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#79347 11/30/06 05:47 PM
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Hi, this is my fist post here, I have been reading for days. I am a prior pond owner and I would like to get to know ya’ll by sharing my experience with that first pond.

Before I begin though folks please wish me well, I am going to view 15 acres on Saturday with a nice pond on it and room to build more so I may soon move from prior owner to current owner.

Ok now before I tell you the story of my pond understand that it was before I knew about Pond Boss at all. I had great results but I also had an existing pond in good shape so I think it may have been more forgiving to my mistakes. Just so ya’ll understand when you read about things like my self-stocking efforts and how I deal with bullheads I ain’t saying what I did was right just what I did and what happened and I simply did not know any better at the time.

So here is the story

In January of 2000 I took a job that moved me to Pennsylvania from Texas (I am now back in Texas) and we found a great house on 1.5 acres with a pond slightly over a half-acre. It was like a dream for me, I always wanted a pond and now I had one. I traveled a lot with that job but was totally into my pond whenever I was home.

I knew nothing about managing a pond other then I wanted fish and from my experience on a 1.5-acre pond I and some friends had self-stocked when in high school. I just wanted fish, lots of different kinds of them and I wanted to catch them in my back yard.

I did some stuff right, I took a small boat out and got depth readings on the pond it had several nice slopes and a few deep holes as deep as 15 feet. It was an older pond about 18 years old and in great shape. Lots of bluegills, minnows and a few small mouth bass were in it. Mostly it was bullheads though. Thousands of them a few big ones but mostly the typical thousands of 5 inchers and smaller.

I also came to the conclusion there was very little structure in the pond and knew nothing about cool PVC trees and what not so started to collect cinder blocks and broken concrete.

The bluegill were plentiful but all 4-5 inches, I did not really see this as a problem and did not understand about growing huge gills yet, figured they would grow if I fed them besides they were great food for bass and channel cats, this I did know.

So my goals became

1. Improve the bullheads to eating size
2. Put more small mouth in the pond because I like them better then LMB
3. Add some channel cats to eat all those brim
4. See if I could make some eating size brim 7-9 inches in length

Now I really did not know anything, I though I knew what to do and it worked out ok and that is why I want to share it.

First thing I did was go down to the sporting good store and bought a cheap deer feeder and set it up on a anchored floating platform. Fed fish 2 times a day a pellet feed, I bought what was cheapest, but they did eat it. This is actually a really effective way to feed fish and one of them lantern batteries lasts over a month cause it only ran for like 6 seconds at a shot.

Second I began a relentless killing of bullheads but different then most would do. My weapon was two ultra light rods and bait along with a chopping block and a hatchet! Anything under 9 inches got two chops, off with the big ugly head and the body chopped in two. Body parts when back in the pond and the heads in our compost piles. In the first summer I killed about 50-60 a night every night I was home and the population did not appear to decline until the first chills at the end of September.

Third, I decided to get SMB and CC the only way I knew how. Trips to the Schuylkill, Delaware, Lehigh and Susquehanna Rivers. I would keep lots of legal fish, put them in a cooler with a pump and water and any that looked healthy when I got home, in they went the rest got cornmeal and the knife along with a swim in hot oil.

Fourth I scavenged every piece of rock and rubble I could find and just tossed them in really with a boat and did basically a big X in the pond, first a line strait across the middle then another to make the X. Below is my very crude drawing of what I ended up with.



Results

By the spring of 2003 I had about 2 dozen nice small mouth bass in the pond they were healthy and tearing up the bluegills. The shallows were clear and when ever a bronze back would be prowling all the gills just seemed to vanish.

I also had about 30 really big channel cats and they were also eating bluegill like mad. Most were 14-24 inches again all self stocked from the area rivers. The cats were really healthy and we occasionally ate a few and continued to drop 12-14 inchers in to replace them sending them into corn meal at around 24-26 inches before they got too big.

