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#87170 05/07/07 06:24 PM
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Hello, my first post is a sad one for me.

I posted my pond story on another forum and a friend gave me this web site to get some opinions.

So here goes, I think something is wrong with my pond of 15 years. I am not sure what the exact problem is.........maybe you can help figure this mystery out.

Here are the specifics: My pond is 1/2 acre surface, 12 ft deep in the deep end, shaped like a giant bath tub, with a semi-shallow end of about 4ft.

Structure is perfect, Several locust tree tops put into bottom of pond like real growing trees. 7 large tractor tires anchored to the sides on a 3 to 1 slope. 3-55 gallon plastic drums anchored level with the ends cut out and placed at about 6 to 10 feet for cats, and countless oak pallets made into A frames and strategically located all over the pond.

Along with car tires tied together in certain places with cedar trees stuck through them to allow hiding for small fish.

Water quality is and has always been perfect. Never any grass, always full of big healthy fish.

Stocked originally in 92 with 500 hybrid bluegill, 125 channel cats, 2 grass carp and 25 Laremouth bass.

Fast forward to 2005. After 13 or so years of excellent fishing/releasing and harvesting some......and of catching 1,000s of BGs, now as big as dinner plates, and weighing 1 to 2 pounds each. And cats (channel) of 15 pounds or more, my aeriator which had been running for 13 years shut down......leaving pond still.......and seemingly without life.

It stopped running 2 years ago...shortly after that my son caught several BGs and a few largemouth. I have since fished 10 or more times without a bite, each time thinking the oxygen content was low and they would be fine after a new airiator was installed.

The bad signs I have just noticed for the last two springs are thousands of tad poles, this is not good I don't think. I just got a new aeriator installed and running because I thought the fish were just slow and semi dormant because of possibly low oxygen. It's been running for two weeks. Could the remaining fish be gorged (full) on tads ? Too full on tad poles to eat ? I find this hard to think because I've alway been able to at least get a nibble.

It is late spring here and air temps are 75 to 80, pond is perfect and seemingly healthy as usual...........but no bites at all.

I have tried live worms, dough balls, weiners, plastic worms, spinners and almost everything I have ever used for 40 years or more.

In the past, I actually caught BGs on a plain hook or a brass swivel. I feed my pond every day, and have for 15 years, rain or shine, snow or ice.

Maybe they have died and I've not seen them floating. I feed ducks every day all winter and summer, and allways look across my pond surface for floating fish, usually easily seen by the white bellies.

Or maybe someone has been sneaking in and fishing while we were gone.....taking only ten or so at a time ?

The pond seems perfect in water quality, it never has been bad, even when my aeriator broke. The last fish kill I had was about 3 years ago. I lost 7 huge cats in one day, all were at least 20 pounds. I had a time getting them out and it had happened a few times before so I gave it no thought. I figure "old age".........maybe after all these years we some how mis calculated and mis judged the timing of the fish running out ?

Maybe I just did not pay close enough attention to the signs.........though the first real sign was last summers huge tad pole population. Then this years explosion again.......?

But how could blue gills the size of plates, that reproduce at a pretty high rate each year just disappear ? My sons last catch of several "monsters", including largmouth of 4 or 5 pounds should be a clue, but that was one and a half years ago.

It is sad.........of course I can restock..........but can they all be gone ?

Oh, my pond is 30 feet from my house, I can see all the way around it, one side is heavy woods. Any ideas or opinions would be appreciated.

I actually feel like I lost a good friend.



Robbie Roberson.

#87171 05/07/07 06:55 PM
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Welcome Robbie.

Was the '92 stocking the only stocking you ever did?

If so, maybe a few conclusions could be drawn to help figure out what's happening.

1) Having stocked Hybrid Bluegill, I don't think you'd end up with any regular bluegill. If this is the case, the HBG might not have been producing a huge forage base.

2) You probably got recruitment for Channel Cats as you put in structure for them.

3) The LMB would have spawned, and maybe controlled their own numbers???

4) Feeding fish food would have helped with growth all around.

5) Genetics of all fish would be pretty in-bred if no other stockings happened.

Also, on a side note, if you left a "t" out of your last name for any reason, I'm a big fan!


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."

#87172 05/07/07 07:18 PM
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Condolences, Robbie.

You've definately come to the right site for empathy and interest.

