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I have been lurking on here for a while. Today is my first day.

Mike Otto just completed renovating an old pond on our family ranch in North Texas. Mike made some great spawing shelves around the pond. Before the pond fills, I was going to haul in truck loads of pea gravel for the spawning areas.

Would it be better if I lined these shelves with a liner of some type before I put on the pea gravel? I don't want the gravel to get buried over time in the sediment.

Any recs?

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Hi Bowie, welcome to our family. An "expert" will answer shortly, but in the mean time I'll throw this out there. I'd put the pea gravel in, because whether you do or don't the same amount of sediment in going to come in on that spot, and when the fish fan it away they will have pea gravel to lay there eggs in instead of a hard clay bottom.


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The pond was built in the 1950's. I just had the entire thing drained and renovated (remove trees from dam, raise spillway and remove the sediment from the bottom).

The years of sediment on the bottom of the pond was deep. I don't want to go to the expense of adding tucklaods of gravel to these new "shelf" spawning areas if it gets buried in the next few years....

I thought a liner (or something like a liner) would help to keep the gravel from buryig in the muck?

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I was suggesting that after the gravel goes in (on top of liner), that sediment will come in over months/years and bury the gravel. But that's not a big deal, the fish will still span there.


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Hi Bowie - welcome to the forum! You're the envy of many of us having Mike Otto work on your pond - congrats!

Using a liner to prevent spawning substrate [rock, gravel, sand] from sinking into the clay is a great idea, and one used by many on the forum - especially for beaches. The problem Randy identified I too have experienced and is that over time organic material/silt will eventually accumulate on top of the spawning substrate - liner and all. In my experience with my SMB beds the material eventually becomes too thick for fish to effectively fan it away and the beds become undesirable or are ineffective.

The accumulation of muck on my SMB beds served as impetus for the plan to develop raised spawning beds. Using materials I had on hand, I chose cinder blocks to elevate the beds from the pond bottom, then placed a wooden pallet on the blocks, laid a plastic or wire mesh on top of the pallet, then added my spawning substrate. The elevated and porous layers of material allow any particulate to fall through, while holding my substrate in place. Any material that does accumulate on the spawning beds is minimal and easily fanned away by the spawning fish so far. The first season I employed the elevated beds the SMB immediately used them, and abandoned the original beds I had in place. I was concerned they might not take to the elevated/engineered approach, but I surrounded the beds with limestone cobble to make them appear, at least to me, more natural.

Few issues when applying this to a panfish species. First, you're dealing with finer and lighter particulate for your beds while for SMB I'm using 3-6" limestone rock. For finer material, you'll need to reduce the size of your mesh to prevent it from passing through, while still allowing sediment/silt to pass through. While sand might not work, utilizing pea gravel or coarse road gravel might be the solution.

Also, the lighter substrate will more easily spread when being used for spawning and fanning year after year - so you'll need something to keep it in place. I use cinder blocks to create a horseshoe barrier around my rock, and you might be able to also. Additionally, I use baby wading pools for my BG/RES beds and it keeps the gravel in place, year after year.

Here are some photos of my SMB beds that might be helpful. Of course, BG will spawn on anything, anytime - so you might not need to design anything too special. Still, I would enjoy watching your progress should you decide to employ any of the ideas suggested by the forum.

This the condition of my SMB beds following two seasons of spawning - not good!



Here's the palleet elevated on blocks:



Mesh placed over the pallet upon which I'll place the spawning substrate:



Cinder block horseshoe and limestone bed implemented:





Here's the rock and PVS added to make it appear more "natural" and allow SMB fry some places to hide:





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

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I really like your idea of raised spawning beds TJ. I would wonder if the SMB will find them disturbing sitting higher that the rest of the area. I certainly would have tried this idea had I known.

Someone recently also posted a tip on cleaning spawning beds. He used the discharge end of a trash pump to blow off the sediment. Sorry I can't remember who said it.

Combination of all these ideas seems like a good way to go.

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I have done that fish n chips.

Very nice work TJ. Some of those pics need to go in the archives.

Take some pics of them in use.

We all would like to know how the fish react , if at all , to the liner.
















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They look great TJ but the GBH would have a field day here if they weren't at least 30 or so inches deep. There is abig rookery in the city of Richmond(60 or so nests) and it is not uncommon to see over 15 in a day at my farm.


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Originally Posted By: fish n chips
I really like your idea of raised spawning beds TJ. I would wonder if the SMB will find them disturbing sitting higher that the rest of the area. I certainly would have tried this idea had I known.

Someone recently also posted a tip on cleaning spawning beds. He used the discharge end of a trash pump to blow off the sediment. Sorry I can't remember who said it.

Combination of all these ideas seems like a good way to go.


Thanks Fish - I was worried about the elevated beds too, so I added as much additional cobble and pvc I could to try and make the elevation more gradual and less invasive or artificial. At full pool the beds are sitting in depths of 36-60", and I noted that 3/5 were being utilized last year. When I drainged the pond last Fall after seining the SMB YOY I noticed very little silt had accumulated, but I did have a bunch of FA that developed throughout the year. Dried FA is easy to remove though, like peeling an orange, and it was good as new.


