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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
jpsdad #523090 06/30/20 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Snipe,

The craws in you pond look like Northern (virile) Crayfish. Unlike our southern craws, they have a distinct yearly cycle where they exude eggs in spring and mate and in fall. You are making good ground on the big ones but they grow fast as long as they are not overpopulated. A good time to harvest again after thinning now will be this Fall.

The virile crayfish has large claws and stand up to fish better than other craws by displaying the outsized claws. One thing that may help to feed the fish is to remove claws and throw them back. If a fish can swallow them ... they will be gonners without their claws.

The sexes can be distinguished from each other and you probably wouldn't want to take it this far but a fall harvest of all trapped males and 2/3 of the females could produce a bumper crop of crays next spring that your fish could eat.

Correct, they are verified Northerns.. I never thought about sexing them but the under 3" crowd I'm tossing back, I am pulling claws off.
And again, the perfect bait is a snake-no fish will be in the trap but 1 snake is mostly gone in 1 night. My most abundant snake is rattlers here and it's dicey getting one shot because you have to nearly be on top of it to see it or get them to rattle..
I'm sure there are things I haven't tried yet but numbers are adding up, another 11lbs this am so 41.5lbs removed in 4 nights with no signs of slowing down really.
jpsdad, I'm interested in the sexing concept and I have read some on identifying them but maybe we need to discuss your plan a bit further.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523093 06/30/20 01:34 PM
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I can't give the snake bait much of a "go" at my place because the most common snakes around here are the desirable kinds (black racers, common water, & rat snakes), but I can tell you that I have very good luck catching the craws with a couple small handfuls of fish food put in a sock. I use a cloverleaf trap that has the center section caged off and dedicated to the bait. The 4 openings are vertical slits that I have spread open to be about 1-1/4" wide. I do end up getting HBG young from 2 to 4" long ( a few a night) and some succumb to the craws, but not many that I can tell. My craws were feed trained prior to trapping. Not that there was any effort in it...I fed the shallows for the young fish and the craws came to the dinner table. I have my best luck at night...10 to 1 probably and change the fish food each time. Leaving the food bait for two nights still works, but, crying out loud...the 2 day old pellets really stink and makes cleaning/squeezing the sock out more than mildly unpleasant. lol.

I'm not sexing mine at the time, but am interested. Right now, the catch rates are so steady that I don't think I have made much of a dent.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523220 07/04/20 05:54 AM
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Snipe,

Of all the North American crayfish, I think the Northerns are the most beautiful cray. They are successfully cultured for food, command higher prices, and with the exception of the Rusty, stand up to fish as well or better than any other crayfish.

The number will decline as your fish mature. How much food they provide will be determined by the number of overwintering inseminated females. The key to survival, will be the amount of cover they have, but if you have adults weighing in >20 lbs in the spring, their contribution to the food chain will be significant.

You may have this link already but it has a really good image in how to sex crayfish. I couldn't find images for Northerns, but here is another link that also has a good image. Northern males will be most easy to determine in the fall after the molt. Females must also molt in order to be inseminated and the males molt into (and out of) the "reproductive form". Males grow faster and will comprise more than 50% of the population in a pond with fish due to being able to resist predation better than females. The key is probably size. I think their claw display works to discourage fish by making them look to large to swallow.

If I do the mini 1/8 acre pond, which at this point I may not, I have given consideration to a combination male lepomis (CNBG & LES) with Northern crays. With the right balance crayfish growth and numbers will be good (like you are experiencing).

Don't know if you are eating them ... but crawfish are simply amazing. If you have a few CC, you could eat the tails and they would eat the heads as the clean up crew!

Last edited by jpsdad; 07/04/20 05:55 AM.
Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523230 07/04/20 01:20 PM
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Kenny your suspicions regarding crays causing turbidity are well founded, I've fought that situation multiple times in my mini ponds where cray populations exploded due to lack of enough predation. They denuded all macrophytes, even all the filamentous algae. For a while I was excited at their ability to keep the FA at bay, but it was short lived as turbidity became an issue. I trapped crays in two ponds for months, removed thousands, but turbidity didn't improve. I eventually drained, seined, and nuked one pond. Refilled a couple weeks later and restocked my male Lepomis and the crays returned and turbidity persisted. When I drained the pond enough of them burrowed into the banks and made a return...that should have occurred to me, but didn't. So I drained and seined again and wintered fish in multiple cages and let the pond sit dry and frozen for several months. Refilled this Spring and not a sign of the crays in 5 months. This mini pond is only .25 AC but still the drain seine process was a major pain, I don't necessarily recommend it, just sharing my experience with an extreme management issue. In the other pond with cray issues I also drained and seined to install a clay and polymer liner to address major leaking so that process took care of them.

