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#565141 03/12/24 10:02 PM
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Once a pondmeister, always a pondmeister -- even when you sold your pond.

A friend & I recently fished 4 days at a favorite 12 acre pond in south Texas, since I no longer have a pond. I have fond memories of catching many 5 plus lb LMB there, all the way up to my all time biggest, a 27 incher we estimated at 11.5 lb (she wasn't full of eggs). Other folks have also caught 12 lb there.

That was then, this is now. Pond has been left totally unmanaged for years, and the fishery has declined sharply. Sure, there must be a few giants left, but now the average LMB is skinny and less than 1lb. In four days we didn't catch a single bass larger than 2 lb.

So I have a modest proposal to change this state of affairs & want to hear what folks a lot smarter & more knowledgeable than I have to say. More in another post!


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS NLMB, -160




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Before going into my proposal, I should mention that I am a long term friend of the lady rancher who, along with her husband, runs the place. The pond was already there when she bought the ranch, and she uses it to irrigate the grass for her cattle in the summer.

Now that my pond is sold, I'm thinking about restoring the ranch pond to its former glory. Heck, even better than it was back in the day. I'm now in a position financially to make, well, a modest proposal for rehab.

The ranch pond has that great south Texas fecundity, but it also has a number of issues. One, way too many skinny bass. Two, water hyacinths are a constant nuisance, though they do provide cover. Three, there are crappie and even a few catfish. Four, the coppernose bluegill aren't nearly as large & numerous as they ought to be.

The pond is divided by an old dam into two sections, one about 8 or 9 acres, the other 3 or 4. The sections connect in a fairly small deeper passage, with the small back portion butting up to a culvert with constant moderate water flow. The larger section has a dam with a spillway at one corner, no other water exit, unfortunately.

So here's my dumb, absurd proposal for rehab: Dam up the back section, drain the main section, electroharvest the best fish & put them in the back section. Rotenone the main section & do whatever is possible to get rid of the hyacinths. Then clear the back section of hyacinths, break the dam there and begin filling the main lake.

Fish can be stocked as the main pond fills. Tilapia should do well, also threadfin shad. Heck, even some fathead minnows for the first LMB spawn to eat. Then, depending on what the electrosurvey says, perhaps some F1 or even N LMB. Install fish feeders for the BG, too.

I'd need to sell this to my wife (not so easy) and also my rancher friend (not sure of reaction). Obviously the drainage would have to be done during winter, when grass does not need watering. Ranch is now an Airbnb, and I figure this would increase business. I'd be willing to take care of up front costs, including feeders & feeds.

Any suggestions, other than I lie down until this idea goes away?


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS NLMB, -160




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That was way more work then I expected when I started to read your post!!

How much will you be able to 'enjoy' the fruits of your labors with this project?

I ask because when I helped plan and stock my neighbor, Lee's, pond, I handled all the purchases of the new fish to stock, and while they always asked for the bills, I never gave them any of the bills. I just didn't feel right making them pay for what was an open slate for me to try my ideas. I can go to their pond whenever I want, but I tend to not go too much, and always ask them or tell them when I want to come over.

Your project sounds like it's much more work and money than what I did with Lee's pond.


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"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Originally Posted by anthropic
Once a pondmeister, always a pondmeister ...
We can all hope.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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anthropic,

I have considered similar projects to just lease a pond from neighbors and do the management under some type of arrangement. (Because my pond "building" budget keeps disappearing due to family budget priorities.)

I would definitely go talk to the rancher friend first. See what she would allow or support. If everything is a firm "No.", then there is no need to pester your lovely bride.

If you do get approval from the rancher, and then your wife, there are lots of potential baby steps between initial improvements and your huge "optimal" renovation. Culling skinny bass for one or two years might make a significant improvement. If you post your fish sampling notes on Pond Boss, I predict you will get tons of advice on the proper slots for culling.

Finally, if you do make substantial investments, I don't think some typical Airbnb guests will undo all of your work if they are just out for family time. However, if the ranch was advertised as "managed pond with 12# LMB", then I think it would get heavy pressure over long periods and your big bass would either get fished out, die due to excess handling, or become extremely hook shy.

I think you have a wonderful opportunity, but you and the rancher would have to come up with a pretty comprehensive set of rules to keep all parties happy.

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Sounds like a neat project! How long has it been un-managed? If a long enough time, then any monsters would be near the end of their life cycle, and stocking new smaller fish would have to take account the predation. If they have been stunted long enough it might be better to start with new genetics.

