Ever wonder about the pond management practices needed to raise trophy fish on your property? If so, NASCAR great Austin Dillon is here to explain the ins-and-outs of managing his grandfather’s (the legendary Richard Childress) North Carolina bass haven.
Dillon first credits Childress for taking such good care of the pond prior to him taking over its management responsibilities. “He’s done a really good job managing these fish. He’s got a lot of bass in here, and some bream, too. It’s always a good place to come,” says Dillon. It’s been one of his favorite places to fish over the years, noting, “I hope one day to have a pond like this one.”
Here are a few of the key tips Childress has passed down to his grandson on creating, and sustaining, a world-class backyard fishery.
Don’t overcrowd your pond.
Dillon says one of his grandfather’s biggest tips for pond management is to not overcrowd it. You want to have different species of fish, but not overcrowd it to the point the water becomes muddied. Dillon says his grandfather has done a great job keeping the water clear—an attribute that allows you to actually see fish come up and attack bait. “It’s always fun to see a bass really attack your lure when you’re out here fishing,” says Dillon.
Help small fish hide.
Another top tip for pond management is to create an environment where smaller fish have somewhere to hide. Dillon points out the importance this plays in enabling smaller fish to grow and become good forage for a pond’s bigger fish. If smaller fish can grow bigger, the bigger fish will, in turn, grow even bigger! So, it’s important to create hiding places— like gravel, tree branches, or other structure—that smaller fish can access for protection and comfort.
“Fishing with my dad and grandfather over the years has set the stage for some of my favorite times for as long as I can remember,” says Dillon, who encourages everyone to make time to get on the water and enjoy it, too. “It’s relaxing and it’s a lot of fun, especially getting the young kids out there. You want to get kids out there, getting started young, so they can carry on the tradition. Fishing and the outdoors is my favorite family tradition.” Dillon—whose wife is pregnant with a baby boy—adds, “I really can’t wait until Ace is born, so I can take him out to the pond and teach him how to fish just like my dad and grandfather did with me.”