In your situation I would continue trapping - every night. Per Cody - experiment with baits. Pellet baited traps worked sometimes, some loved fresh BG per other posts, some I left empty and allowed tadpoles to enter, die, and those unbaited traps worked sometimes too but required me to leave them for several days. I bought different "professional" cray traps online - they can get pricey for the larger ones, but the standard hardware cloth minnow traps are too small to collect the BIG crays, so I went with the pro cray traps designed to get the lobsters.

I stocked 4 SMB from the main pond into the Lepomis pond and thought they might handle the crays. They didn't make a discernible impact on the population, and when I drained and seined I was shocked to find those fish only around 95-100 WR. I thought they'd be bursting at the seams with crays around 125+. What did I learn? SMB are not automatic cray management tools - but you already know that per your situation. I think turbidity might have impacted SMB ability to locate - but Northerns also grow so large I suspect many were simply invulnerable to predation due to their size. You already know that, though.

SO - following that diatribe, my advice is to deploy multiple traps every night and experiment with baits and keep on going...you may turn the corner and get on top of them, otherwise we need to start getting creative with temporary/supplemental stocking of some verified sex LMB and/or CC and catch and remove them when you see turbidity improving. I think CC and LMB possess traits enabling them to be more successful than SMB alone.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523232 07/04/20 01:54 PM
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TJ,

The turbidity itself may have greatly limited the SMB's ability to effectively prey on the crayfish. Also, even if not gape limited, there is probably a ratio of cray length to SMB length that will serve to limit predation. A 5 inch Northern (rostrum to tail length) weighs in at .20 lbs. Takes a pretty good fish to tackle it.

To be sure, the best for controlling crayfish will be CC. I think it wouldn't take a lot of them if they were a good size. Probably 40 to 50 lbs/acre of 3 lb+ CC would be able to keep them under control. With no fish the Crays are probably limited to 800 lbs/acre. With fish it is much less provided the fish in the pond are eating them.

I would just add one more thing. Where one is adding crayfish as forage ... I would not do this in advance of predators. They are very prolific and they grow fast so they will offer no food for fingerling predators when they are introduced. They will also greatly impact lepomis reproduction. I would think a good time to add crays would be after the predators have attained a size of >16" or so.

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523244 07/05/20 07:38 AM
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I would think the LMB would be better at controlling the large sized craws because of mouth gape size over the size of a large cc. But have not looked into the science on the fact of mouth size and which is really has a more aggressive feeding.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523256 07/05/20 03:54 PM
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Tracy, I told my bride as I pushed the send button that you would rise to this comment!

Notwithstanding the gape, CC are well adapted to hunting crays in muddy water. When crays are abundant, it is a cinch that large CC will focus on this source specifically. They are co-evolved. CC will just keep growing and eventually reach a balance with the crays that given the lifespan of CC should persist a few years.

I recommend CC specifically because I think they will play nicer ... though not necessarily nice ... with the SMB in Snipe's pond.

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
jpsdad #523257 07/05/20 04:26 PM
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In a shallow mini-pond or forage pond, turbidity can be a plus. Herons, cormorants and raccoons can be devastating to the fish if they can see them. My forage pond is pretty turbid, and I'm glad it is.


