How would you describe your relationship with your pond? Is it casual or do you have a bond? If an old tree in the lake finally fell, would you notice it immediately on the next visit or would it take a month?
Remember an old saying about the difference between “listening” to what someone says versus actually “hearing” something that’s spoken. Some of our spouses may suggest we’re listeners. That puzzles me. Heck, I can hear a deer step on a twig 50 yards from my blind.
When traversing the pond, is every day hustle and bustle preventing you from “seeing” what’s evolving? Or do you immediately notice subtle changes? Have you walked onto the dock one morning and noticed insect larvae shell cases that weren’t there at dusk the day before? Suddenly, you spot Mayflies fluttering around the area or bluegill chasing them on the surface. Flea fly jigs would be a good lure to use that day. Nature and our pond speak to us if we observe.
I’ve investigated dark spots in the water to learn it was a school of newly hatched fry no more than one-quarter inch long. Probably another generation of bluegill. Shortly after, I noticed a tiny fish with black on its tail. After kneeling for a closer look, I realized it was a three-inch bass. After following it a short distance, I was entertained by the bass’ attempts to feed on the young fry. Docks are fascinating classrooms.
When walking the shoreline, do you spot new animal tracks? Maybe it’s a beaver contemplating homesteading the place. Is there a pile of fish scales on a trail that wasn’t there last week? It should be evaluated closely. That could be sign from an otter poaching your fish. Has water color changed since your last visit? Close observation could detect early “symptoms” of looming water quality issues. Correcting them in a timely manner may prevent a fish kill.
Ever wonder why your resident heron fishes the same area most visits? It might be trying to show you a good angling spot. If the heron is filling its craw time after time in the same place, bass could be cruising the vicinity. Each time a fish strikes the surface, it tweaks my curiosity. After observing multiple swirls at the same location in open water, I fished it with a worm to “feel” what was down there. I quickly felt unknown cover and soon connected with a bass whose surface activity attracted me to his home. We now regularly enjoy that fish’s hospitality.
On another occasion, I spotted a small rippling affect on a calm surface. Approaching the spot, I saw flickering reflections. After turning off the trolling motor, I drifted closer to see a swirling school of gizzard shad swimming in a continuous circular movement. They were not stocked, but migrated into the lake during a high water event. One more surprising discovery revealed through a “bond” with the lake.
If you have a vegetation issue, identify a stickup on the leading edge of the zone. Monitor how long it takes new growth to reach the marker. Convert that progress to future expansion rates. Extrapolate growth rates into costs of stopping potentially damaging results. Nip the problem in the bud. Spend savings on a new trolling motor. It only requires keeping your finger on the pulse of the environment.
As Bob says, take your favorite beverage to the dock or shoreline. Raise your antenna and “absorb” what you see. You’ll make discoveries that will make you feel you’re on another planet. Bonding with your pond can be hypnotic, therapeutic, and highly productive. Forward your experiences so we can share with other pondmeisters.
We appreciate your business,
Bob Lusk — Chad Fikes — Walter Bassano