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A Perfect Pond

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2010

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area

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Pond Renovation

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Digging A Pond

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Dam Lined With Rocks

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Brushpiles

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Shoreline

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that reach toward the center of the lake. Cover the top 4 feet of jetties with a 2-foot blanket of rip-rap to keep them from eroding.

Jetties not only provide easy access to good fishing areas but also increase shoreline length and provide rocky cover, which produces more fish and invertebrates, especially crayfish. In our lake project, the shoreline measured 1,785 feet. Adding jetties and a small island increased the shoreline to 2,861 feet—a 38 percent increase in available shoreline and habitat for fish, invertebrates and anglers.

Woody habitat is also helpful. Use cedar trees and hardwood collected near the pond to build brush piles of various sizes for fish structure after earth moving is complete. We put at least two sizeable (25- to 40-foot diameter) brush piles per acre and placed them in water 2 to 8 feet deep. A variety of woody materials, combined with earth moving equipment, can be used to create many different kinds of fish habitat. A good rule of thumb is that the more cover you install the more fish the pond can support.

A perfect pond will stay productive for a long time. That’s because you will have made provisions for keeping as much soil as possible from the pond. Installing a silt basin directly upstream of the pond’s main stream channel or drainage area can be considered preventative maintenance. And it’s a relatively simple matter to clean out the silt basin every 10 to 15 years to keep it protecting your pond.

Fertilizing, straw mulching and seeding land around the pond—especially on the slopes draining toward the pond—helps soil from pouring in every time it rains. Fescue is the perfect grass for erosion control.

When the final grade is near completion, plug the dam with pure clay from the deepest part of the pond. Spread quality topsoil over the back of the dam repair, and complete any repairs or touch-up work on the front or back of the dam.

The fun part is about to begin. If the weather cooperates, it will soon be time for fish stocking. Typically the pond fills with water in a normal year without a problem, and in three to four years, the pond will be perfect, just as it was in the good old days.

Fishy Cover

Be creative when creating fishy cover for your pond. Many people use recycled Christmas trees, cut cedar trees, hardwood trees and wooden pallets for fish habitat, but almost anything will work as long as you keep it from floating around the pond. If you install fish habitat when the pond is dry, you can anchor it into the bottom with stakes or cable. If heavy equipment is available, you can arrange cedar trees into a dozer pile and cover the root mass with dirt to anchor the pile.

Once the pond is full, use cinder blocks or concrete anchors for brush piles. Many people build their brush piles, including anchors, on top of ice covered ponds so that the piles sink to the bottom when the ice melts. Another option is to use a johnboat to deliver brush pile components.

Cinder blocks and Christmas trees work well together. Simply put the trimmed tree trunk through the hole in the block and screw a piece of scrap lumber or plywood to the base of the tree to keep the block from slipping off. The bottom-weighted tree will stand vertically underwater and provide cover over a range of depths, depending on the size of the tree.

On ponds and lakes with fishing docks, a low-cost method of providing fish cover is to tie unweighted trees to the dock for a few months. When the trees become waterlogged and sink, simply cut or untie the rope and attach more trees. Eventually, you’ll build up a pretty good brush pile right where you like to fish.

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