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Bill, no offense taken, ever!; and no need to explain your inputs, but thanks nonetheless. I think I love you.

Brettski, I always felt that you were not taking advantage of the ability to add a lot of tonage of rocks.

I have seen my smallies spawning on a steep bank (leading down into deep water) that has a 1' wide flat ledge just about 1' under the water (the water level can fluctuate to where this area would be 2-3' under water). There is also a lot of brush growing out into the water in this area. It's very rocky there too. If you look at the picture in my profile...behind me and to the left, you will see a bank coming down into the water. This is the area that I've seen a lot of my smallies spawning in. It's the original creek channel that runs through my pond.

I think if you got a few dumptruck loads of rock and dumped them down the banks (in the pics you've shown), and let them fall out onto the flat bottoms, you would be off to a great start. Maybe make some "step like" gradations in the slopes; that plus the flat rocky bottom would do it, I think.

A side note on the bluegills: After my smallies spawned, and had small fry, I saw many bluegill hanging around the nests (still with the parent smallies in them), and the bluegill were dive bombing in and eating fry, I believe. I believe this was just before swim-up.


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 Quote:
Do I understand that RES should also be included?
If you're man enough to handle them. ;\)

I think they'd make a good addition to the SMB and YP, Brettski, occupying a third niche but very unlikely to "take over" the pond from the other two species the way BG might. They will give you a portent of what BG would be like in at least a couple of ways: they'll fight like BG when hooked and taste like BG when eaten (you might like eating RES so much you decide to make the leap to a BG pond ).

Also, while CB1 has had success with YP controlling snails, I suspect RES do a much better job of this in a larger pond where the density of YP is probably significantly lower than in Cecil's fabulous fat fish factories.

 Quote:
How about CC? Would they provide any pros or cons? No, I don't have a need or specific desire for them. The subject just never got much attention.
One does not need to stock catfish to have a successful pond.

On the plus side, they grow quickly (especially if fed), are fun to catch (especially when larger), and many people love to eat them. Most or all of the complaints about catfish tasting bad simply do not apply to CC from a pond (especially if fed). I personally do not enjoy eating CC as much as sunfish, YP, or bass, but my kids like them just as well.

On the down side there are some possible negatives (depending on how much you ended up liking CC). They would probably become the largest fish in your pond. Small numbers of stockers could effectively disappear in a pond your size (see Sunil's experience). Contrarily, given your present structure (mostly the tires, IMO) there is at least a chance that CC would successfully spawn in your pond. How much recruitment they might get I don't know, since I've no experince with SMB and YP predation on CC fry/fingerlings. CC recruitment would probably not be so high as too be a problem if you were a big CC fan.

Due to the ready availibility of relatively inexpensive large-sized CC, they are a species that could easily be added later. Given your current ambivalence about CC, I suggest deferring stocking them until the future (if you ever want to). Just buying some CC fillets at the supermarket and trying them could help you decide.

 Quote:
If I expect to see any appreciable SMB reproduction, I need to prop up my severe lack of rock. I need specific instruction as to what type, size, shape, and depth location of rock to apply.
If you don't get the same or better links first (Sunil may have already told you all you need to know), I will post the info I have been saving at home from the forum on SMB spawning structure creation after work. IIRC, it's about 90% Bill Cody wisdom with a seasoning of ewest's typically useful off-site links.

I bet you have sufficient dry pond bottom still accessible to create plenty of spawning areas for SMB.


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brettski:
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Let's preclude BG (for now)
Brettski, my friend, I haven't commented on your thread thus far because I don't have direct experience with a YP/SMB pond....however,the statement above is more than I can stay silent on. ;\) ;\)

I can't imagine a pond without BG's. I also doubt your "hands-off" desire will be actually implemented in practice...you are a "hands-on" kind of guy, much to your credit.

