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kiteman

How would you feel about this situation?

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My in-laws inherited a cabin in the woods in a private community. They have a pretty decent-sized lake. It's probably 50 acres or so I would guess. Not big enough for skiing boats, and most of the people there are old and only use it to swim in. In fact, nobody really fishes. However, there are smallmouth bass there that are up to 8lbs I've been told. I have seen one in a picture and I can tell you, it was probably over 5lbs. However I only went there many years ago and haven't been back in a while. At the time I did not fish, otherwise would have! 

 

My wife was there this weekend and she said they saw some in the water that were over 2ft long, and I know that sounds exaggerated, but she fishes LMB with me, so she has a pretty good idea of the size of fish. Since I saw that picture of the other one, I believe she is close to right. And the place is spring fed, and nobody fishes there, and they have a lot of bluegill, etc...it's a healthy spot.

 

Anyway, to access the community they have to cross over a dam that's maybe 500ft long. It's dirt, and now there is apparently a code problem with an exit pipe of some sorts? I don't fully understand, but they are planning to drain the entire lake next year, which means all the fish will die. We are talking about nearly priceless fish catching IMO, and I'm pretty ticked they won't just build a d**n dam next to the current one, instead of draining the entire thing. What do you guys think? 

 

edit: pictures of this weekend (i wasn't there, i think these are bluegill of sorts? she tried to take pictures of the bass but they were too deep and the pictures didn't really show anything)

1895390175245241.jpg

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That’s a real bummer. Not sure what kind those are but the look pretty big. There’s something different lurking down below. 

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Welp...I'm happy to help. Why don't you give me the address to said pond, I'll come check it out and give you my thoughts.

 

I'm happy to help in any way I can.   :)

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Is the pipe at the very bottom of the dam? It's possible they'll only have to draw it down to work on it. There's been a few lakes around here that have had drain issues that they've had to draw down 10-20 feet to work on the dams and the fish were fine, though maybe a little cramped, while they worked on it. 

 

If they have to drain it, that stinks, but the possible repercussions of a lake dam bursting are going to take precedence over the fish in the lake. 

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Fish it while you can. 

 

Theres an old farm pond about 2 hours from me that is now part of a fair sized wildlife management area and very popular for trout fishing. It also had a very healthy population of smallmouth bass. My buddy and I fished there several times and have caught tood numbers and he has caught several smallmouth over 20” out of there. We went there to fish it a few weeks ago to find it totally empty. A couple of puddles about 50 feet wide and 150 feet long were all that remained, and in those were about 50 stock sized trout and a hundred or so bluegill that were barely hanging on. Scattered along the banks were the carcasses and skeletons of several hundred smallmouth bass, some that were probably in the 22”, 5lb range. 

The drain pipe at the base of the dam failed, and the entire pond drained. VDGIF has no apparent plans to repair the drain structure, because the dam itself is well over 70 years old. It may take several years for them to repair it, if they choose to repair it at all. Fishing for anything there may not be viable for another 10 years or more. 

 

If they at least have a plan to repair the damaged area that’s a plus, but if there are 8+lb smallmouth in there now. You NEED to fish for them Now! If they have to drain the entire lake, it may take 15-20 years for the biggest smallmouth in the lake to grow to that size again. 

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What's the question? Are you wanting to preserve the lake? If so, we aren't the people to talk to.

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We have a smaller lake above the lake I live on, and a FM (farm to market) road serves as a dam of sorts with the lake drain underneath it all. Back in 2015 when we had the heavy rain year here in Texas, it failed. Quite a lot of water escaped the 150 acre lake and ended up in our 1799 acre lake (Lake Athens, TX). But, the smaller lake didn't drain empty, not even close.

 

And, Big 'un from Oklahoma will likely recall that a fellow Oklahoman, Jimmy Houston, has a wonderful stocked private lake on his ranch that had some sort of dam failure years ago and it devastated a lake full of big bass. Lots of fish ended up downstream. But, what I don't recall is whether it wiped the whole lake out . . . or if it maintained small pools of shallow water where some didn't wash away, survived.

 

Anyway, almost without exception what the real issue will be is the time it takes to fix a broken dam or make repairs to the drain mechanisms. I suppose any fish remaining in small pools, assuming the water isn't totally drained, will survive better in fall and spring months than they would in extreme cold or hot weather.

 

A already mentioned, the fix is going to trump the fish, so if you or your in-laws have any leverage, it might be making a few calls to find out whether the entirety of the lake will be drained and, if not, the timing of the repairs.

 

Brad

 

 

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