A Perfect Pond
soil and cover while maximizing shoreline length. Catfishers and bank anglers are likely to prefer areas with a clean, hard bottom that slopes fairly quickly to deeper water, so those areas are excavated down to clay. This clean or relatively featureless area typically is located near the dam.
In other areas, we leave a 1- to 3-foot-deep layer of rich organic soils for aquatic vegetation. The soil may be pushed into humps or divided by trenches or channels. These areas become the production zones of the pond where aquatic plants, bugs and fish live and grow in large numbers.
The bottom of the pond away from the dam should be contoured to a more gradual slope. These large areas of shallow water (less than 4 feet deep) can be planted with several species of native aquatic vegetation. Spawning beds of pea gravel should be placed nearby.
In our lake project, for example, half the lake bottom has a gentle slope, creating shallow water habitat, and about 40 percent of the shoreline harbors aquatic vegetation. We built spawning beds from 2 to 5 feet deep to provide spawning habitat at different depths. This encourages the hatching and rearing of sport fish to take place near shallow cover where a buffet of aquatic invertebrates helps boost their growth.
Another important benefit of leaving a layer of rich soil in the pond is providing nutrients for planktonic algae and zooplankton growth. This is the base of the food chain in your pond and directly relates to the pounds of sport fish your pond can grow without supplemental feeding or fertilizing.
Think of Fishing
Designing your pond so that deep water is close to open and easy-to-reach areas near the dam and shallow fertile water is more difficult to fish provides anglers with choices. Energetic anglers looking for big fish and quality habitat can walk or boat to distant cover while anglers who wish to avoid snags or who like to bottom fish can stay near the dam. Weed-free areas can be easily maintained with limited herbicides or a light stocking of grass carp after beneficial vegetation is established throughout the pond.
Covering parts of the shoreline and dam with rock, although expensive, adds a great deal of longevity to pond improvements because the rock reduces wave erosion and muskrat burrows. Rock can also be combined with excess clay and soil from the basin excavation to create jetties—20- to 80-yard peninsulas