8ac, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17. 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20, 113




Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523264 07/06/20 02:30 AM
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Appreciate all the input here. As you can guess, the turbidity is affecting every aspect of my fishery. I notice several observations.. #1, the SMB are not blasting the huge schools of FHM and GSH like they were as the turbidity has come on somewhat slowly. Last year early in the year I felt my forage base was falling apart (being consumed) and was concerned about numbers. SMB have not shown lower WR's until the last dozen or so fish caught in maybe the last 3 weeks. The YP I can get on a worm are 90-ish, neither them nor BG and RES are feeding regularly now. I have craws from hell waving at the bank within 30 secs of throwing feed, like hundreds of them. I've continued to trap and I've found something that is working quite well on the lobster-size craws and that's the std minnow traps with the funnel cut to open up further.
Small kids socks with dog food ty-wrapped inside works very well. I can throw out 5-6 traps so they are just at surface (top of trap), and as I set say 5 traps in 20 minutes, the first set is full of craws. Setting all night is completely unnecessary as they are loaded in 15 minutes. I'm getting close to 200lbs caught and it's not slowing down.
I have given 7 bucket loads away to mostly wildlife and parks folks that are wanting them to eat. I added 4 more nearly full buckets to my floating pen tonight with zipper top.
I still have my aerator off to help things settle and I don't know how long I should continue with that..?? Surface temp was 82 before sundown tonight.
I have (I believe) 3 large CC left in pond and I wish I knew what they were eating when not sucking pellets off the top at feeding time. If I could confirm they were most effective on the craws I could very easily add some 5-6lb (or much bigger CC). I can also easily add some female only LMB but I can't help but think they are going to clean house on my YP abundance first-and probably some 8-12 " SMB and of course some 1yr old RES.
I think plan "A" for now is to continue trapping the craws until it obviously slows down somewhat.
I have to wonder if the craw die-off I had early in the spring had something to do with the numbers present.
A last observation I'll add is I wear some winter leather gloves so I can quickly sort these as I dump them into a small kiddie pool and these bigger craws will make you piss yourself if you let them grab a finger even with the heavy gloves..


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523287 07/06/20 09:50 AM
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Gee makes a specific crawfish trap which is basically their minnow trap with a larger opening.
Gee trap pictures

Gee are my favorite brand of minnow trap. I have a bunch of them. One I have enlarged the opening a little to catch slightly larger fish. Note to anyone expanding the opening, it likely will make the trap illegal to use in public waters. Most minnow traps have a 1" opening because that is what most states limit it to.

Have you been eating any of them? Crawfish boil?

Last edited by snrub; 07/06/20 09:54 AM.

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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523288 07/06/20 09:52 AM
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Holy Moly Snipe!...you are really bringing them in. I thought I was trapping alot at just over 500 so far this season (estimated total weight of 60 pounds). The daily catches at my pond have gone from and average of 35 a night to 20 and the larger 5" craws are fewer in numbers while the smaller 3" numbers are increasing (percentage-wise). I am seeing no improvement in water clarity which is odd. I have had very little run-off in the past few weeks and I keep taking the craws out.

I'm not sure at what point to stop removing them. I was hoping to see water conditions improve and use that as a guide. Like you, I plan to keep removing them until I see a drastic reduction in catch rates or water clarity improves.

You might look around your area for a bait vendor/farmer and make a little hobby money. With the amount of craws you're getting...it might be worth someone's while to come get some. Crawdads are about impossible to source around here because the re-introduction of otters has cleaned out most rearing ponds.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523293 07/06/20 10:04 AM
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My wife would be boiling those up to eat. Our local scuba diving club used to do a "crawfish hunt" at a local lake at night. Some would scuba and get the larger specimens in several feet of water. Others like myself that had small kids at the time just snorkeled with my son and picked up many, many small ones. Had prizes for "most", "largest", etc.

After the "weigh in" they were all dropped into a large kettle with some crab boil spices and were consumed. At the time I was not much for lobster as I was not much of a seafood person back then so for me they were just "ok". But my wife that loves lobster could have eaten her weight in them I think (only a slight exaggeration).

She previously had tried crawfish in the south and never liked them. Not sure why. But these caught and boiled fresh were excellent.

Dropped live into a boiling pot of water with spices you like. Boiled till they turn bright red. Twist off the tail and eat the meat and the more adventurous "suck" the eyes and head. Oh, forgot. Clean the larger ones by removing the antenna and sticking it up the butt and pull out the "guts".

