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Paul Roberts

"Big" Bass, Small Ponds

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J Francho brought up a really good question:

How much depth does a pond need to grow "big" bass. Or, is depth a limitation? Can a shallow pond produce larger bass?

Now, "quality" varies regionally. In my area I'm talking about bass over 19" (4lbs).

The question:

Do you know of a pond(s) that gives up big bass, that are under, say, 12-feet in depth?

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I fish a pond that is mostly 4-6 feet deep except for one channel that's right around th 12-13 foot depth. I pulled a 6 1/2 pounder out last year as well as a few 4's.

Those are pretty good sizes for up where I'm at in NH.

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We have one on the family farm that is about 10-12 ft deep. Last weekend my Dad pulled a 7.4 out of it . We pull numerous 4-5's out of it every year.

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Keep in mind, I'm in an area (Western NY) where freezing is an issue.  In a shallow pond, there would be bass Popsicles.

By "big fish" I'm talking about anything over five.  I'm personally looking for an eight plus.

By "pond" I'm talking something you could cover from shore or in a small "man powered" boat - less than 100 acres.

I've been excluding water that isn't at least 12' deep from my list of waters to check out.  My thought is that most of my big bass, though may have been caught shallow, were in CLOSE proximity to deeper water.  I also think they need this to get really big.

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J Francho brought up a really good question:

How much depth does a pond need to grow "big" bass. Or, is depth a limitation? Can a shallow pond produce larger bass?

Yes, a shallow pond can produce big bass. Many of my relatives have dairy farms and they grow crops ( alfalfa, corn, sorghum ) to feed the cows, the fields are irrigated with irrigation systems with water drawn from a well but in between the water flow ( well - irrigation system ) there 's a man made pond, rectangular or square in shape with a depth of 4 ft ( shallowest ) to 8 ft ( deepest ) deep with a surface ranging from half an acre to two acres.

I have caught fish over 10 pounds from them , it 's not depth what counts but what 's in it, if you have a well balanced prey-predator population, the genetics and the climate you can have trophy size fish in a small pond, you won 't have many loonkers living in them but you will have them.

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Good points Raul.  I don't think a 4' deep pond would work out too well this far north.  I used to deal with ornamental ponds, and I've come across koi trapped in ice.  Some made, some didn't.

Your point about predator/prey is pretty good too.  What about other mix of other species.  There is a pond here that is deep, has main points, a large flat, and other structural elements found in reservoir type lakes.  There are Northern Pike, gills, black crappie, as well as largemouth.  This pond produces many 4 and 5# fish.  I wonder what the impact of the crappie is on recruitment.  I've always been taught that crappie in a bass pond isn't a good thing.

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IMO i beleive it all has to do with the forage and the cover you have. thats my 2 cents worth

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My 7.5 came out of a 50 acre pond that contours like an inground swimming pool. Starts off on one end from 3' and slopes down to 11-12' at the deepest.

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I agree with Raul, but here in the Northeast, freezing becomes a factor. Even in a shallow pond having 10' or water or less, the whole pond won't freeze over. However, the amount of oxygen left after it freezes can be a significant detriment to the bass; unless it has a good water exchange or flow, via underground springs.

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size of fish has to do with the carrying capacity of the pond (fish population).  Every pond has a total weight of fish it can carry.  The fewer bass that are in there, the bigger they can get. forage is also a determining factor.  there must be food for the bass.  Some great pond management information on Missouri's Conservation department website and Nebraska has a pond management book they will send for free too.  I have a 1/2 acre pond and use this material often

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Snow cover on the ice stops photosynthesis and oxygen depletes.

It seems the important factors are depth and amount of nutrients. I have 4 foot deep ponds that don't winterkill right next to 4-footers that do. The difference is density of vegetation. The ponds with lots of decaying vegetation winterkill. Some ponds have kills in certain areas but also have refuges. You really gotta go see for yourself to judge whether a pond is worth pursuing.

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I want to tack this post from Tin on here:

It made me think that we have one large lake in RI that it a large puddle with one small 5' wide feeder stream, doesn't get deeper than 6' 95% of the year and by June/July the water temps can hit the mid 80's and there have been 9's and 3 10 pound plus fish taken from it on record. Plus in winter there can be 2-3 feet of ice on it.(Our state record is only 10-6 so they like to document the dd's up here) The fish will adapt and there are always exceptions to the rule imo.

