This 3-acre pond was on the property when purchased by Louis Swift in 1969. It contained stunted crappies and green sunfish as well as abundant common carp. The FW 560 class poisoned the pond in 1976 and established a largemouth bass and hybrid sunfish community. Later black crappies were added. The fish suffered a partial winter-kill in 19??; supplemental stockings were made to try to restore balance with limited success. In the mean time North Mallard Creek overflowed into Narrows Pond, and black bullhead, yellow perch, common carp, and western white sucker immigrated. The FW 560 class poisoned the fish again in 1985 and established the present combination of orange-spotted sunfish and smallmouth bass. Grass carp were added in 1995. Narrows Pond is one of the best fishing ponds on the property with some smallmouth bass reaching memorable size (>17 inches).
Gravel was removed from this area in 1974 and the 5-acre pond was ready for stocking in 1975. It was initially stocked with largemouth bass and fathead minnows. Brush piles and layered rocks were placed in the pond to provide cover for the fathead minnows; however, they were eliminated by bass predation. Willows Pond receives irrigation return flow from a cornfield (now gravel pit) to the north, and that flow has provided access for unwanted species of fish (black bullhead, yellow perch, common carp, and western white sucker). It was decided by the FW 560 students to manage this pond with largemouth bass alone, without prey fish, so that there would be heavy predation on immigrants. That strategy has been successful; no immigrants have become established. However, the largemouth bass population is composed mostly of stock (>8<12 inches) and quality (>12<15 inches) sized fish with just a few preferred (>15 inches) size. Nutrients enter Willows Pond via irrigation return flows, resulting in excessive aquatic plant growth. Grass carp were added in 1979, and the original stock is still alive and weigh about 30 pounds each. They have eliminated vascular plants in the pond, and now the nutrients cycle into blue-green algae. Gizzard shad were stocked in 1990, and their offspring greatly reduced the amount of blue-green algae. Unfortunately, gizzard shad have a hard time persisting in Colorado ponds, and they are presently gone from Willows Pond. An intriguing fishery for the grass carp has arisen for a few skilled anglers who want a challenge to entice a strike from a reluctant species and then land a large fish on a fly rod. A surface drain from Willows Pond flows into North Mallard Creek during summer irrigation. A rock-filled concrete box on the drain line prevents emigration and immigration of fish.
Originally the pond was 10 acres, but three small annexes were mined, making the surface area approximately 15 acres now. In 1975 smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and fathead minnows were stocked. A variety of unwanted species were mixed in with the fathead minnows, and eventually common carp, western white sucker, and green sunfish became the dominant species. The 1983 FW 560 class poisoned the fish in Bigmouth Pond, but the kill was not complete. Consequently, flathead catfish were added to the largemouth bass/bluegill combination for added protection. Common carp persist but at low numbers. Green sunfish are rarely sampled, and western white suckers have disappeared. Grass carp were stocked in 1994. After the reclamation in 1983 the pond community was managed to produce big bass. However, every time smaller largemouth bass were removed, the remaining bass responded with a large spawn to fill the void. Consequently, in 1990 the management strategy was changed to a panfish option that emphasizes predation by abundant largemouth bass. A small number of adult black crappie have been stocked to add to the panfish component. So far the panfish strategy has not met expectations for either size or numbers of panfish. Picnic facilities and two fishing piers attract most anglers to Bigmouth Pond. Members of the CSU Student Chapter of the American Fisheries Society have placed Christmas trees near the piers and elsewhere in the pond to attract fish to known locations for anglers. Additional attractors made with PVC pipe will be added this year. A surface outlet goes through a gravel-filled concrete box and discharges into Louis’ Pond.
This 7-acre pond was the first one to maximize yield of gravel by not leaving points and islands but instead using shale exposed after removal of the gravel to make those features. One hole of about 0.1 acre and another of 0.25 acre were excavated from the shale to provide deep (30 feet), cold water to support trout. In 1883 the pond was inoculated with invertebrates (zooplankton, scuds, and crayfish), and the next year, and periodically thereafter, trout have been stocked. Rainbow trout have been more successful than brown trout or cutthroat trout. Fathead minnows were sampled the first time in 1987. In 1995 the Colorado Division of Wildlife stocked Sacramento perch in hope of providing a protected source of this species for use. There is a large pier (floating access removed) next to the bigger hole. It was largely unsuccessful as a fishing pier but has been useful for field demonstration of limnological techniques. This pond is lightly fished.
Big Sister Pond / Little Sister Pond
A relatively small amount of gravel was mined in the fall of 1985, resulting in a 2-acre pond. A field tile, carrying cold groundwater, was revealed during excavation. FW 560 students decided to divide the area into a larger (1.5 acres) warm-water pond (Big Sister), and use the smaller (0.5 acre) area to conserve the cold temperature water from the field tile to have a small trout pond for kids. Pushing shale from the bottom made a separating dike. Big Sister was stocked in 1986 with largemouth bass, bluegill, fathead minnows, and crayfish. At the time when Bigmouth was being managed for big bass, Big Sister was managed for panfish. The bluegill mysteriously disappeared in 1991, and at that time Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists were looking for a refugium for Sacramento perch. Therefore, the fish in Big Sister were poisoned, and adult Sacramento perch were stocked. Largemouth bass re-entered Big Sister during high water from irrigation, and after moving as many Sacramento perch as possible to Rainbow Hole, the fish in Big Sister were poisoned again in 1995. Channel catfish have been stocked, and hybrid sunfish will be added. It will be managed to provide a high catch rate for kids. Big Sister has a surface outlet that flows through a rock-filled concrete box and into Bigmouth Pond. Little Sister supported trout as expected, but it proved to be too small for the numbers of kids that were there to fish at times; lines tangled. The dike separating Little Sister and Big Sister is now off limits to persons fishing Little Sister so that anglers are casting in the same general direction. Little Sister also was contaminated with largemouth bass and was reclaimed along with Big Sister in 1995. It will be stocked again with rainbow trout. Little Sister has a surface outlet that flows through a pipe with 1/4-inch holes into Big Sister. Immigration of channel catfish or hybrid sunfish from Big Sister is possible but unlikely due to limited reproduction.
