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I brought this subject up a few years ago but am curious what folk's thoughts are. I also just had a thread about the quality and type of feed that is used for our fish and how much difference it makes.

I have hunted a number of south Texas ranches over my years. On many of them there were the common stock tanks - anywhere from 2-30 plus acres. These ponds were not managed. No feeders. No culling. No stocking of bait fish, etc. Just ponds that nobody paid attention to but still produced huge bass.

Some of the largest black bass I have ever caught were in these ponds.

Attached are a few pics of bass caught out of some of these ponds - I caught a legit 10lb bass our of one of these ponds plus had days where we pulled in 10 plus bass between 5 and 10 lbs on a regular basis.

So the question is ...... how does this happen in water that is totally left on its own?

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It's weird, ain't it? All the ponds I've ever fished (mostly up north), were unmanaged and produced great fishing. No feeding, aeration or anything. Under the right circumstances, you don't need all that "fancy" stuff, but it does expedite the process. Think about this: Most public waters aren't managed like private ponds are, and can produce great fishing. With the right food chain and "happy water" as Mr. Lusk says, you can have an unmanaged pond be successful. Is it common? Probably not. You can buy 100 lottery tickets and lose on all of them, and the next person can buy just 1 and win the jackpot. It sounds like those ponds you found hit the jackpot.


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I've caught five LMB over 9 lb, three over 10 lb. All were on private waters. My largest panfish, too. Public waters have been good at times, and I've caught LMB & walleye in 7 lb range there. Still, for lunkers I'd take private ponds, mostly due to reduced fishing pressure.

However, you're right that several of the best private waters were not actively managed much, or at all. Some places are naturally fertile & have a great food chain. On the other hand, my current BOW is deep & infertile. Without liming, fertilizing, feeding, and harvesting, it would be a subpar fishery.

If I remember correctly, Bob Lusk has stated that south Texas ponds are exceptional fisheries even without management. Wish my place were like that!

Last edited by anthropic; 06/07/21 10:07 PM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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Yes I seem to remember Bob talking about how fertile South Texas ponds are just like the land is for growing big deer- I have discussed with a number of South Texas ranch owners to consider feeding, culling. etc. and their answer was always "why?" - I never had a good response LOL

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I'd be green with envy except that nowadays south Texans have to deal with border issues that I'd rather avoid. eek

Last edited by anthropic; 06/07/21 08:14 PM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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Yes I stopped hunting down there after this past season - we were near Eagle Pass for 13 years and I had never seen anything close to what went on this past season - they were walking into our camp at night while we were sitting around the fire and demanding food and water. The Border Patrol told us many of them were armed and carrying drugs - the threw a tire through one of mobile home windows and broke in - totally out of control and dangerous for sure

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It’s gonna get worse


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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One big reason those south Texas ponds, lakes, and "tanks" grow huge fish is pretty simple. My very first pond management client was a hunting ranch northwest of Laredo in 1983. Learned some interesting lessons there. First off, they have a 365 day growing season for bluegills. Second, those ponds ebb and flow with water. A 30 acre lake today may be three acres in two years, then fill back up with a tropical storm coming across from Baja. When those water bodies drop in size, big fish grow huge, small fish are eaten, and the fishery adjusts to its environmental circumstances. As the water drops, fish eat each other. When the lake fills again, forage fish spawn like crazy. They've got more room, "new" habitat, and a fertile food chain enriched by mineral-laden soils. Perfect circumstances with a favorable climate.


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He can teach to catch fish...
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Bob, my very first exposure to an insane trophy bass fishery was Lake Jackson in Tallahassee back in the 1960s. Field & Stream had articles about all the massive fish caught there, 10 lbers being common and up to 14 lb. Red's fish camp on the lake had plenty of mounts of fish that seemed beyond belief.

Lake Jackson's tale was similar to what you describe. The lake dried up in the 1950s, as water levels fell in sinkholes. Then, a few years later, the water came back, inundating new homes & fields on the old lake bottom. Shortly thereafter, incredible results.