Your comment forces me to reveal, in the interest of our friendship, my own bias towards BG. The highest level of "fun" I get from ponding is growing and catching large BG...and I include all kinds of BG in that statement...CNBG,natives, hybrids, etc. That love has evolved over many years. Ok, they require some management, but what in life that is worthwhile doesn't?

Without getting evangelical (or more than I already have) and with due respect to your pond goals, I'm willing to bet you will have BG anyhow and planning for them in advance is better than reacting to them later...my reasoning is simple...Nature abhors a vacuum and a pond without BG.

Merry Christmas, Brettski and come back to Texas when you can, but plan on a side-trip to my ponds and I'll make a BG believer out of you. \:\)

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Meadowlark:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brettski:
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Let's preclude BG (for now)
Brettski, my friend, I haven't commented on your thread thus far because I don't have direct experience with a YP/SMB pond....however,the statement above is more than I can stay silent on. ;\)
I can't imagine a pond without BG's.
“It all depends” on what Cody says, but otherwise I totally agree with ML – with HSB to control over population. \:\)

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Brettski :

I have a fair amount of info on SMB spawning as it relates to this topic. The basics have been covered above by Bill , Theo , Sunil etc. and the pics I posted.

A lot of the structure/rock piles can be done from the Liberty Ferry with a little work, a piece of plywood, a shovel and a piece of 8in pvc. Most of our pond structure has been added by boat including rock piles. I can go over the methods if you like. The right locations are more important than just dumping in a bunch of rock right now. You have time but start locating the rock and collecting it in a good location as you get time. If a couple good locations can be ided now and you have solid truck access that would be the easiest method.
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by ewest:
The right locations are more important than just dumping in a bunch of rock right now.
I'm very interested in hearing what ewest and others might think are good locations for SMB spawning material.


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Thanks ML and George. Let's let this thread play out a little more and see what happens. That's what this entire give-and-take of info is all about....good stuff. Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas to da bote a ya's...thanks for stepping aboard this thread.
Bob Lusk diplomatically admonished me when I first posted here a little over a year ago. He noted that my plan for the pond construction seemed to be "build it as I go". I kinda disagreed, but ultimately, when I look back, I did. The pros: I went slow and discovered/added some cool features that weren't even on the original radar. Cons: I did some stuff bass-ackwards that may have cost $ in the long run. Regrets to date? None. Unless...I did it again with my "late to the dinner table" plans for stocking. If SMB are a main player for me now, then my focus needs to be on placing rock structure....even tho it would have been easier before I closed the drain valve.
Ewest (and others)
You likely provided all this already before, but paint a picture for me of the optimum SMB spawning design. If I had a ton of rock, what size would it be? How would I lay it in?...just a pile? Would a one ton pile be better that 4 piles of 500# each? Would it be a 500# pile of 1.5" river rock with a couple of basketball sized rocks at the edge of the pile? Is there a minimum distance between this pile (or whatever form you recommend?) Or, instead of river rock, would it be a ton of softball sized rocks?
Also, at what ranges of depth? I really want to consider laying some SMB spawning structure somwhere in the gradual slope between the tire-PVC tree reef and the treeline. I'm getting this vision of a half dozen piles of smaller river rock, maybe 36" dia, with a couple of larger out-structure rocks next to the pile. These would be spaced out maybe 20 ft apart...somewhere at about 2' to 7' deep...?

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Bski - Sunil describes SMB spawning in locations very similar to those I have observed numerous times, especially when optimum substrates are lacking. Sunil said: "I have seen my smallies spawning on a steep bank (leading down into deep water) that has a 1' wide flat ledge just about 1' under the water (the water level can fluctuate to where this area would be 2-3' under water). It's very rocky there too."" Also consider that the individuals that Sunil has described may be subdominant males that are spawning in seconday locations while the most dominant males could be in the prime locations with optimum substrates. Sunil has a fishery with mature large SMB. For examples of optimum substrates that have been gleaned from research papers refer to ewests post.

I will post more later from a remote location (Christmas visit) about catfish, revisit the BG issue, and discuss snails & YP.