Might give them a try if you haven't.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523360 07/08/20 12:43 AM
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I've ate about all I can handle at this point John!
242lbs as of today removed with nothing really slowing down but "I think" the clarity is slightly better.
My local Game Warden is helping me find folks within the dept wanting some craws for eating.
I have only thrown back about 20lbs of "smaller" craws.. less than the 3" mark (visual guess).
I have to wonder what all is affected by having this much Non-fish biomass present?????????
I have built 2 more traps and am running 6 now and todays last dump was about 7 gallons worth-no water.
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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523364 07/08/20 05:31 AM
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Snipe,

The clearing of your water is a sign that you are making progress

It's great that you have doing measurements of your crawdad catch and sharing with us here. That's a remarkable weight of them from a 3/4 acre pond (322 lbs/acre) so far. Its remarkable for a number of reasons but particularly because that the weight is high proportion of what the pond could carry ... even without fish. Northerns can reach >3" by the end of their first summer, so these are at least a year old.

Given the proportion of smaller ones in the creel survey (20 lbs released to 242 lbs harvested), I think that you have a strong year class and that the presence of so many large crawdads has prevented good recruitment of smaller ones in this growing season. What you want of course is the opposite where there is a modest population of adults and a bumper crop of juveniles. In any event, the management you are doing is spot on. Going forward you should be able to control them with a Fall harvest annually. So next year if you don't catch a lot of adults in the fall, then the fish are letting fewer crawdads make it to adulthood and the YOY crawdads are being utilized by your fish.

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523370 07/08/20 07:32 AM
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I put a bunch of tiny craws in my RES/SMB pond this spring because of the bushy pondweed which was terrible last year. Since putting in 4 grass carp last fall the pond is almost absent of the weed now which has amazed me how fast the carp grew and how fast the weed went away. Now the grass carp come running when I feed the SMB and they appear to be abut two feet long. Never say one as long as there was lots of bushy pondweed left.

So now I'm hoping putting in the craws was not a mistake. Hope I do not run into the problem Snipe has. One thing about it that may be positive is since the bushy pondweed is about gone the crays will be more exposed to the SMB. But I also have quite a lot of rock piles and rock lining the edge of the pond.

Wish I would have only put two grass carp in the one acre instead of 4.

We will see.

These ponds continue to be a learning process.

Last edited by snrub; 07/08/20 07:33 AM.

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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523372 07/08/20 07:54 AM
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Could you post some photos of your water so we could all see what your turbidity looks like??

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523390 07/08/20 12:54 PM
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As requested....

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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523391 07/08/20 01:22 PM
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That is a lot of craws. FYI ,

Add this to your considerations.

Abstract.�We attempted to control a population of papershell crayfish (Orconectes immunis) in an 11-hectare fish-rearing impoundment in Jackson County, Wisconsin, by using traps and by stocking largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Crayfish were harvested with traps during the summer of 1985, and the pond was stocked with 386 largemouth bass (mean weight, 1.1 kg) in spring 1986. The pond was drained in the fall of 1985 and 1986, and crayfish burrow counts were made to estimate the population. In 1985, we trapped more than 18,000 crayfish, of which 72% were adult males. Trapping had minor effect on the young-of-the-year crayfish. In 1986, the crayfish population was reduced by 98%, predation by largemouth bass being the probable major cause of the reduction.
















Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523395 07/08/20 02:39 PM
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Snipe when I was younger I would have had a blast at your place. I have always loved catching them. We have some in our pond but nothing like this in the picture. I can see how being a pond owner they could suck. How bout a couple flatheads.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523398 07/08/20 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Snipe
May try a piece of fish or chicken leftovers or something. Snakes have always worked great for us in traps but it's Russian roulette trying to actually find a rattler-which usually doesn't take much looking.. not many garters and I leave the bull snakes alone because they are too beneficial.

+1 to snakes for crawfish bait. I've had two northern water snakes drowned after slithering into the mini-B looking for a free lunch. They worked really well in the crawfish trap.

I tried some raw chicken necks. Not so good, so I let em sit in the sun on the dock for a day. They were a little better after that but still not great.

Best thing I've tried so far is the carcass of a catfish after the fillets were removed.

