Thanks again Jerry for doing such a wonderful job!
We are blessed to have some awesome volunteers at Swift Ponds. Most recently, Jerry Summers volunteered himself to mow not just the “hard-to-reach,” but IMPOSSIBLE-TO-REACH weeds along many banks of the Ponds. Jerry has a specialized tractor-mower that has “wings” that can be lowered down over the banks to reach the weeds that love to grow on the shoreline. Yes we could have asked an army of volunteers with weed-whackers, but that would take weeks for what took Jerry a single day. The Ponds look so nice now, and most importantly, it allows access for young and old to fish along the banks that have been very difficult to fish, if not impossible, until now.
Thanks again Jerry for doing such a wonderful job!
Just a quick note to recognize Bob Steiner (fisherman) and Tom Sweezey (holding bass) during the Annual Outdoor Buddies Family Day Picnic held June 9th. Outdoor Buddies, designed to assist mobility-impaired outdoorsmen and women, as well as disadvantaged youth, has a long history of coming to Swift Ponds and we are proud to continue this tradition. For more info about Outdoor buddies, click here.
Thanks Bob & Tom for being a valuable part of Outdoor Buddies!
Two weeks after I posted our requests, Frank and Nancy Hempen, representing Weld County Yelpers, kindly advised us they would provide TWO new eight-foot picnic tables and some log stools. Additionally, Cherylon Loveland donated a picnic table as well to Swift Ponds.
On Friday, June 8, Frank and Nancy delivered the first picnic table which was beautiful! It is built very sturdy with weather-treated wood so we know it will last for many years!
The table served to host a second group, High Country Drifters, that desperately needed facilities to grill hamburgers and serve 20-30 young boys lunch on Saturday. They also used the table to tie flies for fly fishing at Swift Ponds.
Chase and Frank are pictured above, thanks to Nancy. Frank is the president of Weld County Yelpers, from the Greeley National Wild Turkey Chapter. Their organization is responsible for the WITO, Women In The Outdoors, event that is held at Swift Ponds every year in the fall. I learned that their chapter recently won an award for their successful WITO event.
I want to personally thank Weld County Yelpers for their generosity and for their dedication to helping women enjoy the outdoors!
If you are interested in the WITO event, please contact Chase and I will get you their contact information.
Thanks again Frank and Nancy!
I thought I’d post a ‘Wish List’ of items we need donated to Swift Ponds. I’ll add to this list as I think of things, but we want to add a new picnic area so that more than one group can cook and prepare food for picnics like on the current peninsula (on Big Mouth pond).
-picnic tables and benches
-large tree trunks used to sit on
-wooden or metal outdoor tables (for serving food)
For those that would like to donate money to our endowment fund, please contact the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, http://www.cfnc.info/, and let them know you’re contributing to the Swift Ponds fund.
Thanks for your generosity!
[This article, by Denver Post Outdoors Editor Charlie Meyers, was originally published in the Denver Post on February 6, 2007. Larry Sanford (left, above) has been organizing the successful Outdoor Buddies goose hunts at Swift Ponds for years. Bret Harlan, with his goose, is pictured on the right.]
When 13,000 volts coursed through Larry Sanford's body during a pipeline drilling project gone terribly wrong, he awoke to find himself missing an arm, all of the muscles in his chest and various other body parts.
Brett Harlan's bones have betrayed him since birth.
Apart from the interesting coincidence that both these events occurred in Louisiana, these men share another link that extends beyond the often blurry bounds of disability.
Now, more than a thousand miles away, they're connected by a very Colorado organization called Outdoor Buddies and a glowing passion for all the activities it embraces.
On a frigid morning last week suitable for free-roaming polar bears, Sanford and Harlan shared a goose blind west of Windsor, one of those remarkable outings for which the organization is known.
Conceived in 1984 by the late Sid Sellers, a hunter safety instructor, and Sam Andrews of Craig Hospital, the organization has evolved as the national model for outdoor participation by the mobility disabled.
The group presently involves some 275 handicapped hunters and fishermen, many of them armed service veterans, in a program that captivates all who touch it.
Julie Swezey, who operates Indian Brook Kennels in Wellington, remembers her reaction when her husband volunteered to help with an Outdoor Buddies antelope hunt.
"I knew immediately I wanted to do something with the organization," said Swezey, now a board member.
Sanford began years ago as a participant and now acts as a facilitator.
"It's amazing what people can do when they're given the opportunity, when they can overcome their inhibitions," said Sanford, who five years ago joined the board.
Sanford, one of those irrepressible individuals who presumably might smile through a shark attack, now serves as a hunt organizer, a walking, or hobbling, inspiration to everyone he meets.
"The accident literally cost me an arm and a leg - or at least part of my foot," he joked while bagging a limit of geese, using a modified stock that helps make him a deadeye with one hand.
Outdoor participation, Sanford said, is the ultimate in freedom and a way to regain a measure of dignity that may have been stolen by disability.
"When someone bags an elk, he feels a sense of providing for his family," Sanford, 45, describes the sense of empowerment. "Every time you take a package of meat from the freezer, you feel you're helping your family."
Outdoor Buddies also assists in various small game hunts, as well as fishing on both lakes and streams. Elk hunting remains a popular part of the program, with some 50 outings last season on private property and an approximate 80 percent success rate.
"Born for the outdoors," Harlan, 48, has bagged elk in two of the past three years. He says Outdoor Buddies has "made all the difference" in a difficult life whose benchmarks include losing a leg at age 5 and a bone collapse in the other 10 years ago. A series of spinal fusions compounded his need for assistance. He'll have yet another surgery in two weeks.
Asked what Outdoor Buddies means to him, Harlan offered a direct answer: "My life, in all honesty."