The bullheads even got better it became possible to catch a nice stringer of them in the 11-12 inch range. I had a lot of help on this as my sons friends delighted in coming up to kill off the little ones and give them the chop! I am convinced they got big eating their little brothers we tossed pieces of back into the pond. I am sure if the new owner did not control them they are back to tons of little ones. We also dip netted all the fry clouds and tossed them on the rose bush beds.

I also tossed in some brown and brook trout they did ok and when we caught them in the fall they had grown to real eating size. In PA the stock 9-10 inchers! Basically we just grew them up for eating later in the year.

The blue gill got better not huge like the ones some of you guys grow but you could catch consistent 8 inchers by the time I left in 2003. I don’t think it would have ever gotten to real trophy gills because we ate to many bigger ones, I did not know to harvest females, etc but it did get better.

Also I had may be 6 nice large mouths cruising around.

I was so happy with that place then a competitor bought out the company I was working for and I had to move us back to Texas. I am happy to be back in the south, I LOVE IT HERE but leaving my pond was crushing.

So what would I do differently if I had the same place all over again?

First I would do a better job with structure with all the neato cool stuff you guys have shown me. PVC trees, buckets bolted together etc.

Second I don’t think I would have heavily stocked wild fish now that I understand the risks. I say I DON’T THINK because it worked well and it go my pond up to fishing strength in a year and I only had three years with it. Had I gone with buying smaller ones it would have been good for the new owner but not me and big fish are expensive. I guess since nothing bad happened the risk seemed worth the cost.

Third I would have made my platform for the feeder into a real “floating island” like you guys do here. I just did not know so I had a little “floating dock” for lack of a better term.

Fourth I would have made a real effort to reduce the bluegill a lot more then I did. All I really did was eat a few once they started getting bigger. I would have really reduced the females.

Fifth, I would have fed more food and I would have fed better quality food. I now realize this is probably the best ROI there is in the pond world.

Sixth, I would have used fish traps on the bullheads to get rid of more faster. I did not know there were fish traps back then.

Seventh, I would probably not have tossed in the LMB as I am sure they spawned and the SMB did not. It would have been a better use to stick to nothing but bronze backs.

Now, why I think I got away with some real mistakes

Mostly I would say because it was an older pond with a real good base of bluegills and minnows and other small critters in it. Because of this I really over stocked with adult fish but they did fine. It is also a lot cooler in PA then in TX so I think there was more oxygen in the water. There was also a good stock of plant life in the pond and I think that helped too along with plenty of rain to renew things.

I really think your risk in stocking “wild fish” is reduced in an older pond. The pond life has been exposed to virus, etc by then not kept in a sterile lab and has a better immune system built up. The pond is also well balanced and the ecosystem evolved. To me there is a lot more risk in wild stocking a brand new pond. I also think there is a lot more natural filtering going on in an evolved ecosystem as well. So if I did introduce any nasties with my wild stock I feel the ecosystem was probably better able to deal with it.

I also think it was easier to build up some decent sized bullheads because I had the black ones rather then the yellows that we have here in Texas. In Florida where I grew up many ponds had good size black bulls with no real management. I just think blacks are easier to manage then yellows or browns though I would not put any into any pond on purpose.

Here is what I think I did right

One, I fed my fish and I think this really helped my pond hold more life then it normally could.

Two, killing massive numbers of bullheads I think that is always well advised. I also think feeding them right back to themselves was good as well. I know they ate themselves I kept a few in a fish tank and fed them pieces of their brothers they seemed relish them. So this was two birds with one stone, shrink the population and feed the survivors. I also think my work to make them bigger was better then trying to eliminate them, I don’t think I could of ever terminated them all.

Three, I do think it was smart in an established pond to go with adult fish for my predators it let me start enjoying the pond faster, and I am thankful for the three years I had it.

Four, I am convinced my giant “X” of rubble was really a good move. In doing so I provided structure at every depth allowing the fish to move to where ever they wanted and still have cover and structure. If anyone wants to know how I kept track of my progress for future dropping it was easy just used a marker buoy.

