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Old 06-26-2006, 07:08 AM
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Update on my private fishing hole...

Some of you may remember when I posted last year about a pond my parents built on their property in upstate NY. I've attached a pic of it during construction again for reference. Sorry, no updated pics but the field around it has grown right up to the water's edge again. It's basically a big triangle and the edge closest to you in the photo has cattails all along it. The other two banks are pretty much clear of vegetation. My mom wanted a swimming hole so that is its primary purpose. It's 10-12' deep. She worked with the county (state?) soil conservation people on setting up the location and in general on everything she needs to do to keep it a clean and healthy pond she can swim in and that will sustain a fish population. This is a free service which is pretty cool.

A couple of months after it was built, I convinced my mom she needed to stock it with fish to keep it clean. So, off my mom and I went to a hatchery where we picked up 30 x 3" largemouth, 30 x 8" catfish, and 500 minnows. Everything except a few minnows made it home from the hatchery alive and were added in August last year I think. 5 x 10" long carp were also added this year in order to keep the vegetation in check.

I went for a visit this past weekend and I have to say the pond is thriving! The cattails harbor a lot of schools of juvenile minnows from the original ones breeding. There's so many that you can walk along the bank and they're almost continuous. No sign of the adult ones, but with that many young ones, I have to assume the adults are doing well. I didn't see any catfish at all, but that's not surprising. I'm sure they're hunkered down in deeper water. Now for the important part: largemouth bass. I saw about a dozen of them in the shallows near the cattails, and they were all about 8" long. In less than a year that's an amazing growth rate. All of the growth rates I found online are for the southern US and they consider an 8" fish at a year to be excellent growth, so if I'm getting that up north the pond must have abundant forage for them. There's hundreds of tadpoles and tiny frogs (<1 cm long) all around the pond, and I tried a little experiment. I captured a bunch of the small frogs on the bank and tossed them out into the water where a bunch of bass were. They nosed up a bit and looked at the frogs swimming around, but nobody ate any. They must have had very full bellies!

So all in all, it's a very successful pond building experiment so far, especially considering it's my first time doing anything like this. I'm still considering whether it would be a good idea to add a few panfish in a couple of years, but that can be dangerous since they can take over a pond. I'll definitely have to wait for the largemouth to get up to 12" or so before doing that, but at the rate they're going, that will easily be next year. The only other future plan for the pond is to add a floating dock to make it easier for my mom to get into and out of her swimming hole. That will also create a shade spot which will be good since there's really none right now, though the pond is deep enough that it doesn't really need it.
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Old 06-27-2006, 05:09 AM
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Add some bluegills. Bass love um and they thrive in farm ponds.

Phil
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