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Kanon M Offline OP
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Hi PB community,

I’m interested learning what I can do to better manage the family pond (2-3 acres). I think it’s in good shape and very healthy, but I’d like to maximize fish size if possible, and possibly reduce the muck on the bottom and perhaps control the inevitable summer algae/vegetation.

I’ll start with a quick background

My grandpa built a pond 60-70 years ago in west central Louisiana and it’s turned into a very healthy largemouth and bream pond. It’s surrounded by a healthy baldcypress and longleaf pine forest. Louisiana irises line much of the bank, and there’s a small island in the middle with outreached shrubs and trees providing cover for pond residents. The depth is a gradient from 2ft to around 7ft near the dam. The dam has concrete spilllway.

I’d say angling pressure’s low-to-medium. We have friends who occasionally fish here, but we also have poachers and it’s work keeping people away. We’re in the process of restricting access to friends and invited guests only.

I regularly catch 1.5 to 3lbs bass, with the rare 4lbs fish. I’ve heard stories of folks pulling 6lbers over the last three decades, so I know they can grow bigger.


Management Goals

As mentioned earlier, I’d like to aim for double digit bass, or at the very least, 6-8lbers. I’d also like to control the summer algae and the muck/silt that covers the bottom. I’d prefer natural, and/or self-sustaining methods requiring as little human involvement as possible.

Current plan to increase fish size

-keeping as many 1-3lbs bass as the family can eat in order to increase available forage for everything above 3lbs.
-stock fathead minnows and bluegill more as a fattening snack (I’ll wait until I’ve removed 20-30 bass beforehand)

I’ve included some photos of the pond. I’ll share more later when I’m near my iPad.

Pond Photos

Last edited by Kanon M; 04/23/24 10:47 AM.
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Beautiful Pond and welcome to the forum. Several of the guys here are very knowledgeable and definitely can point you in the right direction or give some tips. Double digits bass seems like a great long term goal.


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1 member likes this: Kanon M
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Welcome to the forum. I think the best thing to do for getting a handle on the pond with those goals in mind is to get an electroshock survey done. THEN you can determine what fish need to be added. It will also help you remove a lot of the underperforming bass quickly so you can start on the road to achieving your goals faster.

You may have to stock new LMB to help the genetic pool too, but that can be determined when the survey is done.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Welcome to Pond Boss!

I agree, that is a beautiful pond.

I love the look of having the trees right at the water's edge, especially since our property is in wind-swept Kansas. However, I expect your pond was significantly deeper when it was brand new.

The bald cypress trees that I have drop a lot of those feathery needles and also up to a hundred pounds of those darn round cones from each mature tree. I don't have longleaf pines but my Ponderosa pines also drop a huge litter of needles.

All of that tree material that makes it into your pond is building up your organic muck and robbing the pond of depth. I do like the rim of iris. They should catch some of the needles that are trying to blow into the pond.

Do you ever have a period in the fall where there are a bunch of pine and cypress needles floating on the surface of the pond? Do you ever have floating pine cones and cypress cones? If so, then it might be worth the effort to scoop out some of that debris after a good wind moves it to one shoreline.

Do you have the ability to easily run 120V AC electricity to the edge of the pond? If so, starting an aeration system may help get some healthy bacteria (that require oxygenated water) to start breaking down part of your muck.

I am worried that your LMB are so small because they do not have nearly enough forage. Even if you cull a bunch of stunted bass, the remaining/new bass will need lots of forage to grow rapidly.

I have seen many old ponds like yours and waded in to fish past the prolific plant cover in shallow water. Every single step was in deep muck. In that situation, where the heck do the BG (and the bass) spawn? I know they do, because there are both small BG and small bass in those ponds. However, there is nothing in the pond that could be referred to as "good spawning habitat".

Do you typically have enough water input that it would be easy to drain down the pond as much as 4', and then have it refill reasonably quickly? I am asking because drawing down the water and cleaning the muck from just a few pond slopes with heavy equipment and then adding some sand/gravel might give you a huge payoff in BG production.

Does your family own all of the pond? (It looks like there may be more than one house/cabin on the property.) If not, then it is much more difficult to get approval to spend money on pond improvements. However, the people on the forum in that situation generally have better success if they keep the rest of the owners in the loop during the planning phase.

P.S. Fathead minnows are typically a poor investment in mature ponds. They will be eaten long before they ever get a chance to reproduce, and they add very little weight to your bass for the price.

Good luck on your pond improvements. A pond of that size in LA certainly has the potential to produce some whopping big bass!

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Thanks all for the kind words.

@FishinRod

We have capacity to run power to the pond, but the quote we received for a full aeration system was pricey and more than I can spend right now. I’ve considered adding a simple pump at one end because “something is better than nothing,” but I’m not sure it’s worth it. As far as I know, we’ve never had noticeable fish kill. We have two small creeks that feed the pond and so I’d say the water turns over pretty regularly, at least a little.

