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I need help. Let me try to establish the situation and you who all seem far better informed than me can wade in.

My pond is over 30 years old, beautiful, located in Missouri. All runoff to the pond comes from either pasture land or from heavy oak timber. There is no runoff from tilled land feeding the pond. It also has as best I can tell4 or 5 springs. It is in excess of 3 acres surface with max depth of about 22 feet.

When I became owner the pond needed re-fencing to exclude cattle. That was done. I stocked 200 Channel cats and fished and found nice bluegills and bass. The bass population was high but I had age size classes from fry up to a 9 pounder I caught in 2007, a 5 pounder in 2008 and a friend caught a 6 pounder in 2008.

The negative was chara. I tried chemical control for 4 years. I am a 31 year veteran of the ag chemical business so I had confidence but to no avail. So I moved to grass carp. First I added 5. They were incapable of removing enough. On the advice of an expert, I put in 20 more two years ago. At this point I have virtually zero vegetation and certainly no chara.

The pond looks fantastic, water clarity is good, the catfish are top notch. I have rmoved 5 grass carp via a .22 slug. hard to estimate the current population but they are keeping the pond clean.

Here is the changes that have occured:

Bass: Pre GC, i would see schools of small LMB. They represented from fry up to 8 inch fish. Catching bass was not a challenge, they were healthy but I would say perhaps a bit overpopulated based on the ratio of small fish to 3 pound plus.

Bluegill: pre GC Loads. Lots, tons. All sizes.


Current situation: I have described the pond and water On the BG front, Now I see small BG of 2-3 inch, fry in pond but at this point visually I cannot differentiate BG from LMB when really small, and I am catching some enormous BG's that I was not seeing before. The size classes seem to have changed but no real issue with BG.

LMB is the issue. I have no idea where they are, if they are there, or what has occurred. You guys know pond fish...I fished last week trying to catch a bass any bass just a bass. White beetle spin netted zero LMB, did well on BG and had one CC hit it. I moved to a wiggle wart in crawfish color...zero, nada, none. I changed to a double bladed spinner bait. Fished shallow, I slow rolled it, I pumped and reeled....zero. I moved to a small spinner bait then to a Mepps. Nothing. Even a 6 inch plastic worm failed.


Im doing what I can to shoot GC but I seem incapable of knowing where to aim so basically I see them, I get under 30 feet from them they lay broadside I am what I think is low(under the fish), bang, splash, fish swim away....do I sound frustrated?

What am I missing? have any of you had similar experiences? If and when I get rid of enough CG that I see small surviving amounts of weeds, what plants can I introduce? Should I restock bass?

One other observation. I used to hear bullfrogs in summer and late summer. Maybe 4 or 5 big buggers. This spring the pond is absolutely alive with Bullfrog tadpoles. I don't mean a few I mean scads of them, all healthy and fat and growing getting legs....

Help a guy who is going a bit mad!! Please!

Last edited by Habitatpro; 05/15/10 09:09 AM.
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Wow, that's some transformation. I may be way off the mark here (kind of like your luck with shooting more GC! grin), but I would suspect that removal of your vegetation has led to the obvious result that the fry and YOY fish have nowhere to hide and are being eaten readily. You did not mention any type of forage fish in the pond, so those little guys have to be filling the niche. Cats can get pretty aggressive on other species, though I'm not sure if CCs have that tendency of just other varieties of cats. It's quite possible, though, that the removal of your aquatic plants has led to the change in balance. I'm not sure why you wouldn't be able to catch any bass at all, though. I guess there could be a bunch of different factors that influence that, but I don't have enough experience to know. Have you considered adding fish attactors and other objects that would provide hiding places for your young fish? If there's no place for them to hang out and grow, you need to add some stuff - PVC structures, tree limbs, etc. That may not be the entire answer, but it may well give you a start down the road to recovering your fishery.

I'm sure you'll get a bunch of good answers from others with far more knowledge than I've got, so just hang tight and see what the experts have to say!


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I wanted to start building some brush piles but was waiting to see what the weed control would be. Now I can start but getting the cedar trees out into the lake is a challenge. We are far enough south that if we freeze across the pond, we don't freeze thick enough on a pond my size with springs feeding 50 degree water in.

Right now there is a ton of fry...to small for me to tell BG or LMB...didn't have a fine enough net to grab any to look closer. I know cats can be aggressive but mine are more prone to pout and swim till they get me to feed them.

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I think by removing the cover (plants) that the fry would hide in has helped the predatory fish eat more of the fry. If the GC have eaten the Chara, I'm pretty sure that they have eaten any other plants in the pond as well.

The large LMB could be getting hook shy, and the smaller ones (7" and under) could have been dinner for the larger LMB. If the LMB are full of natural forage, they will be less likely to strike at an artificial lure. Have you tried fishing live bait for them?

Bullets are not the best projectile for shooting fish in the water. Water is dense, dense enough to deform the bullet, and dissapate a LOT of it's energy in a short distance. If the angle is great enough, the bullet will ricochet off the water and not penetrate. I think you'll have better luck finding someone who bowfishes, or catch and remove the GC if they are feeding on pellets.

