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New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
#316472 01/05/13 05:35 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
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mudhole Offline OP
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Hello everyone,

New member, but I have been lurking around for a few months. Im a new pond owner. Last September we bought 26+ acres in Central NC. Its about 50/50 trees and pasture with a 2.1 acre farm pond that has been used by cows for the last couple decades or so. The house was built in 1901 with a couple additions between 30 and 60 years ago. Other buildings include a 5 car detached garage (35x45 metal building), a 20x40 pole barn, a couple very old small storage buildings that will be torn down before they fall down, an old barn that is held up by the vines growing throughout it and a in-ground swimming pool that doesnt hold water but does has a couple small trees growing in of the deep end. Needless to say we have 10+ years worth of DIY projects ahead of us. My next free weekend will be sometime in 2023, when I retire.

Im an Architect so the renovation needs of the buildings and structures are perceived to be under control at this time. Ill be posting on the Human Habitat section once I get started. Plan is to have the house renovated within 5-6 years. First project is building the workshop in the garage. The pool will become a natural swimming pool, with a new hot tub of course. Pole barn may become the greenhouse and/or chicken coop. Lots of plans and opportunities, only need time and money.

Now to the pond.

Since finding Pond Boss I have learned how much I dont know about owning a pond. You guys have such a wealth of information and I plan on taking full advantage of that. I have already subscribed to the magazine and ordered a couple books. Finding this site will make this journey much more enjoyable and productive.

The pond is 2.1 acres. It is spring fed and has a watershed of about 15-18 acres. The neighbor said he has never seen the water down more than a few inches in the last 40 years. So I dont think lack of water will ever be an issue. It looks as if it is full of muck/silt. The dam also needs work on the pond side but is not leaking. It has a clay/dirt spillway that only has flowing water after a rain. An overflow pipe is about 3 above the spillway height but I have never seen water touch it. I thought about pushing it lower but it drains to near the top of the back of the dam. The spillway drains through the woods. The water was milk chocolate brown when the cows use it. In the last three months without them the clarity has improved to 12 to 18.

There are fish which surprised us. In mid November I tossed in a lure just to see. To our surprise we caught 5 bass in 15 minutes, all skinny between 8 and 11. The next day my son caught 15 bass in 45 minutes, all in the same size range. Until the weather got cold we were catching a bass every 3 or 4 minutes, all skinny and 13 was the biggest. Lots of fun with light tackle. So what I learned from this website is I have an overpopulation of bass that is stunting their growth. I have not caught anything but small bass and all were released. A couple weeks ago something bigger grabbed the lure and took off. I was using a real light setup and it got off after a 20 second fight. I hooked it near weeds in 3 feet of water in the same spot I had just caught a couple small bass. I was told an 8 lb bass was caught many years ago so there is potential.

I have pond renovation ideas but need to get more info before planning anything. Ill go into these in more detail in future posts. My tentative schedule is:

2013 Investigation: Depth of water, amount of muck, extent of damage to dam, water quality, fish count, county and state rules and regulations, etc
2014 Design and start renovation / rejuvenation.
2015 Finish renovations, Start building pond house (man cave/poker room).
2016 Stock forage fish and critters. Finish pond house.
2017 Stock predator fish.
2018 until the end of time Maintain and enjoy.
2019 PB thanks for the help party and fish fry. All are welcome.

As you can see I plan on being around and asking lots of questions for years to come. So I might as well start now. Due to work needed on the house I am not going to start any major project with the pond until the summer of 2014 at the earliest.

What are minor things I can do until then to improve / maintain / stop deterioration of the pond?

What do I need to investigate (other than mentioned above) to make good decisions on what will be the best options in the future?

And now the photos.


This is the whole property.



South property line looking towards house. Taken day we made the offer to buy.


View from house


From west side of pond. Dam is on the left.


Dam, taken last week. Spillway right of pipe.


Back of dam.


Spillway right after rain.


Thank you in advance for any comments and future help and advice.

Michael

Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
mudhole #316476 01/05/13 07:19 AM
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First Mudhole, welcome. You nave beautiful place, and I'm sure you'll get lot's of help.

Be patient with the pond and it will be fine. You obviously have too many LMB for the forge base, and luckily, that's curable with a rod and reel.

As far as the pond, it looks like you have trees growing out of the back of the dam, and those should probably be removed.

Since your initial plans are to refurb the buildings, I would try to keep management of your pond a fun thing. Burning brush piles, fishing, new plantings, can all be done as time permits, and enjoyed by the whole family. Then, when you're ready to really start you're pond goals, you'll be ready to go.

Good luck, and congratulations on a fine place.


AL
Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
mudhole #316479 01/05/13 08:32 AM
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Welcome to PB. Sounds like a well thought out plan and is constrained by the usual time and money considerations. We all have those.

