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#513693 11/04/19 11:47 PM
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Until now I've just been a lurker here. I appreciate the wealth of knowledge on these topics. Thanks in advance.

I'm a residential real estate developer who happens to be an avid watersports fan. I've been to a couple private man-made ski lakes and always loved the concept. I've though about doing my own for some time, but as a developer, my approach would be different than most that I've seen. Specifically, in my region, private lakes are highly exclusive. Just enough residential lots to share the construction burden. This typically means about 10-24 lots in a 2-lake setup.

I want to take a different approach. The concept is a private resort. There will be a higher number of residences and lot prices will be reasonable. I've attached a preliminary plat, but here are some answers to FAQs.

  • Map Details -- There are both single family residential lots in light blue and multifamily condos in tan. There is a large recreational lake for big-wake activities like surf, tube, and wakeboard, a competition ski lake, and a no-wake pond at the bottom right. The bottom an left side of property are bounded by a river that is about 2-6ft deep and 50ft wide. Along the river is a 73 acre conservation easement colored light green that has been incorporated into the backyards of the riverfront lots. The grey areas are roads and parking. The dark green areas are planting areas.
  • Big Lake -- Surface area of the big lake is about 27.5 acres. The depth at center will be 15ft to accommodate big wake boats. Lake is about 2300ft long and 850ft wide at the widest point. My research has indicated that the top 2ft of depth and at least 1ft above the waterline should have a 16:1 shore slope. Shoreline is intended to be sand except in the turn areas where we will likely use large cobble.
  • Comp Ski Lake -- Surface area is about 9.5 acres, 2000ft long and 200ft wide at the narrow length. This one will only be 5-6ft deep and shoreline will not be subject to big wakes.
  • No-Wake Pond -- Surface area about 7.5 acres but only 4-6ft deep. Meant for kayaks, SUP, etc. Shoreline will likely be somewhat steep with various wetland plants.
  • Total site is 180 acres. Land quite flat and slopes gently from right to left with about 15ft drop in a very even manner across the approximately 3/4 mile width of the site (approx 0.3% slope).
  • Soil surveys indicate heavy sticky clay formations. We don't anticipate seepage issues or any rock formations, but the water table is high so we do anticipate having to dewater during construction. Water can be discharged into the river.
  • The local university collects evaporation data. Apr 1 - Oct 31 we typically have 41" of evaporation with the peak in July at about 0.3" per day. This is pan data, so shielded large body evap should be lower.
  • The land comes with abundant water shares and water rights either direct from the river at the bottom right or from a canal that also feeds off that river further up.
  • Depending on how we do it, we'll need to excavate around 350,000-400,000 yards of dirt. There shouldn't be any bedrock or anything to deal with as it is essentially the sediment bottom of an ancient lake.
  • There is about 18 inches of quality topsoil that I'd like to scrape off for later use. We should be able to spread and compact the excavated dirt across the other 145 acres. I expect to be able to scrape and push most of it.


I would love to get your thoughts on equipment and timeline to move this much dirt and any suggestions on how to plan for it.


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Brett, I'm not qualified to answer this and doubt that anyone here is. For the most part, we don't build them but manage for fish after having them built.

I do have a concern about the slope in a residential area.


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.

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Big project. IMO Going to be expensive and very very expensive if you don't do it right the first time. I would send an e-mail to Bob Lusk at info@pondboss.com. If anyone can provide advice and guidance to you it will be him.

Good Luck!


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I like it. It looks very well thought out in my opinion. The one area I'm not sure I would like to live is the (11) single family residences to the right of the big lake but below the smaller lake surrounded by roadway.. This would mean that there would be no lake view or river view... just views of other homes....

Agreed, this project would be extremely expensive. My biggest question would be where would all of that dirt go?

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Brett...Looks like a cool idea. Only thing I might add is if the words "Watersports Resort" is anywhere in the literature about this development you better get ready for some hefty insurance rates. You being a developer I am sure you know all about liability insurance. I suppose after you're done and moved on to the next project the HOA would have to carry the insurance? No doubt it can be done insurance-wise because Six Flags and Water Parks get insurance...I carry a million dollar liability just on my weekend place and it's not cheap. My lawyer told me "DO NOT let anybody ride your ATV's"...she said "even if your best friend or your cousin's kid get seriously hurt or paralyzed on that ATV"..."or someone falls into pond and drowns" you can bet your ass they are gonna sue you!". They will claim "Oh it's nothing personal and we're not suing you...we are really suing your insurance company"...blah blah.


Fishing has never been about the fish....