When a lone goose answered Sanford's call and flew toward the decoys, Harlan quickly hoisted his gun and dropped it with a single shot.
For a moment, that troubled life was very good again.
Charlie Meyers can be reached at 303-954-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was asked by Bob Hewson if Colorado Youth Outdoors (CYO) could help with cleaning up the Swift Ponds property, I eagerly responded with enthusiasm, as we have had many offers but haven't had many groups actually perform meaningful improvement projects. While we always appreciate help, it is nonetheless difficult to arrange for the proper equipment, adequate supervision (especially when kids are involved) and enough manpower to get significant projects completed.
Because of the large property, Bob wanted CYO's effort to look like a significant change had occurred, so we both agreed we would work on just one of the twelve ponds on the property. Ironically or not, we choose to work on the pond named Louis' Pond. Looking back, it was a commitment of responsible stewardship, it seemed, that CYO really wanted to make to my late father.
Louis' Pond had significant Russian Olive growth and many of the trees were growing in very hard-to-get, shoreline locations. There was also a huge pile of Russian Olive trees that were piled in a mound years earlier. Needless to say, it seemed CYO had picked a daunting first project to attempt!
When I arrived, early in the morning on the fall day of the cleanup, there were already numerous volunteers, both parents and their kids, eagerly working on removing the olive trees. When it became clear that one Bobcat wasn't nearly going to be efficient and quick enough to remove hundreds of trees, I was asked by a father/daughter team if they could use their pickup and a chain to pull out the trees near the road? Then a host of other volunteers began doing the same thing, and I watched this small army attacking the nuisance trees and hauling them to the pile.
The most fascinating aspect, though, was watching the mulching process, operated by the volunteer efforts of the City of Loveland. That is an amazing machine and it proves the point that proper supervision is required when operating dangerous equipment like a mulcher. In the end we were provided with lots and lots of beneficial mulch that will be available to spread around the heavier used areas to limit weed growth and human impact. What a win-win that was!
I wish to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all the CYO volunteers, both the parents and kids, who helped beautify Louis' Pond to a degree I did not believe possible in one day. It proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that CYO is a premier organization of committed individuals willing to go the extra mile and give back more than they receive. Dad would be so proud of your accomplishments!
My heart was heavy when I heard the news that Sid Sellers had died. I find comfort and I know that Sid was warmly greeted in heaven by Dad and they are now watching with great interest as the legacies of Swift Ponds and Outdoor Buddies live on...
Respectfully, Chase Swift
Reprinted from the Rocky Mountain News (August 9th) by reporter Ed Dentry.
August 9, 2006
When Sid Sellers came calling, you listened. Nearly always, the subject would be Outdoor Buddies, the nonprofit ship he launched for handicapped Colorado hunters and anglers in 1984.
Outdoor Buddies needed volunteers, donations. It needed another story in the newspaper because its elk hunters - mobility-impaired though they might be - had just put the average nimrod to shame again in the success department.
Sellers would charm and chat, then quickly get to the point. A tall, vigorous man, he would persuade with such talent that you would forget to think of it as goading.
"He was a warrior. He was tenacious, but it never was for Sid," said Bruce McCloskey, director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, who dealt with Sellers on many issues important to sportsmen and wildlife.
Sidney H. Sellers died Saturday, a month short of his 89th birthday, of complications from a fall he took at his driveway in Denver on July 17. He was born Sept. 4, 1917, in Tarrytown, N.Y., and lived in Baltimore before moving to Colorado in 1953 with his wife, Marion, and two daughters.
A lifelong hunter and angler, Sellers accelerated his wildlife-related public service after retiring as a mechanical engineer. He helped develop Colorado's hunter education program and was a volunteer hunter safety instructor for more than 40 years.
"He loved everything about the outdoors. That's one of the reasons we moved to Colorado," said daughter Carolyn "Charlie" Gallagher, 65, who went boating, fishing and crabbing with the family on the Chesapeake Bay before they came to Colorado.
Sellers enjoyed hunting and fishing and, in his earlier years, showing horses. He developed a passion for bear hunting, which took him to Alaska.
But he never hunted when he directed handicapped hunters into the field on carefully planned forays for elk, geese or turkeys. He once told an outdoors writer he preferred to hunt dangerous game, which could hunt him.
"That's my dad," Gallagher said.
She said he also was fond of word play, bantering and doing crossword puzzles: "He trained me on being a smart-aleck," she said.
Sellers is best remembered as the founder of Outdoor Buddies, which has about 300 "Handi-Buddy" participants, who pay no dues and go on hunting and fishing outings with "Able-Buddy" helpers.
The group started in 1984, when Sellers joined forces with Sam Andrews, recreational manager for Craig Hospital, to get mobility-impaired sportsmen back in the field. It has since inspired similar organizations in 37 other states.
Sellers retired as president of Outdoor Buddies in 2004, at 86, but he stayed on as chairman of the board.
Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis said she and Sellers became friends in 1995, when she was a senator from Pueblo and Sellers would show up at senate committee meetings to ask "for a little seed money" for Outdoor Buddies.
"I always found it to be a very inspiring story and I loved his enthusiasm," Dennis said.
She said Sellers kept in touch.
"He gave me his coat made from the first deer he ever shot as a kid," she said. "It must have meant a lot to him."
Sellers frequently was honored for his service. In 2001, he was chosen Outstanding Wildlife Citizen by the Western Fish and Wildlife Associations. In 2005, KMGH-Channel 7 gave him its Everyday Hero award.
In the field, Sellers was known as a firm taskmaster who kept his participants and assistants in tow, always emphasizing ethical, safe hunting conduct.
"He could be cantankerous," said Dwaine Robey, current president of Outdoor Buddies who remembers when Sellers nixed a blind man's assisted elk hunt in 2004 because "he needs a lot of practice."
