I have grown up as a self-proclaimed “beach girl”. Lakes are OK as long as I can see the bottom. Ponds not so much. I get a little creeped out not knowing what’s down there. We went Pond Dipping with Ranger Kelsey at Caddo Lake State Park. Mystery solved, now we know exactly what is living on the bottom and while it was truly fascinating, it did nothing to change my mind about putting my bare feet in there. Technically I guess it’s kind of a misnomer to pond dip in a lake but to be fair, Caddo Lake has a lot of wetland, marsh like areas where the water is shallow.
It was a beautiful day, Spring has officially sprung and the ferns blanketed the ground under the trees. We saw several people taking advantage of the weather by renting canoes or fishing. Those are both on our list of things to do. We arrived to a group of about 20 people. Ranger Kelsey explained what we were going to look for, how to treat the extendable nets (hint: not to be used as swords) and she showed us tubs of clean water where we could keep track of the treasures we found. Ranger Kelsey had laminated sheets with pictures of the various critters to help us identify what we scooped up.
At first, we hung back and encouraged our kiddo to pond dip on her own. Next thing you know both the Hubs and I had our own nets and we were just as into it as the kids. The water was particularly high which made it a little tricky to navigate at first. Once we got the hang of it we were finding something interesting with every third or fourth dip. Each time it was like Christmas or one of those surprise toys the kids are so into. There were crawfish in varying sizes which were neat to see. Up until this point I had only seen crawfish on my plate. We found tadpoles, fish, shrimp and a ton of different insects. Dragonfly and damselfly nymphs (the stage before they become an adult) were particularly interesting because those are things you don’t usually see and the transformation to adulthood is pretty incredible.
Some folks were crazy…I mean brave enough to go waist deep out there. I’m not sure they found anything more substantial though. We dressed appropriately in rubber boots and clothes that could get dirty. Ranger Kelsey and the volunteers were really helpful and enthusiastic about answering questions, touching some of the insects I wasn’t willing to touch and generally making the experience a lot of fun for everyone involved. After an hour our kid was still not ready to go but Ranger Kelsey assured us we could pond dip on our own. She suggested a fine mesh net with an extendable handle. We highly recommend pond dipping whether you are a child or an adult. We learned a lot about native insects and other bottom dwelling creatures.
Plus, you could make a day of it and pack a picnic, go for a short walk on one of the trails or take advantage of fishing or boating. At just $4 per person over 12 it is an inexpensive day full of exploring and making memories.