My thoughts(or musings):

Check the water quality regarding ph and alkalinity to assure that it is balanced. I expect that it is because the small bass seem to be OK.

Check the overall depth to determine the amount of muck. Try to map the bottom but, after this many years, I expect that it is pretty full. However, remedial action will be exceptionally expensive. To do it right, you have to get the junk out and figure out what to do with it. You will probably find that it makes more $ sense to raise the dam instead of draining the swamp. Three or four ft of muck over a couple of acres is a lot of junk that has to be relocated. And, that junk has the consistency of pudding so mechanical means via dozer or backhoe seldom makes sense.

Does the pond leak? If the depth is consistent, it may not be a problem. Be very careful about doing a total clean up of the back of the dam. Any kind of trees on the dam are pretty much of a no/no. However, those larger trees have root systems that can go pretty deep into the dams infrastructure. Killing the tree can cause the roots to rot and will leave a void in that infrastructure. Unless you are going to do an extensive renovation, those are best left alone.

Regarding the fish: You have a typical predator heavy/forage or prey light mix. Nothing unusual there and the ecosystem is out of balance. Determine your predator/prey ratio before proceeding. The bass may be trying to make a living off their own progeny. A knee jerk reaction is to add more prey for the bass to eat. That is a temporary fix that is doomed to failure. I liken a bass heavy pond to a pasture full of cows that have over eaten the grass base. The problem is too much predation of the forage base. If you try to plant more grass the hungry cows will eat it before it can grow and reproduce itself. So it also goes with the predator/prey base in a pond. So, you have too many predators for the forage base and your bass are starving. The easiest and quickest fix is to chemically kill everything in the pond and start over with a stocking of forage/prey fish. When you get too many of them, it is time to add predators. Another possibility is to start eliminating the predators until their numbers decrease and their overall size and body condition improve. Then add large bluegills that have a chance of reproducing their own species.

There's a lot more but I'll stop here and let others chime in.


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
Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
mudhole #316565 01/05/13 10:21 PM
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Welcome, Mudhole! Congrats on the purchase and the lifetime of work ahead of you!

Good advice so far. If you don't want to kill the pond and start over, I agree with Dave that you may want to consider right off the bat just keeping every one of those smallish LMB (large mouth bass) that you catch. The more of them you eliminate, the better forage base available for the remaining fish. As Dave mentioned, eventually, you should start noticing healthier looking fish.

Keep catch records, too. This will allow you to watch length, weight, and WR (relative weight) to see trends and make adjustments as you go. Remember, none of these things will be quick changes - it all takes time, so make small adjustments, then wait to measure the results.

If you want to do some other things right away, short of killing the pond and starting again, buy some big BG (bluegill), again like Dave suggested, so they don't get eaten right off the bat. They'll reproduce and provide another level of forage for your LMB.

You may also want to consider aeration in the pond - bottom diffuser type - as that can, over time, help eliminate organic muck from the bottom of the pond and also contribute to overall healthier water.

Lots of ideas to consider and you'll no doubt get more. Have fun with it and keep us posted!


Todd La Neve


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Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
Todd3138 #316651 01/06/13 08:02 PM
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Great advice above.

Over the next year you will want to decide on what kind of a fishery you want. Sounds like the kid had a good time already. Its always nice when kids catch stuff instead of being bored when going after a "big one". And by the sounds of it, you may have a big one in there for you to go after. Fish it for the next year and see what you got.

I have to wonder if that spillway has eroded down to a level below the overflow pipe. I would keep an eye on that.

Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
mudhole #316654 01/06/13 08:26 PM
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Hi there! Our pond is in a very similar situation as yours...it's a farm pond and it's very old, and we just started managing it. See the link below for photos and my story.

As stated above, I would get out there in a johnboat asap and measure the depth with a pole in a systematic manner and record them on a printout of your lake from Google maps. The muck in our 30-year old lake is over 4 feet deep in some places, and our lake never had cattle in it. Yours may have much, much more.

Re: New member, New Owner of an Old Pond
mudhole #316696 01/07/13 10:44 AM
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mudhole Offline OP
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions, some things I have not thought of before. Such as if I pull 4 of muck out where does it go. Thats 8 acres of muck 12" deep. I like the idea of raising the dam but its not feasible since the water would back up into the neighbors driveway.
As for the trees on the back of the dam Im going to leave them for now. I think I may add about 3 to 5 width to the inside of the dam so that should help with the root issue. I have an arborist scheduled to come out in the spring and it will be one of the questions for him.
As for removing fish, a friend at work is a Scout leader. I asked him if his troop might want to help out with that. A couple dozen young boys with fishing poles could put a good dent in the LMB over a weekend camping camping trip in the spring. BG will be catch and release. For now I will start the log.
Bocomo, the link to your pond thread has given me a good framework to follow myself.
Thanks everyone.


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