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The Pond Boss & Richmond Mill Lake...a legacy in the making

Who would have thought, just 9 years ago, when Morgan Company property manager, Dave Buhler, met up with the Pond Boss, Bob Lusk (yours truly) at a Bass 101 seminar in Athens, Texas, that we would fast forward and be talking about giant bluegill we are growing in 125 acre Richmond Mill Lake? Morgan Company president and founder of King Fisher Society ( www.kingfishersociety.com ) Jim Morgan sure didn't. His passion has been largemouth bass. Now, he sees the significance of bluegill which grow beyond two pounds. That optimistic soul actually expects to grow bluegill surpassing the 3 pound mark...on a regular basis. Yes, those 7-8 pound bass are certainly garnering big attention, but the spectacular sizes of bluegill have become a new source of energy for those who hear about it. Funny, I'm the consulting biologist for this spectacular lake and I have come to believe it has the potential and opportunity to grow bluegill beyond that magical benchmark of 3 pounds. The lake was drained in 2001 to make major renovations on the dam. That project took four years. In 2004, we started planning and talking about what to do with this historic lake...one that played a role in saving lives during the Civil War. Fast flowing water exiting at 7-9,000 gallons per minute. Water with a pH less than 5.4 all the time...how could that kind of system possibly raise such giant fish as grace the camera lenses of awed anglers on a regular basis? We figured it out. Now, the world gets to hear about it, and some of you, members of www.bigbluegill.com could sure be able to experience it. For a VERY short time, the high end, very expensive King Fisher Society is opening its doors for $600 per day for a day fishing trip in groups of 4 or more. I promise you...I have been there since its inception...that is a steal. If you want a trip where you can have a legitimate opportunity to top your personal best on a premier private, highly managed body of water loaded with bluegill that will push your reality beyond your greatest dreams, this is it. Personally, I am surprised at those fees. They can't last. While bigbluegill.com is the go to site for all things bluegill, take a minute and check out www.pondboss.com also. That site is loaded with a variety of topics along with plenty of current photos of huge fish...and bluegill are the order of the day. Go to "Ask the Boss" and see what you find. Be sure to get your hands on the current issue of In-Fisherman and get the skinny on this fabulous lake, via bigbluegill.com member Jim Gronaw and world class angler and owner of this site, Dr. Bruce Condello.

 

Above, take a look at Bruce's giant bluegill. In the other image, I am holding a bluegill just larger than two pounds, a trophy in its own right.

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You are right, Tony...several guys could fly into Raleigh Airport and rent a car down to King Fisher and have the greatest bluegill experience ever! I could see several people on this site doing it! Trust me...it would be unbelievable! Of the twelve bluegills I have caught over 2 pounds, every one was from this amazing lake!

WOW- this would be a dream session, would love to get some footage of float fishing tactics and some massive bags of bluegills here. Nicely done!

Who do I talk to about setting up a video-promotion shoot to promote this fishery and facility? I bet 200 lb. catch of bluegills is possible on this water - would love to make it happen. I would have to alter some of my gear just to match the beasts I have seen - your frankenstein gills on beast-mode would tear up mortal tackle. Would love to arrange some sessions.

- Johnny

What is the key to surpassing the benchmark of 3 pounds regularly? The growth rate has obviously been incredible since the lake was refilled after dam repairs.......Is there a Selective Harvest plan in place at the lake or is the predator balance perfect to manage the population?.....I've never managed a pond but have always read that some of the fish have to come out of a particular body of water to improve overall size and growth. Maybe Richmond Mill is different....Thanks in advance!

Maybe Bob or Bruce will chime in with an answer here...to my knowledge, the lake is catch and release to the public. Whether that means a selective harvest takes place otherwise, I can't say. This is just my take on it, but I believe that Bob keeps a pretty close eye on things, ready to tweak anything that needs changing.

I also feel that in a lot of cases the initial goal is a Bass fishery. To that end, it becomes important to feed the forage, which in this case means the BG benefit also...almost as a side effect. I'm sure the supplemental feeding that occurs at RM plays a huge role in growing those giant BG, but there must be additional, natural forage available for them too.

Sometimes, through careful management and creative strategies you find a BOW's sweet spot.....and the magic happens. There is no universal formula, rather each BOW has to be evaluated independently. That's where the knowledge comes into play, and in that respect, there's none better than Bob Lusk.

The key to raising these fish beyond three pounds has been continually feeding them and having a high population of large bass to eat baby bluegills to minimize the risk of overpopulation of bluegills. In my experience as a fisheries biologist, overcrowded bass and giant bluegills go hand in hand.

The lake is catch and release at this point because it hasn't reached its carrying capacity. With thousands of gallons flowing over the spillway every minute of every day, water quality degradation hasn't been an issue. With a consistent feeding program, the fish don't miss many meals. With a strong predator base of 4-8 pound bass, bluegill numbers stay manageable. With acidic water, disease and parasites are less of an issue. Combine clean water, good food, just the right amount of bluegills fighting for space and food and minimal risk of disease in a fishery that has a high standing crop and you have the recipe for a great fishery and great results.

Thanks Bob....we appreciate you taking the time to share info with us. It's great seeing you here!

I have never had or considered a "bucket list" BUT I DO HAVE ONE NOW! and Richmond Mill is the only thing on it!

I had the rare opportunity to work on a private park where the goal was raising acid resistant strains of brook trout many years back.  The outstanding results were similar to this, however.  I got to see brook trout almost every day that the vast majority of folks won't see after a lifetime of chasing trout on public waters.  This project, like the one I got to work with, brings me both joy and sadness.  It's there, it's real, and it's accomplished things we weren't even sure could be accomplished.  At the same time, how many average fisherfolk out there will ever get the chance to fish it or to see a live 3lb bluegill? Just imagine what we could do if we could apply our resources to this sort of management on the public waters throughout this county!

I've been checking it out and looking at flights. What's a good time to visit Richmond Mill Lake? Bluegill don't grow that big around here and would be super fun to take a trip with my husband. 

$600.00usd to fish there? Is that correct?

Yes....

 

 

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