A Perfect Pond

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2010

Last revision: Dec. 17, 2010

August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area

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Pond Renovation

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Digging A Pond

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Dam Lined With Rocks

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The countless ponds that dot farms, woods and suburban properties have provided immeasurable delights, including fishing thrills and tender family moments, such as when a child catches his or her first fish. However, many Missouri ponds are no longer helping knit families together or providing endless recreation. They’ve grown old as they’ve collected silt and soil from runoff and erosion. Many of them have become so shallow—less than 8 feet deep—that they experience fish kills.

What can you do when the pond you love is no longer capable of producing good fishing? The least expensive option is to let the aging process continue to the benefit of wildlife other than fish. Waterfowl, muskrats, salamanders and frogs are just a few animals that thrive in shallow, fishless ponds.

Another relatively inexpensive option is to stock a small pond with adult hybrid sunfish in the spring to provide some fishing for the kids. Depending on the weather, these fish may die in a fish kill if not harvested annually.

It’s also possible to make an old pond young again, returning it to its good old days, when the fishing was great. The Conservation Department recently renovated a 4.8-acre pond at August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area. Our goal was to create “a perfect pond” from a silted-in unproductive pond. What we learned in the process should help private landowners who may be considering rejuvenating a pond on their property.

Can You Fix Your Pond?

You first have to discover whether the project is feasible. It’s a good idea to consult with an experienced contractor (one with a bulldozer, track hoe and dump truck at a minimum) to discuss the renovation. This will help give you an idea of the time and labor involved and problems that the contractor might face with your pond. It will also give you a sense of how much it will cost. Regional Conservation offices can provide you with a list of local conservation contractors.

Plan for an excavation schedule that allows adequate time for cutting the dam, allowing the pond basin to dry, moving the accumulated sediment (or “spoil”) to an appropriate location, and mulching and seeding the basin. Our 4.8- acre renovation took two months to complete and required us to haul, dry and spread 1.2 million cubic feet of spoil.

A perfect pond provides a variety of fishing opportunities. The best way to achieve this is to carefully plan the placement of materials,

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