Have you caught any smaller BG (say 3"-5") from the pond?

How much cover is in the pond now? It sounds like the Chara and any other submerged pond plants were providing most of the cover in the pond.


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1) yes I have from 3-5 inch up as well as smaller BG.

2) I agree removing the cover should have caused a great opportunity for the big bass to eat well and for the intermediate ones to have a regal banquet as well. That is essentially what I think Im seeing in the bluegill kingdom. The big ones are stunning. But that does not help me with the LMB issue. I used to tournament fish...Im not incompetent, well maybe I am and in denial, but to go from almost seeing 6-8 inch bass as a pest to seeing and catching zero?...

3) I have a friend who says if I buy beer, he will spend a day with me and we will throw everything...including live bait, probably crawlers and crawdads in this case. hes cheap. But he is a heck of a stockbroker and helps cut firewood.

4) I agree on the arrow vs bullet. I would go invest in a fish arrow and attachment if I had some faith I could hit them. Im a good archer and bowhunter but this where to aim thing is making me a bit batty a bit batty a bit batty.... Plus, GC are spooky. Its like sneaking up on a turkey, you better be good. They will escape and you can wait hours for them to return to shallows so its hard to call a buddy over to come hunt carp. I hear that its easy to spotlight them but have not attempted that yet.

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[quote=Habitatpro]1) yes I have from 3-5 inch up as well as smaller BG.

2) I agree removing the cover should have caused a great opportunity for the big bass to eat well and for the intermediate ones to have a regal banquet as well. That is essentially what I think Im seeing in the bluegill kingdom. The big ones are stunning. But that does not help me with the LMB issue. I used to tournament fish...Im not incompetent, well maybe I am and in denial, but to go from almost seeing 6-8 inch bass as a pest to seeing and catching zero?...

Could someone have removed the larger LMB without you knowing about it?

3) I have a friend who says if I buy beer, he will spend a day with me and we will throw everything...including live bait, probably crawlers and crawdads in this case. hes cheap. But he is a heck of a stockbroker and helps cut firewood.

I'd try 3"-4" BG also.

4) I agree on the arrow vs bullet. I would go invest in a fish arrow and attachment if I had some faith I could hit them. Im a good archer and bowhunter but this where to aim thing is making me a bit batty a bit batty a bit batty.... Plus, GC are spooky. Its like sneaking up on a turkey, you better be good. They will escape and you can wait hours for them to return to shallows so its hard to call a buddy over to come hunt carp. I hear that its easy to spotlight them but have not attempted that yet.

If you bowhunt, it'd be a slam dunk to get the bowfishing stuff and get used to it. I like the stuff from AMS Bowfishing. I have used 3 differnet types of reels so far, and find their equipment is what I prefer. You could take a liter pop bottle, fill it partially with sand, the rest of the way with water, tie a string to it and sink it in different water depths. Use that as a pratice target.[/quote]


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Why did I not think of the pop bottle as target idea? Is it not amazing what one can learn on this site?

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My LMB are hard to catch this time of year, so maybe it's a seasonal thing. They get real hook shy too, so you have to be disciplined to not throw any slotted ones back thinking you'll catch them later.

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We shall see....May see what happens one evening this week. Looks like I have three days of non monsoon weather so I will be spraying during the day but may fish in evenings since I'll be at the farm. Gonna try worms n crawdads. I have not fished live bait for bass in I don't remember when...Old dog needs to remember old tricks.

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A high brass 12 gauge cartridge WILL float a fish nearly every time. (Don't ask how I know this, I was just a kid) All it does is stun it and then a dip net makes quick work of him. Can be bird shot or buck shot. Doesn't matter. It works.

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Originally Posted By: Habitatpro
We shall see....May see what happens one evening this week. Looks like I have three days of non monsoon weather so I will be spraying during the day but may fish in evenings since I'll be at the farm. Gonna try worms n crawdads. I have not fished live bait for bass in I don't remember when...Old dog needs to remember old tricks.


If those don't work for you try some of your forage fish. IME big pond fish love wounded little pond fish. Catch one of the 3" BG and hook it in the back. Add a float so you can see what's happening with the little fella. I would suggest suspending one of them over a shallow to deep transition zone preferably with some ambush cover.

In some ponds this is the only way to catch the large LMB.




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Well, just an update...

Had conversation with 2 state Fisheries Biologists on my issue. It seems this is not an unknown happening. They both recounted situations where the same thing occurred. Since no dead fish were available to do a post mortem on, the conclusion is that the fish were victims to a specie specific die off, likely viral or fungal. They speculate that some of the BG may have been impacted as well but felt with the depth of the pond and the rather steep sides that shocking would be less than totally effective.

They also said my grass carp introduction and elimination of chara was likely not a related issue. But they also said if I do not create structure before restocking my efforts will be slow to bring back the bass.

