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Bream, other fish guys

JayJay Senior MemberPosts: 4,372 Senior Member
I have a pond on the farm and have been "pondering" some things lately. I'll try to give a brief description and history and get to the point.

The pond is somewhere around 3/4 acre. It's been there for about 30 years and has been dry for about 7 or 8 years now. It was originally fed by irrigation water out of canals. In the river valley where we are, it's a farming area and fields are irrigated through a system of canals that come off of the river. A canal is in place to feed water to the pond. There is only water available during summer months. During the winter, the irrigation canals are shut off and the river drops when they close the dam up north. For many years, the pond was kept full during the summer and dropped during the winter. Quite a few years ago, an uncle of mine closed off the canal and had an old 2 inch well replaced and started keeping the pond full using well water. The pond also had lily pads in it, which were contained in buckets on the bottom of the pond.

At one time, the pond had some nice fish in it. Up to about 5 pound largemouth bass, some crappie, 8-10 pound catfish and a lot of bluegill. There were also some koi in there and a few carp. We ordered catfish and hybrid bluegill from a fish farm and stocked it and we brought back bass we had caught elsewhere to stock it with them. It was going good for many years. Bass and catfish were spawning and reproducing every year.

Fast forward, the pond was fed with well water for a few years and a beaver got in the pond. My uncle thought it was cool and left it to live in the pond. That was a mistake. One that I took care of when nobody else was looking.... The beaver cut down several trees, but it's worse damage was getting the lily pad roots out of the buckets and spreading them all over the pond. Almost the entire pond was covered with lily pads, the pond didn't circulate, started growing moss and algae and all the fish started dying. Not knowing what else to do, we let it go dry so we could kill and remove the lily pads, clear the fallen trees and generally get it cleaned up.

Now today. The pond is still dry. We've cleaned a lot of the fallen trees out of it, but still have some left to do. The lily pads are long gone. We are still in a drought, so filling it back up with water from the canal is not an option right now and filling it with a 2 inch well isn't going to work either. But, when we do start getting a little more irrigation water (maybe next year, who knows), I'd like to get it filled back up, then maybe maintain it with the well a little and feed it irrigation water when we can. There is one dock going out into the pond that I want to extend out and put a little gazebo at the end while it's dry. Other than that, I'd just like to get it going so people can enjoy fishing in it again.

Which brings me to this post. Any thoughts or ideas on getting it ready? Things I can do to help get fish going again and prevent problems that might come up? I've heard of lining the pond with straw. Not sure about that. If money allows, I'd like to put in circulation and aerating system in it to keep the water fresh and circulating. I also plan to have some sort of structure on the bottom for bass and other fish. Just wondering if there's some things I can look at as I try to get this thing back in shape and ready so when the water situation looks better, I can be ready to get it going. Might be next spring, might be the year after. I have no way of knowing. But I'll be moving before long and trying to help with the farm from a distance, so I'd like to start getting some work done on it now so there will be less weekend work for me to do later.


  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 2,698 Senior Member
    Create some bedding areas using some small gravel. Some structure will help the small fry hide and survive.
  • MichakavMichakav Senior Member Posts: 2,907 Senior Member
    Agreed. Bedding areas and structure. Be careful with the catfish though. They can decimate other small fish. We use bluegill and trout heads to catch big cats here in PA.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,147 Senior Member
    I know of some farm ponds in KS that have several 1930/40s vintage automobiles in them for structure....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • waipapa13waipapa13 Senior Member Posts: 917 Senior Member
    As bad as it sounds cars and human detritus can make for pretty good structure for any fish. When we were kids we dumped about 10 yards of old broken six inch clay pipe being replaced by the district council into our local creek and mangroves for eel habitat, I wouldn't do it now but it worked REALLY well and made for an easy catch.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,894 Senior Member
    Pond management's not really in my wheelhouse. To manage a pond well takes intense work: fish removal, possible fertilizing, checking water quality...

