Do you love big bluegill?
Hey you guys I leased a 50 acre rural pond in upstate sc last summer...primarily to bass fish, but after joining PB I realized a knowledge of different species of BRIM was going to be helpful. The owner's father dug this pond in 98, spent thousands of dollars stocking it with LMB_HBG_BG_BC_CC_and Ark. blues. Pond has never been fertilzed and no feeders. Then in 01 he died and the son inherited everything...son loves horses and hates to fish. Anyway I could go on and on describing this pond and fishery but heres my question. WHAT REALLY HAPPENS TO HBG OVER TIME? My wife and I have fished this pond almost twenty times and it appears the LMB are in excellent condition. But last summer we could see HOARDES OF 3-4" gills cruising the bank. Will the bass keep whatever negative offspring I've heard about under control?? I know that this site and PB has lots of inf, but most of it relates to ponds less than 2-3-acres. I am not lazy and don't mind reading archives and I don't want yall to have to go around this mountain one more time, I just thought I'd ask in hopes of getting a few 1-2 paragraph replys to sum things up in my mind!
Thanks Ken S.
Ken, I've had quite a bit of experience watching populations of HBG, and how they change over time. Keep in mind that this isn't scientific based information, merely anecdotal, but still possibly what you're looking for.
Typically pond owners stock bluegill and hybrid bluegill at the same time initially. If they don't, then bluegill often are introduced soon thereafter. The first stocking of HBG thrives. They have larger mouths than the bluegill that they're competing with, and their agressive nature allows them to outcompete other sunfish. Growth rates reflect this with fish that reach one pound in about four years up north, and less time as you go further south. Anglers catch the HBG, and rave about their beauty, fighting nature, and ease of catch.
Then the HBG start to get older, their numbers start to decrease from angling mortality and natural attrition, and the pure bluegill begin to get a foothold.
In clearer waters you can still see the HBG guarding nests even in the fifth, sixth and seventh year, and the female pure bluegill will sometimes deposit eggs in these nests. The resulting progeny are "backcrosses", or "F-2's" lack some of the hybrid vigor or heterosis that you see from the F-1 generation. There are certain genes that bluegill and green sunfish maintain that are non-beneficial (such as nearsightedness in humans) that begin to crop up again, and these are mixed with the mismatched genes of the two different parent species and you begin to see a higher percentage of the progeny that fail to thrive. Indeed the greatest percentage don't survive at all (which is also true of the F-1's, but that's a whole different story). So the F-2's have more genetic defects, grow more slowly or not at all, and start to become easier prey for the higher-end predators in the pond.
So what you really end up with after a generation is exactly what you're seeing. The pure bluegill are reproducing well, so you get healthy, fast growing largemouth. The original hybrids begin to gradually fade from the scene and the catch rates of these pretty fish go down. The F-2's and F-3's lack vigor and become easy prey for largemouth, and even the pure bluegill. The green sunfish genetics show up as faintly recognizable 25%, 12.5% and 6.25% curiosities. And the healthy pure bluegill start producing hoardes of little bluegill.
Bottom line...don't worry about the negative offspring. They're too busy killing themselves off for you to have to worry about helping. :-)
Thanks Bruce...just as I suspected...lots of the guys over at PB seem to hate HBG ..even though I don't own this pond the lease isn't cheap..wife and I went there this pm only caught 4 LMB but the shortest one was 18"! When I figure out how to upload pics I will.
Sincerely Ken S
Awesome post. These hybrids are the stocked fish of choice up in our urban ponds up here. Under heavy pressure, poor water quality, silt, low food conditions in some cases - is there harm in stocking them. Because they are more aggressive with the larger mouths- aren't they the first and fastest to be over harvested?
I think the human abuse on the urban ponds including introducing all sorts of species and chemicals is insane. I have personally caught and witness the release of the following while I was fishing: pacu, piranha, oscars (not golden statues), goldfish, shiners in massive quantity, garden koi, any imaginable fish from aquariums and any household fluids they care to dump into nearby sewers and gutters connected to the water-retention systems that feed these waters.
In my opinion - it does no good to stock any aggressive fish with large mouth in these settings. I will detail this later, but I see ponds as having the potential to be fished by 20,000 anglers.
People that would "redo" these ponds always try to stock based on low-pressured angling. In a 5 acre pond, they try to provide a bass fishery. The stocking of hybrid bluegills and bass I find to be so temporary and so futile as they are so aggressive.
To give you an idea of the human touch on our local ponds, I have several times seen 6" - 8" bass to be in buckets and the worst I have seen - a stringer of 5 bass dead.
We have so little enforcement up here and 120 anglers per square mile, with a few places to fish -
I go with PBs.. catch-and-release on all bass. We need to tack on a massive fine for people taking the bass - $500 per?
I am in a funk because this park district is going to poison, drain and dredge one of the best venues in Chicagoland.
Pond management people - is there a way to coral a quantity of fish, dredge a side of the lake and then move them with net over to that side, while the other is being worked on. This pond is 30 - 40 yards across. Couldn't they make a temporary sandbag dam, net a 1/2 of the lake over and then dam it up? This way they could dredge the two sides of the lake and save some of the fish.
There is an inlet on both sides of the lake - so there could be a water supply / drain on each to move water. Add a pump to move some water / aerate it...
By the way - fantastic topic and excellent answer. I am into sustainable resources and management - come to think of it we don't see many hybrids by us. Only the strong survive - bluegills!