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Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
Brett, I'm not qualified to answer this and doubt that anyone here is. For the most part, we don't build them but manage for fish after having them built.

I do have a concern about the slope in a residential area.


Could you please expand a bit on this? I don't think I understand why a pretty much flat site is a problem?

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You could also ask the Herman Bros for professional advice. They are builders and developers of lakes and lakefront properties in Illinois. They also own and operate the Giant Goose Ranch, a multi-lake recreational property.

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Brett N:
I think Dave Davidson was confused on your 16:1 slope sentence. He was thinking that was a STEEPER slope than most of our ponds (most of ours are 3:1 or 4:1) and that would be a risk with lots of residential houses, with young kids, pets that may walk in the water, slip and then not be able to get out.

But I think your plan is for a 16 foot of horizontal run INTO the pond before there is a 1 foot drop vertically. This is a very very gradual grade into the water and that would reassure Dave that it is unlikely for pets or people to slip in and not be able to get back out.

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Brett -

One consideration for the lakefront homes would be an easement from water's edge back 10 to 15 feet to be in perpetuity so that everyone who resides in the development has shore access to either walk the lake, snap photos of the watersports on the lake from any angle, pull ashore if they have a need to, etc. Whether you put in an official walking path around the bodies of water or just leave that space grass you might consider this. It would of course include a clause that would prevent the residents from obstructing this space with either landscaping, fencing, etc.

You might also consider contacting wakeboard parks such as Terminus here in Georgia, regarding the removal of dirt, insurance, etc. Terminus built on a field and has three bodies of water, a beginner track with an aqua park (think jumpy houses on water), an intermediate track with obstacles, and an advanced track with obstacles. You can wakeboard, kneeboard, or waterski the intermediate and advanced tracks.

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Originally Posted By: Zep
Brett...Looks like a cool idea. Only thing I might add is if the words "Watersports Resort" is anywhere in the literature about this development you better get ready for some hefty insurance rates. You being a developer I am sure you know all about liability insurance. I suppose after you're done and moved on to the next project the HOA would have to carry the insurance? No doubt it can be done insurance-wise because Six Flags and Water Parks get insurance...I carry a million dollar liability just on my weekend place and it's not cheap. My lawyer told me "DO NOT let anybody ride your ATV's"...she said "even if your best friend or your cousin's kid get seriously hurt or paralyzed on that ATV"..."or someone falls into pond and drowns" you can bet your ass they are gonna sue you!". They will claim "Oh it's nothing personal and we're not suing you...we are really suing your insurance company"...blah blah.


Yeah, this probably isn't the proper forum to explain the intricacies of the business model. The reason I said resort is because it is very much like a resort community. The multifamily units will all be retained by myself and my partner. They are rented condos, not for sale. The single family lots are for sale individually. The HOA policy will actually be that no private boats are allowed on the lakes. So we won't have the problem of some random person running their boat or rider aground. So, how do the boats work?

There will be an onsite charter service with 3 new comp series tow boats (Ski Nautique, Malibu, Mastercraft). The HOA will provide the facilities (docks, boathouses, lifts, office, etc.) as well as a monthly stipend to cover overhead (boat payment, insurance, and manager salary). This will cost each of the 320 resident households about $35/month. Additionally, each 15 min set behind a boat cost the resident about $22. This covers fuel, driver commission, and boat/shoreline maintenance. Essentially, think of it like an independent boat charter service that schedules 15 minute charters and provides everything. But the HOA residents and a limited number of invited/registered guests are the only ones who have access to this charter. Not really a whole lot different than a boat club/ ski school model.

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Originally Posted By: KRM1985
I like it. It looks very well thought out in my opinion. The one area I'm not sure I would like to live is the (11) single family residences to the right of the big lake but below the smaller lake surrounded by roadway.. This would mean that there would be no lake view or river view... just views of other homes....

Agreed, this project would be extremely expensive. My biggest question would be where would all of that dirt go?


I understand your sentiment on the internal lots. What you have to keep in mind is that this project is actually be in the middle of a micro-metro area. Those lots will still command about a 35% premium over a regular residential development in the area, simply because of the amenities offered. You might ask, "why have them in the first place?" The plain answer is that a developer must focus very intently on road frontage. I absolutely refuse to build single loaded roadways (roads with homes only on one side). Those types of roads destroy your profit margin as a developer. You'll notice that wherever I've got single sided roadways, they correspond with multifamily development. Because these areas already require extensive parking areas, so I can run the roadway through that area and have it serve as both a parking lot thru lane and a right of way.

