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Converting to Smallmouth in Texas

Converting to Smallmouth in Texas Yep, you can have a pond full of smallmouth bass in the deep south. Complete details are revealed inside.

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Smallmouth pond

1) When young Jonathan Rodriguez signed on for a summer job, he had no idea he was to be involved in changing the life of a little pond. But, alas, he was. 2) We cut a piece of plastic (because I had some) to lay the rock on.

Here at Lusk Lodge,2, we have 8 ponds on 12 acres of land. I don't particularly like to mow ... and since I am in the pond management business water is pretty appealing. Of those 8 ponds, one was designed by my bride, the princess, 'er Queen, Debbie, for swimming. Naturally, being a fisheries guy by passion, I couldn't have a pond just for swimming... besides (wink, wink, wink), fish would end up there anyway. So, the lower 2/3 is for swimming and the upper part has all kinds of underwater amusement park rides for fishies. Upstream from that 1/4 acre pond sits another pond of similar size. Its destiny, so far, has been to grow some fantastic feed trained largemouth bass and bluegill pushing beyond two pounds. Upstream from that are two tenth-acre ponds designed to be rectangular shaped hatchery ponds. But, there's a little roundish pond that sits between the hatchery ponds and the feed-trained bass pond. Covering maybe 1/4 acre, this pond has been a holding pond, a storage pond of sorts. I designed it to be a reservoir to hold well water, with a shelf around it for container raised aquatic plants such as lily pads. Well, to date, after four years, I haven't taken the time to grow lilies. So, with all the fuss about smallmouth bass, the decision was made to turn this little stepchild of a pond into a water gem.
   The decision was partly made after careful thought... after all; this little pond deserves better than what it has received.
   But, part of the decision was rendered after a mandate from the queen. "Get rid of that big pile of rocks near the driveway. It's been there since we moved in and I'm tired of looking at it."
   Yes, ma'am.
   Hmmm ... what better purpose could a pile of basketball to grapefruit sized rock serve than to give their lives to the betterment of a pond in an experimental sort of way?
   So, young Jonathan Rodriguez and yours truly set out on a mission this summer to build some habitat for smallmouth bass in this little water body.
   Just for the sake of argument (and to see if it makes any difference), we built one rock embankment on top of plastic (which we also had in house) and another one on top of the natural soils. My thinking is that rocks on plastic will disrupt unwanted plant growth into the rocks. But, the scientist in me thinks that some plants growing in the rocks might not necessarily be bad. Time will tell that tale.
   We also had some stone left over from building walls, patios and decorative walls when we rebuilt LL,2. A few of those stones went to building spawning beds for our soon-to-be acquired smallmouth bass. 
   

Smallmouth pond

3) The rocks weren't too heavy .. at first. Jonathan was a champ. 4) This big pile of rocks had become virtually invisible... to everyone but the queen. She said, "Lusk, it's time to get rid of the rocks." Yes, ma'am... hey, let's build some smallmouth habitat! 5)We topped off the pond with four homemade spawning beds/nests, at several different depths in the pond... just to see what might happen.

Our well produces about 75 gallons per minute and is plenty adequate to support all 8 ponds on the property. This little pond is the receptionist for much of the water as it makes its way downstream to keep the other little pearls full of good, clean water.
   That's the good news.
   The other news may or may not be so good. The well is heavy with iron and the water tends to be turbid after it flows heavily into this pond for several days. I have no idea how it will affect the fish, once stocked.
   The mission, this fall, is to completely drain the pond, remove all the existing fish and then refill and stock heavy with fathead minnows. At some time this fall, we'll stock smallmouth bass fingerlings ... as large as I can find, as close to home as I can find them.
   Then, we'll monitor the progress and let you know how it works.

Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine

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