then in the time that follows, imagine the waste being produced…not to mention the pellet feed). I don’t think you will find this management plan in a book (to be honest, I’m not even sure this would classify as a “management plan”…I’m not sure what you’d call it) and to be honest, when I gave the guys this scenario I told them to think of it as a 50-50 that we would have a catastrophic fish kill within the first year because of ammonia levels. So far so good...but I still would never recommend this plan to anyone else without saying be prepared to lose 100% of your pond and have to start over...it is a BLAST to fish the place, but it comes with a high level of risk.

Also, just to put this out there…I am “living on the edge” with my flow through rates again just like last summer. I was very busy on my place and didn’t get the well permit over the winter so the well is not in yet….and it is dry right now…I could really use some big rain. If I mess this up, it may be because I didn’t get that well in during the winter.

The trip this morning was good. The fish were active and caught on spinner baits early and then soft plastics as the sun got over the trees. Catching the native LMB is pretty easy as you can imagine….just fish the brush piles within close range of the feeders (6 feeders total) but the Floridas were nowhere to been seen this morning. The largest fish I caught was a 5lb 5oz native but about 80% of my fish were over 2.5lbs and about half over 3lb. My partner was throwing some smaller baits and his average size was a bit less and his top fish was 4lb 6oz I think. All-in-all, it was a good morning to be out.

One thing worth pointing out is that these natives have been in here for a little over a year now…when you drop them into a pond with this much forage their weight artificially jumps at first because they just gorge themselves and get so fat…then, they kinda slow down. So I think we are averaging just over 1lb of true growth on these fish and then we got the benefit of about a 33% “jump” on the fish when we first put them in (so a fish put in with a 3lb frame wuickly added about 33% of her original stocking weight and got to 4lb and now she has added about 1lb of frame growth to become a 5lb fish). I’m guessing the Floridas have done the same thing with the jump because they were not really that overweight when they went in, but we have not seen one of the real big ones yet that went in as an 8lb fish (were only 4 of those). Another thing worth note is that we don’t fish with live bait…I know the best bait to catch a big Florida would be a 6 inch goldfish….but we are already fishing in a barrel, so we gotta keep some sport in it…lol
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90932 - 07/07/07 08:37 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Let me try to post an image.

I will try to get some land and pond stuff up - but here is a picture of the fish my son caught to see if I can get the thing to show up.

I misspoke earlier...I said this fish was 6.75 - it was actually 6.25 (so 6lb 4oz). My son is 4 and he caught it unassisted (except for me landing her by hand once he got her in).



_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90933 - 07/07/07 08:43 PM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
 Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff F.:
...and the bass just had so much to eat…they were hard to catch.

I know exactly what you mean...

There's so much here, let me get this straight--the bass above is Florida strain?? is this correct?

The body condition looks stupendous. What's the Wr? About 140? 150?
_________________________
Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.

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#90934 - 07/07/07 09:31 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Yes - the bass above was one of the Florida strain stocked in the fall. This is not one of the original feed trained bass.

The biggest of the feed trained I have seen are still under 6lbs.

I assume by Wr you mean weight ratio to length and % above normal (ie 140 would mean 140% of normal weight for the length)...so if I'm wrong here, please let me know.

I sent the fish to the taxidermist and didn't even get a length on the fish to calculate an exact Wr but I would say she was about 30-40% overweight. This was right after the water started to warm so she had not really gotten up to full metabolism yet but I imagine she was full off eggs at the time too....I'll try to get some more exact numbers the next time I catch one of the big Floridas.

Bruce - I'm actually going to try your male BG strategy on one of my other ponds and then combine it with some feed trained LMB...basically try to keep every fish in the pond on pellets...so, as I begin to develop that plan I'd love to get your expert opinion.
_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90935 - 07/07/07 09:40 PM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
In regards to the possible all male BG pond, I'd be honored to help. PM me for a personal email address if you want to correspond.

Does the pond already exist? If so, is it filled yet? I've got some out of the box ideas for pond design to facilitate a trophy bluegill fishery. I've been brainstorming all afternoon on a new pond for myself. And by brainstorming, I mean 20% chance of light sprinkles.
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Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.

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#90936 - 07/07/07 10:09 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Sent you the PM.

The pond I was planning for the trophy bluegill pond was just completed last week (the dam I mean). I have not started any structure work as of yet.

I did have the pond shaped with a 3-4 ft shelf the entire distance around the pond and then it drops straight down to a depth of 8-12 feet and then gradually slopes to the bottom.

I have a few wide angle pictures of the pond and I can get down in the hole and take some to better show the way it lays out.

Here is a topo of my place with the ponds marked. The black line is the main gravel road and I have lots of smaller roads all though the place...

Pond #2 is the one I'm planning for the trophy BG fishery.


_________________________
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90937 - 07/07/07 10:13 PM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
Where will the water originate?

