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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Got a property with a rock quarry on it. Only a few acres. About 20ft deep. Crystal blue water. Lots of algae growing on the rocks. Plenty of nooks and crannies. Has at least one catfish, some small bass, and some sunfish in it. Heard rumors of crappie. But doesn’t seem like there is much food/bait fish production. Looking for recommendations on forage fish that might provide a solid food base. Plan of running feeders and stocking some catfish, but would like to try and develop a trophy fishery of some sort along with the catfish. I was thinking either some sort of chub minnow or shad, then possibly some hybrid stripers and maybe some tiger bass, then a few tiger Muskie to keep it all in check? Anyone ever seen a highly productive rock quarry fishery and have any advice to offer? Just too pretty of a body of water for just a swimming hole.
 

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Your limiting factor is probably going to be cover. I would also check the pH of the water. Most of the clear rock quarrys have pH issues depending on what was mined. Also if it's a step walled quarry 20 feet deep with nothing like a stream running in or out then my understanding is the top 8 feet is only good for most fish. If I remember correctly something about anything below 8 feet was oxygen deprived.

I would call G &F and have them send out a fisheries biologist. They don't charge anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Your limiting factor is probably going to be cover. I would also check the pH of the water. Most of the clear rock quarrys have pH issues depending on what was mined. Also if it's a step walled quarry 20 feet deep with nothing like a stream running in or out then my understanding is the top 8 feet is only good for most fish. If I remember correctly something about anything below 8 feet was oxygen deprived.

I would call G &F and have them send out a fisheries biologist. They don't charge anything.
Kind of my thought also. I think the PH is ok, because it has fish in it currently, and plenty of algae, but I haven’t tested so I could be completely wrong. I’ve spoken with the private fisheries biologist outta Pine Bluff, absolutely great guy who’s willing to put a plan into action. The quarry has outflow about 6mo outta the year, but no Spring or creek. It seeps outta the rock walls when the ground has moisture. There isn’t much cover at all except the rocks themselves. Thats why I was thinking either an open water forage fish like shad, or something that could hide in rocks like chub. We’ve considered adding an aerator, but have no power source at the quarry....yet. Have plenty acres of cedar we could pile around the edges and create some habitat. Also seen some floating “islands” used for fish habitat. Considered trout and walleye also. I think it’s borderline on the depth. 10-12ft would probably be much more productive. It’s just deep enough to not let sun hit the bottom. You can see the bottom around the edges when the water is a few feet low, but not much before it drops off. Property also has a small 1/4ac cattle pond that the biologist and I discussed making a forage pond to grow food for the quarry, but would love some way to turn fish food into live bait to raise predator fish that won’t feed train. Thread fin will probably do well, and gizzard would probably explode, but gizzard can get bigger than a bass can eat, hence the idea of tiger Muskie or another sterile top level predator to eat the big shad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would need to take some midsummer water temps at the bottom before knowing if trout would survive. In my dreams, I have some rainbows that live at the bottom in cold deep water during the summer and provide Winter action. Arkansas stocks trout in ponds all over the state in Nov, but they die before summer. Sauger/saugeye can live in warm muddy water, and the saugeye may be mostly sterile, which would be a plus. A lot easier to find a hatchery with them than walleye from the little research I’ve done.
Solar powered, duh, shoulda thought of that. Not sure if a paddle wheel will work for deep water tho. Do they make a deep water air pump powered from solar? I’m sure you can make anything work, but plug n play would be nice! I have future plans for electricity at the quarry, it’s about 1/4 mile away now at the trailer that came with the place. It’s definitely not gonna be your typical bass, catfish, bluegill fishery that is self sustaining. But I love a good challenge. And yes, it is absolutely an awesome swimming hole. Like having your own party cove on the lake!!
 

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A lot of those quarry lakes are fairly sterile. I probably wouldnt fertilize because it will definitely affect water clarity. The feeding will do a lot for you - but if I wasnt absolutely crazy about catfish, I wouldnt stock any - or at least not very many. They will eat 90% of your fish food. I think central AR is going to be too hot for trout. If forage fish are a problem, I dont know that I would want a bunch of predator fish in there like trout, crappie, catfish, musky, walleye, etc. If your forage is a problem, you dont need a lake full of predators. Cover sounds to be your limiting factor at this point - and maybe spawning habitat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A lot of those quarry lakes are fairly sterile. I probably wouldnt fertilize because it will definitely affect water clarity. The feeding will do a lot for you - but if I wasnt absolutely crazy about catfish, I wouldnt stock any - or at least not very many. They will eat 90% of your fish food. I think central AR is going to be too hot for trout. If forage fish are a problem, I dont know that I would want a bunch of predator fish in there like trout, crappie, catfish, musky, walleye, etc. If your forage is a problem, you dont need a lake full of predators. Cover sounds to be your limiting factor at this point - and maybe spawning habitat.
Thanks for the input. The reason for the predators would be the “sport” fish value. Hybrids, trout, bluegill, and catfish can all be feed trained. Bass not so much. I think you’re 100% correct in the lack of cover and spawning habitat being the limiting factor. Not sure there is much I can do about it tho, except try to work around it. I was hoping to find something like shad that don’t require as specific of habitat. I think they lay eggs on rocks and swim away, and then they live in open water schools instead of inside cover. I can restock the game fish, no worries. But really need a forage base that doesn’t require much shallow water spawning habitat, or escape cover. Otherwise I’ll be stuck with having to grow forage off site and move to the pond, which sounds like a hassle! Thought about renting some cattle ponds from the neighbor as grow out ponds for the “trophy” fish as well, instead of stocking small game fish every few years.
 

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Would tilapia survive there?
Last Feb when the big freeze hit there were thousands of dead Tilapia washed up on the shores at Falcon Lake at Zapata TX ( Deep South TX near Laredo) . I can’t imagine they would survive an average Arkansas winter.
They wouldn't......

But if he is stocking "sportfish" he might as well stock "forage fish" too.....and they're cheap
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Tilapia are on the list for a forage and sport fish. They reproduce like crazy and grow super quick. But they aren’t cold tolerant, as stated above. But what I’m hoping, or I guess am asking, is if anyone has an experience with small deep water fisheries. I’m wondering, or maybe hoping, that the depth of the water will stabilize the temp somewhat. If that were the case, I think different species could find their niche. Look at the big waters we have here. AGFC claims that Greer’s Ferry Lake contains EVERY fish native to the state, plus a few extra I’m sure. It has jellyfish in it. Yes....JELLYFISH. I’m hoping with the right forage base and feeding schedule, to have a whole world of fish in there. If the bottom stays in the upper 50’s/low 60’s year round, i think everything from tilapia to trout will survive year round. Like a giant koi pond. Currently looking for a set of pontoons to build a floating pavilion, and some cheap paddle boats to access it, that just stay in the water. Skeet shooting stations off the cliffs. Zip line into the water. All long term goals. Open for any other creative ideas. We just bought the place and are about to start cleaning it up, and you can’t start too early with fish stocking, right?
 

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I would have the skeet shooting directed away from the pond; neither the clays nor the lead shot are something you'll want building up in the water. Even then, over time the lead seeping into the pond via runoff or ground water might become a problem, too.
 

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I dont have any knowledge of what to stock etc but I can tell you first hand that Ive fished numerous quarries in MO/KS and the fishing for crappie and bream was phenomenal. They say the bass fishing is as well but Ive never targeted them. Ive never had a depth finder in these areas but the water is deep and some are clear and others are milky. Some have obvious run off and others dont.
 
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