Archive for largemouth bass

Grippen Pond – back to life…

Posted in Fishing Reports, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on May 23, 2018 by stflyfisher

Grippen Pond sits a mere 50 yards off my back deck and is, at last, reborn. I thought about making that call last year, after hooking and losing a nice bass and following that with a 15″ rainbow trout (a first ever for me in the pond and most likely a holdover from a neighbor’s stocking), but for the rest of the year, the pond just didn’t fish like it used to, especially in summer and fall. My first saunter back to it on an early evening this year convinced me otherwise and left me grinning and looking forward to times like the good old days.


The first bass of 2018…

Followers of this blog will remember posts I made years back. After moving my family into a bigger house in 1998, I did a recon of the pond on which we had frontage and deeded recreational access and found it teeming with small sunfish and frogs. Weedy and mucky, the pond looked old. Locals claimed it was once a place where kids swam and dairy cows drank cool spring water…

Ponds, like us fishermen, grow old and eventually die. The life of any pond will pass through 3 phases: 1) Oligotrophic, 2) Mesotrophic, and finally, 3) Eutrophic. County Soil & Water Conservation surveyed the pond years back and confirmed it was old and dying. The only way to rejuvenate it effectively would be to drain it and excavate. Early on (we’re talking pre-1900), the pond was quite possibly Oligotrophic: deep and clear and having a low concentration of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Over time, keeping in mind it was on land that became a dairy farm, the pond transitioned to the Mesotrophic stage: having more nutrients and, therefore, more plant and algae growth. As a result of the plant and algae growth, the bottom of the pond began to fill in with organic material. The substrate that was once rock, sand, or gravel, now would have consisted of mud on top of the rocks. Gradually, Grippen Pond became Eutrophic as it is today – extremely well nourished with nitrogen and phosphorus, leading to an abundance of aquatic plant growth. The bottom of the pond is now filled with organic sediment and mud – I’ve waded in areas were I sank in up to my knees. In the heat of summer, vast mats of aquatic weeds and duckweed give the bass a shady hiding place, safe from the herons that hunt the pond’s shallows. The depth of the pond at its deepest point is over 10 feet but I am sure it continues to fill in as all of that aquatic vegetation dies each year. As the pond or lake fills in and weed growth accelerates, the total open water area will shrink. Eventually, Grippen Pond is destined to be a swamp or wetland without intervention.

In 1998 it was evident that Grippen Pond lacked a population of bass to control the sunfish population and I decided to attempt to balance out the situation by playing bucket biologist, stocking some bass from a coworker’s pond.

Scroll forward a few years and the bass were alive and growing…


Years back, a bright, beautifully marked, largemouth bass

Unbeknownst to me, however, my neighbor on the other side of the pond and owner of the pond, was doing his own stocking. Fathead minnows, crappie, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout were apparently planted almost every year. He had good intentions, but the rainbow trout certainly wouldn’t survive the warm water of the pond, especially through summer, though I now know at least one did. Quite possibly, the deep part of the pond has cold springs that allowing a few to survive. I’ve never caught crappie, but I have caught some supersized sunfish that took bass-sized poppers and wooly buggers with mouths big enough to lip.


Big enough to take a bass popper…

The big male pumpkinseed sunfish in the picture above eventually met a far worse fate than being caught and released by yours truly. The winter of 2014 – 2015 was not kind to Grippen Pond as the Southern Tier of NY was hit with incredibly cold weather. On the way to work one morning I measured a low temperature of -27 degrees F! The arctic environment sealed the pond shut with a thick layer of ice that lasted well into April. And on top of the ice, the winter’s snow layered up into a very heavy coat.

These conditions can set up ponds, especially shallow ones, for “winter kills”. A winter kill occurs when the ice cover cuts off oxygenation of the water and then snow cover on the ice cuts out sunlight to aquatic plants, causing them to die. The dead plants, in turn, use even more oxygen as they decompose: a deadly downward spiral for all aquatic life.

And so that spring of 2015 was a rough one. I remember scanning the shoreline from my kayak, finding hundreds of sunfish, good numbers of bass, and a few very large grass carp, all dead. Spring turned to summer and the pond was unusually quiet. Gone were the sounds of bass crashing bait in the shallows in the evening. Gone too were the toilet bowl flush swirls at any popper tossed close to a weed edge.


A very large grass carp that took, of all things, a chartreuse bass popper! I caught this monster in May of 2014 – the spring before the winter kill. It towed me around the pond in my kayak for quite a while…

After a disappointing 2015, I once again patrolled the pond in the spring of 2016, hoping to see signs of a comeback. Paddling about in my kayak, the pond’s owner, a friendly, elderly neighbor, came out of his house to talk to me one evening. I told him the 2015 winter kill had eliminated the bass and large sunfish and that the pond was overrun by small sunfish and frogs. Tadpoles that spring overwhelmed the shallows.


My kayak ready for duty. The pond owner’s house is in the background. Grippen Pond is a good 1.5 acres in size in the shape of a distorted kidney bean.

My neighbor listened intently to my suggestion that we re-stock some bass and acted on it that year, adding a bunch of decent-size bass from another pond.

As a result of this re-establishment of the bass population, sunfish appear to be under control. And the tadpole population also seems to be thinning. I think I know just where most of those have been going…


Another 2018 dandy from Grippen Pond…