Re: where would the dirt go. This should be a borrow and fill project. I need to raise the entire piece of land up about 8ft around the lakes and then gently sloping away. So call it a fill of 2ft average across about 120 acres. That will use every bit of about 400,000 yards of dirt. So we just need to properly calculate our waterline elevation to balance the borrow and fill at equivalence.

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Gotcha Brett....please keep us updated as it develops. Super cool idea because people in metro areas really want some place to escape when they are home. I live in a planned community with a lake/pond, walking paths and it gives the neighborhood a nice peaceful feeling. May be a dumb question but I assume this development will be gated? My community is not gated and outsiders are starting to show up at the lake and ponds with 5 poles, littering, keeping fish, etc.. I wish it was gated.


Fishing has never been about the fish....

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Originally Posted By: canyoncreek
Brett N:
I think Dave Davidson was confused on your 16:1 slope sentence. He was thinking that was a STEEPER slope than most of our ponds (most of ours are 3:1 or 4:1) and that would be a risk with lots of residential houses, with young kids, pets that may walk in the water, slip and then not be able to get out.

But I think your plan is for a 16 foot of horizontal run INTO the pond before there is a 1 foot drop vertically. This is a very very gradual grade into the water and that would reassure Dave that it is unlikely for pets or people to slip in and not be able to get back out.


Yes that makes sense. Yes I am talking about a VERY gradual slope into the water. It appears that for a sandy bank subject to lapping waves, nature seeks a 16ft horizontal run for each 1ft vertical drop. This allows the waves to dissipate completely without rebounding and/or removing the aggregate and creating a ledge.

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Originally Posted By: Zep
Gotcha Brett....please keep us updated as it develops. Super cool idea because people in metro areas really want some place to escape when they are home. I live in a planned community with a lake/pond, walking paths and it gives the neighborhood a nice peaceful feeling. May be a dumb question but I assume this development will be gated? My community is not gated and outsiders are starting to show up at the lake and ponds with 5 poles, littering, keeping fish, etc.. I wish it was gated.


Very good and very tricky question.

We have to maintain a balance between cost and exclusivity. The moment that we gate the community, the cost to residents jumps dramatically. The reason for this has to do with road maintenance. The area is subject to extreme weather change from season to season. Up to 105*F in the summer and as low as -30*F in the winter. Heavy freeze-thaw cycle! This means roadways require A LOT of maintenance. Ongoing stuff like snow removal and sealing as well as occasional reno work like repaving, storm drain, and gutters. The moment that we gate the community, the HOA has to be responsible for all of that. If we leave it open, the city handles that with tax dollars.

Additionally, The city has created a bike/jogging path along the river that tracks several miles through the whole city and then up through a canyon. Conveniently, it runs along our side of the river just in the bottom left portion and then jumps across a bridge that the city will install and maintain. This is a big amenity for us as well because we now get to offer great river fishing, biking, jogging, etc at no additional HOA cost.

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I got a question. This will be in Utah right? Whats the weather like there? Myself I wouldn't want to pay if I cant play. Now don't get me wrong this sounds like a very cool project. But if its iced over several months of the year and cold for a couple more. How many months would you be able to use this?


The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=504716#Post504716
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Originally Posted By: RStringer
I got a question. This will be in Utah right? Whats the weather like there? Myself I wouldn't want to pay if I cant play. Now don't get me wrong this sounds like a very cool project. But if its iced over several months of the year and cold for a couple more. How many months would you be able to use this?


Yes it is in Utah and certainly there are some very cold periods. Keep in mind that typical humidity is around 10%, so the swings in temperature don't feel nearly as extreme.

For those who aren't familiar, Utah is a sportsman's paradise. This "resort" will cater to many of those activities. Obviously, boating is a big part of it given the design of the lakes. The boating season for the normal person is mid April to Mid October. This is when daytime temps are above 60*F. Especially with these private shallow lakes, the water stays warmer so they have a longer season. The most dedicated skiers will start in March and go to November,with dry suits. For example, As I type this, it is 60*F outside, not a cloud in the sky and will be like this all week. So people on the shallow man-made lakes are still skiing. That is one big benefit to being in this resort; 7 month season instead of 5. Beyond the lakes the residents also get high quality river fishing in their backyard- similar to what you find in Island Park Idaho- as well as biking, tennis, swimming pools, spas, gym, etc.

In the winter, the temps get so cold that the lakes will freeze over thick enough to drive vehicles on. We are going to have a dedicated ice skating rink and regulation ice hockey on the comp lake. The large lake will be open to snowmobiles towing snow tubes and fat wheel snow biking on groomed trails.

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Okay now I'm in. If it was just a little closer that is. Well im not much help but I wish you well. Will you post pictures along your journey if you decide to pull the trigger on this huge project.