It didn't last, of course. People routinely harvested every big fish back in those days, the "keepers", and even a fishing paradise can only supply so many lunkers. Our largest was around 7 lb, which we kept just like everybody else did. frown

Last edited by anthropic; 06/09/21 12:04 AM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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Originally Posted by anthropic
Bob, my very first exposure to an insane trophy bass fishery was Lake Jackson in Tallahassee back in the 1960s. Field & Stream had articles about all the massive fish caught there, 10 lbers being common and up to 14 lb. Red's fish camp on the lake had plenty of mounts of fish that seemed beyond belief.

Lake Jackson's tale was similar to what you describe. The lake dried up in the 1950s, as water levels fell in sinkholes. Then, a few years later, the water came back, inundating new homes & fields on the old lake bottom. Shortly thereafter, incredible results.

It didn't last, of course. People routinely harvested every big fish back in those days, the "keepers", and even a fishing paradise can only supply so many lunkers. Our largest was around 7 lb, which we kept just like everybody else did. frown

Yep, humans gotta ruin everything. I think catch-and-release has caught on, at least in the bass fishing world, but there's still people that think they need to keep everything they catch, but I won't start on that lol.


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A quality lake/pond requires proper harvest in conjunction with natural mortality. Catch and release can be just as bad as keeping them all. A BG/LMB pond with only hook and line (fishing) as the method of harvest will move toward uncatchable fish quickly (3 generations). Lots here on these subjects.
















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Originally Posted by ewest
A quality lake/pond requires proper harvest in conjunction with natural mortality. Catch and release can be just as bad as keeping them all. A BG/LMB pond with only hook and line (fishing) as the method of harvest will move toward uncatchable fish quickly (3 generations). Lots here on these subjects.

Yes, I agree with that, I was referring to anthropic's mention of Lake Jackson, which I assume is a public BoW, and people harvesting too many trophies from it back in the day.


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A pity we didn't know then what we know now. Slot limits would have helped tremendously. Of course, the general public would not have supported such a course, as big bass were "keepers" that could be harvested without much concern so long as the small fish were released.

Last edited by anthropic; 06/11/21 04:50 PM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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I follow a lot of Catfishing pages on Facebook, and most people don't have any issues with taking 30, 40, 50+ pound catfish from public waters, not realizing how long it takes for fish to get that size, and the potential negative impacts it may have. Their excuse is always: "It's not illegal, so there's nothing wrong with it" or my favorite, "why do you care what someone else does with the fish they catch?" I know Bass and Catfish are different, and I feel like *most* bass fishermen release their catches nowadays. Catfishermen are a different story.

Sorry, getting off topic here.


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Yeah, Steve, it takes a while for attitudes to change. Bass anglers are far more conservation minded these days, hopefully this will gradually lead to changes in catfish anglers, too. The tools, knowledge, and sheer numbers of fishermen now require us to be good stewards if our kids are to enjoy the sport in the future.

One thing I really like about Pond Boss is the emphasis on limiting harvest of the biggest bluegill, redear, coppernose, etc. Even more than catfish, they've been thought of only as food (hence the name panfish) without much consideration to their importance to the fish ecosystem or trophy potential. That's beginning to change.

Last edited by anthropic; 06/12/21 05:44 PM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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Here the commercial fishermen like to harvest the bigger cats and sell them to pay lakes for $$.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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Wow. Wonder how those fish do in the pay lakes, or maybe they are harvested so quickly nobody cares. Seems a waste, those 30 and 40 lbers will never reach 60 or 80 plus.

Last edited by anthropic; 06/11/21 11:24 PM.

8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17,L, 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 25 HSB & 250 F1 9/20,L,180# RBT 12/20, 206, 7k TFS,100#TP 5/21, 225



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Originally Posted by anthropic
Wow. Wonder how those fish do in the pay lakes, or maybe they are harvested so quickly nobody cares. Seems a waste, those 30 and 40 lbers will never reach 60 or 80 plus.

That's what the big complaint is here about no slot size for the catfish, either personal or commercial fishing.


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