October 2013
Our Outdoor Heritage

Feeding the Family with Pond and Pole

  Rolley Len, Cason and Jason love to fish as much as they love to eat fish.

When it is time to plan what your family will have for dinner, some of you will be walking down to your pond with a fishing pole rather than going to your freezer. Having fresh fish from your backyard is truly one of the best things about living in the country.

Our pond has bream for bait and to eat. It also has bass. Rolley Len and Cason love to fish as much as they love to eat fish. When Jason suggests they "come on with me down to the pond," the kids don’t hesitate. Grabbing shoes and bug spray, they take off for the pasture. Even when they don’t fish with their own poles, they can spend a lot of quality time watching Jason or Paw-Paw RJ.

Stock your pond with your favorite fish and bait fish and get ready for years of good eating right out of your backyard. Sometimes fish hatcheries will bring fingerlings to your local Co-op. These are small fish used to stock your pond. On certain days of the month, companies bring grass carp, bream, bass and catfish.

Farm ponds and any other type of small lake need to be managed properly if you want to use them for fishing. Ponds can get overrun with bass or any type of fish if you don’t manage the population, so you need to be sure to thin it out throughout the year. Managing a pond includes liming and fertilizing the water. Another way to manage it is by shocking the pond, which local pond management companies can help you do. The purpose of shocking the pond is to estimate how many fish are in the pond and how many need to be removed to keep the pond regulated.

Bream, bass and catfish can be caught and kept at different sizes depending on your use for them. When Jason catches a bass that is 2 pounds or under in our pond, he keeps it to eat. A common goal for bream fishermen is to have a 1 pound fish, but Jason enjoys eating a whole medium size brim that is 9-12 ounces. Grass carp should be replaced every 7 years because that is when they typically reach their maximum size.

Jason cleans the fish and then places them in gallon plastic jugs with the tops cut off. You can use clean milk jugs or juice bottles. After he puts the fish in the jug, he covers them with water and then freezes them. The fish will last over a year frozen like this.

We often have friends and family who fish in our pond. If you share your pond with others, before they fish explain to your guests what they can keep and what should be returned to the pond. Make sure they know to write down what kind of fish were caught, how many of each kind, and the weight and the length of what they catch.

Be sure to protect your investment in your property by working to prevent infestation of beavers, otters or a large turtle population. Beavers will make holes in your dam and will also cut down trees on them for their own purposes causing damage to the dam. Your dam should be clear of trees to help prevent this from happening. Too many otters or turtles in your pond can cause a drop in your fish population.

With some planning, ponds can be an efficient way to feed your family for years. If you manage your resources wisely, it can be one of the most truly productive assets for you. Bass are biting year round in Alabama, so find a public lake or river, or, even better, stock your own pond, so anytime you want fresh fish all you have to do is walk into your backyard for your next meal.

Bass can be cooked many ways including being battered in seasoned cornmeal and fried. That is how Jason cooks bream; however, Jason prefers bass grilled.

Grilled Bass

Heat the grill to 325-350°. Season the bass with salt and pepper. Melt 1 stick of butter for basting. As the bass grills, baste it with the melted butter. Grill on each side; time will depend on the thickness of the fish.


Christy Kirk is a freelance writer who lives in Little Texas.