"We knew the consequences of overruling Sid," Robey said.
So he gave the man the bad news. Then he and others went to work to find an electronic aid, which allowed the man to practice and meet Sellers' strict standards.
"He got his elk last year," Robey said. "Sid was right."
Sellers is succeeded by his wife, Marion, and daughter Carolyn Gallagher, both of Denver; daughter Bobbie Wheeler, 62, of Chugiak, Alaska; and grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Division of Wildlife's hunter education building, 6060 Broadway. Donations can be made to students pursuing a career in wildlife management, at The Sid and Marion Sellers Scholarship Fund, Outdoor Buddies Inc., P.O. Box 370283, Denver, CO 80237-0283.
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)
Written by Dr. Steve Flickinger, PhD.
I was introduced to Louis Swift in a fortuitous way. Louis had been consulting with Dr. Fred Glover about waterfowl on the property, and Fred referred Louis to me for help with fish. I remember being in the Coop Unit Bldg. when Louis and I met the first time, which means it was around 1970. As a new professor, I told Louis that I did not know where my career was going, but I would be interested in helping where I could. A couple years passed before I saw Louis again. This time he was mining gravel from the area that became Bigmouth Pond, and I was teaching a course on pond and reservoir management. Louis’ needs and my career path appeared to match, but little did I know at that time what a wonderful professional and personal relationship with a most generous man would develop.
The first thing my class did at Swift’s Ponds was to poison carp and stunted crappie in West Pond (now Narrows Pond). Naming ponds was one of the more difficult things Louis and I dealt with; maybe we lacked imagination. We started with South Pond (now Bigmouth), North Pond (now Willows), and West Pond. When Rainbow Hole was dug to the west of West Pond, it became clear ponds could not be named geographically. West Pond went through the most names: Panfish, Panhandle, Pork Chop, and Narrows is the name that stuck. I don’t know why; it is relatively narrow but is not the narrowest pond on the property. Back to the poisoning. I thought that if the pond were shallower, there would be a better mixing of the toxicant. Don Kehn was removing the gravel on the property, but he did not have a large pump at that time. Louis went to Sterling Sand and Gravel, a competing gravel company in Ft. Collins, and talked them into letting him use their pump. We pumped the pond too low for me to run an outboard motor, and we opened seep areas along the sides of the pond. This was the first of many mistakes I made but learned from, and Louis never criticized me nor lost faith in me. I was concerned that carp would stick their heads in the seep areas and survive. I had students applying rotenone along the seeps with sprinkling cans. I stayed after class and continued with the sprinkling cans. At one point I cut across the pond and found myself in mud up to my crotch. Martha was concerned that I could not get out of the pond. With slow progress I worked free. Carp did not survive.
Narrows Pond gained fame on the property for the 3 lb. smallmouth bass it produced. Lately the pond has had trouble with low oxygen in the summer from respiration of abundant aquatic plants. Seventeen grass carp were stocked before the problem arose; more are needed. Louis and I wanted a fishing jetty on Narrows Pond. The small point on the east shore is what we had Don Kehn start. The fill material Don was hauling from his road construction projects contained too much junk (plastic bottles, tennis shoes, etc.), so we stopped the jetty.
Early in my relationship with Louis, I stocked South (Bigmouth) Pond. Louis had the entire family there for the event, which I had not expected. As a first installment with more to come, I had brought 19 smallmouth bass dropouts from a feeding project one of my graduate students was conducting. Dropouts were those that refused to eat the pelleted food we were using. They were small and skinny. Louis’ children were disappointed. Louis and I raised their spirits by having each one catch a fish in the bucket with their hands and carry the fish to pond’s edge and release it. That was their fish now swimming in the pond.
Louis asked if rainbow trout could survive in South (Bigmouth) Pond. I told him the best way was to stock a few and see what happens. That fall I had 38 rainbow trout left after a class feeding and growth exercise. I stocked them, and the next spring my class captured one that was skinny and appeared diseased. It looked like rainbow trout were not suited for that pond. Over the next couple years, Louis’ children and others had a great time hooking and losing about as often as landing 3-4 lb. rainbow trout from those initial 38 in a 10-acre pond! Louis had a story about the big trout he liked to tell. A buxom woman was fishing from a boat, and one of the trout dove into weeds. The woman thought the fish was going to get away, so she jumped overboard. Shortly she came up with weeds and the trout cradled you know where!
South (Bigmouth) Pond had been stocked with “minnows” from a dealer who got his fish from area reservoirs. My classes found fathead minnows, white suckers, yellow perch, green sunfish, Johnny darters, and perhaps other species that I have forgotten. One day Louis saw carp jumping into the pond from the outlet tube. We screened the outlet but too late. Over time smallmouth bass proved incapable of controlling the unwanted species. We decided to poison and start over. This was going to be a major effort because of the size (10 acres) and because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to record the biomass gravel pit ponds in the area were capable of supporting. We needed some manpower. Louis had become connected with a couple fellows in the Longmont bass club. We invited the club to help with collection of fish as they begin to die and come to the surface. My graduate students assisted with application of rotenone and the weighing and measuring of the biomass. Based on the experience from West (Narrows) Pond, we did not pump to reduce the volume this time. We were aware of a field tile conveying ground water in the north end of “picnic cove”. Louis had Don Kehn dump a load of dirt over the end of the pipe to stop the flow. Pressure built up, and water began to flow in a different place. We were not able to bury that location. Perhaps because of fresh water entering there or because of sheer size of the pond, the kill on carp was not complete. Biomass was calculated to be 120 lb. per acre, which was lower than I expected, and that was important to know.