Sounds like something rather catastrophic may have occurred in your pond.

First, a clarification: Do you see ANY fish life in the pond whatsoever? Rises? Small fish by shoreline? It sounded from your post that you might not. My pond is also in TN near Nashville [where are you?], just in last 2 weeks have temps come up enough for a lot of spontaneous activity to be apparent.

If you don't see any evidence of fish life, then some really toxic event may have taken place, very low oxygen levels during summer, a sudden change in pH,etc. Is there a lot of decaying vegetation in the pond, perhaps from the heavy woods nearby? It is possible that some of the occasional fish kills you mention in the past were sentinal events, and that loss of your aerator was the coupe de grace.......

#87173 05/07/07 07:59 PM
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Have you used non-visual, non-angling methods to prove the complete absence of fish? Fish/Minnow traps? Perhaps the shallow end is sufficiently devoid of structure in areas big enough to seine? Draining and verifying (could also be useful to check status on silt buildup and structure condition)?

It sounds like you've got a clean slate. If so, I suggest you take a deep breath, figuring out what improvements and changes you can make to eliminate or at least lower the chance of any future catastrophe, and start over.

After 15 years much of the original wooden structure has likely decayed and become a negative (oxygen sink) instead of positive.

Get your water tested, to see what changes need to be made. Decide what species you want to restock with to duplicate or improve your initial run. Then start again, better than before.

You're at the right place to get info and advice to do all this. I know several members here who would loved to have gotten a 12+ year run out of their first stocking like you did. They've been to the bottom and are back on top again. You can be too.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
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#87174 05/07/07 08:35 PM
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Robbie welcome to the PB Forum. I think we can help. We need some facts. Were they BG or HBG ?

Do you know for sure that you had a DO event that killed fish?

My gut reaction is , if you did not see a massive fish kill , then its not the water but the fish. Most times even a DO induced fish kill will not kill all the fish.

If you stocked 500 HBG and caught a 1000 + you were out of BG . They don't reproduce much. The CC and LMB could have lived off of pellets and eating their own for a while but with no recruitment the survivors died of old age. Natural morts can be high after 10 years.

Do you have access to a fishfinder and boat? If so go over the pond and see what it shows. Fish traps and seines will also help see what is there. If you don't catch a fish over a period of time ( say 3 hrs of total fishing over a mth.) using live bait and the other methods don't turn up any fish you will know it is time to start over. My first thought is to add some adult BG (male and female) now so they can spawn.
















#87175 05/07/07 09:05 PM
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Sunil, Thank you. I just stocked one time in 92. I got busy with my knives etc. in the last couple years and failed to replace my otterbine pump when it stopped.

I don't think it would have mattered much because I think it has been a gradual decline since about 3 or 4 years ago.

I did not leave a T out of my last name.

Thank you very much for your time.

Nice small mouth !

Yolk Sac, "Do you see ANY fish life in the pond whatsoever? Rises? Small fish by shoreline?"

No, nothing except tad poles and water bugs. There is new plant life along the edge, the water looks perfect. There are hundreds and hundreds of those little critters on the bottom when a net scoop is made.

Not even a twitch on a float with a huge night crawler, fished at all depths.
Not even a nibble under the dock. I fished a one inch grug over around and through every piece of structure in my pond, not a nibble......for two weeks.

No decay at all, tads are swimming happily every where, night time is deafening because of frogs screaming.

I think your right.

Theo Gallus, I have not used nets yet, I may try a cast net. Draining is an option, but I hate to try because we had such a dry couple of years here in east Tenn. (Maryville). I am afraid that I could not get it filled in time for fall.

My pond has a perfect drain off ratio it seems, it only spilled over the spillway one time in 15 years. All the other high water events the auto-syphon took out.

I too think 12 years is great, but boy it hurts like losing a pal. All my big boys that used to come up and show me their wiskers are gone. All those BGs. that looked like they pumped iron every day are gone.

And what hurt the most was my two grass carp that died year before last. I thought it was old age, maybe it was. I put them in when they were 6 inches long. When the first one died, he was easily three feet long and probably 30 plus pounds.

His brother died two weeks later, they looked like twin subs cruising my pond, always nipping at grass and cat fish food in the evenings.

Oh well, I had to slap myself to get my focus back........