Ok well that was a monster first post hope others learn a bit from my mistakes and I also hope to make a lot of new friends. Again wish me luck in acquiring our new place!


Jack Spirko
www.jackspirko.com
#79348 11/30/06 06:06 PM
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I wish you luck, Jack, for selfish reasons. I want you to have another pond so we can benefit from more great posts like this one.

There are very few holes, if any, in your logic and observations. It is certain that we could debate some of the subtle points in your post, but there is one that cannot be argued. You did a good job, sir, because you thorougly enjoyed your pond. Even if there are some changes you would make, how can you argue with something you liked so much? Good job.

If you hang around Pond Boss forum you will learn to refine your thinking somewhat, and you may be able to make your new pond even better than the old one. I really hope you get it.

Welcome again,

Bruce Condello


Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.
#79349 11/30/06 06:23 PM
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Thanks so much Bruce!

I hope so too it is less then a half acre but a nice start and very well done. The owner actually built what I can only call a jetty on it.

What is real exciting is the 15 open acres with great dirt for building more! I really want one a bit over an acre up to may be two acres at some point with the opportunity to do the bottom scape the way I want etc.

I have learned SO MUCH so fast at this forum you guys are AMAZING here. I sure wish I had yall to learn from back then.


Jack Spirko
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#79350 11/30/06 07:40 PM
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well jack, here's another welcome to PB from CA. I really enjoyed reading yer post. you can never have too many rocks (or rubble) IMHO \:\) , you have a natural talent and good common sense in yer management approach.

I look forward to hearing what you'll do if you land the property.......good luck and God speed.


GSF are people too!

#79351 11/30/06 08:06 PM
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Killer post #1, Jack...welcome to the show.
Like most of the PB forum, you are eons ahead of me with the fish thing. I'm with Bruce, but even more selfish. I hope you get your wish so I can learn more. I think I am more hopeful, tho, because my buzz comes from the development of a property. I look forward to watching you do exactly that.
-
ps; what are the chances you had an etch-a-sketch as a kid? \:\)

#79352 11/30/06 08:27 PM
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Howdy, Jack.

I would say you did a really good job of managing pre-PB, better than a good many of us. You must be a pretty methodical thinker.

WRT adding wild fish - your screening for healthy appearance after transport undoubtedly helped this practice succeed.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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#79353 11/30/06 08:59 PM
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Jack Spirko – Welcome to the forum. You have a gift for telling a story with great enthusiasm! I wanted to go out there and dig some night crawlers, catch some Bull Doggies and whack a few of them!

It is 8 degrees here, so........ :rolleyes:


Life is Good on Bremer Pond

Bremer Pond Weather
#79354 11/30/06 09:16 PM
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Welcome Jack....if you stick around you will learn more than you probably ever thought you would! I have been involved with the aquatic seen for many many years! I can tell you many things when it comes to tropical fish! I had what I referred to as basic knowledge of North American fish when I got here. Thanks to the fine folks here I am really learning alot! Once again welcome sir!


Bullheads and Carp are the devil~
#79355 11/30/06 09:24 PM
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 Quote:
ps; what are the chances you had an etch-a-sketch as a kid? \:\) [/QB]
um that would be 100%, I have yet to get very good at drawing with any medium though,

Jack


Jack Spirko
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#79356 11/30/06 09:34 PM
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Well, Jack, welcome aboard as others have said. You have my word that you can maintain honorary Pennsylvanian status for as long as you like (it can also be willed to your children).

I wanted to make a special comment about your fine schematic! Well done.

Do you know that the first annual Pond Boss National meeting is in Arlington TX. next March '07?

Also, you can have honorary membership in the "Brothers in Smallmouth" Sub-group here on the forum.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

#79357 11/30/06 09:35 PM
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Welcome, Jack. Thanks for taking the time to tell an interesting homespun account of your 1st, and obviously successful pondmeistering job.

Brettski, did anybody ever mention fatheads?