I had read a food habit study of flathead catfish in Oklahoma that stated carp made up 30% of their diet. Louis said let’s get some flathead catfish. I called a contact in North Platte, NE, expecting him to tell me to contact a biologist on the Missouri River. Instead he told me there are flathead catfish in an irrigation ditch around North Platte, and capturing them with a telephone crank is the most fun thing the fish crew does. They would be happy to help us get some flathead catfish. Louis and I headed to North Platte in July and ran into a severe thunderstorm with hail. Next morning we were capturing no flathead catfish. We thought maybe hail had cooled the water, and the fish were not active. We decided to drive into town for lunch and let the sun warm the water while we were eating. Generous Louis bought lunch for all of us. Water temperature had risen when we returned, and we captured 44 flathead catfish that afternoon. A year or two later, Louis, Tim Baker, and Keny Kehmeier went back for 48 more. Louis funded the trip. I was on vacation in Alaska but had made arrangements with the North Platte crew. It was a very hot day, and somewhere along the line a water fight broke out. Everyone was soaked but a little cooler. The success of flathead catfish in Bigmouth Pond is largely unknown. My classes captured two; one was small enough to indicate reproduction had occurred. During two different springs, I saw one dead flathead catfish that I estimated to weigh 20 lb, and none had been stocked anywhere near that large. Carp have not become a problem in Bigmouth Pond, but largemouth bass are present now as opposed to smallmouth bass previously. I do not know if flathead catfish are still present in Bigmouth Pond.
South Pond became known as Bigmouth Pond after the above poisoning. The pond was stocked with largemouth bass, and Don Gabelhouse (in KS then) had come up with his big bass pond management strategy, which my class wanted to try. Louis always accepted what my classes wanted to do. The major part of that option is removal of smaller bass so that there is more food for larger bass to grow to memorable size. Every time we removed small bass (one year 7,000 of them), the adults would respond with a large spawn and there would be too many small bass again. Abundant small bass is the crux of Gabelhouse’s panfish option, and thus frustration with the big bass option prompted changing to the panfish option, which Bigmouth Pond is still under.
Grass carp were stocked into Bigmouth Pond because Martha did not like walking through weeds on her way to a swimming/diving platform Louis anchored off picnic point. The grass carp are not nearly as noticeable as in Willows Pond, probably because fewer were stocked.
Bigmouth Pond has had three annexes. The first presented an opportunity to emphasize structure with dark cavities for flathead catfish. Louis brought trees from his house, he hauled an old car in from somewhere (many of the catfish had been collected around old car bodies protecting curves on the irrigation ditch), and Don Kehn donated some culverts, tires, and worn out screens from his crusher. Louis, Keny Kehmeier, and I arranged the materials and had a Kehn employee take a bulldozer and make gouges and humps on the annex bottom. We stood on the bank admiring what we had done to create fish habitat. We discussed how many acres we thought the annex was, and we bet a future lunch on the size. Louis wanted to get water into the annex faster than seep would do. The three of us discussed making a notch in the narrow strip of land separating Bigmouth Pond from the annex. We concluded if it were a shallow notch, it should not wash too rapidly. Wrong! The sandy gravel quickly washed away, and water rushed into the annex. The car body moved, the tires were caught in the circular flow that developed, and we stood in awe. In less than an hour when the water levels equalized, Bigmouth Pond had dropped about 2 ft. Louis was so depressed that he got his rifle and shot holes in the tires bobbing in the middle of the annex to get them to sink out of sight. We never measured the area of the annex, nor talked about who owed a lunch. During a CSU student work/ice-fishing outing, I placed a hut over the submerged car body. In the dark confines of the hut I could see into the water. A largemouth bass swam in and out the side window opening on the passenger side!
The second annex to Bigmouth Pond was dug when I had a student who liked to catch largemouth bass on surface lures. He hauled many truck loads of Russian olive trees that were being cut down on the State tree nursery on the CSU Foothills Campus. The trees were stood vertically in tires filled with concrete. No notch was made this time. When full the annex was connected to Bigmouth Pond by reaching out with a track hoe and removing the overburden down to a shallow depth on the east side of the second annex.
The third annex was being excavated at the time of the infamous story of Louis dragging two huge spruce trees down Harmony Road with his farm tractor during the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Some additional trees and large cottonwood stumps were also placed into the third annex. Louis sent a bulldozer operator to rough up the bottom for fish habitat as had been done in the first annex. A while later another Kehn employee came by and thought the annex bottom “looked like Hell.” He went down there and smoothed the bottom. Louis was too kind to ask someone to return to make the bottom uneven.
Bigmouth Pond was the site for many student activities. The islands were (and still are) washing away from waves. Several times Louis collected Christmas trees, and the students would drill holes in the trunks to string a rope that was periodically attached to an “onion sack” filled with rocks. The trees were dragged into place on the ice. A picnic usually followed the work. CSU fishery students held an annual picnic/fishing day in the spring at Swift Ponds. A couple times Louis bought half a pig for the students to roast. Some students were there most of the night tending the charcoal. Louis would swing by and visit for a while. My pond and reservoir management class was seldom more than 10 students. Sometimes we would end the sampling effort (two months as more ponds were dug) with an evening of hot dogs, marshmallows, beer, and talk around a fire. Again, Louis would usually come by for a visit. Another favorite story of Louis’ was one time he was traveling in Alaska. A young man looked at him and said, “I know you; you are Louis Swift.” The fellow had been a student at CSU and had gotten to know Louis at Swift Ponds.