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523413 07/09/20 12:32 AM
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Running total weight 255 end of today. Only 13lbs but discovered a ty-wrapped sock with a handful of fish food (old bag of an off-brand I got at our farm store) goes to mush and smells like grain alcohol and craws do not like it. Fresh food and loads of craws again.
I had a thought today about how many pounds of this "not-so-whippy" fish food I'm dissolving into my pond...what kind of intense nutrient load am I adding!!??!!


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523423 07/09/20 10:16 AM
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The #1 predator of crawfish in most wild habitat here is bowfin. They have a strong preference for crawfish. Much more than does pickerel, LMB, or Gar.

Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523426 07/09/20 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Snipe
...I have to wonder what all is affected by having this much Non-fish biomass present?????????...

I have wondered the same thing at my craw-heavy pond. Surely they are competing for dissolved oxygen, adding to the ammonia levels, and reducing plant life. On the flip side..they keep the FA to a minimum, provide forage for the fish that can eat them, and make for some delighted friends and family who like crawdad boils. But,like you, I am removing as many as I can until something improves.

Originally Posted by Snipe
...I had a thought today about how many pounds of this "not-so-whippy" fish food I'm dissolving into my pond...what kind of intense nutrient load am I adding!!??!!

I'm not 100% sure I follow, but if you are not throwing the left over sock bait back into the pond...the amount of crawdads you have would process a dead cow in no time. I suspect the craws utilize any form of food that gets in the water. On top of that, with the amount of craws your are removing...that would surely offset the minor nutrient load from bait escaping consumption.

Originally Posted by ryjohn
The #1 predator of crawfish in most wild habitat here is bowfin. They have a strong preference for crawfish. Much more than does pickerel, LMB, or Gar.

The Bowfin is apparently native to the Mississippi Lowlands...I'd consider adding one to my pond, but I have lived in Missouri all my life and have never seen one. Do they do well in small BOW's.


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Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Quarter Acre #523429 07/09/20 12:56 PM
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I believe they are native through much of the eastern half of the USA and quite far north. I caught them in the Great Lakes area where I grew up. Someone mentioned catfish as the best predator option for craws, but we have channel, blue and flathead cats here and they are nowhere near as attracted to crawfish as are the bowfin (called grennel down here). They do very well in small bows and even ponds. But I wouldn’t want more than one male as they are a voracious too predator that will likely move on to eating your fish when their preferred crawfish are gone

Last edited by ryjohn; 07/09/20 01:21 PM.
Re: Thoughts on Crawdad removal
Snipe #523446 07/09/20 08:46 PM
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Snipe, try giving Stacy at Stubby Steves a call about your predicament. IIRC they make Stubby Steves that the lobstermen use in their traps and it lasts a LONG time and they have great success. I think it's already in a bag and all they do is hang/tie it in the lobster pot.

I bought a couple hundred pounds of White River Craws this spring for customers that wanted to add crawfish to their ponds. They ain't bad to eat too!!

As for the fish food question, I noticed a reduction in FA in my personal pond when I switched to Optimal. More gets turned to fish flesh than passes through the fish to feed the nutrient load in the pond........


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by Bobbss - 08/05/20 09:36 PM
Building new forage mini pond
by Bill Cody - 08/05/20 09:34 PM
Restoring a bluegill pond
by canyoncreek - 08/05/20 09:29 PM
Clear woods before digging, or at the same time?
by Steve_ - 08/05/20 06:39 PM
1/8 Acre Mountain Creek Fed Pond
by CityDad - 08/05/20 06:36 PM
Tilapia Harvest
by bcraley - 08/05/20 03:59 PM
Digital thermometer
by NEDOC - 08/05/20 02:59 PM
Pond Redo
by Augie - 08/05/20 12:45 PM
Cloverleaf traps
by RAH - 08/05/20 12:36 PM
Crawdads...Free to a Good Home!
by Matzilla - 08/05/20 10:49 AM
Newly Uploaded Images
Gast Pump Housing
Gast Pump Housing
by RWoodshvac, July 4
dam blowout/convert to spillway
dam blowout/convert to spillway
by drrehak, June 30
Transport Cooler
Transport Cooler
by Shorty, June 7
Fish Habitat or Fish Trap
Fish Habitat or Fish Trap
by Phoenix, May 30
Fawn Pic
Fawn Pic
by bryani289swmi, May 28

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