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Ok guys I get the picture. \:D GIVE US MORE INFO !! I will dig out the studies and consult with Bill and we will come up with some ideas. Those pics of actual SMB nesting are a very good place to start. I have more but it will take a little time.
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brettski:
You likely provided all this already before, but paint a picture for me of the optimum SMB spawning design. If I had a ton of rock, what size would it be? How would I lay it in?...just a pile? Would a one ton pile be better that 4 piles of 500# each? Would it be a 500# pile of 1.5" river rock with a couple of basketball sized rocks at the edge of the pile? Is there a minimum distance between this pile (or whatever form you recommend?) Or, instead of river rock, would it be a ton of softball sized rocks?
Also, at what ranges of depth? I really want to consider laying some SMB spawning structure somwhere in the gradual slope between the tire-PVC tree reef and the treeline. I'm getting this vision of a half dozen piles of smaller river rock, maybe 36" dia, with a couple of larger out-structure rocks next to the pile. These would be spaced out maybe 20 ft apart...somewhere at about 2' to 7' deep...?
I'm gonna piggyback you like a little brother on this, Brettski, in the hope that I can get a breeding population of SMB established in pond #2 (coming soon to a theater near me).

BTW, I am mentally budgeting 20 tons of stone for 1/3 acre pond; one of us may be way off, size-wise, in figuring the scope of this. I hope we find out the right way!


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Theo slips his thumb to the scale (again):
 Quote:
BTW, I am mentally budgeting 20 tons of stone for 1/3 acre pond; one of us may be way off, size-wise, in figuring the scope of this. I hope we find out the right way!

The diff is your forethought to doing it when the time is correct and with the correct equipment. If I was ahead of the SMB curve, 20 tons would likely be 1/2 shy of the real McCoy for my project. As it stands, my last chance "pre-water" may very well be alot of small loads/shovel work. 20 tons of this type physical output will seriously hamper my ability to carry you piggyback. ;\)

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You might see if a slinger truck is available in your area. See www.rockchuckers.com for an example. Might save your back.




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BSki I moved 20+ tons of gravel by shovel, bucket and wheelbarrow and boat for spawning beds and so can you -- ouch my back !!
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by Meadowlark:
..............I can't imagine a pond without BG's. ..........
ML....sounds eerily familiar \:D \:D


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D.I.E.D.,

Ok, you made me go back and read your earlier post..we do think alike...that should probably scare you. \:\)

I would have mentioned the Gambusias also, because I'm probably as big or bigger fan of them as you are, but then I would have also had to talk about HSB and how they would complement any selection of BG, especially in Brettski's climate which is far more favorable to HSB than my Texas hotter than Hades climate...but well, Brettski, seems to have his mind made up.

Hey, D.I.E.D, you ever thought about Tilapia? Just razing you, not trying to hijack Mr. Brettski's thread. ;\)

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ML adds:
 Quote:
I would have mentioned the Gambusias also, because I'm probably as big or bigger fan of them as you are, but then I would have also had to talk about HSB and how they would complement any selection of BG, especially in Brettski's climate which is far more favorable to HSB than my Texas hotter than Hades climate...but well, Brettski, seems to have his mind made up.
Never say never...at least for the next couple o' months or so; until I do have to start making committments. If I return to personal fundamentals, the only things I do know for sure is... a) I really would like YP...b) I recently developed a negative attitude toward LMB, only because of the dunkling thing...c) I want low maintenance
ML, you are one of the posters here that I hoped would provide input, experience, and opinion. Take what you know of my desires, my project, and my midwest location and tell me what YOU would do.