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

[Linked Image from i1261.photobucket.com]


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Ken I have beds in varied depths from 3-5' - that photo was taken as I was refilling the pond so I could still provide a good shot of the beds. My steep 2:1 slopes had vegetation and GBHs in mind when we engineered my ponds - still I have a resident GBH I've given up trying to eliminate. Unless I sat in a blind all day I have no chance of, um, discouraging him permanently from the premises. Every time I get close enough, even with my 10/22, he takes off.


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

[Linked Image from i1261.photobucket.com]


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So you are familar with them. The young ones are dumb and a lot of them are killed around the ponds and oxbow ponds but the old ones are super smart. We kill a lot of water turkeys, beaver,rats and otters sometimes. We don't shoot any GBH or other birds of prey. We have an eagles' nest at the top of the back pond. They are on their eggs now. They are fun to watch when the bite slows. We catch 10 or so fish every year that has healed up from the ole round hole. Since I usually fish in the middle of the ponds, the GBH will feed at the same time. Except when the fish are spawning the GBH appear to feed mostly on small fish.


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I think my GBH and Green Herons are content taking small BG and Shiners from the shallows. I did see a 12" SMB once cleaned to the bone with only the head left, but I think that had to be a mink. Never seen that again - and I'm okay giving up some fish to mink as they keep the skrat population managed. I actually had 4 GH hanging out together this early Summer - I was surprised as I thought they were solitary birds. By Fall there was only 1 left. I can empirically state that GH are far less wary than GBH.


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

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Welcome to the forum. Where are you? My place is South of town off Picket Run Road.

A couple of thoughts.

The fish will successfully spawn without gravel.

I've never used any kind of liner nor built any type of spawning shelves or beds for my place. I doubt that a liner will really keep gravel in place that well. That stuff just seems to move around. A neighbor tried using tires with gravel over a piece of plywood. However, the whole works got filled with sediment.

Our water levels vary so much that a permanent spawning spot might be tough to use. In other words, you need a consistent level for that to work and that means rain that we have been woefully short of.

My pond is down about 7+ ft and the forage pond is down 5 ft.


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.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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TJ- GREAT Info/Pictures of your raised spawning beds. I will be using this idea and will begin construction this weekend!

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Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
Welcome to the forum. Where are you? My place is South of town off Picket Run Road.



I am west of town, out near Vashti.

Stop on by sometime!

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Originally Posted By: Bowie
TJ- GREAT Info/Pictures of your raised spawning beds. I will be using this idea and will begin construction this weekend!


Bowie...thanks for the shout out, I do appreciate it. However, I agree 100% with Dave you don't necessarily need to do anything to improve BG reproduction - they'll spawn in a lined pond when the urge occurs. I've seen this happen lots in Condello's old lined ponds. Amazing drive they have to procreate!

On the other hand, I can't wait to see your project if you end up deciding to do so. Will you use pea gravel for a bed? Will you use a kiddie pool, or block/rocks to keep it centralized? Make it at least 6" deep, they will fan the heck out of it every year. You may need to eventually replace some of the spawning substrate when water levels allow - or you can carry 5G buckets and topoff when necessary if they aren't too deep.


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

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Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
[ Will you use pea gravel for a bed? Will you use a kiddie pool, or block/rocks to keep it centralized? Make it at least 6" deep, they will fan the heck out of it every year. You may need to eventually replace some of the spawning substrate when water levels allow - or you can carry 5G buckets and topoff when necessary if they aren't too deep.


I am going to use both the raised pallet idea (with golf ball-baseball sized cobble) and the rasied kiddie pool (with pea gravel). I want the pond to look as natural as possible, so will make sure to hide the pools and pallets with large piles of natural rock. Luckily, I have a long ridge on the place covered with large boulders.

I appreciate all the help. You all saved me the cost and time of installing a liner!

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Awesome...I can't wait to see this. Please take many photos to share with the forum. Think about adding some milk crates, PVC pieces, or a cedar tree or two around your spawning beds to allow the BG fry a safety zone. I bet you could place cinder blocks on the front and back side and straddle them across a cedar tree. The weight of the pallet and substrate might hold the cedar in place without much need for permanent anchoring as they will get waterlogged and sink before too long.


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

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I'd have to think those sediment filled beds would be as clean as could be if a fish chose to nest in it. They'll clean it out quickly!

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Welcom to the fourm---I told you that you would love this place

Tell them about your kids and Dad

Otto

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Originally Posted By: Rainman
I'd have to think those sediment filled beds would be as clean as could be if a fish chose to nest in it. They'll clean it out quickly!


Nope, too much muck and FA accumulated. Poorly designed bed for clay bottom ponds with significant vegetation. Only way to keep rock clean in my ponds is to elevate the beds.


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

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