Did I ever mention to you that my husband loves to fish. Like I find corks and jigs in my dryer more than I find change. Like we own stock in shimano reels. Like he searches Google Earth for hours examining the nearest fishing holes and gets excited to show me spots that appear to be fishing perfection. So see, he REALLY
loves to fish. This fishing passion apple fell fairly close to the tree that we call Todd, Ben’s dad. He LOVES to fish too. So much that he took some of the farm land behind his house, and had a pond dug out of it. An 8 acre one. A 348,480 square foot one to be exact. Don’t be alarmed, Mr. Todd was only born with the passion of HIS father (Ben’s grandfather) who built his own pond years back (this one is only a humble 3 acres however…) We call this pond the “old pond”, while the big pond is referred to as the “new pond”. The men can come home from work, grab a battery, seats, and their gear then ride their 4-wheelers out to the pond boat for a quick afternoon fish. Ben has loved growing up with a pond filled with prize sized bass in his backyard, and it has been pretty great for me too. I can bring Hattie out to the dock for cute pictures, or for an afternoon in the sun pointing to turtles and dragonflies. You may remember the pond from a few of Hattie’s month by month pictures.
When Ben and I were dating (The summer of 2010 to be exact) thousands of egret’s took over the trees on the islands of and surrounding the pond. They built thousands of nests and hatched thousands of babies, spilling their excrement into the water every minute of every day. In short, the gasses put off in the water by the breaking down of the bird doo doo took over the oxygen supply available to the fish, causing a “fish kill“. The dead fish that floated to the surface of the pond during this time was sickening. The pond smelt terrible, and prize fish were dying day after day.
Here in Southwest Louisiana, butane guns are used fairly often in farm pest maintenance as a more humane way to keep the bird population from stealing rice, crawfish, and other crops. They run off of butane gas, and emit a gun like “boom” every few minutes, scaring away birds and other pests. We set a few guns up on the islands to try to send the birds away, but they became accustomed to the sounds after a few days and were not phased. There were just too many! We ended up having to cut down the trees that the birds were flocking to, baring the islands, and removing a roosting place. They were ruining our ecosystem, and the measures taken, along with a few scarecrows placed on the island afterwards were sufficient in regaining control of our pond. Since this time nearly 4 years ago, the pond has struggled to return to its former glory. The water in the past few months has became murkier and murkier, filled with mud, the quality of the fishing has decreased due to such poor visibility and it was just overall a depressing topic for our fishing lovers. After much time and money was spent on chemicals meant to clear up the water and a period of waiting, the decision was made to open up the siphon pipe (which leads to one of the natural gullies that runs through the farm) and completely drain the pond.
The members of our Gun and Rod club (they hunt and fish on our farm) came out a few days after the siphon had begun to sein the pond and fish for trophy bass that were to be transferred to our “old pond”-which sits adjacent to the “big or new pond”. To sein means to run a net across a certain area, moving forward to drag the contents with you, then lifting up to reveal the catch.
The day finally came a couple of weekends ago, when the water had drained out nearly completely, revealing all of the structure below. Only a few of the smaller deep valleys remained submerged, and it was in these little pools of water that the fish remained. We spent the weekend seining these pools for the remaining fish, of which we found about a dozen 6-9 pound bass. We had our friends Joseph and Katie come over to play on the Friday night, and Katie, at 8 months pregnant, was a true trooper. We all started off in rubber boots and jeans, but after getting sucked into thick mud, waist deep, we opted for socks only, while some of the guys even stripped down to shirts and underwear to finish the job. We were covered in mud, from head to toe, and were sore from struggling through the thick mud quick to pull you down and not let go! The men navigated around snakes four feet long, and ruined many pairs of clothing, but they loved every minute of it (or at least I think they did). A few people from our area came out to collect fish to stock their own ponds, and a few more were added to our old pond, while others were fried up for dinner that night. At one point, the men sent me back to the side by side (a big four wheeler) to grab the shotgun and some ammunition to kill a snake that kept pestering them. I tried to take a shortcut back through what looked like some shallow mud and ended up waist deep in mud with both hands occupied high above my head carrying a weapon and a box of shells. I thought that I was stuck for good and would have to call for help but ended up working my way out with some patience and a bit of abdominal strength! Thank goodness I’ve been exercising! It was one of those down and dirty situations that reminds me of how much fun I had in high school, frogging and mud riding with my friends. I may stay clean more often than not now with Hattie by my side, but a little mud now and then really gets my motor running. After two days of seining and pumping and working, the guys were satisfied with the fish that they had saved, and called it quits.
This past week, the ground was dry enough for my husband to do what he does best, and track a large track-hoe down into the pond to remove the layer of muck that covered the floor. He has worked diligently for the last four days, dozing it into piles, scoping it with the track-hoe and laying it on the side of the pond.
Soon the pond will be ready to refill with water (using a pump and well that luckily is in place already for the farm). It is exciting to think that the pond will be starting brand new, fresh, ready to return to her former glory. The men will have their oasis once more, and the aquatic life will be able to flourish in their newly renovated environment. It may sound like a lot of work to you for just a silly thing like fishing, but they love to fish! They always will! And thanks to some hard work and determination, they will soon have the best fishing spot around again-right in our backyard. It will take some time and a little more love, but their efforts will pay off, and little turtles like this, will be sunbathing again before we know it.
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.