As for the muck, I sometimes wade the shallow end and the muck is not nearly as deep as I expected it would be. Our lake/pond bottom’s around here are fairly mushy due to the type of soil we have. That said, I’d still like to drain it and excavate, or somehow “dredge” it with a pump to remove the silt without draining it. I have the same concerns as you about spawning habitat and plan to install pea gravel in a few areas after removing the muck in the surrounding areas. Fish are obviously spawning because I see them when I walk the pond. It’s not a proper survey, but I often see thousands of minnows, bream, etc on the waters edge when fishing or exploring.

My brother actually owns the entirety of the pond. Other family members live on the sprawling property, but ownership will never be an issue. Thanks for your help and guiding questions!

Edit: as for the leaves/needles, yes, we notice them floating after a long storm. I’m sure 2-3” of the bottom is pure leaf litter. I’d really like to remove it, and plan to at some point, one way or another. My kids enjoy fishing the pond, so if there’s anyway to clear it out without draining it, that would be ideal.

I’d love to grow a 10lbs bass, but I also like the pond as it is. The decision making is harder than expected.

Last edited by Kanon M; 04/23/24 11:09 AM.
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Glad to hear the pond and property are all in the family. If your grandpa built the pond, it sounds like it has already been creating multi-generational joy for quite some time. I like your plan to keep that tradition going!

Many types of minnows do not spawn on a sandy pond bottom, but on plants, debris in the water, etc. Their spawn may be completely unrelated to the spawning habitat available to your BG and bass.

I am glad to hear that you are getting some reproduction of your BG and bass. I expected that would be the case, I just don't know where they are spawning in ponds like yours. Do you ever see BG or bass in the shallow water guarding nests? If so, that might help you figure out what they like in your pond.

It does sound like you have the option of drawing down your water. You can clear a lot of pond bottom by only drawing down the water level a few feet. That should not harm your fish population. (Don't do it during the spawn or during the period of your warmest water and lowest dissolved oxygen.)

I can rent a mini-excavator in my area for only $200/day. I usually get it on the weekends so I can put a full 8 hours on the meter since most of my jobs involve multiple steps with me off of the equipment. That is the cost for the size I can tow behind a 1/2-ton pickup. If your family has a bigger haul truck, you can get a bigger excavator and move much more material and reach farther into the pond.

I have used the mini-excavators in standing water, but always in places that had a firm bottom. I think you could scrape the muck from the shore in a few places and then drive in a little deeper to extend your reach. (Only if you are comfortable operating the equipment and know how to use the bucket and boom to drag yourself out of slippery trouble.) You could then add some sand/gravel mix to enhance your spawning habitat.

I am a big believer in running small experiments before making large changes. You could even just clear the muck from some strips about 6' wide. That will change the rooted plant distribution in those areas for a few years. Lots of forage fish like "edge cover", as do the small bass. That could be an additional benefit to increasing your spawning beds. It also creates easy areas for small kids to fish.

If that is still over budget, maybe you could poor-boy some spawning locations. You can put out some landscape fabric in your muck and then make sand-filled depressions for spawning areas. Perhaps you could do a few in low-traffic areas where you can sneak an occasional peak and observe the activity on the beds. The BG may still spawn a few more times this year. You could find out what areas they like and their preferred water depth.

The muck in your pond persists due to the anoxic (no oxygen) conditions just below the surface of your pond bottom. Adding aeration may help the fish a little bit, but the main benefit is to help slow muck formation and perhaps even reverse it.

Your pond is so shallow, I would think (as a non-expert) that you could get by with some relatively inexpensive aeration. You could utilize a rotary vane compressor for your application. They are not that expensive and can be easily rebuilt, so you can achieve a long life at a reasonable price. Perhaps start a new thread in the aeration section and see what the experts say is the minimal system to improve your pond.

Finally, I agree with you as regards making decisions about pond management when there are so many variables. When I first joined Pond Boss, I thought, all I have to do is listen to all of these experts and then create the "perfect pond". However, as I kept reading, I finally figured out there is no such thing as a designed perfect pond. Every pond is ALWAYS a moving target. Good management can help you reach your specific goals more easily. It can also increase the percentage of time that your pond is a good fishery. However, the flip side is also true - since your pond conditions are always changing, it is difficult for you to really screw things up doing your management. Don't allow your pond outlet to get clogged, such that a big rain event blows out your dam. Carefully follow the instructions on applying herbicides or chemicals in your pond. Don't allow invasive species into your pond. If you follow those basic rules, then I don't think you can make a management decision that can't be remedied in the future after observing the outcome.

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Have the soil and water tested (inexpensive). Everything else starts there. Read as much on the forum as possible. Like most of the comments above.
















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