The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=504716#Post504716
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I've seen no mention of fish in the posts so I assume the lakes will not be stocked and fishing will not be an available sport. Will you be hiring a lake manager to maintain the water quality and for vegetation/algae and insect(mosquitos) control?


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Originally Posted By: Bill D.
I've seen no mention of fish in the posts so I assume the lakes will not be stocked and fishing will not be an available sport. Will you be hiring a lake manager to maintain the water quality and for vegetation/algae and insect(mosquitos) control?


There is world class fishing in the river that surrounds the resort. Lake fishing seems a bit pointless. Also, we don't really want our boats and riders to fight hooks and lines.

There will be a full-time property maintenance crew. They will also be responsible for lake management.

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How in the world do you get your local natural resources dept to sign off on this? If you have world class fishing in a stream adjacent to the lakes and you will be blending lake water and stream water (or I presume using the stream water to refill the lakes when the water table drops or evaporation kicks in?) freely?

Our DNR would have a conniption that water laced with boat exhaust, oil, human trash, and waste from the man made lakes would enter the fragile ecosystem of the natural stream nearby. Then they would put up enough barriers to make any developer choose to go elsewhere. Shoot, if they couldn't find an existing law that prohibits the project, they would either find an endangered previously undiscovered mosquito on the property or would find some 'sawgrass' on the edge of the existing creek and dub it a wetland in order to protect it from any development.

I'm glad our DNR has an eye out for protecting our water ways and our Great Lakes resources, but they do carry it a bit too far at times too.

How in the world do you get permitting to turn what sounds like a very valuable resource in the 180 acres around that stream into what they would probably view as a very profit oriented, 'glamping' destination for the upper crust? Don't get me wrong, for the folks who can afford it, it sounds like a great opportunity for recreation. I don't fault folks who like those activities and are willing to pay for them.

You have to remember that most of us in West Michigan are first or second generation Dutch immigrants and we usually make copper wire by pinching our pennies... Just the thought of doing a water based recreation with the cost meter running and the tab going up on the 15 minute interval would be an awful killjoy for me.

But again, we are spoiled in our State with almost an unlimited amount of water sport opportunities all around us in all 4 seasons.

I can see that you have a lot of experience in this area and I by no means would want to slow you down by showing my amazement that you can even pull this off smile

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Originally Posted By: canyoncreek
How in the world do you get your local natural resources dept to sign off on this? If you have world class fishing in a stream adjacent to the lakes and you will be blending lake water and stream water (or I presume using the stream water to refill the lakes when the water table drops or evaporation kicks in?) freely?

Our DNR would have a conniption that water laced with boat exhaust, oil, human trash, and waste from the man made lakes would enter the fragile ecosystem of the natural stream nearby. Then they would put up enough barriers to make any developer choose to go elsewhere. Shoot, if they couldn't find an existing law that prohibits the project, they would either find an endangered previously undiscovered mosquito on the property or would find some 'sawgrass' on the edge of the existing creek and dub it a wetland in order to protect it from any development.

I'm glad our DNR has an eye out for protecting our water ways and our Great Lakes resources, but they do carry it a bit too far at times too.

How in the world do you get permitting to turn what sounds like a very valuable resource in the 180 acres around that stream into what they would probably view as a very profit oriented, 'glamping' destination for the upper crust? Don't get me wrong, for the folks who can afford it, it sounds like a great opportunity for recreation. I don't fault folks who like those activities and are willing to pay for them.

You have to remember that most of us in West Michigan are first or second generation Dutch immigrants and we usually make copper wire by pinching our pennies... Just the thought of doing a water based recreation with the cost meter running and the tab going up on the 15 minute interval would be an awful killjoy for me.

But again, we are spoiled in our State with almost an unlimited amount of water sport opportunities all around us in all 4 seasons.

I can see that you have a lot of experience in this area and I by no means would want to slow you down by showing my amazement that you can even pull this off smile



A project like this is certainly not without hurdles. Beyond the permitting, there will be numerous city council meetings where a handful of residents will be screaming that the boats are going to wake them up from a nap a mile away. Side note, the boats run below 55 decibels, which is about equivalent to a normal human conversation. Also, I'm not suggesting that we can just throw a pump into the river and start filling the lakes. But that property has plentiful water rights. The farming operation currently on it uses far more water than we will. But this won't be about water use, it will be about properly isolating the lakes from the river. But for perspective, if I travel 9 miles down river, there is a 2-lake ski community somewhat similar to this in which the boat lakes themselves are literally bordering the same river with just a berm separating them. Also consider that we are the second driest state in the nation, next to Nevada, so almost all of our large bodies of water are reservoirs. Nearly every one of these reservoirs allow power boating. So there are already boats "polluting" the waterway with fuel and exhaust both upstream and downstream from this location.

