Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Curious to know if anyone has struggled with bluegill overpopulation in their backyard ponds?  I have a pond approx. 3 acres in size.  We have a significant number of bass (all sizes from several inches to 20+ inches.)  We have several dozen catfish, a scattering of perch and a decent number of crappie too.  I have done a good job of keeping the weeds away so there are less places for the small bluegill to hide.  On any given day in the spring/summer we could catch several hundred of the smaller sized bluegill, especially in the 4" to 6" range.  We have always removed every small one we catch (typically keeping them in fish baskets off the side of the dock) and we then feed the bass and catfish several dozen every night by stunning them just enough so they can catch every one we toss back.  .   We always throw the bigger gills back >8". 

What seems crazy to me is that over the last 5 years, we continue to take several thousand of these small ones out of the pond every year but it is amazing to me how many continue to be around.  Obviously it is a good thing that the bass have something to feed on.  Additionally, the larger bluegills look very healthy as do even the 6 & 7 inchers.  I have even considered making some large fish traps that resemble a minnow trap but magnified in size.  I have also considered dip-netting in certain areas of the pond just to see what in the world I would discover and just how many.

Thoughts?  Comments

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Hi Ricardo, welcome to BigBluegill. It sounds like you have a nice place to fish!  have you been over to the PondBoss forum and introduced yourself yet?

http://www.pondboss.com/

Please don't misunderstand, we're glad to have you here at BBG. But when it comes to questions regarding pond management, those guys are the pros, bar none. Their collective wisdom regarding all things pond-ish is awe inspiring to say the least. Drop by and say hello, you'll be glad you did.

Are you saying that you don't catch any larger Gills? or just not very many? Personally, I tend to get a little nervous when Crappie are added with Gills' in a smaller pond. The BG will be spawning soon, take a look and see what size males are on the nests. That should give you an idea of the max size class of Bluegills that are present. Bear in mind that I'm no expert, that's where the PondBoss folks come in to play. Tell em' that BBG sent you.... BUT.. Don't be shy around here either! Got any photos of your pond, or your fish? We'd love to see em'!

 

 

Wow!  Awesome site thanks!  We do catch larger bluegill but for the most part, the smaller ones are much quicker to the bait.  Curious to know why it makes you nervous to have crappie with the gills?  I didn't stock them.  They were already there when we bought the property.

Crappie will overpopulate a smaller body of water.  Are your crappie stunted?

I have a small lake nearby.  Well, it's small by my standards.  It's almost a mile long, maybe 1/3 mile wide, with a winding channel that hits 32' deep at the dam, with flats ranging from 4' to a steady 8' deep.  It is freaking overran with White Crappie.  You can catch 100 fish in a day, with the bulk of them being around 6 - 7" long.  If you want the bigger slabs, you have to be fishing at daybreak, and they will move out into deeper water within an hour or so of dawn.  Those 6 - 7" fish are 4 years old.  Big heads, small bodies.

The ODWC (Oklahoma's version of F&G or DNR) has stocked Hybrid Stripers in that lake to help control the Crappie, but when we get a high-flow event come through, most of the Hybrids go over the dam and make their way downstream to the Arkansas River.  To make matters worse, this is a "city lake", and the city has been making repairs to the dam.  They've already lowered the lake once for repairs, and are going to lower it again soon.  Because of this, ODWC has suspended their Hybrid stockings.

Honestly, when they start the stockings again, I hope they switch from Hybrid Stripers to Saugeyes.

Start a catch-and-release policy on all Bass?  That way the predators are everywhere.  You want to Bass to be overpopulated and stunted, so that they're hungry enough to try to inhale every small bluegill they see.

Agreed!  I have never taken one bass out yet. 

Ricardo, the only way I know how to get the Bluegill under control is to take them little buggers out. Being the CEO of the FRP (Fish Reduction Program) I have helped a lot with reducing the populations of unwanted little critters. Find people who will eat them and have a Gill Giveaway..Other than that don't know..LOL

I dont know where you live. But if you were with in 100 miles of me.

I would love to bring my 4 kids over. and spend a day or two fishing your pond.

6 to 7 inch gills. are huge where I live. I would be happy to stock my freezer with them.I wish I had a place loke your pond to fish.

Like some have said. I think you also need to make your crappie population smaller.

Good luck. post some pictures of yur pond and fish if you can. would enjoy seeing them.

Allen is right, Ricardo.  You want an extremely high density of young bass, 12" and under; you'll know you have this when bass over 14" are rare, almost never caught, and furthermore when you can hardly fish for bluegill for constantly having to fight another 12" bass that took your bluegill offering.  When the bass become overpopulated, they hammer the bluegill YOY so much that a very tiny percentage of all bluegill hatched each year make it to adulthood - but those few then have many times more food to eat than what your bluegill have now, and they grow rapidly; where I live in TN, bluegill can grow to eight inches in one year in such conditions.  I've managed ponds where it was extremely rare to catch a bluegill under 8", and the bluegill averaged nearly a pound apiece - regular northern-strain bluegill. 

 

I would suggest not just releasing every bass you catch; if you can afford it, stock more bass (adult-size, at least 8" so they're less likely to get eaten by the larger bass and catfish already in the pond), 50 or more per acre, or 25 per acre if you can find pound-size.  It wouldn't be cheap, but it would make a big difference. 

One more thing you might think about, Ricardo: you could try actually keeping fewer small bluegill.  I read a study a year or two ago that found that when large numbers of intermediate bluegill are removed it often results in a population boom of small bluegill, the opposite of what one would expect.  It happens because intermediate bluegill are a major predator of bluegill YOY, so when you remove hundreds of the intermediates there's suddenly a predation void on the young-of-year and many more of them make it to intermediate size, resulting in a new overpopulation.  More than one of the ponds I'm managing now for big bluegill have been managed with this in mind: I have added predators aggressively, but have removed few intermediate bluegill (and no large bluegill, or bass of any size). 

 

If you're not presently employing an automatic feeder, that's the single biggest thing you can do to improve your average bluegill size.  You want to feed a high-protein pellet food, at least 40% protein, and more is better. 

Very interesting!  Is there a certain size that would be beneficial to remove?

You've tried removing smaller ones, without success.  I would suggest instead focusing your efforts on getting more largemouth in the 8-12" size range into the pond.  Once you have a high density of small bass, at that point removing intermediate bluegill, 5-7", could be a help.  Right now you're just creating a predation vacuum that is quickly filled by more small bluegill.  You need more predators.

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