I'd be cautious about placing structure for the time being.

How much water volume will it have?

Will you have the capability of dewatering it?

Am I hijacking an otherwise great thread? \:\)

If so we could move this discussion to a "Trophy Bluegill Pond From the Ground Up" topic.

Actually I guess it is part of your big project.
_________________________
Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.

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#90938 - 07/07/07 11:27 PM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
Lunker

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
No - I think this fits the topic fine.

We can skip ahead a bit and discuss the overall management strategy at a high level and then dig in a bit on #2 (I'll give my ponds names later...but right now I'll keep em as numbers to keep it simple).

First, to answer your questions:

- Water will be runoff and pumped in from a creek.

- Not sure on volume of runoff - but I can get 500GPM with my pump from the creek

- I could pull the water out, but it is deep - I think I know where your going based on my read of the male BG PB articles and some other posts...but I've got a slightly different idea - The main reason I don't want to pull the water down much is because I am building my cabin on the ridge above this pond...so the view will matter too.

OK, here is the 50K foot overview of the plan for each pond.

Pond #2 - as we already know will be trophy BG and "a-grade" feed trained largemouth.

Pond #3 - This will be my trophy LMB pond - all florida genetics with a focus on the foodchain for the bass - I have no intention to fish this pond until there are 10lb+ bass...maybe I'll get a mess of CNBG or some tilapia to have a fish fry...but no LMB fishing.

Pond #1 - This will be my setup pond - I plan to put in cages and grow out BG and feed trained LM....and then I am kicking around the idea of doing some HSB outside of the cages since the cages will be along the perimeter of the pond and the HSB can utilize the open water.

CC – channel cats…not much else to say here.

So, the plan for #2 is that I was going to set up some cages in #1 and grow out BG and feed trained bass for a season or two so that I can select the best 10-20% to move into #2. Then, get rid of the rest from the cages and start over…constantly moving the best fish into #2. I may also doa cage of Florida LMB as try to do some pre-selection to get the ones that seem to be taking off the best.

The idea with #2 is that I want to keep pellets as the forage. I know the LMB will reproduce and the BG will eat some of them….the ones that make it I will get out by electro-survey and keeping 100% of non-stocked fish.

Think I’m gonna hit the sack….I was up at 4:30 this morning to go fishing.
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#90939 - 07/08/07 10:42 AM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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I've never pulled water from a creek. Is there a resident fish population? Just wondering if there's a concern for introduction of larval fish, or undesirable algae forms.

I like the Pond #3 plan to not fish until you have 10-pounders. You have more discipline than I.

Where's the club pond from the map provided?
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#90940 - 07/08/07 10:53 AM Re: My Big Project...
ewest Offline
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There is so much in this topic its hard to know where to start. Jeff as Bruce knows I am a big fan of his work with single sex fisheries. The concept is solid as it applies to genetic selection and produces some really outstanding fish.

I do feel a bit of info is needed about your application. Bruce's all male BG approach is based on the principle that the BG will be fed to satiation by pellets and natural forage and the only predator of the BG will be man. I assume you do not intend on using the pond as a growout pond for LMB (large 8+ in BG and small 12in LMB at which point the LMB will be removed). If so then your intended application will not follow Bruce's approach. The reason is your feed trained LMB will not stay entirely on pellets and will start eating BG. Also the LMB will reproduce and those fish will at best be only partially feed trained through conditioning and competition. You could have a put and take BG/LMB pond by the use of single sex male BG and female LMB , both feed trained and add another forage species GShiners , shad , tilapia to fill the gap. Don't use any lepomis as the second forage source or you may get crosses mixed in with your BG. If I have interpreted something wrong about your plans let me know. Interesting projects !!

Send me a PM with your email and I will send you some long term LMB growth info you need to read.
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#90941 - 07/08/07 11:01 AM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by ewest:
...The reason is your feed trained LMB will not stay entirely on pellets and will start eating BG.
It depends on how big Jeff's LMB are intended to get in the pond. Assuming that he's stocking all male bluegill, he'll probably not have any bluegill under 7 inches. Because of this he'd have to have largemouth that are, hmmmm, maybe 16 inches or so to be a threat to his bluegill?? Just thinking out loud here. You're right though--it would be disappointing to have your very best 9 inch bluegill getting blown up by 22 inch Florida strain LMB. \:D \:D

My biggest concern with an all male BG/LMB growout pond would be the fact that the smallest LMB would compete with the biggest BG for the choice invertebrates that are necessary for Jeff to break the state record bluegill that he once mentioned catching. \:\)
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#90942 - 07/08/07 11:26 AM Re: My Big Project...
ewest Offline
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Bruce that was my assumption (leaving the LMB in for life). I also assume he will be adding larger BG and LMB over time as replacements.

