Hello, I am new here (for actually creating a post.) I have followed this site for years and appreciate all I’ve learned from reading others posts. I live in western NY, and own 3 ponds. We have cold snowy winters and warm summers. I have drained a small bullhead pond and removed all the bullheads. This week we are redigging the pond. If it goes as planned it will be a 1.3 acre pond. The plan is to make it 15 foot deep max with the appropriate 1:3 slope for about an acre and then a smaller section that will be shallower. I plan on adding artificial structure, possibly lean some logs up along some slopes and put in rocks and pea gravel. I will do fathead minnows, golden shiners, crayfish and bluegills. Question I have, will smallmouth bass and channel catfish do well together? If so, I will add them after the pond gets established. One of my other small ponds have largemouth and channels. I just like catching smallmouth bass over largemouths. They put up a better fight and I love catching channel cats. My daughter and I fish a lot and we are getting channel cats close to 10lbs. That pond is only 1/3 acre, 9 foot deep and is aerated 24/7. We also supplement feed. I plan on doing the same for the new pond.
Also, my land has a lot of clay and the ponds tend to stay turbid due to clay particles suspending throughout the summer. Those ponds are also very old. Will a new pond have less particles stirred up in the water? I’m really excited about this build and what’s to come!
I also plan on taking pics and showing the process for you all to see!
1.) Looking at your photo, I do not see an obvious waterway running into the location of the expanded pond. Did the old bullhead pond stay full from surface runoff? Did you supplement from a water well? If yes to either of those, do you have enough water to keep the expanded pond at a good level?
2.) SMB and CC (channel catfish) are both top predators. I am NOT an expert, and they can do Ok together, but it is a more difficult balancing act to manage a pond with two competing top predators. There is a chance that the CC will significantly out-compete your SMB.
There have been several recent discussions on Pond Boss about alternative SMB ponds, including some that exclude BG from the forage options. You might search and read some of those?
3.) Suspended clay has two main sources. First, fish such as hungry carp or bullheads constantly stirring up the bottom. Second, a water chemistry situation that your clay particles keep a slight electrical charge and therefore repel other clay particles and stay in suspension.
I think a new pond would have worse suspension problems initially, unless you bring in dedicated compaction equipment. If your main problem was the bullheads, then your waters should clear up over time. If it is water chemistry, you can fix that at a later date - or run a jar test now on your bullhead pond. Some of the pond chemistry amendments are definitely easier to do in a dry pond as you are finishing the expansion.
4.) What are you using your other pond for at the current time? A channel catfish only pond with an automatic feeder would yield big fish fairly quickly.
Thanks for the quick reply I appreciate the advice. To answer your questions, it is mostly runoff. In the wood line there is a low area funneling into that spot. It keeps the pond full. The only time it’s not flowing in is about this time of year. That gave me the opportunity to pump all the water out of the old bullhead pond. I’m not too concerned with the water levels staying stable once it’s full. I may even get some springs that pop up. As far as putting the two types of fish together, I guess is the reason I’m asking what others think, so that way I’ll know what to exactly do with my other pond that has largemouth and cats. It would be a great idea to just do channel cats in one and maybe bass in the other. Still trying to decide. As for the clay in the pond, I believe it’s a combination of water chemistry and fish. All my ponds get a little turbid. The bullheads definitely kept the pond really brown. So I’m glad to get rid of them and they were really stunted. Mostly just using my ponds for fishing and relaxing! I’ll definitely be researching more as far as cats and smallmouth go! Thank you for your time and answers!!
It sounds like your planned pond expansion should have enough watershed to stay full most of the year. If it only draws down at the end of summer, then that sounds like a very good pond to me.
If you already have a CC/LMB pond, then that would make me lean towards NOT having CC in the SMB pond! Further, you could always add some CC brooders later to the SMB pond if you don't like how it is working out. It is much more difficult to later remove a fish species that you do not want!
FishinRod, That is true I can always add the CC at the end. I’m definitely leaning towards the smallmouth! Thank you for the advice! Much appreciated! Like I said I’ll update when the project begins this week!
Look forward to the updates and watching your project move forward!
P.S. I have relatives in your neck of the woods (Orchard Park).
Instead of building a pond, they bought an old cabin about 4 hours north in Canada on a beautiful lake. They have been improving the cabin and family recreation options for over forty years. I wish I could make it up to visit them at the cabin much more often!
If going with SMB and CC, I don't think there is any large overlap between the 2. SMB have an extremely diverse diet and do well in a pond with 12-14" visibility and will thrive on many things growing in the pond. CC and SMB could do well together if the CC are not too numerous-not because of competition but because of their ability in numbers to churn the water up. Catch 22 stocking craws here.. CC will smack some but to have some remain for smb you need some rock riprap, rockpiles and probably some brush piles. Getting vegetation established with craws is tough to do so I would probably start minnows the first year with an attempt at starting some beneficial vegetation during that first year also. 15-20 CC per acre and 60-70 SMB per acre after a full summer of minnow reproduction and I too, would likely go even lower on the CC. After 1 year with SMB I would add 4-5lbs of craws per acre .. You can grow HEAVY SMB if you manage for that.
First, I am a pond neophyte, but love them. I'm same as you would rather catch SM than LM and enjoy catching big cats and eating them. I think CC grow way faster than SMB and eat way more. Like has been said you already have a good CC pond just fish them there. It seems CC stir the bottom up more too making water look turbid. SMB do great with YP and they might be a better substitute for the BG.
Hello everyone! My pond is finished and ended up being just shy of an acre and 10-11 foot deep. Ran into the clay above shale so we could not go as deep. But either way, it came out great! I made fish structures and put in stumps and a few boulders. I’m just having trouble sharing the pictures. Max file size says 2mb and each picture is bigger than that? Not sure how to share them. Thanks!
Some shales are fractured and leak, some form perfect seals. Did the shale look fractured when you exposed portions in the pond bottom? How much clay blanket did you leave on the shale? Did you leave the clay "virgin" or scarified and compacted?
(I am asking all of these questions because I frequently post replies when people run into tough soil conditions for their ponds.)
P.S. There is a new thread about posting high-resolution photos. Pond Boss people love to see pics of new ponds!
We just scratched the surface of the clay and it’s in a small spot. It went from brown clay to a patch of grey clay that felt like paste when wet. I believe you would say It is “virgin”. that’s when the digging stopped. It was left alone for several days and dried kind of crusty if that makes sense. We didn’t actually hit shale, but a couple small pieces were mixed in the grey clay there. I am probably 3-400 yards off of Lake Erie, so we were cautious of that. As far as being fractured or anything, we didn’t go that deep, so I don’t know. I didn’t want to take the risk. I pumped about 1-2 feet of water in it last week with water from another pond of mine and the water level hasn’t gone down. So I feel I’m lucky there. I hope that helps answer your questions! I will post pictures in a new thread soon then!