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I need a couple hints on how to get Bluegills to start feed training. I've been tossing out floating pellets from the boat in various areas trying to see if there are any takers with very little success. Should I start with pieces of bread since they may draw more attention because of their size? Should I just buy a feeder now and set it to shoot a small amount of pellets 3-4 times a day until they pick it up? Should I even worry about it this year since winter is right around the corner?

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You're not likely to get a good response by starting in September unless you are very consistent, either with hand feeding or automatic feeding. There are lots of automatic feeders on the market. Some of them are more expensive than others. Some of them are more reliable than others. The key is finding the right mix, depending on your patience and ability to fiddle with these devices. I might consider implementing something next April or May if you really want a good result. I'd skip the bread. It has no useful nutritional value for fish. Yes, they'll train to it, but it won't help with their growth, and is way more expensive than quality fish feed as a function of it's dry weight.
That's what I was thinking. I'll just get me a feeder and a plan for next spring. I have a bag of auqamax that I will experiment with this fall but not get to serious about it. I have a bunch of other lake improvements to make before the ice so this will work out fine for me. Thanks for all the responses and the tips.. I think I'm learning.
Rob,
I have learned through my own experience, when starting to feed train BG's that it is important to feed at the same time every day for the best results. By "best results", I am saying that the optimum number of fish seem to eat better when fed on a regular time schedule. I would even go out on a limb to say that I have had better results with fish feeding when I am wearing the same color shirt every day. I also noticed they seemed to feed better if I fed them alone. Sometimes if my daughter was with me they would not feed as well. Just my 2 cents.
I will add persistence as another necessary item. Sometimes Gills have enough to eat that that aren't particularly interested in eating pellets. This may be the most common in newly stocked ponds which have not filled up to their carrying capacity yet. It took 2 1/2 years for the Bluegill in my first pond to begin eating pellets seriously, in contrast to my Channel Cats who begin feeding well pretty much from day one.
I hope my channel cats start eating the stuff right now. That would be great. Thanks
Rob,
I had problems getting my established bluegill to eat pellets. They would take in a pellet occasionally and spit out if, I could get one interested at all. So then I used the juice I drained out of a tunafish can and soaked my floating pellets until they where soft all the way through. This has worked out well and in a week had most of the gills eating the soaked pellets. I will try straight dry pellets next year.
Jesse
That's a good tip that I will have to remember. Thanks for the response.
One of my bests friends grandpaw has a 5 acre lake about an hour from the house that we go catfishin in. Ive never in my entire life seen fish trained like his. 15 years of consitant feeding and the ole man can work magic. We fished his pond for over an hour one day picking up a cat and a bluegill here and there and about an hour before dark I here what sounds like a black smith banging on an anvil. Well all of a suddon the walk we were on started to shake and felt like somebody had a belly shakin machine on it. I look up and here he comes dragin a dip net on his belt and bangin an ole wash tub with a horse shoe. Needless to say 20 min later we had 25 cats and over 20 gills in the icechest and he had 5 big cats in that net over his shoulder as he walked to the barn for him and grandmaw for supper. The only words he spoke were.... Yall boys aughta have enough to have your cookout with now and me and momas got okra on the broil. Yall be carefull goin back home.

WHAT EVER YOU DO. DO IT EVERY SINGLE TIME!

(whats bad is theres a rythem to that bucket cause we tried it and it didnt work for us but he hit it from the house 200 yards up the way and there they go again. So be sure to teach somebody what your doin)
Rob, For starters I suggest that you read my article (page 48 The Softer Side of Feeding Fish)in the special Feeding Fish edition of Pond Boss magazine May-June 2008. This works especially well if the bgill sample the hard pellets or bread and then spit them out. If this is not happening then your next challenge is to get the BG to first try eating the pellets or bread. BG will often sample and eat bread quickly because it is soft. Once fish are eating the bread then it is very easy to get them to eat soft pellets. Typically untrained fish are shy or avoid humans. The main thing is to first get fish accustomed to seeing a human and then eating something that is thrown out and floats on the surface. Jesse's suggestion will also help flavor the pellets so when the fish takes the pellet the fish does not reject it.

Getting the BG to first take pellets is the biggest problem. Here are a several things to try.

1. Get some a few teacher BG. Locate them from another pond that has BG that eat pellets or buy some already feed trained. If you know of a pond near you where BG eat pellets then almost always the owner will let you fish and take home 4 -10 BG. The newly stocked BG will hang with your BG and literally teach your BG that those things on the surface are food - monkey see monkey do kind of thing.
It is best to catch these fish near the feeder or use an artificial pellet as bait. Always offer to pay the pondower for his BG you are taking home, because if you got them from the hatchery you would have paid for them. These teacher BG will be valuable to you and in the long run they save you time getting you BG trained which is equivalent to money.

2. Create you own teacher BG by catching some of your BG, put them in a cage and train them to eat pellets. When feed trained release them into the pond.

3. Buy some more BG 25-100 that are pellet trained at the hatchery. Eventually they will teach your BG that pellets are food. Using softened food in the training session greatly increases the percentage of your BG that will learn to eat fish food. When lots of BG are eating pellets gradually over a week or two make the pellets firmer and firmer by using less and less water to soak the pellets.

4. Do not try to initially train fish to eat pellets by distributing the food from a boat. Many fish are naturally leary or shun a boat on the water for various reasons. So always distribute pellets from a dock or shore. Fish typically will only travel around 100 ft to come for pellets. Thus if one wants to feed fish in more remote areas the pellets have to be distributed in those other areas.

5. For training all new fish, I have found it is much better to first get the fish to feed from hand distributed pellets rather than relying of an auto feeder for training which usually results in lots of wasted food early in the training process. Hand feeding lets the pond owner know how well the process is going with minimal waste.

6. Using a feeding ring to contain the pellets helps reduce waste and often aids in the training process.

7. If you start now with the above suggestions a lot can be accomplished before the water drops to 55F when most pellet feeding by BG essentially slows dramatically. Best BG pellet feeding usually occurs between 60F-90F.

8. When pellet training, the BG will learn faster and eat more aggressively if a high protein pellet such as Aquamax carnivore is used. For optimum results, use a pellet size that is close to the size of the fish's eye that you are trying to train or feed. Aquamax carnivore and other high protein feeds have flavor enhancers in them that a lot of the cheaper general purpose or catfish foods do not have. Fish will more readily and quickly accept a pellet if the flavor is enhanced or more palatable. This is an important feature when first training fish to eat articial food.

9. Be sure to use the other hints provided above.
Thanks you for the advice! I was actually considering buying some feed trained gills to be teachers but thought that would probably be a crazy idea. Sounds like something I should explore for sure. I'm guilty of trying to feed from a boat. I quit that since they just don't want to be around it. Right now we are hand feeding (throwing) small amounts so that it drifts across the lake. I've seen a little action but not much. 2 feeder rings would be a good idea. I'll give these ideas a shot for sure.
I follow a different plan that has so far worked for me. In the spring and summer, I walk all around my 1/3 acre pond and feed all the young fish in every area. In the fall and winter, I decide on a site that is good for fishing for me, and feed them in one place. It takes a while to get all the bluegill over there, but they learn.

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