Gravel mining was completed in this 5-acre area in the fall of 1987. Columns to support a fishing dock (“square donut”) were erected while the area was drained. FW560 students placed tires along the north side of the dock, upright tree tops along the west side, a stake bed along the south side, and broken concrete and pipe pyramids along the east side to attract fish to the dock. It was expected that future students would evaluate the different types of attractors from the standpoints of angling success and skill needed to avoid becoming snagged. However, the dock has not been built. White crappies were the initial featured species with fathead minnows, spot-tail shiners, and mosquito-fish as prey for the crappies, and walleyes as predators on the crappies. Crayfish from Quincy Reservoir, a noted source of large specimens, were also introduced. Yellow perch were added as a second panfish in 1990; gizzard shad appeared unexpectedly in the 1990 fall sample. White crappies have preyed upon young-of-the-year gizzard shad much more than the intentionally stocked prey species. Despite sampling good numbers of white crappies, with some in the memorable (>12 inches) category, fishing success from shore has been poor in this pond. One attempt to fish the attractors in the dock area from a boat met with good success.
Big Brother Pond
With Little Sister Pond proving to be too small for some groups of children, Big Brother Pond was designed to be long and skinny to maximize shoreline in a 1-acre pond. Construction of Big Brother Pond in 1988 intercepted the field tile water from Little Sister Pond. It was desired to continue use of Little Sister Pond as a trout pond, and therefore a method of conveying cold water to Little Sister was needed. Knowing that cold water sinks made it clear that a trench in the pond bottom would collect cold water from the field tile. Water pressure would push cold water up a pipe extending from the surface to the bottom of the trench, and thereby provide a source of cold water to Little Sister Pond. Because children generally can not cast very far from shore, it was decided that the excavated shale from the trench should be piled in the middle of the pond to make that area shallow and unattractive to trout in summer. While the area was drained concrete columns to support a fishing bridge were erected; the fishing bridge has not been built. Catch-able sized rainbow trout have been stocked in advance of many kids fishing activities held there. Big Brother Pond along with Little Sister Pond have worked very well for kids fishing programs. The recent change to channel catfish and hybrid bluegill in Big Sister Pond should also contribute to the Management objective of providing high catch rates in a small area for kids. Big Brother Pond was contaminated with largemouth bass from irrigation-caused flooding. The fish were poisoned in 1995. It is felt that better water control now exists.
This 5-acre area was mined off and on for a couple years and was ready for stocking in 1992. It has a submerged island, three large brush piles, and several large cottonwood tree trunks for fish habitat. The management objective is large fish, and restricted numbers of tiger muskies and palmetto bass (wipers) have been stocked, neither of which will spawn. White crappies and fathead minnows presently serve as prey. Gizzard shad will be added as another prey species. The fish are well on the way to fulfilling the management objective; it is an exciting pond to fish.
The west half of this pond was completed in 1992. In 1993 a similar sized area was mined to the east, and the two resulting ponds (10 acres total) were connected later that year. There is a submerged island, several piles of broken concrete, stacks of clay tiles, and several submerged and floating brush piles for fish habitat. An extended peninsula was constructed from shale from the pond bottom for angler access. Smallmouth bass, fathead minnows, golden shiners, and emerald shiners were the stocked species. The early management objective was to evaluate “minnow” prey for smallmouth bass. Irrigation water flooded Golden Pond, and now green sunfish, largemouth bass, and western white suckers have been found there. The smallmouth bass are reproducing, and the fishing is excellent. Consequently, the management objective has become one of wait and see what develops from this mix of species. Golden Pond has a surface outlet that flows through a rock-filled concrete box and on to the very lower end of North Mallard Creek.
Gravel was mined from this 4-acre area during the fall of 1993. Two peninsulas were constructed from shale, and broken concrete associated with brush piles was placed on the pond bottom while the area was drained. Spotted bass, fathead minnows, and crayfish were stocked in 1994. Introduction of spotted bass required permission from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. FW 560 students have not discussed management of this pond.
Unnamed Pond (later named Louis' Pond)
The last area to be mined for gravel (7-acres) is filling with water now. Several piles of broken concrete were placed on the pond bottom. Also the pond bottom was roughed up into ridges and depressions for fish habitat. Concrete columns for a fishing dock were installed, and the steel framework to support the deck is in place. Smallmouth bass fry and adult fathead minnows were recently stocked. No management has been discussed. If unwanted species had not immigrated into Golden Pond, this latest pond was going to be connected with Golden Pond. The connection can easily be made in the future.
Written by Dr. Steve Flickenger, CSU Professor Emeritus (provided by Kenny Kehmeier, Aquatic Biologist, Colorado Division of Wildlife)