Our setup is actually MUCH more eco-friendly. On the public reservoirs/lakes, there aren't really any enforced regulations on the boats. It is not uncommon to see many people running a 30 year old boat burning more oil than fuel. There is no doubt that they are also not very vigilant about preventing oil and fuel leaks. And when garbage ends up in the water it just goes downstream. In our case, there are no private boats allowed. The 3-4 boats will be new each year operated by a single charter company and replaced after about 500 hours of use, so no opportunity to develop environmental problems. There is a professional lake management team to ensure against pollution and littering. There will also be catches to ensure that any inadvertent garbage entering the lakes is prevented from entering the river.

You also have to realize that if we don't do this project, the land will be filled with low-end subsidized apartment buildings, with the right hand section developed for industrial complex. Which would they rather have?

Re: the cost of boating here. You might be surprised to learn that for most people it will actually be far cheaper to live and boat in this community instead of living in a normal development, owning their own boat, and boating on the public reservoirs. In fact, when I do the math, the cost of living and boating in this community with a brand new comp level boat and guaranteed perfect water conditions is roughly equivalent to splitting the purchase of a 20 year old boat with your brother and taking turns pulling each other at the crowded local reservoir. It's just the beauty of crowdfunding the shared amenities. Everyone pays a little to ensure full use of the equipment instead of one person paying a lot for minimal use.

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Yep, I blew it on that one. Thanks CC for the help.

Last edited by Dave Davidson1; 11/06/19 08:05 AM.

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Brett N, As for water rights.. Using the water for surface, recreational rights vs. irrigation rights.. Is this something you've already looked into?
Although I like to think fisheries is my thing, I spend several hours every week devoting time to the water resource boards i'm a part of and we have federal guidelines we have to be familiar with as well as local state regs.
I'm just curious how they allot this for recreational use?

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Brett....I am sure being a developer you have good legal counsel.

These guys have an office right across the street from me here in Dallas. I have met with them when I was considering a downsize and moving to one of their developments in East Texas. They have vast experience all over the country handling the legal work, HOA, water rights, liability protections, ect.. behind recreational properties.

https://addisonlaw.com/


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Originally Posted By: Snipe
Brett N, As for water rights.. Using the water for surface, recreational rights vs. irrigation rights.. Is this something you've already looked into?
Although I like to think fisheries is my thing, I spend several hours every week devoting time to the water resource boards i'm a part of and we have federal guidelines we have to be familiar with as well as local state regs.
I'm just curious how they allot this for recreational use?


Yeah it's different everywhere you go. We will have to get use permits for sure. We will have to follow all the rules in terms of treatments and isolating the lakes from the waterways. Can't just dig a trench from the river into the lakes. But there isn't a problem with things like power boating, which is allowed on all the reservoirs both upstream and downstream from this location. Also if you go about 8 miles downstream, there is a private lake setup very similar to this. Once the permits are in place, water will not be a problem. I think the biggest problem is gonna be dewatering while we dig. I'm guessing the water table is about 24" below current grade.

Last edited by Brett N; 11/10/19 08:53 PM.
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by HTNFSH2 - 07/28/21 08:07 AM
Crawdads...Free to a Good Home!
by Quarter Acre - 07/28/21 08:07 AM
What did you do at your pond today?
by SetterGuy - 07/28/21 08:00 AM
Pre planning stocking future pond
by jpsdad - 07/28/21 07:16 AM
Buying property w 228 Acre former gravel pit
by DNDN - 07/28/21 02:25 AM
Pond Redo
by FishinRod - 07/27/21 11:28 PM
Thoughts on BG vs BCP in LMB pond
by jpsdad - 07/27/21 09:56 PM
Stocking new Pond
by jpsdad - 07/27/21 09:42 PM
Introduction / Reason to sign up
by SkunkedAgain - 07/27/21 01:14 PM
Jenson pond mower
by cb100 - 07/27/21 12:02 PM
Atonomus Underwater Light Attraction
by canyoncreek - 07/27/21 11:47 AM
Newly Uploaded Images
Catfish ID - Channel or Flathead?
Neighbors Pond with RES
Neighbors Pond with RES
by Shorty, July 17
Fish ID
Fish ID
by airborne3118, July 12
Algae?
Algae?
by OhioJon, July 7
pond
pond
by Stressless, July 7
I.D. Help
I.D. Help
by volguy9595, July 5

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