Good advice, I can tell you people know what you are talking about. I appreciate the help. Next stop will be making a list of fish I need to order.

ewest, thanks for the welcome. HBGs, big ones !! \:D No signs of a fish kill at all, no fish floating, last known fish caught were caught by my son a year and a half ago.......a few large HBGs and LMB about 4 or 5 pounds.

I am considering a fish finder and nets to make one last search.




Robbie Roberson \:D

#87176 05/07/07 09:46 PM
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It sounds as if all piscine life has indeed been exterminated.

As you note, a great loss of old friends.

Not to be annoyingly optimistic, but this does afford you a fairly unique opportunity to start over again. Don't be afraid to draw the pond way down, remove/replace old structure, generally renovate, which you can afford to do since the fish are gone. Then, you can stock a strong forage base, and add predators this fall or in early spring. If the pond isn't quite full for winter, it should be by spring, and you're unlikely to lose anything during the winter even if it's not quite full as far south as we are.

#87177 05/07/07 09:58 PM
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I think the elements of a fish kill are there. Very high miomass in fish...very large catfish. Many tadpoles...not enough fish to eat them. Many of dead fish wont float, or not for long. The coons will clean up in a hurry. Very high biomass with a sudden loss of aeration/circulation is what I am looking at. What time of year did the pump stop? There should be some fish left, but with all the structure they are scattered. You wont do much good with a cast net. Get a couple of $6 minnow traps, from Walley world. They are cylindrical steel mesh, with the ends like cones pointing inward. They come in 2 halves with a giant safety pin holding the halves together. Bait it with fish food or bread. As Ewest said, the HBG will not perpetuate with numbers of LMB to forage on them. I am surprised you got this long out of them and is encouraging to folks who have them and with all the negatives that have been posted in regards to what may happen after a few generations. It was probably a slow decline exacerbated by the loss of aeration.


#87178 05/08/07 05:29 AM
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Robbie,
Sorry to hear about your pond. Yes, ponds are like old friends. You have got some good advice from the guys above, but was wondering if you have tried a trot line yet. I have trouble catching my catfish with rod and reel but can almost always catch them on a trot line. That might at least tell you if there is anything left. Give it a try and keep us informed.


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#87179 05/08/07 05:46 AM
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Robbie,

I'm just wondering if 1 or 2 of those catfish got huge, and ate up everything. But then, I guess you would see them occasionally.

At any rate, look on the bright side. It's not very hard or expensive to stock 1/2 acres, and you will have a vibrant crop of new fish next year.

Good luck Robbie!

#87180 05/08/07 05:49 AM
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You did it pretty well for a long time but, like Burgermeister says, the biomass finally caught up with you. Mama Nature is never forgiving. Being a slow learner, I've done this several times over the years.

Lusk says that a well managed pond can/should be able to carry about 100 pounds of predators per acre. You did a great job of managing and beat the odds for many years.

Take all of these guys advice and check to see what your situation is. I doubt that everything is gone but to start over you may have to rotenone to make sure that will be successful.


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
#87181 05/08/07 07:14 AM
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Robbie,

As a side story similar to yours.

I purchased a place that had a 1/4 acre pond that had been stocked with HBG and LMB. It had not been fished as heavily like yours, but was stocked many years ago.

After I purchased the place, I decided to kill all the fish and start over.

The only fish I found in the pond was a single 4lb LMB, about 1 dozen large HBG and several hundred 1" - 2" HBG. IE - no fish size in between the large and small fish.

My assessment is that the HBG were not spawning enough to sustain a foreage base + the HBG/LMB were taking care of the ones that were there. Net result - none of the HBG lived long enough to grow up and replace/sustain the foreage base.

Had I fished out several HBG and the one LMB - my pond would died similar to your situation.

Gator


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#87182 05/08/07 07:16 AM
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PS - sounds like you had a great run for 15 years. Good job.

Gator


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#87183 05/08/07 09:11 PM
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I'm back.

Yolk Sac it does mean I can start over.

burgermeister, the pump did not start back up in the spring of 2005 (bearings shot). So it was down that whole summer and the next and now we have a new one for 2007.

heybud, I have not tried a trot line yet (good idea).

bobad, those channel cats were huge, very healthy looking and at least 20 pounds each was the last ones I saw. Thanks for the good wishes.

Dave Davidson1, thanks, we did do well I think. Wow........it was a long time. We had an honest to goodness paradise since 1992.