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I saw that one.  It looks like there is more to it.  Paying attention.....

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A friend of my dad's has 3 farm pond that are approximately 20 acres each that are 4' deep but have canals running around the perimeters that are 6-8' deep. Back in 1982 I caught 21 bass during a 2 day period that weighted 98.25 pounds which averages out to 4.68 pounds with 2 slightly below 10 pounds.

I also know of another farm pond that is approximately 12 acres with depths of 8' that I caught an 11 lb 9 oz.

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Well, we don 't get winter kill down here ;), down here the problem is depth is important if the level of the pond depends on rainfall, more depth/more water it can hold = the greater the chance the pond will hold enough water for the fish to survive until the rainy season begins. But that kind of ponds are not common and if they exist they are not for irrigation, they are for grazing cattle to drink and that kind of ponds normally don 't hold fish.

Irrigation ponds don 't suffer from that because they are fed by wells, where I 'm at the water drawn from the well is warm so temps are not an issue, the average temp of an irrigation pond is 25°C year long, so fish live in a perpetual summer. Most ponds are stocked with bluegill/tilapia/bass, some also have some carp in them. Farmers normally don 't stock catfish in them cuz they dig holes on the walls of the ponds to nest and that causes leakeage problems.

Pond bass here if the pond is well managed grow big, fat and very fast, you stock a 10 incher and in about three years you 've got a finned 5-6 lber basketball. Stable water temps and abundance of food ( provided by tilapia ) ---> big bass ! :) and happy fishermen.

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Well, we don 't get winter kill down here  Wink, down here the problem is depth is important if the level of the pond depends on rainfall, more depth/more water it can hold = the greater the chance the pond will hold enough water for the fish to survive until the rainy season begins. But that kind of ponds are not common and if they exist they are not for irrigation, they are for grazing cattle to drink and that kind of ponds normally don 't hold fish.

Irrigation ponds don 't suffer from that because they are fed by wells, where I 'm at the water drawn from the well is warm so temps are not an issue, the average temp of an irrigation pond is 25°C year long, so fish live in a perpetual summer. Most ponds are stocked with bluegill/tilapia/bass, some also have some carp in them. Farmers normally don 't stock catfish in them cuz they dig holes on the walls of the ponds to nest and that causes leakeage problems.

Pond bass here if the pond is well managed grow big, fat and very fast, you stock a 10 incher and in about three years you 've got a finned 5-6 lber basketball. Stable water temps and abundance of food ( provided by tilapia ) ---> big bass !   Smiley and happy fishermen.

Great post.

25C (77F) year round! Wow. That's about perfect bass growing temp.

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I want to tack this post from Tin on here:

It made me think that we have one large lake in RI that it a large puddle with one small 5' wide feeder stream, doesn't get deeper than 6' 95% of the year and by June/July the water temps can hit the mid 80's and there have been 9's and 3 10 pound plus fish taken from it on record. Plus in winter there can be 2-3 feet of ice on it.(Our state record is only 10-6 so they like to document the dd's up here) The fish will adapt and there are always exceptions to the rule imo.

I forgot about the cranberry bogs in western RI and Cape Cod that are no deeper than 5', get ice, and put out 6-8 pound fish. A northern strain bass that is latharlgic for 4-5 months a year and hits that 5+ pound mark must be old (not sure exactly), nevermind how old a 8-9 pound fish may be. And some years we can have hot summers where the water hits the low-mid 80's in the summer and water levels can drop a foot or two and then a winter with the same water level and ice. Yet the fish can live for 10 years. So they must be able to adapt to different conditions. I would not expect one of these fish to be able to be taken out of it's environment and be able to live in crystal clear rocky water and sustain its weight and live for a good amount of time if this is done when the fish is say 4 years old. And visa versa. But raised in the environment it will. So if Hannon had started with frye and raised them in four feet of water, they could be fine.

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I want to tack this post from Tin on here:

It made me think that we have one large lake in RI that it a large puddle with one small 5' wide feeder stream, doesn't get deeper than 6' 95% of the year and by June/July the water temps can hit the mid 80's and there have been 9's and 3 10 pound plus fish taken from it on record. Plus in winter there can be 2-3 feet of ice on it.(Our state record is only 10-6 so they like to document the dd's up here) The fish will adapt and there are always exceptions to the rule imo.

