Rick's method of fish management on these ponds revolves around harvesting bluegills under 10", all crappies, and bass only if at least 3 bluegills are also removed for each bass. Something like that. If I have misquoted the numbers or ratios incorrectly, the error is completely mine. Contact Rick if you want the full explanation. He has also added one or more Flathead Catfish to certain ponds that had an overabundance of stunted panfish. The results? He says that in about 5 years, you will have much bigger crappies and bluegills, because the population is kept thinned enough that the remaining fish have plenty of food available to allow them to grow. Some of these ponds now have bluegills up to 12", and Crappies up to 20"!
My assessment after visiting a couple of these ponds is that...it's working!
I made arrangements for my friend Dale S and I to go flyfish with Rick on a couple of his favorite ponds.
The first pond we visited looked great...nice size one size lined with timber. The problem we noticed right away was the water clarity. Rick said normally the pond is fairly clear. But within the past week they had a downpour that dumped 6" of rain in a short amount of time, followed by several days of strong winds that kept the sediment suspended. My guesstimate was that you could see into the water only about 1.5"! Certainly that made it hard to gauge what depth the water was that we were fishing, and also made it very difficult for the fish to spot our flies. We fished the pond for about 2 hours anyway.
Rick and Dale both noted they each had one or two bites, but no fish. Worse, Rick broke his fly rod! I caught 14 bluegills up to 9" long, 2 bass that were twins at @ 13"each, and a crappie that was @ 10". I used 2 patterns that Rick had tied and given us, and caught fish on both. One was a black Boa Yarn Leech with red plastic eyes. I caught a couple bluegills on that before I lost it. Another was a gold sparkle eyelash yarn leech pattern. It seemed big, the the bluegills loved it, as did the crappie. I lost that fly to a tree overhanging the water. I caught the bass and a few smaller bluegills on a gold microjig with a black tail.
|Dale S took this picture of Rick at the first pond. I'm WAY in the background..on the dam...in front of Rick's hat.|
After lunch, Rick led us to a 2nd pond. Here the water was still stained, but it was a bit clearer than the first pond. We were all into fish soon. We each caught bluegills and crappies. I also caught a bass. The crappies weren't too big, but the bluegills were BEASTS! I measured a good number of 9-inchers, and they were freakishly deep-bodied fish. Very healthy indeed! Rick said he had caught 12" bluegills from both ponds we had fished, and I can believe it!
We kept the bluegills and crappies we caught for Rick to clean for a few meals.
|Photo courtesy of Dale S. Rick and I with a basket of fish!|