Louis had a strong interest in providing outdoor recreational opportunities for handicapped people. That presented a dimension to CSU fishery students that is lightly, or not at all, addressed at other universities. We addressed species that are relatively easy to catch and attributes and problems of different kinds of structure to attract fish to specific locations. Bigmouth Pond has bluegills, which generally stick close to shore and can be caught with simple tackle (cane pole, bobber, hook, and bait). Two (one has floated from its perch) fishing docks on opposite sides of the entrance to picnic point have brush underwater in front of the platform. Snagging in brush is a problem for all anglers. Persons in wheelchairs often locate on the west side of picnic point. Sections of PVC pipe are submerged in vertical position within casting distance to attract largemouth bass and black crappie. Snagging has been a minimal problem, and some nice sized bass and crappie have been caught from the PVC structure, but numbers of fish caught have been small. The third dock on Bigmouth Pond was built with the intent of loading persons in wheelchairs onto a pontoon boat to take them for a ride and to fish off-shore locations. To my knowledge, no one has ever brought a pontoon boat to fulfill the intent.
North Pond was ready for stocking about the same time as South (Bigmouth) Pond. Louis wanted different species in different ponds. Thus I stocked largemouth bass and fathead minnows. There is literature that says fathead minnows disappear in the face of largemouth bass predation. Fishery students piled cobble-size stones and anchored bundles of tree limbs in an effort to provide spawning/hiding places for fathead minnows. The stone piles sank into the sand, and the bundles came apart with wave action. I had another failure. Furthermore, even with cover provided by dense aquatic vegetation that developed (next paragraph), fathead minnows disappeared as indicated in the literature. Willow trees planted on the north and west banks grew to dominant features around the pond, and thus the name of North Pond was changed to Willows Pond.
Until recently there was a cornfield across the county road to the north of Willows Pond. Irrigation return flows from the field needed to exit somewhere. Louis, in his “good neighbor” attitude, allowed that water to flow into Willows Pond. Fertilizer applied to the cornfield entered Willows Pond, which is shallow, and aquatic vegetation completely choked the pond. I had a graduate student studying grass carp and told the student to stock some grass carp. Little was known about grass carp at the time; we did not know how many to stock. My student stocked all the surplus grass carp not being used in his study (more than 40 per acre; with more knowledge I now recommend 5-10 per acre). Within a couple years all rooted aquatic vegetation had been eaten by the large number of grass carp. Although I never witnessed grass carp eating leaves from the willow limbs hanging over the pond, there was an obvious “grazing line” on the willow limbs. Before an outlet was installed on Willows Pond, it would rise from its banks when water was entering from the cornfield. The grass carp would eat flooded grass around the pond. With rooted aquatic vegetation eliminated, nutrients from the cornfield cycled into blue-green algae. At times Willows Pond looks bad and smells bad. One could call grass carp in Willows Pond another one of my failures, but I call it a disappointment. Grass carp have made the pond fishable and prevented almost certain summerkill/winterkill problems.
One time when the grass carp were about 12 lb., a child there for a kid’s fishing day hooked a grass carp on a Rapala minnow, of all things. After landing the large fish the child was so tired that he did not fish the rest of the day! Barry Reynolds, noted fishing guide and author, perfected flies and techniques for catching grass carp at Willows Pond and then included a chapter about it in one of his books. One day he hooked a 30-pound grass carp on a fly rod. The fish peeled his line down to the backing and then headed around the island. Barry had visions of losing his $60 fly line. Luckily the fish turned back. Early sampling efforts revealed that grass carp make spectacular leaps over a seine. A recruiting video for fishery biology at CSU includes 30-pound grass carp in Willows Pond leaping over a seine pulled by students. A popular concluding activity with the high school Frontiers of Science program that has a session on fish ecology/management at Swift’s Ponds is seining grass carp and having them jump over the heads of participants who are in the water trying to hold the seine above their heads.
When Louis decided to install an overflow drain on Willows Pond, there was concern that common carp could enter from North Mallard Creek. I don’t recall whether Louis or Keny Kehmeier came up with the idea of a concrete box filled with cobble-sized rocks to prevent passage of fingerling and larger common carp (fry don’t seem to live in the creek). This box was the prototype for a much larger Colorado Division of Wildlife structure with gravel to prevent movement of sucker fry into Lake John.
Entry of irrigation water from the cornfield resulted in occasional immigration of unwanted fish species. Students in the classes that worked with Louis to manage the ponds decided to not stock prey species after fathead minnows disappeared. Largemouth bass in Willows Pond would be hungry and should consume unwanted immigrants. White suckers, yellow perch, black bullheads, and common carp found their way into Willows Pond, but none became permanently established.
Despite abundant and relatively naïve bass populations in “North”, “South”, and “West” Ponds, Cub Scouts had little success catching fish on their outings at Swift’s Ponds. Louis wanted to try rainbow trout. Even though rainbow trout had grown well in South (Bigmouth) Pond, I thought a pond with deeper, colder water would be better. Thus as the next pond was being excavated, Louis, at his expense, had two holes dug 17 ft. into the blue shale. One hole is about 0.1 acre and lies slightly southwest of the point on the north shore. The excavated shale made the point. The other hole is about 0.25 acre, and the excavated shale made the island in the pond. Previously, islands and safe, gradual slopes on the sides were existing gravel. In this pond and subsequent ponds blue shale was pushed from the bottom to slope the sides. This change yielded more gravel and made the ponds a little deeper. When groundwater filled the pond, maximum water depth in the excavated holes is 31 ft. With rainbow trout and deep holes, Louis logically named the pond Rainbow Hole.
We had observed wave erosion on the islands in South (Bigmouth) Pond, and did not want that to happen to the island in Rainbow Hole. Louis had Don Kehn dump some rip-rap material on top of the island before ceasing the pumping to keep the depression dry. The material was chunks of rock, mostly too big to work with. One winter my children and I used a pry bar to roll the smaller chunks that were not frozen in the ground down to the ice edge. It was a minimal effort, and fortunately the blue shale has resisted erosion.
