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#555249 01/30/23 09:06 PM
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It has been a few years since I have been around. We sold our property in North Texas that had the single half acre pond, so I have been pondless for a while. I have missed it. We are now in the process of building a house on our family cattle ranch in far Western North Texas. The good news is that this ranch has 20 or so ponds ranging in size from 1/2 acre to 40 acres. The bad news is that all of them are primarily for cattle to drink. However, all of them do have fish to some degree. Most of the smaller ponds are crammed full of stunted bass and have tons of vegetation due to the presence of the cows. I am excited to fish each of these ponds systematically to discover exactly what is in each. I will use this thread to possibly chronicle my efforts. I may try to manage the one or two ponds closest to my house site as best as I can around the cows.

Any advice on how to manage ponds that cows have access to? Keeping the cows out is not an option as it is a working cattle ranch. Most of the ponds are fairly deep to ensure they don't go empty and are positioned well to catch a lot of water. Most typically have one shallow spot the cows use to get in and the other 3/4 of the pond is relatively undisturbed. Would adding grass carp to these ponds help manage some of the overabundance of vegetation? Some type of solar aeration? Any other tips? Does anyone else manage any cattle ponds?


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Fence off the pond and install a nose pump for the cattle. https://www.postregister.com/farman...0607f05-0589-5158-904a-1254dec68619.html

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Some of the biggest problems Ive seen with cattle ponds is the way they use them, not only do they drink out of them but around here, for a lot of time thru the summer, they stand in them to stay cool, tearing up the banks, stomping up the shallow perimeter, keeping the water churned up really bad, and tons of chit, which messes up the natural chemistry in water. I have seen some fish survive in them but seems limited, and I always contributed that to their ability to successfully spawn with the cattle disturbing the spawn sites.

Hopefully someone in here has been able to find a decent way for cattle and fish to coexist.

Is there any way you could fence of some of the bigger ones and pump or siphon water to the cattle in a tank behind it? or even just allow them to get to a corner of the pond for access, the tank idea would be a lot better for the cattle too, a buried tank will keep the water cool and clean, without the agitation that cattle create in a pond?


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
RAH #555254 01/31/23 09:58 AM
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Yeah, fencing off part of the ponds is not an option. The ponds exist for the cattle.

I did size all of the ponds last night using an app. The smallest ponds are right at an acre with most being in the 2-3 acre range other than the one large lake. Most of the ponds are in heavily wooded areas where the cows and people can not access 90% of the bank. I will have to do a lot of fishing from a boat or kayak. The cows can only get to a small "beach" area of each pond and it slopes off pretty quick so they can't get very far out either. So, the impact of the cows, other than the extra nutrients, is limited to a small "corner" of each pond.

I have caught some very nice fish out of some of these ponds. I don't know how they got in there or when/if they were ever officially stocked. Since they are in heavily wooded areas most of them have standing tree stumps in them and are fairly deep. Verifying depth will be a part of my ongoing evaluation of each pond. The cows are also rotated around the ranch pretty often from pasture to pasture so the ponds do have periods of time to "recover."

I know it will be a constant struggle to do anything around the cows. But it could be a fun research project. Would the grass carp be of any use to help with vegetation or would they be a waste of money? I will try to get some pictures of each of the ponds next time I am in town checking on the house build. Any more advice would be appreciated. Just know on this ranch the cows come first.

Last edited by N.TexasHalfAcre; 01/31/23 10:08 AM.

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Triploid Grass Carp will help if excess vegetation is the issue, but just watch out that you don't stock too many. It's better to understock than overstock.

As for aeration, unless you go the battery backup for night time running, I don't think it's worth the expense. If you had access to grid power that would be a different thing, even if grid power was within 1/2 mile of the tanks. You can trench in airline and run it a LONG ways underground.


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Originally Posted by N.TexasHalfAcre
Yeah, fencing off part of the ponds is not an option. The ponds exist for the cattle.
But do they exist to be drinking water or swimming holes for the cattle?


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Even though this is family land, my wife and I are not involved in the family cattle business. Like I said, no one else fishes these ponds or cares about the fish in them other than me. So, adding fences would be seen as an unnecessary expense and inconvenience to those that do take care of the cattle. There are also ranch roads around each pond and on top of the dams that fences would interfere with. Fencing just is not an option. But, like I said before, the cattle can only access a small portion so about 75% of each pond has minimal impact from the cattle.

esshup, what is the stocking rate of grass carp per acre?

Last edited by N.TexasHalfAcre; 01/31/23 11:42 AM.

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Northwest TX likely has huge swings in pond levels based on dry conditions. I think this makes fencing off cattle very difficult, and it probably amplifies the effect cattle have on water quality. Plus in there are ponds I'm guessing the acreage is in the thousands and the cattle operation is pretty big, not something the average guy can work with. But, if you have multiple ponds in the same pasture maybe you can fence one off and make a project out of it? Fence is more of a suggestion to cattle than a barrier. If they want through it they will get there. We have cattle and 6 ponds total. We have good fishing but each pond is different and has it's own personality.