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Brettsker...low maintainence CAN be taken to the extreme. You do want to bait your own hook and remove your own fish don'tcha? \:D :p After several months of not working on the pond anymore, you'll be looking for something to do. Water temps. at various depths, twice daily alkalinity and hardness samples, analyzing why one solar feeder goes off 15 minutes after the next.(all with graphs). You may even want to sample your stock via trapping, seining, maybe even fishing. Good luck. Dont let all those creative PVC attractors go to waste. Sorry, I cant add anything intelligent to the aforementioned recommendations(but I could help with the sampling part). \:\)


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ok brettski, back one final time.....i know yer done hearing from me, but i cant resist, sorry, this is just too juicy.

the length and diversity of this thread reflects the true complexity of pond (and fish) mgmt. at the same time, you can simplify very quickly. if mental and physical simplification is not attempted, nothing would ever get done.

summarizing the situation.....you have a hole with water. add in some habitat aimed at the type of fish with which you want to start. throw in the fish.

boy oh boy have you not already done most of the hard work?....very jealous in el dorado.

the plan?

as others have suggested, start with the questionably hard to raise fish first, and add the easy ones second if the first batch fail.

a) get some Gams, FHM, and RES in
b) get some rocks in, throw some crawdads on top
c) get yer YP started
d) experts....for SMB stocking, is there a recommended wait period after YP, or stock w/ YP?
e) get yer SMB in
f) wait, watch, enjoy, bet a quarter you'll be wanting to manage \:\)

as much as ML and I have beseeched you to stick to the all american dream of a personal BG pond, hold of on the BG, hold off on the CC, and keep LMB on the back burner to save yer pond sometime......8 to 10 years from now. you will need something more than SMB to prey on the GSF you WILL have.

ML.....not scared \:\) ....i would love tilapia, jeffhasapond and i may be researching the permitting issues in CA....it might not be possible without an act of God. i read all of yer tilapia posts with great interest and have learned an unbelievable amount. thanks.


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Here are the SMB spawning info threads I have previously saved (this thread is on the list now, too):

SMB in Farm Pond

Getting ready to dig my first pond


Theo Lets add them all here for now.


http://www.pondboss.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=000499;p=1


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I will provide some comments to Bski's questions about BG, and catfish. Then I will add a few comments regarding Theo's above statement about snails.

I think the currrent consensus is to omit BG from the original stocking and they can be easily added at a later date. Since LMB will not be present, IMO it will be relatively easy to get BG established in a fishery comprised of SMB, YP, RES, plus of a forage minnow/shiner/crayfish combination of one to several species. Ffor crayfish seek out Papershell crayfish (Orconecties immunis) which is naive to IL. Sunil has observed BG "dive bombing" SMB nests to feed on fry. I also watched HGB and GSF feeding on eggs and fry from their cohort nests. fish as nest robbers are common especially when forage fish populations tend to be over crowded. If BG were present in Bski's pond with SMB, HSB and some catfish I suspect that it would not take much of a fishery imbalance to allow BG to quickly get to a point of overcrowding. LMB can play a very big role in controlling BG. When BG overcrowding occurs the already fragile ability of SMB to recruit YOY could be at even greater risk. In conclusion, with SMB as your main predator, delay use of BG until they are necessary or strongly desired and you want a more complex fishery that will demand more watchful monioring and management.

Meadowlark states: ""...with due respect to your pond goals, I'm willing to bet you will have BG anyhow......" Bski, please make a permenant note of ML's quote and you might want to take ML up on his offer with a "small" wager. I am not sure if he means BG will naturally appear in your pond or that you will eventually decide you cannot live without BG and eventually stock them. Maybe ML will elaborate on this. Regardless I am very, very interested if your pond ever gets "naturally stocked" with BG or another sunfish species i.e. uninvited invaders. As time passes please keep us advised on this ML quote.