Also while the depression was dry, holes were drilled into the shale on the south side of the larger hole for concrete pillars to support a fishing platform. The intent was to provide close access to where we thought rainbow trout would live during summer. Trout did not concentrate in the hole, probably because they needed to roam to find food. Also, youthful anglers lack ability and patience to fish deep water. Access to the platform was via a floating walkway. Muskrats liked to burrow in the styrofoam blocks and ice also degraded the floats. After a couple years Louis dismantled the walkway. On some occasions I took advantage of the isolated platform. In general students don’t like the tedium of conducting water quality tests, and they tend to wander in the direction of groups doing what appears to be more exciting. I would shuttle the water quality group to the platform in a boat and leave them there without a way to shore until their work was completed.
Larimer County Search and Rescue sank a boat and an airplane in the larger hole and then conducted training sessions at Rainbow Hole. After about 10 years hydrogen sulfide content in the water in the hole became high enough to make diving dangerous, and training was discontinued. If electrical power becomes available at Rainbow Hole, a technique called hypolimnetic aeration could be used to add oxygen to the deep water with minimal change in temperature. Oxygen would change the chemical reactions that occur in pond muds, and hydrogen sulfide would not be formed.
Prior to stocking rainbow trout I got permission from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to collect freshwater shrimp from reservoirs west of Laramie. Freshwater shrimp need vegetation, and a new pond will have none. We put seven bales of hay into Rainbow Hole along with about a gallon of shrimp. Chara, a macrophytic algae, started growing in Rainbow Hole within a year. The shrimp became established, and the rainbow trout were feeding on them.
As friends, Louis and I had gone to Horsetooth Reservoir to net crayfish and have a “crawfish boil”, which we enjoyed. We decided to create crawfish boil opportunities from Rainbow Hole. Unfortunately, crayfish introduced from Horsetooth Reservoir greatly reduced Chara in Rainbow Hole, and the freshwater shrimp became rare. Fathead minnows appeared in Rainbow Hole, we think, from an angler we caught fishing with bait. Brown trout and Snake River cutthroat trout feed on fathead minnows, so we tried them. The brown trout grew no bigger than the rainbow trout had, and only two cutthroat trout were captured when they were small.
Rainbow Hole is now being used by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) as a refugium for Sacramento perch, which once were doing well in several ponds in Larimer and Weld counties. CDOW biologists have added emerald shiners to Rainbow Hole to have a source for introductory stockings. Guest anglers at Swift’s Ponds seldom go to Rainbow Hole, presumably because it is a long way from the general parking area and Sacramento perch have been hard to catch.
Perhaps the biggest fishing success at Rainbow Hole was an ice-fishing instructional video Dick Gasaway , a fishing guide, and I made. The fishing was outstanding; we did not have to “arrange” any of the action. On two occasions after the video had been available for sale, a total stranger said to me, “I know you; you are in the ice-fishing video.” An acquaintance of mine saw me a couple years after the video was made, and he said he could not figure it out where I was catching trout so quickly near a highway with lots of cars going by in the background. I knew that he would not bother Louis with a request to go fishing, so I told him where there were lots of trout next to I-25.
Rainbow Hole may be the biggest failure Louis and I had. Digging holes that did not concentrate rainbow trout and building a platform that had little use certainly were the most expensive mistakes we made. Only a generous and forgiving person like Louis would want to continue with a young professor who was making mistakes but learning and developing what students considered one of the two best fishery courses CSU offered.
Don Kehn needed a relatively small amount of gravel in a short time, and he excavated a rectangular area north of Bigmouth Pond. Initially, I was going to request a diagonal dike, making two similar ponds that I would suggest calling Twin Sisters. The excavation unexpectedly cut across a field tile line that was draining ground water from the high water table under fields to the north and west of Louis’ ponds. Aron Kriss was in my class that year, and he pushed hard for diking off a small portion of the excavated area where the field tile was conveying cold water to make a trout pond for kid’s fishing. By being small, hopefully the trout could not “hide” beyond casting distance of children. The two ponds became known as Big Sister and Little Sister.
At the time Big Sister Pond needed to be stocked, Bigmouth Pond was on the big bass option, so my class decided we should get a pond started on the panfish option. Largemouth bass got started OK, but for some reason the bluegill stocking failed. Randy Van Buren (former CSU student employed by CDOW) had salvaged what he thought might be the last 20 Sacramento perch in Colorado, and he put them into Big Sister. After a couple years of only modest increase in Sacramento perch numbers, it was decided to salvage as many of them as practical before poisoning the pond and starting over. Largemouth bass are my favorite species, and I was depressed to be poisoning them without the usual reason of unwanted rough fish invasion. About 70 Sacramento perch were moved to Rainbow Hole, where they would not have to deal with predation by largemouth bass. Louis asked what rotenone would cost; I told him $50/gallon. When I got the bill, rotenone had increased to $90/gallon. He said nothing, and our relationship continued.
Little Sister did stay cold enough to support rainbow trout, but children were having difficulty catching them. Louis had been rigging rods with artificial flies and lures because he was interested in instilling a catch and release ethic. I thought it was important for kids to catch their first fish. Louis and I compromised. Kids fished with bait until they caught their first fish. Then when they brought the fish to the table for cleaning and placement into a cooler with their name on a plastic bag, they had to exchange the rod rigged with bait for a rod rigged with a fly or a lure. Success increased tremendously. The all-time high was 700 Cub Scouts caught 400+ trout. Little Sister had one shortcoming: it was too small, especially at the ends. Kids on opposite banks got lines tangled with criss-crossing casts.