#79358 11/30/06 09:52 PM
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...like a dust devil, Burgermeister spins through, seemingly from nowhere, and makes me \:D

#79359 11/30/06 09:56 PM
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Jack, I checked out your website. Why don't you just say what you mean? :p




Life is Good on Bremer Pond

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#79360 11/30/06 10:10 PM
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Nice Story Jack. Your experience with ponds should allow you to combine the science with the art. Hope you find a new pond to call home here in Texas....where you should have been all along...!


It's ALL about the fish!
#79361 11/30/06 10:15 PM
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Sunil,

First thanks for the heads up on the meeting, I simply must attend! I hope to be an owner by then not just a guy remembering the "old days".

Second I think we have a lot in common my friend. My family is actually from PA which is part why I took that job cause I knew the mountains and rivers from Lehigh to Schuylkill all the way to the Susquehanna and back to the Delaware. I wanted my boy and my wife to learn about the woods and mountains and that is hard to teach stuck in DFW.

As a young one I grew up in Jacksonville Florida which I have not visited since the early 80s it is a much bigger place today I am told. Back then every dagon apartment complex had ponds full of fish. Mostly LMB and Black Bullheads and tons of brim big ones too. Had to teach myself dad was a 7 day a week workoholoic and mom was a city girl. I tied on hooks with two over hand knots for my first few years!

Eventually I learned the basics on my own and with my friends. Those were good days but something was missing. One summer we visited my grandparents in Jonestown PA (that is north of Minersville which is close to Pottsville) and I caught my first small mouth bass.

It was about 8 inches but was in the Little Schuykill River (a place I can tell you how to find only I think my family knows, in all the years I never saw another person there). That little fish went from up stream to down steam in a second, turned sideways in the current and pulled like a LMB twice the size. At 11 my first love was not a cute girl it was Mr. Bronzeback!

I don't think they can make it in a pond in Texas too bad I have to go up to like Texoma or our place in Arkansas to find them. I mean I don't hate LMB and I like catching them but head to head a SMB is pound for pound a lot more fish in my opinion.

That pond I mentioned from Highschool was in primrose and looked like a dump in a old coal slush bank but it was really good water full of brim. We took a lot of trips to the river and had it full of CC and SMB.

It was also full of Carp as a teen the drill was, go to the slush dam as we called it and take a burlap bag. Catch a dozen small brim and put them in the sack in the water (poor boys bait bucket). Put out a brim on a line on a rod and play with teh carp with a ultralight. We would put bread on and cast with no weight the carp took it right off the top.

Did that every evening during my high school years before I joined the army. Most nights you would get a dozen carp in the 2-3 pound range off the top on an ultra light I learned a lot about how to play a fish that way. I would nail two or three nice smallies each night too.

They never stop biting, check this I had some old style eagle claw pattern 30 hooks not made since the 50 they were my grand dads. One day got this smallie, hook in the bone of his mouth can't get it out, cut the line and let him go. Next night toss a gill under the same log, nail another SMB looks familiar, you guessed it hook still in his mouth. This time I got it out for him. So not 24 hours later he bit again even with a hook in him!

I read about LMB that stop biting as they get old and non aggressive. I will tell you this if you live where SMB will live well they DO NOT suffer from the same issue. There are two fish I dearly love above all others, in Freshwater it is the SMB and in salt it is the snook. Pound for pound both have very few equals. Now if I could just make a hybrid snook that would live in a pond, :rolleyes:

Nice to meet you Sunil! If I get up your way I would be happy to share some old family spots with you, where in PA are you from?


Jack Spirko
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#79362 11/30/06 10:15 PM
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Welcome Jack. We all do something's right and something's wrong at our ponds but one thing all of us do right is enjoy the pond journey. After all its about enjoying the journey not just the results. \:\)

Good luck Saturday !!
















#79363 11/30/06 10:19 PM
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Dwight:
Jack, I checked out your website. Why don't you just say what you mean? :p
Dude that ain't nothing you should see me if I am rialed up!