Is mucking it out after draining a viable option? It could be pushed (maybe) on the cow fields for free fertilizer. That would also help gt rid of the hyacinth seed bed at the same time.

Let the water go between both but maybe a spillway between them and make the smaller one just HSB and whatever LMB go over the spillway, make the bigger one a trophy LMB lake!

LOTS to think about.


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That sounds like an ambitious plan, one thing to consider, restocking that size pond from scratch will cost an immodest few bucks, I am aware of this because I just did it in the last four yrs.
Also how far is this place from your residence to be able to monitor and enjoy it somewhat closer?
Also, the Airbnb improved value of an upgrade like that would be immense, inotherwords there would be people renting it for the weekend just for the fishing opportunity with their kids, or even extended family, but it would need to be monitored after they leave almost after every visit, not unlike inspecting the house for damage, see how much trash is strewn around, that's my biggest beef about renting a pond out.
It could work out great but it could also turn into a headache, the Airbnb equation of it is going to be the biggest hurdle that I can see. people can be downright animals with other peoples property, the trophy size fish would be gone quickly, they will find a way to sneak them out.
It would help tremendously if they were able to over-fish the crap out of say the front half but not the back half, to be a refuge for the over-fishing, if there was a way to only let them have access to half the pond.
Good Luck!


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
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Originally Posted by anthropic
Before going into my proposal, I should mention that I am a long term friend of the lady rancher who, along with her husband, runs the place. The pond was already there when she bought the ranch, and she uses it to irrigate the grass for her cattle in the summer.

Now that my pond is sold, I'm thinking about restoring the ranch pond to its former glory. Heck, even better than it was back in the day. I'm now in a position financially to make, well, a modest proposal for rehab.

The ranch pond has that great south Texas fecundity, but it also has a number of issues. One, way too many skinny bass. Two, water hyacinths are a constant nuisance, though they do provide cover. Three, there are crappie and even a few catfish. Four, the coppernose bluegill aren't nearly as large & numerous as they ought to be.

The pond is divided by an old dam into two sections, one about 8 or 9 acres, the other 3 or 4. The sections connect in a fairly small deeper passage, with the small back portion butting up to a culvert with constant moderate water flow. The larger section has a dam with a spillway at one corner, no other water exit, unfortunately.

So here's my dumb, absurd proposal for rehab: Dam up the back section, drain the main section, electroharvest the best fish & put them in the back section. Rotenone the main section & do whatever is possible to get rid of the hyacinths. Then clear the back section of hyacinths, break the dam there and begin filling the main lake.

Fish can be stocked as the main pond fills. Tilapia should do well, also threadfin shad. Heck, even some fathead minnows for the first LMB spawn to eat. Then, depending on what the electrosurvey says, perhaps some F1 or even N LMB. Install fish feeders for the BG, too.

I'd need to sell this to my wife (not so easy) and also my rancher friend (not sure of reaction). Obviously the drainage would have to be done during winter, when grass does not need watering. Ranch is now an Airbnb, and I figure this would increase business. I'd be willing to take care of up front costs, including feeders & feeds.

Any suggestions, other than I lie down until this idea goes away?

What's the total budget, and how would you split it? Soil and muck movement, building a new dam, draining, weed removal, possible fish stocking based on electroshocking one of the "new" ponds, etc. The potential cost makes my head spin. Also, if it was for irrigation all these years, do you think the owners would want to change the pond's usage? Maybe talk to them first? Lots of good ideas, but the size could really make it a tad expensive.


AL

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Here is the part I like most about your proposal, Frank. You feel like taking on the project. That's great to hear.

You've got my support but I just want it to be good for you. I agree with Al in that it seems to be very expensive project. I would bet that it could be managed population wise and eventually produce 5 to 10 lb LMB in a few years time. I wonder if that would be an acceptable option where your are like the biologist/warden/fishing guide. Say where there is a dock that any fish from staying at the airbnb. As the owner, I really wouldn't want them fishing from the bank. Rules like keep LMB less than 15" and BG >8" if wanted at possibly some limit per stay day. If wanting to fish from boat, they hire the guide where the landowner collects the fee (you keep the tips). Cull it back to its former glory. Put the guide fees into a slush account to improve the water, stock forage, herbicide, etc. That way your expertise and time pay for your share, it doesn't cost the landowner, and most of time you invest is spent fishing LOL. Just a thought. Anyways, hope you come to an amenable agreement.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Getting an over crowded LMB 12 ac back into balance is a big task as you probably know. Plan on an electroshocking every year or twice a year until you see decent progress toward your goals. I won't be cheap in time spent or money. Removing 240 to 360 lbs of bass from 12 ac will be a big challenge. Then you could be left with hook smart brood stock. Then will the growth potential of the brood stock be capable of growing more 10-12 lb LMB. Be prepared for a big project.