Louis and I then laid out a long pond to maximize shoreline to spread out anglers but a somewhat narrow pond to reduce the area where trout could live beyond the length of a child’s cast. We located the pond to the north of Big and Little Sister Ponds, which intercepted the field tile supplying cold water to Little Sister Pond. Since cold water is more dense than warm water, it sinks. I proposed that a trench be dug in the bottom of this new pond to collect the cold water, and then a pipe extending into the trench would convey cold “overflow” to Little Sister Pond to keep it a trout pond. Piling the excavated blue shale in the middle of the pond would make the middle relatively shallow and further encourage trout to live in the trench close to shore, within casting distance of children. Louis, always thinking about access for handicapped anglers, came up with a fishing bridge spanning this pond so that anglers in wheelchairs could drop their lines straight down into the trench. The steel I-beams are in place, but much of the year they are under water (elevation error), and no decking has been installed. The person digging the trench was doing so the Friday before Memorial weekend. He told Louis and me that he was going to leave at 2 PM. The pump used to lower the water table for excavating had been removed. About noon Louis and I could see that time was running out to get the trench all the way around the pond, and by Tuesday water would be too deep for machinery to be in the pond. Thus we had the operator cut across the pond about two-thirds of the way to the east and bring the trench back to the west far enough for Louis and me to install the “overflow” connection to Little Sister Pond.
The connection was a simple design of an adapter/reducer attached to the piece of field tile going into Little Sister Pond and then a short piece of PVC pipe, a 45 degree el, a long piece of pipe to reach near the bottom of the trench, and a cap to keep fish from swimming into the pipe. Many small holes were drilled in the pipe at the depth of the trench to allow cold water to enter. Both Louis and I had done this kind of plumbing, but we struggled that day. The clay field tile kept crumbling when we tried to attach the adapter, so we would have to dig farther to try to get a solid piece to attach to. Accomplishing that took several attempts. Then we struggled and struggled to get the 45 degree el with rubber gaskets to slide onto the pipe. It was a very hot day, and we had consumed the water that Louis to had brought from the house. We, too, wanted to get away for the holiday weekend and did not want to lose time going for more drinking water. By the time we completed the work we were dehydrated and exhausted. We often reminisced about what a horrible effort that was.
With Big Sister and Little Sister Ponds representing Louis’ daughters, it was natural to name the new pond in proximity Big Brother. We often referred to those ponds as the family group.
With pond numbers and area increasing, Louis thought it would be good to have a recreational plan to direct our efforts. He provided $10,000 to the CSU Department of Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism to involve students in development of a plan. Louis did not get what he wanted, and additional work by a retired Department professor did not reach Louis’ expectations. Louis and I proceeded one pond at a time as we had been doing.
Carson Cox was one of my graduate students when Walleye Pond was being excavated, and he had represented fishery interests in the above mentioned plan. Carson was familiar with fishing docks, popular in Kansas and Oklahoma, and had pushed for a fishing dock in the new pond. Louis liked the idea of an opportunity to attract fish to a localized area for non-mobile anglers. Again the question of what kind of fish attractors arose. We decided to vary the structure and then evaluate for application for future fishing docks. The west side of the platform in Walleye Pond has vertical treetops anchored in tires filled with concrete. Louis let us drive his old side-dump farm truck to the Red Feather Lakes area to get treetops from a firewood cutting location. The brakes on the truck were not great, but we made two trips without incident. The south side of the platform has a stake bed (rows of first slabs cut from saw logs, driven into the pond bottom). Stake beds are a popular way to attract crappies in Tennessee. Pyramids of bundled pipe and stacks of broken concrete are on the east side of the platform, and tires suspended on a stretched nylon rope span the north side. It was never clear to me why Louis did not get the deck installed on the platform. At times he would pursue bids and line up someone to construct it, but the deck would not get built. As a consequence we never evaluated the fish attractors. For information to anyone who might construct the platform in the future, the design is like a square donut; don’t cover the hole in the middle. The attractors are under where the deck will be, and anglers can fish on the edge of the attractors either in the hole or outside the platform. Some fishing docks have a house, sometimes with heat, over the hole for winter fishing.
Walleye Pond is a misleading name for this pond, but Louis started it and it stuck. Yes, walleye live in the pond, but their role is “silent” predator. They should not be featured because reproduction is limited in small ponds. Walleye need wind-swept rocky beaches to scatter adhesive eggs. In an attempt to enhance their spawning success, we filled two shallow gabions with rocks. I thought it was odd to be adding rocks to a gravel pit pond, but in reality, the gravel had been mined, leaving crumbly blue shale. White crappie and yellow perch were the featured species because they provide high catch rates. John Goettl brought unusually large crayfish from Quincy Reservoir, and the large size continued in Walleye Pond. One time a regional meeting of fishery biologists had an evening social at Swift’s Ponds, and boiled crawfish from Walleye pond were served. Recently largemouth bass have gained access, and I don’t know what the aquatic community looks like now. Two changes can be observed from shore: 1. Bullfrog tadpoles are gone, likely from bass predation, and 2. Aquatic vegetation has increased; presumably bass predation has reduced crayfish abundance thereby allowing vegetation to flourish.
Golden Pond got its name from golden shiners (and the movie added support) that were stocked along with emerald shiners and fathead minnows to see if a combination of minnows would buffer each other and avoid elimination from bass predation as occurs with single species stockings of minnows. It did not work. North Mallard Creek backed up one time and flooded into Golden Pond, introducing common carp, white suckers, green sunfish, and largemouth bass. Carp have established a low population, white suckers did not establish, green sunfish were prominent for a while but are rare now, and largemouth bass have pretty much displaced the original smallmouth bass.
When another pond was excavated next to Golden Pond, Louis wanted to join the two ponds. I suggested a shallow connection to provide a bar for spawning. Bass use it, but at low water levels I could not get work boats to float across it. The underwater hump in the middle of the east section is not an island that washed away. Louis thought he had enough geese and did not want another island for them. I suggested a reef. Some trees that Louis removed from around his house and buildings are anchored along the west shore of the east part and the southwest shore of the west part. Broken concrete was placed along the north shore of the west part and off the point in the west part. Louis had a working relationship with Front Range Community College, and one of their classes got a $1000 seine caught on the pile of concrete off the point. They did not know it was there. A person with SCUBA gear was needed to free the seine.
