Farm Ponds with Judith O’Keefe
I live in the country and I could fill a page on the many reasons why I’ve chosen this lifestyle, but the first one that comes to mind this summer afternoon, is the pond. Like many ponds it is full of large mouth bass and bluegill, eager to take a damselfly imitation if there are naturals around, or a popper if there are not.
I’m often asked if there are trout living in the pond. The answer is no. Trout cannot survive more than a few hours in water that is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Adequate water flow and an understanding of water temperatures during the summer months are a necessity in selecting an appropriate fish species when first stocking a pond. Most folks will choose to stock a warmwater species. Largemouth bass, panfish, such as bluegill and crappie, and catfish are examples of warmwater fish that prefer water temperatures ranging from 70-80oF.
Often livestock can be found around the water’s edge as most farm and ranch ponds were originally constructed to serve as a “watering hole” and/or a place to hold irrigation water. This can be challenging, as livestock and healthy fish habitat do not often go hand-in-hand. We solved that dilemma here by fencing off the back half of the pond and planting willows and other water loving trees and vegetation. These plants provide shade to keep the temperatures down on especially hot days and also provide the necessary cover from predator birds such as osprey and eagles.
There are a few advantages to having one’s own pond. To name just a few, I always keep a couple of small spinning rods handy, as farm ponds are great for giving the grandkids their first exposure to the sport of fishing. It’s simple and safe, and when they decide they have had enough for now, there’s ice cream in the freezer and cold beer for the grown-ups. When friends drop by, it’s easy to grab a couple of pre-rigged fly rods and chat while we cast to rising fish. I find water therapeutic and after a long day it’s a pleasure to launch the old rowboat and troll around in the evening, watching the sun set behind the Cascade Mountains. Pretty good stuff, or as they say in town, “it’s all good”.