I forgot about the cranberry bogs in western RI and Cape Cod that are no deeper than 5', get ice, and put out 6-8 pound fish. A northern strain bass that is latharlgic for 4-5 months a year and hits that 5+ pound mark must be old (not sure exactly), nevermind how old a 8-9 pound fish may be. And some years we can have hot summers where the water hits the low-mid 80's in the summer and water levels can drop a foot or two and then a winter with the same water level and ice. Yet the fish can live for 10 years. So they must be able to adapt to different conditions. I would not expect one of these fish to be able to be taken out of it's environment and be able to live in crystal clear rocky water and sustain its weight and live for a good amount of time if this is done when the fish is say 4 years old. And visa versa. But raised in the environment it will. So if Hannon had started with frye and raised them in four feet of water, they could be fine.

Cranberry bogs??  I thought they are dry and flood them just to harvest. :o

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No, we have old ones that they don't use anymore, most of which are private. (don't know if they are no longer fertile or what) They just stop using them X amount of years ago, the owners stocked them, and now have big fish. I think most were originally intended to hold water to flood others.

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here is a pond I used to fish--it is about 3 feet deep throughout with a 6' deep channel and a laydown in the channel which I caught a 5lber in

the pond is under 10 acres

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=broad+brook+ct&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GPEA_en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&gl=us&ei=7VraSb7yC47rlQeioP3cDA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1

modify-- that didn't work like I thought --zoom in and scroll up a pinch

Broad Brook Mill Pond

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It seems to me that there is a corridor of larger than usual northern bass growth up the eastern coast. It just seems that MA, RI, CT, E NY. and NJ, give up 8 to 9lb bass where more inland waters don't. The largest pure northern LMB on record (15.5) came from MA.

I've assumed it has something to do with Gulf Stream effect that affects duration of growth. Anyway, I'm straying here...

Back on topic...Can shallow ponds produce big bass?

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It seems to me that there is a corridor of larger than usual northern bass growth up the eastern coast. It just seems that MA, RI, CT, E NY. and NJ, give up 8 to 9lb bass where more inland waters don't. The largest pure northern LMB on record (15.5) came from MA.

I've assumed it has something to do with Gulf Stream effect that affects duration of growth. Anyway, I'm straying here...

Back on topic...Can shallow ponds produce big bass?

Anadromous Herring fed bass....?

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here is a pond I used to fish--it is about 3 feet deep throughout with a 6' deep channel and a laydown in the channel which I caught a 5lber in

the pond is under 10 acres

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=broad+brook+ct&rls=com.microsoft:*:IE-SearchBox&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GPEA_en&um=1&ie=UTF-8&split=0&gl=us&ei=7VraSb7yC47rlQeioP3cDA&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=image&resnum=1

modify-- that didn't work like I thought --zoom in and scroll up a pinch

Broad Brook Mill Pond

The creek bed has to be key.  Is it a productive pond as well?  Just one 5 lb. or several larger fish?

The pond is here, looks awesome:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Broad+Brook,+CT&daddr=41.91922,-72.544098&hl=en&geocode=Cf0HXGRrnUd8FVeRfwIdBwat-w%3B&gl=us&mra=mi&mrsp=1&sz=16&sll=41.917575,-72.542768&sspn=0.011799,0.019312&ie=UTF8&ll=41.919224,-72.543637&spn=0.00295,0.004828&t=h&z=18

You can clearly see the creek channel.

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Well and spring water tend to be about 60 degrees year around where bass can survive. The key is sustained big bass population verses boom & bust cycles. Small lakes and ponds suffer form recruitment cycles due to low water conditions or high water usage. Nutrients and cover play a major factor when the bass are fry and growing the first year or so.

Water that freezes shorten the growth cycle or can end it, depending on water temperatures and DO levels.

Everything being equal, it's the small lake or pond with the best forage and cover that can constantly produce big bass regardless where it is located.

WRB

PS; crappie spawn before bass, however the bass fry grow much faster.Adult bass eat small crappie year around. This issue becomes cover for both young of the year predator and prey to hide in and provide a food chain.

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