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First pond - what should I know?
#527051 10/25/20 07:24 AM
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I’m planning to put in my first pond next year. I’ve spent countless hours over several years lurking around this forum in an attempt to educate myself. This pond is part of a larger more comprehensive wildlife management plan on my 22 acres in the hills of KY an hour-ish South of Cincinnati. I’m having the property logged this fall/winter as it’s 50% monoculture of old (75 years+) eastern red cedar. There is good hardwood regeneration trying to compete, but those cedars make a lot of shade. Naturally, the best hardwoods on the property are in the areas I want to clear for food plots and a pond. I hate to lose them, but the money to offset the construction will be some relief. smile

The pond will be located in a relatively steep ravine. Size is tough to tell with all the trees and vegetation in the valley, but I’m guessing 1/3 to 1/2 acre. Depth will likely be 14-15 feet before the dam in order to keep it less than 20 feet to the toe (as the valley falls away). Soil type is good according to NRCS. Watershed is 12 wooded acres. The creek bed in the bottom of the ravine is almost never flowing, but holds pools for weeks after rains. The dam will be used to create vehicle access to the previously inaccessible back half of the property.

My original plan was to rent a D5 for a week and let the neighbor put a dam in. He’s dug ponds before and says he can do it in a weekend. There’s some additional clearing and road grading I need to do as well. However, my neighbor is busy and I hate to be a bother. So I talked to a contractor about cost for him to put it in yesterday afternoon. He had very different things to say vs. the neighbor. Neighbor says a key way is unnecessary where we are; Contractor says it’s crucial. Neighbor builds dams you can barely climb; Contractor wants a slope I can drive to keep it mowed. Neighbor says he can do it in a weekend with a D5; Contractor plans to bring in an excavator, rent a D8 (he owns a D5 and says it’s not big enough for this job), and potentially a sheep’s foot. He’s estimating a week rather than a weekend. Obviously, this brings me to cost. $3000 vs. $20,000.

There are some other details I’d like opinions on as well:

Overflow - I’m liking the idea of an 8 inch siphon overflow from pond dam piping. Contractor suggested I go at least 12 inch. There will be an emergency spillway as well.

Stocking - There’s a lot of rock where I’m building that I plan to push aside and push back into the pond as structure. I’d like to attempt an initial stocking of SMB and RES only. The thought process is neither are likely to outcompete one another and have stunted growth quickly. And I can always toss BG and LMB in to outcompete if I decide to go the more typical route later. For forage, I was planning fathead minnows and - HEAR ME OUT - rusty crayfish. I know rusty crayfish are the devil, but they are the native species where I am. They’re likely already in the creek bed where I’m planning to put this pond. And I have faith in SMB being effective rusty crayfish predators.

I’m leaning toward using a contractor and getting the piece of mind that a proper key way and gentle dam slope would provide. What should I ask this contractor? What am I not thinking of that I should be? In other words, what do you wish you had known before your first pond? What mistakes am I about to make?

Thanks!

Matt

Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527053 10/25/20 07:51 AM
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Matt
I’m not a pro but I would be leaning toward the contractor..... harder to fix an uh-oh than to do it right the first time

Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527054 10/25/20 09:03 AM
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Go with the pro on this. Your already learning towards it. If it's in your budget to hire it done by all means. Save youself the headache. Get references of ponds he has built. Lots of people out there talk a good game. DONT PAY UP FRONT. Just hearing a store on here last couple weeks of a fella getting scammed outta $$$$$. Can us updated on how it goes.


The people who say I can't do it can just sit the @^#% down and watch me. Friends call me Rusto I also subscribe to pond boss mag. http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=504716#Post504716
Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527056 10/25/20 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Ohriverrat
I’m planning to put in my first pond next year. I’ve spent countless hours over several years lurking around this forum in an attempt to educate myself.
Ahh, so it was you.

If you don't have a copy of "Perfect pond: Want one?" get it. It is the best $27 you will ever spend towards obtaining a pond.

Quote
Contractor plans to bring in an excavator, rent a D8 (he owns a D5 and says it’s not big enough for this job), and potentially a sheep’s foot. He’s estimating a week rather than a weekend. Obviously, this brings me to cost. $3000 vs. $20,000.
IMHO you definitely want to figure on a (vibrating, preferably) sheep's foot roller to compress the dam core, DIY or contracted.

Quote
I’m leaning toward using a contractor and getting the piece of mind that a proper key way and gentle dam slope would provide. What should I ask this contractor?
How many ponds has he built, especially in similar terrain, that he can refer you to? You want to look at his prior work and talk with the owners, see what he did right and what he did wrong. (If our excavator was still in business, I would be happy to talk to potential customers about his work.)


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
-S. M. Stirling
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Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527057 10/25/20 09:58 AM
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From here it sounds like the contractor knows a lot more about building a dam than your neighbor and I like what I'm hearing from the contractor. Yes to the fish, I'd throw some Fatheads and Golden Shiners in there too, if the Shiners get to reproducing too much you can toss some Hybrid Striped Bass in there. Think about throwing some Yellow Perch in the mix too.


www.hoosierpondpros.com


http://www.pondboss.com/subscribe.asp?c=4
3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527059 10/25/20 10:12 AM
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Those are good suggestions. I’ll be asking him for references. I’d really like to get a couple quotes, but it’s tough to find pond builders in this area. Or maybe I’m just too dumb to locate them? Anyone have any suggestions in the Northern KY area?

Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527069 10/25/20 01:25 PM
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I know just about enough about this to be dangerous but you mentioned rock in the area which means not coring the dam is not even a viable option, I just had a friend help me construct a big dam, a couple years ago, that was over 200ft wide at the base, 15A lake, we never did use a sheepsfoot roller and he never does, builds a lot of huge dams, including NRCS dams.
Mine is tight as a drum, but we did hit some rock in places and had a core nearly 15 ft deep in places with some serious gravel seams that had water pouring thru them, I'm convinced it would have leaked thru that seam if we had not eliminated it. Good Luck!


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
Re: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527096 10/26/20 05:59 AM
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Slope can be real handy for anything that falls in and needs to get out. I would go with the pro AFTER checking references.


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: First pond - what should I know?
Ohriverrat #527103 10/26/20 10:41 AM
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You all inspired me to look harder and I found another contractor to talk to today. Same price but a lot more experience building ponds and wants to use a sheepsfoot roller. I’ll be asking for references from both. They both got nervous when I talked about a siphon system. As much as I like the idea of drawing oxygen depleted water from the bottom, they’ve got me thinking that I may be asking for trouble later when debris or silt clogs the intake at the bottom. Would love thoughts from those with more experience than myself.


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