North Golden Pond was the last pond to be excavated. Louis wanted to connect it to Golden Pond. At the time I wanted to follow the competition between smallmouth bass and the introduced largemouth bass in Golden Pond. North Golden Pond was supposed to be smallmouth bass only. Now largemouth bass have gotten into North Golden Pond, and a connection to Golden Pond would make no biological difference. However, without a bridge, connection would stop a circular traffic pattern on the property. Also, no pond on the property has Louis’ name, and I would suggest changing North Golden Pond to Louis’ Pond.
Louis’ Pond (North Golden) has framework for another fishing dock. Fish attractors were not placed around the frame because we were waiting for the evaluation of various structures placed in Walleye Pond. Plenty of fish structure was placed elsewhere in Louis’ Pond. Brush was placed along the east and south shores, and many piles of broken concrete were stacked in the middle portion. Jim White, a fishery graduate student at CSU, developed a sonar/computer evaluation of underwater vertical relief based on data collected from Louis’ Pond. The shallow lobes on the east shore came from another failure. In discussions of how to get kids interested in aquatic life, it came out that many of us who have that interest kept a tadpole in an aquarium or a tin can when we were kids. The lobes were initially isolated (from fish) frog ponds, but they did not get dug properly (sides were too steep). Don Kehn was moving his gravel operation to a different location, and we were losing easy access to excavation equipment. We were able to prevail on him before he left to connect the failed frog ponds to Louis’ Pond.
When the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society met in Ft. Collins, the attendees were bussed to Swift’s Ponds for an evening of socializing. During the brief program, Louis said some kind words about what CSU fishery biology students and I had done on the property, and he announced that the newest pond (at that time) was going to be named Doc’s Pond in honor of me. After those flattering remarks Louis turned to jest and held up a weird-looking wooden fence post with attached junk that a work-study student of mine had created. I had thrown it into Doc’s Pond to get rid of it; Louis had pulled it out, attributed it to me, and asked the crowd to explain what kind of fish attractor that was! It provided a good laugh.
Doc’s Pond has a relatively large reef and a few big cottonwood trunks. I like big fish, and thus “my” pond was stocked with tiger muskies and hybrid striped bass (wipers), both having the potential to get big. The tiger muskies were hard to catch, though Barry Reynolds (mentioned in regard to fishing for grass carp in Willows Pond) thought he had caught all seven (stocked one per acre) based on color differences. The last time I saw one of them I estimated the weight at 6-7 lb., not as large as I expected. The first stocking of hybrid striped bass produced some specimens in excess of 10 lb. The second stocking occurred during Mindy Gasaway’s Master’s thesis research, and unfortunately for Mindy, it was nearly a total failure because the young fish had not inflated their gas bladders during their early life at a fish hatchery. The hatchery changed procedures, and the next stocking had high survival. I knew that wipers are susceptible to capture in gillnets and therefore put only two nets in the water for an hour in the evening before going night electrofishing. We captured 84 and were still picking fish out of gillnets after dark. Because neither tiger muskies nor wipers are capable of spawning, likely both should be stocked again.
Louis and Shauna came up with the name Fishtank Pond from the nickname of Shauna’s husband (Tank from Tankersly). During discussion of what species to stock, I wanted an opportunity for fishery students to have experience with the three major species of black bass. Largemouth and smallmouth bass were in other ponds; I needed spotted bass somewhere to complete the trio. This species appealed to Louis; he had always encouraged me and my students to make the ponds different from the standpoints of species composition and management objectives. Learning and teaching were as important to Louis as to me. Because of concern regarding exotic species, I had to get special permission from the Colorado Division of Wildlife to import spotted bass. The permit states that spotted bass can be in only that pond, and if at some later time CDOW does not want spotted bass in this part of the State, the pond will have to be poisoned. Former student Carson Cox (mentioned earlier regarding fishing docks) was employed with the Kansas Fish and Game Department, and spotted bass live in his part of Kansas. I drove to Junction City to pick up 10 adults that he had collected for me. Spotted bass are attracted to spawn in the vicinity of brush on cliffs up to 20 ft. deep. We placed concrete and logs in the deepest part of the pond to satisfy that behavior.
Early on spotted bass were a big success. Scott Gilmore regularly organizes kid’s fishing days at Swift’s Ponds. He told me that when he has a child who has not caught a fish, he takes the child to Fishtank Pond, and he or she usually catches a spotted bass. Louis gave me permission to hold a mock fishing tournament on the property to get input on whether that could be a way to raise money for the property. I put aluminum boats on the six ponds (at that time) that had black bass, and every hour invited anglers moved to another pond. Two guys on Fishtank Pond were having so much fun catching spotted bass on surface lures that I had to be firm with them to get them to move. Like most of the ponds, Fishtank Pond now has unplanned largemouth bass. I don’t know if largemouth bass will displace spotted bass like they did smallmouth bass in Golden Pond.
As the one who worked most closely with Louis, it has been my intent in writing these anecdotes to give insight to Louis’ vision and generosity and how that connected to the education of CSU fishery biology students. The most visible tribute those students have for Louis is when I see one of them, after exchanging pleasantries the first thing they ask is what is going on at Swift’s Ponds. At one point in my career I thought about going to the University of Minnesota to be closer to my parents, but when it occurred to me that there would be no Louis Swift in St. Paul, I decided to stay at CSU. It was a good decision!
Chase Swift created this website to keep the history of Swift Ponds alive.