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Building a Bass Pond

Building a Bass Pond

Bass Pond Design Tips and FAQs

Building your own bass pond will offer years of family fun—as well as a never-ending supply of fresh fish. While the construction process can be somewhat costly and time-consuming, the payoff is significant. Aside from the recreational benefits it provides, a pond may increase your property’s resale value. That’s a good reason to get started, especially if you’re also building a fence, a home, or another structure. Here, we’ll provide some easy tips and answer the most common questions about bass pond design.

Don’t Forget to Do Your Homework

While it may seem simple at first, building a pond isn’t as easy as selecting a spot and grabbing a shovel. With bureaucracy reaching unprecedented levels, it’s important to learn about local laws on property excavation and obtaining water for a pond. If it’s within your budget, consider hiring an experienced contractor.

Even if you own the land through which a stream flows, you do not own the water within. Because of the Clean Water Act, the water in most lakes, streams, wetlands, and rivers is under the authority of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Waterways that aren’t overseen by the federal government are typically under the state’s control, and depending on your state’s laws, access may be relaxed or heavily regulated.

While an agricultural pond is exempt from most EPA permitting requirements, a bass pond may require a few permits if it’s near another waterway. Your local agricultural extension agency and natural resource conservation service may be able to assess your soil and recommend a nearby pond consultant. Finally, it’s important to consider the terrain and any buildings you’re putting up when selecting a site for a bass pond.

Choosing a Pond Site

A productive bass pond can range in size from one-quarter of an acre to over an acre, depending on a property’s size. While it’s possible to build a larger pond, you’ll also need more money, time, and water. The method by which the pond will be filled is a crucial consideration when selecting a site. 

Surface runoff, or rainwater that comes in from the land, is the simplest way to get the necessary permits. You’ll need a minimum of three acres of land that drains into the pond for every acre-foot of volume. Groundwater, wells, and springs are other options, but permitting can be tricky. Therefore, it’s best not to count on a nearby water source to feed your bass pond.

The Construction Process

Each pond is unique, and construction methods may differ from one project to the next. With that in mind, there are some basic principles to follow when building a bass pond.

  • Get a picture of the pond’s shape by outlining the area. Remove the topsoil, saving it to build a dam if necessary. By planting native trees and grasses near the edge of the pond, soil erosion is prevented, and sunken logs will provide the fish with a suitable habitat.
  • Now, it’s time to stock the pond. Many ponds are first filled with bluegills, which are entertaining to catch and provide a great food source for growing bass. The size of the pond will determine the number of fish to be added. Contact your state’s fisheries and wildlife agency to learn how to order hatchlings. Be sure not to fish during the first year, as the fish need time to mature and spawn.

Using an inorganic fertilizer will increase the pond’s zooplankton and phytoplankton levels, which provides nourishment to young, growing fish. Lime will keep the fish healthy and increase the water’s alkalinity, but it’s important to consult a local agricultural agency before using it. Simplify the process by tossing in some fish pellets as the hatchlings mature.

Bass Pond Construction: Frequently Asked Questions

Building a bass pond may seem difficult, but it’s easier when property owners enter the process with the right information. Consider the answers to these common questions when starting the construction process.

How deep should a bass pond be?

The minimum depth to sustain bass and other warm-water species is 10 feet. While it’s not necessary to dig the entire pond that deep, having about half at that depth will give the fish the dissolved oxygen and temperatures they need to thrive. Building a shallow section will encourage amphibians, wading birds, and other species to populate your pond.

Are bass good for ponds?

Bass are great for ponds because they reproduce easily in that environment. A pond is a perfect habitat for these fish, and the lake-dwelling predators that typically prey on hatchlings aren’t present.

What do bass need to survive in a pond?

The perfect bass habitat is one with clear and slow- or non-flowing water that remains at 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The pond should have plenty of aquatic vegetation, which provides cover and food. Pond algae control is crucial, as it will ensure the healthy growth of the fish.

How many bass can you have in a one-acre pond?

For the average warm-water pond, you can safely have 50 to 100 bass per acre.

Can bass survive in small ponds?

While it’s possible to grow trophy fish in small ponds, keep in mind that you’ll grow fewer fish overall.

What eats bass in a pond?

Lots of predators love fish. Alligators, otters, herons, turtles, and people prefer the taste of bass. Though many anglers catch and release their fish, some keep one or two for dinner.

Will bass reproduce in a pond?

Due to their adaptability to various habitats, largemouth bass can easily reproduce in ponds. However, smallmouth bass need a well-defined habitat with gravel to spawn successfully.

How long do bass live in ponds?

In most cases, pond-dwelling largemouth bass will live six to eight years if they’re not caught by anglers or eaten by predators.

What is the best food for bass?

Adult bass typically feed on minnows, sunfish, perch, and other small fish, but they also eat frogs, insects, crayfish, and even small birds. Fry, or bass that are less than two inches long, eat insect larvae and zooplankton.

In Closing

While building a bass pond may seem like a complex process, the benefits outweigh the challenges of construction and permitting. With the right contractor and good equipment, it’s possible to have a pond built within a few weeks. Then, as the healthy pond ecosystem matures, you’ll have a place to fish, have fun, and make memories.