Catfish - Since Bski has at least several vehicle tire structures, these structures will serve to promote CC recruitment. As a side note, I have commonly observed CC using tire cavities for nesting. I have also seen SMB frequently utilize tire cavities for overwintering locations. Other species probably also tire cavities as overwinter deep water structure. My experience is that in a pond without LMB the CC very often produce some good recruitment into each year class. IMO the LMB with their large mouth and attitude can exert significant predatory pressure on young CC until the juvenile cats are around 10" long which can last up to two or more years. I think this degree of predation of LMB on juvenile CC would be significantly less when SMB are the dominate predator. When catfish become larger and their density becomes common to numerous, I have found the water clarity noticably decreases to visibilities of 12"-24". Decreased water claity often results in less efficient predation which can easily lead to overpopulation of one or several fish; often the mose prolific ones present. Catfish can thrive in turbid water, but sight predators and foragers will suffer. I think the best water clarity would be in the neighborhood of 3'-5' for your planned fishes (SMB,YP,RES) IMO omit catfish unless you really have a strong desire or passion for them. I think they will cause more problems than they will fix or help with your planned SMB,YP, RES fishery, i.e. more cons than pros.

If Bski wants a secondary bonus predator and since he is in IL, he should strongly consider walleye. They very rarely recruit young, are fairly easily managed, grow to 24-28" long, are very good eating, fairly catchable, and will help control YP, SMB, and RES and will never cause water turbidity. The ethology of walleye is very compatable with YP and SMB since they naturally occur together in many northern lakes. For Bski's application walleye have more pros than cons.

Theo stated " ..while CB1 has had success with YP controlling snails, I suspect RES do a much better job of this in a larger pond where the density of YP is probably significantly lower than in Cecil's fabulous fat fish factories." Theo is correct. YP can control snails but the snails have to belong to the genus Physella or else YP will not readily eat snails. Physella is a thin shelled snail and I have found that YP will pretty much ignore other species of thicker or heavier shelled snails. It all depends. A snail is not all snails. RES have the ability to forage on numerous species of snails including some of the thicker shelled species. For starters IMO for Bski needs, the most natural panfish combination would be RES and YP.


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Pursuant to perusing the good stuff behind the SMB in farm pond link that Theo offers in an above post, I want to take the liberty of borrowing some of Dr Dave Willis' ideas and practices and re-post them here. They parallel some of my last-minute ideas for providing gravel or stone medium.
Dr Willis notes:
 Quote:
We usually took rubber feed tubs and filled them with gravel to provide substrate for smallmouth bass nesting. The biologists there believed, and I guess that I generally observed, that smallies would not spawn without that rock/gravel habitat.......we just went to the local farm supply stores, and bought the rubber feed tubs. I'm thinking something like 18-24 inches in diameter, and maybe 8-10 inches deep? We got the soft rubber ones because they would sink. The hard plastic ones would float until the gravel was added.
-
NEDOC asks:
 Quote:
Dave - how deep did you place the tubs?
-
Dave responds:
 Quote:
NEDOC -- That's always a tough one. In general, I'd say maybe between 3 feet and 6 feet. Generally, we'd put them deeper the clearer the water. I can't remember going shallower than about 3 feet, but of course, we didn't put smallies into muddy ponds. I have this general thought in the back of my mind that a lot of the nest-building centrarchids (bass, crappies, bluegills) often nest at about 1 to 1.5 times the water transparency. In that recent bluegill nesting study that we did, the average depth of the bluegill colonies was right at 3 feet. However, in extremely clear water, I have seen reports of smallmouth and spotted (Kentucky) bass spawning down to perhaps 20 feet.

-
(some good discussion evolves, including Eric explaining his "shallow shelf with gravel" success)
....a little further, Dave adds:
 Quote:
Slymer is also right to question whether tubs are needed. We only used tubs in the Kansas ponds because there was no rock whatsoever in the ponds. We wanted the gravel in the tubs to hold it in place, and not let it get lost by moving around, sinking into the silt, etc. If you have a better supply of gravel to spread in certain locations, the tubs certainly are not needed.
-
-
OK, so this practice sounds so darned similar to what I don't have (gravel beds) and what I do need (gravel beds). In fact, it kinda smacks of the saucer beds I put next to the cribs. It also plays to my thought of smaller piles of hand-placed gravel in a number of areas of the flats that remain water-free for the short term. So, I ask again...is this plan a crazy waste or a decent start? Heck, I don't even mind picking up the same rubber feed tubs; I know right where to get 'em.