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These are great points Bill.

How should one approach these problems and develop strategies to mitigate them? Particularly, the development of hook shyness. What strategy might circumvent or reduce the effects of removing the most easy to catch? One thing that I have considered that could help is to select fish caught by artificial baits and tag them for growout. One might be able stock the tagged fish at a known age, eg F1 LMB females if a good source could found. They should do well if space is cleared for them by culling.

Perhaps then just pull out the stops for culling the unselected fish. Use live bait to catch them if they won't take artificial baits. Maybe juglines could help remove more fish with less time? I think I were to take on a project like this I would employ tactics like that in order to do more with less time. Also, I think on the forage front I would want reduce the adult BG standing weights by probably a minimum of 40-50 lbs per acre-year to free space and increase production of YOY BG. I don't think I would fish to remove these fish. I think I would soak traps to remove them. Maybe some large Z-Traps. I think I would want to use those same traps to monitor the forage population ... particularly forage population in the consumable sizes. But I would want to record all fish so perhaps I could glean from the records conditions where YOY production was running on all cylinders. It would definitely be a big project that takes a lot of commitment. 12 acres is a lot of water.

10 to 12 lbs are some big LMB. I didn't figure there would be many of those tackling a crowded pond by culling. To improve chances for more of those size fish, maybe cleaning the slate would be a more reliable path to getting there.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Thanks for all the suggestions & good advice, gentlemen! That's exactly what I was looking for. Considering the cost & distance, this proposal might not be so feasible as I initially thought.

I have another idea that may prove a lot more practical, but we'll see. I do love pond management & maybe there's a better way to keep my hand in.


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anthropic....I admire your zest for pond management and helping people, but your "modest" proposal appears to be a lot more than a "modest" project. Looks like a great plan, but I bet you will find better fit projects in the near future. A pond owner would be blessed to have your guidance.


Fishing has never been about the fish....

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Zep, I have a confession to make. The "modest proposal" description comes from an famous satirical essay written by Jonathan Swift in 1729. His "Modest Proposal", written to parody certain social reformers, was that poverty in Ireland be alleviated by the poor selling their children as food for the rich. (Any resemblance to folks who advocate disposing of children in the womb for financial reasons is, of course, purely coincidental.)

My modest proposal designation is meant as satire against myself, knowing that this would involve major time, effort, and money. I guess this is nostalgia for the way this ranch pond used to be, and desire to keep in fishery management without owning a pond.


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Originally Posted by anthropic
My modest proposal designation is meant as satire against myself ...

Future Pond Boss question: "What is the secret of your fabulous pond management?"

Evil anthropic from the Bearded Spock universe: "My secret is Soylent Green!"

(Have I now "crossed the streams" too much with cultural references?)

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by anthropic
My modest proposal designation is meant as satire against myself ...

Future Pond Boss question: "What is the secret of your fabulous pond management?"

Evil anthropic from the Bearded Spock universe: "My secret is Soylent Green!"

(Have I now "crossed the streams" too much with cultural references?)

Rod, only you would mention Soylent Green, Bearded Spock, and Ghost Busters in the same post! grin


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS NLMB, -160




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Originally Posted by anthropic
Rod, only you would mention Soylent Green, Bearded Spock, and Ghost Busters in the same post! grin

Since I know you are missing your pond, I wanted to make sure you at least had some poor entertainment from your buddies!

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I once saw a dope head going through withdrawal. Monitor yourself.


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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A good start - if the owner and wife are on board and you want the work ,would be reduce LMB #s and add adult BG and feed them. Tilapia would be good as they might deepen the pond a bit.
















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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
I once saw a dope head going through withdrawal. Monitor yourself.

Thanks for the warning, my head is full of dopey ideas. laugh


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS RBT -234, 2023 BG TP TFS NLMB, -160




ewest #565321 03/18/24 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ewest
A good start - if the owner and wife are on board and you want the work ,would be reduce LMB #s and add adult BG and feed them. Tilapia would be good as they might deepen the pond a bit.

Good idea! Hyacinths would still be an ongoing problem, of course, but the expense necessary to scoop them off the entire lake bottom would be dredgeful. whistle


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