The plan is at this point to continue to try to get the carp population down via bow. I will cut about 30 cedars from 6 foot to 20 foot over the next week or two and build piles at various depths. Il hinge cut at least three oaks and fall them into the pond to create additional cover.

They recommended 300 bass fingerlings in the 4-6 inch size range

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HP

I've been watching this thread for a while and wanting to throw my couple pennies at the situation.

I've heard some folks warn about the tannins in certain wood harming their fish [was it oak or walnut - I don't recall] so please be careful and check around first before you use the oak unless you already know it's safe.

If you had a significant bass population, you wouldn't be seeing all those tadpoles IMO. Their prolific numbers suggest your fears on low LMB populations are correct.

I agree with the lack of aquatic vegetation you need some artificial structure. Cedars are great, and free - but consider PVC as well as it's snagfree, can be moved easily if need be, won't deteriorate, and is usually also free after posting a craigslist ad. PVC trees and globes in addition to Brettski Logs [see forum archives] are all easy to make.

Have you considered establishing some additional forage species? GSH need vegetation to spawn but perhaps with your GC hunting efforts you'll get some more vegetation back soon and stocked in dense enough numbers your GSH are fast/wary enough to escape predation long enough for the vegetation restoration.

Call Shawn Banks - he's in Polo MO and can source feed trained LMB, BG, GSH and anything else you may need. Plus, he's a Pond Boss brother and a somewhat cool guy. wink 816.804.5604



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Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
I've heard some folks warn about the tannins in certain wood harming their fish [was it oak or walnut - I don't recall] so please be careful and check around first before you use the oak unless you already know it's safe.


It is the juglone from black walnut nuts, bark, and leaves that is toxic to fish. To the best of my knowledge, the tannins from hardwoods like oak and birch are not harmful. I've dropped a number of hardwood trees into the edge of my pond. They work great. Because of their size they don't move. The cedars and pines I've put in needed to be anchored, otherwise they move around.


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Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
HP

I've been watching this thread for a while and wanting to throw my couple pennies at the situation.

I've heard some folks warn about the tannins in certain wood harming their fish [was it oak or walnut - I don't recall] so please be careful and check around first before you use the oak unless you already know it's safe.

If you had a significant bass population, you wouldn't be seeing all those tadpoles IMO. Their prolific numbers suggest your fears on low LMB populations are correct.

I agree with the lack of aquatic vegetation you need some artificial structure. Cedars are great, and free - but consider PVC as well as it's snagfree, can be moved easily if need be, won't deteriorate, and is usually also free after posting a craigslist ad. PVC trees and globes in addition to Brettski Logs [see forum archives] are all easy to make.

Have you considered establishing some additional forage species? GSH need vegetation to spawn but perhaps with your GC hunting efforts you'll get some more vegetation back soon and stocked in dense enough numbers your GSH are fast/wary enough to escape predation long enough for the vegetation restoration.

Call Shawn Banks - he's in Polo MO and can source feed trained LMB, BG, GSH and anything else you may need. Plus, he's a Pond Boss brother and a somewhat cool guy. wink 816.804.5604


Shawn was contacted and you are right he is solid.

Im not to worried about tannins in a pond with the acre feet of water I have plus a hinge cut done right will allow the tree to survive.

I have looked at the PVC posts and may well take that up as well. We will see how far I get and how fast cutting dragging and sorting cedars by hand. With 130 acres to cull from i should be fine.

Maybe it will help my diet.

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I agree on the use of oak trees. Its fine, i have several "newly cut" sections of water oak currently in use with no problems.


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Just those few trees in that volume of water shouldn't cause any problems.


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Being smart, I waited to cut cedars and hinge cut trees close to the bank till we had hgh humidity and temps in upper 80's. That said, I have 30 cedars cut and ready to cinderblock sink next weekend, a oak hinge cut into the pond and two hackberrys done same way.

Boy did I feel old after that. But it is progress.

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Any pictures? I'd like to see a hinge cut tree so I fully understand what you've described in this thread.


Todd La Neve

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Originally Posted By: Todd3138
Any pictures? I'd like to see a hinge cut tree so I fully understand what you've described in this thread.


Todd:
hinge cutting


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Cool. Thanks, Scott.


Todd La Neve

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Yesterday we put 25 cedars from 6 foot to 20 feet into the pond sunk standing up for vertical structure. We did in rough triangles of three trees per location. Next week if i I get a break Ill restock with LMB

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Today I released 400 3-4 inch LMB into the pond. They spent about an hour in a 20 foot or so area then began to wander off. Hopefully they enjoy their surroundings. There are scads of small BG fry so they should have plenty to munch on.

Now, for you pond experts, my wife had a question on growth rates. How fast will those fish grow and when will they be mature enough to spawn? I said, in a very sure manner, "I dunno, I'll ask"

Any thoughts?

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I'm not sure about Missouri growth rates but the usual answer is depends on the forage base.

OK, who knows anything about Missouri bass assuming loaded with one inch BG?


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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