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Opps, I posted a reply I started before seeing the update from the OP. Ignore my previous post.

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N.TX.Half Acre, in general, many of us feel the recommended per acre number of grass carp is too high (even though I can't recall the specific number).

Having said that, I would not put more than 1-2 grass carp per acre in any of the ponds. Maybe 3/acre if you've got a real bad vegetation problem, and in that pond, maybe it'd take 2-3 years to come under control.


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Sunil, I see what you mean. I just did a quick search on this forum and the recommendations for GC per acre are all over the map with as many as 10 per acre. I agree with you though that 1-2 iin these smaller ponds seems sufficient. I could always add more as needed down the road if 2 aren't cutting it.


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Originally Posted by N.TexasHalfAcre
esshup, what is the stocking rate of grass carp per acre?

Between 7 to 14 per vegetated acre depending on the amount of vegetation that you want controlled and the type of vegetation. It has to be a type that the TGC like to eat or they might cause other issues in the pond (turbid water, etc.). The other thing is to make sure that the Triploid Grass Carp that you stock are too big for the LMB to eat. We only stock TGC between 12"-14" (maybe larger if needed) to limit the LMB predation on the stocked fish. We rarely see LMB here in ponds that have weed problems that are larger than 5-6 pounds each.

We have stocked a number of ponds where the owner has said "We had them stocked last year but we never see them." When asked what size were stocked, and what size are the LMB in the pond, invariably the answer is "The bass are up to 5# and we stocked 6"-10" TGC because they were cheaper than the bigger ones." When we tell them that the reason why they are not seeing them is probably because they were eaten, their response usually is "Why didn't they tell me that they'd probably get eaten?". I'll explain to them that if you called and asked for a specific size of TGC, that is what they will bring, but typically if you ask them what size should you stock and how many, then you should get the correct size and amount.


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I went through some of my duck hunting pictures, the other main use for the ranch ponds, and found a few pictures that will give an idea of what the average pond on the ranch looks like. I will try to get some better pictures of more ponds next time I am out at the ranch.

Hawk Lake
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]Hawk Lake - 11-4-2017 (3) by North Texas Half Acre, on Flickr

Rock Tank
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]Rock Tank - 11-21-2018 by North Texas Half Acre, on Flickr

Coyote Tank
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]Coyote Tank - 12-24-2019 (2) by North Texas Half Acre, on Flickr

Spring Tank
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]Spring Tank - 11-10-2020 by North Texas Half Acre, on Flickr


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Looks awesome!!!


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The shorelines look in pretty good shape for having cattle accessing them.


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A single wire electric fence on 1/4 or 1/3 of a couple of the bigger tanks shorelines might help. I share half of my 5 acre pond with the cattle. They get half and I get the other half.

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Yes, they do a good job of rotating the cows around the ranch for grass purposes but I think it also allows the pond banks to recover and keep grass on them as well. When they built the ponds they also did a good job of giving the cows a big enough area to access the water but the rest of the banks drop off fairly quickly so the cows stay away from those areas.


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Unless there will be a heckuva lot of cattle, not sure I see a problem. Cows and water holes go together. They don’t seem to bother the fishery.

Of course, droughts like we have been having can change a lot of things. My 3 acre, now 1.5 acre, pond would be ripe for an oxygen crash if the cormorants hadn’t again thinned out most of the fish.

Where in West Texas? I’m originally from Muleshoe.


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
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Dave, we are near Graham. Not quite "West" Texas but yet barely in "North" Texas. I drove through the big city of Muleshoe about a month ago.


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Originally Posted by N.TexasHalfAcre
Dave, we are near Graham. Not quite "West" Texas but yet barely in "North" Texas. I drove through the big city of Muleshoe about a month ago.
Don't blink. You might miss it. wink


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Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
The shorelines look in pretty good shape for having cattle accessing them.


My experience is wind does bank erosion than cattle. If the banks are properly shaped, it's a nonissue.

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Our watershed had major erosion issues starting on the north bank. It was mostly wind related. Cattle are on the lake pasture for parts of the year, the south side doesn't have the same problems as the north. We have mostly south winds, to the point that every fruit tree I plant leans to the north.

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Originally Posted by jludwig
Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
The shorelines look in pretty good shape for having cattle accessing them.


My experience is wind does bank erosion than cattle. If the banks are properly shaped, it's a nonissue.

Good to hear. That gives me hope that I can somewhat manage the fishery around the cattle.


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Theo is right. It doesn’t take long. Of course, long to me was a helluva long time ago. I went “home” 2 years ago. Kinda depressing. The house had mostly fallen in and the garden/orchard acreage was mostly in cultivation and some large work shops. We had gardens, orchards, chicken and cow lots. Of course, it’s somebody else’s land to do with as he pleases.

Muleshoe is depressing. What was the Main Street is mostly deserted and buildings are fallen down.

I once read that you could never go “home”. I now understand why.


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

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