    I'd try and remove as much muck around the edges as I could. You want sand for the fish to spawn on. Gravel, as has been mentioned, is good, too. Chimney flue liners make good catfish spawning sites. Not a fan of cars for structure as they contain oil, and the could muck things up. Concrete rubble's not bad. Trees are good while they last... they'll decay then break down. I'd plant some shoreline vegetation, yes, even some lily pads. An aeration/circulation pump is not a bad idea at all: I've known of some folks who use pto-driven portable pumps in a pinch. As far as straw goes, I've heard of using barley straw to control algae.

    Here's some good resources for your reading:

    And because you're in Texas... some local info.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,372 Senior Member
    Thanks guys. We did have an area of it with sand and gravel before and the fish did use it for nests and spawning. Those hybrid bluegill got pretty big and would hang out there. It was fun fly fishing for bluegill. And kept the kids entertained for hours.

    We have some 8" concrete tubes around the pond also for cover. Also have some big rocks piled up around one end. I guess lily pads might be ok again as long as they stay in thier buckets. Once they get out, they invade the whole pond. Maybe wrapping the buckets with plastic mesh or chicken wire would help.

    I also considered digging a deeper hole in one area for a catfish hole. Right now, it's about 6 feet deep at the big end and maybe 8 or 9 feet at the narrow end. Thought about digging about a 3 foot deep by 20 foot wide hole in the big end.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,372 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Whoa. You live in Texas and have a pond? Or did you just translate the the native Texan word "tank" so that the rest of the world would know what you are referring to?

    Yeah. Pretty much translated it from Texan to English. Ha!
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,372 Senior Member
    Thanks for the info and links bream. I'll read those when I get back on my desktop and can actually see. Lol
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,894 Senior Member
    That's a good idea, the digging out a hole. Relief is good for a lot of stuff: it might make a summer place for bigger bass and panfish. Also, if you can make some "shelfs" in the banks those are good. Bulrush of some sort is also good to plant: it makes good fish cover. DO NOT plant cattails. While native they can take over, are difficult to control, fast-growing, and their areas can become anoxic due to shedding leaves that just accumulate and turn to muck. Same with pickerelweed.

    I would advise some sort of vegetative cover, as it's a pretty natural area for fishes to hang out.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,372 Senior Member
    Cattail was definitely an enemy we fought before. We always kept them pulled before they could get established.

    The pond created its own natural shelves around the bank before. It's mostly clay and the waves washed out a shelf about a foot down and maybe 8" deep. Most of the banks were pretty vertical and that's where the shelves formed. Will try to keep those going. I'll look into the vegetation you mentioned. I might be ok with lily pads again. They were ok until the beaver spread them around. And they were cool looking. Flowers opened up every morning and closed every evening. Used to catch some nice crappie by dropping live minnows down between the pads.

    I'll take some pics of it in a bit.

    Edit - guess what I was talking about wasn't really a shelf now that I think about it. More like a dug out hollow around the pond bank.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,894 Senior Member
    Relief is what you want. Contour. If you've gut dug outs, they're good, too. What you want to avoid is a vertical, box-cut edge. A slope is preferable, but one with more shape can be even better.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,372 Senior Member
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 14,293 Senior Member
    Fish pond=watering hole=deer hunting. That is going to be nice when you clean it up and you can do whatever you want when it is that dry, get the infrastructure for the dock and that stone wall/patio done right and you will be good for a long time, especially since you had it going good before.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • JKPJKP Senior Member Posts: 2,567 Senior Member
    Anyone have tips for killing lily pads other than pulling them up? We have a pond that's about five acres full of them and need to cull it back.
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,894 Senior Member
    JKP wrote: »
    Anyone have tips for killing lily pads other than pulling them up? We have a pond that's about five acres full of them and need to cull it back.
    Find out what kind of lily they are, then use herbicide. They have tubers and/or roots that can make pulling them difficult. Not sure, but you might have to have an applicator's license to put out on water.

    I'm just here for snark.
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