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I bet the relatively high (8"-10") sides on the feed pans help SMB feel safe/defend their nests - an added bonus to helping keep the gravel together year after year.


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Here are the studies which are not online and not available except as part of the AFS Symposium on Black Bass 2000. Bill I will assume you don't have these unless you say otherwise.


Habitat Features Affecting Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu Nesting Success in Four Northern Wisconsin Lakes

and

Habitat Selection of Nesting Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu in Two North Temperate Lakes

More later after another review of these materials.
















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Brettski don't get in to big of a rush. There are several ways to get there.

I don't think this is a waste of time or crazy. I bet that a little patience will result in a set of top notch answers and specific suggestions of how to get there. \:\)
















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 Quote:
Originally posted by Brettski:
ML, you are one of the posters here that I hoped would provide input, experience, and opinion. Take what you know of my desires, my project, and my midwest location and tell me what YOU would do.
Okay Brettski, your wish is my command...straight talk.

Here is what I would do. First, I'd forget about the backbreaking labor to add rocks and gravel at this point in your project....a waste of time and energy in my considered opinion. You have already done enough, more than enough structure. Changing course over to a SMB pond that mimicks the strata they normally encounter/prefer is highly questionable in terms of rewards to you, unless SMB have always been the love of your life, your passion, and you just have to have the very best SMB pond in the mid-west.

Second, I'd really concentrate on the forage base for the next growing season. I would include FH minnows for a quick start and would also include Gam's for a long term self-sustaining low maintenance source of forage. I'd also look for other long term self-sustaining forage, perhaps golden shiners but I don't have enough experience with them to give a full endorsement.

Third, I would stock the very best quality genetics that I could find BG/RES in an 80/20 ratio.

Let all these critters thrive and grow all next growing season. Then, next fall add your YP in whatever amounts you like, add some SMB in small numbers...then, also in the fall, stock the mainline predator HSB.

I would use the HSB to be the principle controlling/balancing agent over the BG. If stocked properly, i.e. in the right mix, you will have a very low management pond with some quality fishing.

If you subsequently decide you want to up the ante and have more of a "sport" fishing pond with larger HSB and BG, simply set up a couple of automatic feeders and feed the HSB and BG. Otherwise, don't even bother with the feeders and the constant maintenance and hauling expensive feed which isn't the best for your water quality anyway. I don't see many artificial feeders in Nature.

With this approach, down the road, if you start drinking Lone Star beer and suddenly get the urge to fish for LMB, you can add them and reduce the HSB numbers....or go to a near-by public lake and get cured of that urge.

In solving an equation, we try to reduce the number of unknowns. HSB do not reproduce. That eliminates a big unknown that you may have with other predators. In looking for a good system in a somewhat dynamic environment, we strive for the ability to make adjustments with predictable outcomes...seeing too many BG, add more HSB...seeing too few BG, reduce the HSB.

If I lived in your climate and had your goals, as best I understand them, this is what I would do. In fact, its what I would do in my climate, except HSB have shown me to be intolerant of my water quality/climate combination. Instead, I have to go with a different primary predator and different forage system.

One last thought, for the if I was in your shoes response. I'm not sure about pond vegetation in your area nor the nutrients you are likely to have in the water system. I think I would kind of talk around to some neighbors to find out if they have weed problems or bad algae problems. If I had the least bit of doubt, or indicator of possible weed problems, I would stock one or two grass carp per acre next spring as pre-emptive preventive maintenance. I would also look very carefully at those who try to get you to fertilize your pond...again, staying with your disdain for "sport" fishing, why would you invite all the potential problems that fertilizer can bring to achieve something you do not even strive for?

There you go...you asked for it...I gave it, in sincere, straight as I can words based on my experience and my attempted understanding of your objectives.

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