We used to make fun bets that I could make the HBGs bite, and hold on to a swivel or painted lead head (no hook) all the way to the shore line.

We used to make bets that a visitor could not put a hook in with a kernel of corn and not catch a HBG within 5 seconds flat........this lasted for years.

I came up with some "special hooks" many years ago that we still use today. These hooks are honestly amazing when it comes to safe catch and release of HBGs and BGs.

Alligator, I learned an awful lot about structure, placement, locations etc. I learned that aireation is so very important to make fish aggressive and healthy.

I met a biologist in 1992 who worked at the University of Tennessee. He was obviously a pond expert back then who told me many things to do, and assured me it would make a huge difference in my fish.

Not sure what ever happened to him but I used to call him at least once a month for the first 7 or 8 years and he would want a detailed report from my pond.

I remember him telling me to always turn my air on in early spring only while the sun shined. This made the winter water warm faster and make a longer growing season for the fish.

He also said to always run the air at night after it got hot to help cool the water and cause less evaporation after summer heat started.

And To always run the air when it rained, even in the fall.

Oh, and one last comment, I once saw a bass book many years ago that had a picture in it of a round tank filled with water and painted solid white in the bottom. This tank had about 7 LMB in it and all they did was swim in circles.......all day...every day.....until they drained the tank and "PAINTED" a black circle or square in the bottom of this tank and filled it back up and added these same LMB........all 7 LMB sat on this black painted "dot" and did not move.

What does this say ? It says if you give them a place to rest, they will get fat and happy.... \:D

Thank you all........


Robbie Roberson \:\)

#87184 05/09/07 06:00 AM
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Robbie, your experience and lessons are priceless. Please do stick around and add your experience and knowledge to the forum. Feel free to chime in on any subject!

#87185 05/09/07 06:43 AM
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Hi RR. You've got me interested in your special hooks.



#87186 05/09/07 07:35 PM
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bobad, I will stick around. I am still upset with myself for not seeing my pond coming to an end after 15 years.

What I learned about ponds after 15 years is you can extend the life of your fish by providing plenty of structure, food and aereation.........but you can not prolong the end of your ponds life expectancy without restocking.

Simple......but hard to see coming after so many years.

I fished a one inch white grub all around my pond before dark......no bites at all.....they are all gone. \:\(


Robbie Roberson ;\)

#87187 05/09/07 07:42 PM
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Robbie,
I'm not much of a fish-guy, but your story still really saddens me. I feel real bad for ya; almost makes ya feel like it belongs with death and taxes.
 Quote:
I fished a one inch white grub all around my pond before dark......no bites at all.....they are all gone.

...that line really bums me.
\:\(

#87188 05/09/07 08:07 PM
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Thanks, I honestly don't mean to pull everyones spirits down.

We are ok.......my wife and I have decided to restock next month.

I am going to order all new babies......when we first stocked 15 years ago, in the middle of the first winter, my wife ask me how those little babies could stay warm when they were so tiny and you could see though them.

I told her the fish farms provided little mittens and coats for them to wear until they reached a certain age......... :p

Robbie Roberson. \:\)

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The date of this post was may 07........it's been a long while so I thought I would give an update.

After trying to restock for several months, the drought won. Here in Tennessee it's been bad. Not as bad as other states but bad enough to make me forget about restocking until my water level comes back up to full level.

My pond is down 4 feet total, leaving about 7 or 8 feet in the deepest end. Not enough water to properly take advantage of all the structure I have in my pond.

I just don't feel comfortable adding fish to the water level I have now. The bad thing is I've been waiting for over a year for it to fill. We are having rains but nothing compared to what we normally have this time of year.

So I wait...........I miss my fish. My remaining pond water looks great. Color is good and it was full of thousands of tad poles and frogs last year......but no fish.

I just wanted to update this post and let you know I will not give up unless the drought continues on.


Robbie Roberson.

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At least you know that when you are able to restock, the small end of the food chain from phytoplankton up to frog level will be well established, ready to feed those fish stockers.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
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You are so correct. I am ready to stock, if we can just get some rain soon.

Robbie Roberson.

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Sorry to hear about your struggles Robbie.

Here in California it's a common occurence (every year) for our ponds to drop 5 to 6 feet. With the draught we had this past year both DIED's pond and mine dropped 7 feet. The only way we can compensate is make them deep or supplement with well water.


JHAP
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