Jack


Jack Spirko
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#79364 11/30/06 10:25 PM
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 Quote:
Originally posted by overtonfisheries:
Nice Story Jack. Your experience with ponds should allow you to combine the science with the art. Hope you find a new pond to call home here in Texas....where you should have been all along...!
I actually got here in 1993 after getting out of the Army. Met my wife and step son and we all moved up to PA for those three years. I do love Texas and the people are really very friendly. Yet there is also some things we miss about PA, the rivers for sure and the leaves this time of year.

Thanks for the welcome everyone, all of you really know how to make a new guy feel welcome


Jack Spirko
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#79365 11/30/06 10:46 PM
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Man, Jack...with your further embelishments, let me retract anything "honorary" about PA and the Smallies memberships; you're full-fledged!!

I live just east of Pittsburgh. My pond is in Somerset, PA. off of exit/mile marker 110 on the PATP.

I went to Lehigh in the late 80's. I caught some mean smallies wading off the Jersey side of the Delaware, fishing the outlet of a power plant in the middle of the winter. Crazy.

Burger, I just couldn't convince him to put the fatheads in. Even wrote a story about a scandal, and he still wouldn't bite.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

#79366 11/30/06 11:08 PM
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I stole this from Jack's linked website.

Jessica Simpson with a nice sandie.



Jack, can I submit a picture of my wife with a three pound sand bass?


Holding a redear sunfish is like running with scissors.
#79367 12/01/06 12:08 AM
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Condello:
I stole this from Jack's linked website.

Jessica Simpson with a nice sandie.

Jack, can I submit a picture of my wife with a three pound sand bass?
You bet you can and Howell will be happy to publish it. That photo is my buddy Howell Dodd's handy work he is pretty good with photo shop and a really good fisherman.

He was a guy I hired to teach me a local lake that became one of my best friends. The site is his I have just helped him get it ranked in google and make a bit of money with it. Hey for room in his boat and his advice it is more then a fair trade,


Jack Spirko
www.jackspirko.com
#79368 12/01/06 07:10 AM
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Jack Spirko:
Sunil,

First thanks for the heads up on the meeting, I simply must attend! I hope to be an owner by then not just a guy remembering the "old days".
.
.
I don't think they can make it in a pond in Texas too bad I have to go up to like Texoma or our place in Arkansas to find them. I mean I don't hate LMB and I like catching them but head to head a SMB is pound for pound a lot more fish in my opinion....
.
.
I read about LMB that stop biting as they get old and non aggressive. I will tell you this if you live where SMB will live well they DO NOT suffer from the same issue. There are two fish I dearly love above all others, in Freshwater it is the SMB and in salt it is the snook. Pound for pound both have very few equals. Now if I could just make a hybrid snook that would live in a pond, :rolleyes:
Welcome back to Texas Jack \:\)
I love your stories and your web site as well.
IMHO should be required reading

I share your love for SMB as well, with many years experience fishing for them on Lake Texoma, as you have.

Since it is unlikey that you will be able to raise them in your ponds, have you considered the potential of Hybrid Striped Bass?

They will outfight a smallie any time - any where - only problem is they don't jump, but probaly bust all your tackle if they did. \:D

Good luck with your search and if any of us "good ole Texas boys" can help you - give us a holler.

#79369 12/01/06 10:38 AM
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 Quote:
Since it is unlikey that you will be able to raise them in your ponds, have you considered the potential of Hybrid Striped Bass?

They will outfight a smallie any time - any where - only problem is they don't jump, but probaly bust all your tackle if they did. \:D

Good luck with your search and if any of us "good ole Texas boys" can help you - give us a holler.
Well actually I have thought about a few of em but really trying to make a pond with a self sustaining population of white bass. Sound impossible? It may not be here is post about my plan to do that some day,

http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=000552;p=1#000000


Jack Spirko
www.jackspirko.com

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by FishinRod, September 9
Nice BGxRES
Nice BGxRES
by Theo Gallus, July 28
Snake Identification
Snake Identification
by Rangersedge, July 12

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