If there is a 3rd specie with small offspring (FH , tilapia or Tshad) that feed as grazers that should greatly reduce the competition between small LMB and BG for iverts. They also serve as food for both adult BG and LMB with the LMB eating the adult grazers and the BG eating small grazers. Plus all male BG + all female LMB create no small LMB.
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#90943 - 07/08/07 11:50 AM Re: My Big Project...
Bruce Condello Offline
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Good thinking. I'd surely look long and hard at the all male BG and all female LMB option.
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#90944 - 07/09/07 09:38 AM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
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I will try to elaborate a bit more later today.
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#90945 - 07/09/07 09:55 AM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
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Posts: 63
Actually, I have a little time right now to sneak in a post.

The plan is to put large male BG in #2 by hand selection (8inch+ when they go in).

The LMB in this pond will be the feed trained bass only (no Florida genetics).

I may be way off here, but once a BG reaches a pound, I just don't see a feed trained bass eating the thing. These feed trained bass have very small mouths in relation to their size...very small. To be honest, their mouth size to body size ratio is more like a smallmouth bass. I don't think the old rule that they can eat something half their length will apply here...I'm guessing this ratio would be substantially reduced...maybe 1/3 of their length?? If it were 1/3 - it would take a 24 inch feed trained to eat an 8inch CNBG.

I've also been told not to expect more than 7lb top end out of the feedtrained bass. I was told that their lifespan is shortened by the feeding and rapid growth (not to mention a shorter base lifespan for the northern strain anyway) and the genetics are just not there to produce bigger fish. Anyone else have any info that runs counter to this?

To answer an earlier question from Bruce - the creek does have other fish in it...that is a problem I am trying to figure out how to tackle and is one of my biggest concerns at the moment. Pond #1 got some trash fish in when it was filled in the spring and they are already making beds...yuck.

To answer one other previous question...the club pond is 25 miles from my property...so that's why it is not on the topo map illustration.
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#90946 - 07/09/07 02:22 PM Re: My Big Project...
Meadowlark Offline
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Jeff F.,

Your project is very interesting and somewhat similar to my own journey which is on a smaller scale and being executed at not nearly as fast a pace...working toward 7 ponds covering about 15 acres of water.

Multiple ponds give you great flexibility to achieve multiple objectives....in my case, they are the only solution I could find to "conditioning" problems.

A couple of things to offer from my experience which hopefully you will find encouraging to your journey...

1) I've raised native LMB to 8.5 pounds without any artificial feeding whatsoever. It took me much longer than the time frame you mentioned...in my case I'd guess about 8 years on the native LMB. Since it was never caught again, I assume that fish didn't live much longer than those 8 years.

2) I've raised pure strain Florida LMB to the 10 pound class in about 6 years...catching them is indeed a challenge. To get to that level has involved Tilapia, Rainbow trout, and artificial feeding of the CNBG forage base. The one 10 pound fish that has been landed was found dead several days after it was caught. This was in winter with excellent water quality conditions leading me to think the fish's death although excelerated by the catch and release was probably going to happen anyway within a year or so.

3) you can raise huge BG in the same pond as your trophy LMB...the pond that is producing 10 pound class LMB has also provided CNBG to about 13 inches.

4) It sounds like you are also experiencing LMB conditioning....just like I have experienced it. The only way to minimize it that I have found is to be very careful about fishing pressure, resting ponds and locations within ponds and limiting fishing to low light conditions as much as practical.

I don't have any experience with artificial feeding in the manner you described and have to wonder about the long term effects to the water quality and fish health. It will be interesting to hear about your results over the long term.

Best wishes on your journey!

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#90947 - 07/10/07 12:04 AM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
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Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
ML - I have been following the goings on at Meadowlark Ranch through your website/blog. Interesting read on the Pacu...I'm thinking about chucking a few in some of my ponds next spring...since they won't overwinter here, I dont think they could hurt anything.

A quick update - I was busy in the office today but talked to my construction guys up at Elizabeth a few times. Mostly duck pond work today as we wait on the loggers to come get these trees (I know several guys in the timber trade and I like them as people...but man I hate working with timber guys...they can't do anything on schedule...ever!!!) I'm beginning to wish I just had someone come out with a portable mill to handle these trees on site versus selling them...oh well.

This is the wide angle photo of #2. Next time I'm out, I'll try to get some to show the features a little better. Again, this one is pretty deep...25ft at the dam and about 12ft at the shallow end (once it falls off the 3ft ledge).




Here is pond #1 - view from above on hill



Another of #1 - this one from the dam:


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"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau

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#90948 - 07/10/07 12:07 AM Re: My Big Project...
Jeff F. Offline
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Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 63
Here a few pics just for fun.

A sample of the goldfish the bass are munching on in the club pond:




And here is a tilapia I pulled from the bigger lake I mentioned that is down near the coast. I caught this bugger on a tiny ultralight with 2lb line...robbed the cradle by sight casting a white jig into the bed.


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