Do you love big bluegill?
Good Day All, Thanks for entertaining my first post!
My pond of a quarter acre is almost done and will fill up this winter (God Willing) and I am struggling with the best attack for stocking quantities. After reading and reading, I am convinced that my pond is best for Bluegill fishing with a predator fish for population control.
A little info on the 1/4 acre pond, it is located near Sedalia Mo. about 15 miles south of the Missouri river. It is recently drained, dried, and dug out. It should end up being 12 to 14 feet deep at high water level (depending on where I place the drain pipe) and the emergency overflow will be at the 16 foot mark. The pond is triangular in basic shape with the dam about 100 feet long and the over all length at 170 feet long. The last 50 foot of the pond at the shallow end tappers from about 4 feet deep (45 feet wide) to zero where the watershed enters. The remainder of the pond sides are steep banks and the dam has a normal slope. This pond will not see a lot of fishing pressure as I tend to catch and release. I have a creek nearby that would take the fish that needed to be removed and I would certainly fillet the larger bass that needed to be taken out.
My research indicates that I should stock blue gill and large mouth bass, BUT I kinda like the idea of stocking the hybrid striped bass for the population control. My theory is that I stock larger numbers of the hybrid bass than what one would for the large mouth because of their lack of reproduction and I bet they hybrid bass could get larger due to their smaller mouth (than the large mouth bass). The hybrid could get larger before they should be removed, keep the blues population from exploding, and not take up as much biomass as an overpopulated stunted large mouth bass population.
Am I onto something here or do I need a good slappin?
If a slappin is not necessary... What first year stocking numbers of Bluegill, Hybrid Striped Bass, and Flathead minnows would you recommend?
I am open to putting in channel cats, but would rather save the biomass for the blues and bass unless there is some biological reason to have the cats. Some say that the red ear sunfish is a good addition, but, once again, unless they are necessary, I'll save room for the bluegills.
Your on the mark a little Noel. The Hybrid Striper will eat the bluegills and being as there mouths are not as wide they eat smaller pray. Personally I would go some Largemouth and a few Hybrid Stripers. When I put mine in they were small enough I thought the bass would have there way with them but they things are so fast I didn't loose a one to the bass. Catfish are eating machines fun to watch at the feeder but don't make the mistake I made when stocking. I talk to the Ohio DNR and went with there count, way to many which was a part of my problem when trying to raise bigger gill. They have enormous appetites and eat everything on the bottom and top of the water chain. Tony has numerous ponds and can be of a lot of help I'm sure if you ask he will help anyway he can.
After I posted my OP, I discovered this article by Steve Ryan which made me feel better about my thought patterns...
In short he was suggesting adding the HSB and LMB (to a BG pond) in equal numbers that amounted to the following program for my small pond...
250 BG (in the spring) and feed 25 pounds a month during the feeding season to get there size up.
Then 25 HSB and 25 LMB (the following spring) I am betting feeding at this point is less important as the bass will have the smaller BG to forage on.
He suggested removing any LMB over 15", but said nothing about removing the HSB. So, I assume to remove the HSB as soon as their mouths get as big as a 15" LMB?
As far as sexing the LMB, I'm at a loss unless they come in dresses or britches. Seriously though, I don't know if my closest fishery supplies them sex'd or not. AND what is the advantage of males only? I know that males don't reproduce with each other (yet), but wouldn't the same number (or a few more) of HSB do the same thing?
Thanks for your replies folks! I appreciate the help shoring up my stocking program even though it probably won't get started till next year.
Another thing I might add is put all the fathead minnows in you can afford a year before the bass and hybrids it will do nothing but sweeten the pond they will reproduce 5 or 6 time tasty morsel so when you do introduce the big boys.
Wow, I'm not sure where to begin. Think I will just wade in, so please overlook any ramblings and disassociated thought patterns! First off, the old standard for a "balanced" pond was a 10:1 ratio of BG to LMB. Trouble is, balance is fleeting, and especially in a small pond like you describe. Most times nature will begin to favor one species over another, and all our hard work during stocking goes right out the window. In many cases the species that comes out on top will be the bluegills, and you end up with a pond full of stunted, skinny, big-eyed bluegills, too small for harvest but too large for adequate predation by the resident LMB. In those situations the fix is usually drain, kill off, and start over......so you can see how important it is to get things right the first time, and to stay on top of management! If you're idea of having a pond is to stock fish, let em' grow, begin to harvest a few now and then without any further work, I can almost guarantee eventual disappointment with your pond. Successful Ponds can be a lot of work! A favorite exclamation where ponds are concerned is "it depends".....so many influences and variables.
Okay, so if the goal is slanted towards bluegills, how do we begin? With math. The fewer fish present, the larger those fish will grow, all things being equal. I'm greatly over simplifying, but it comes down to water quality and food. Any BOW will only have so much ability to support fish and plant life. It's called carrying capacity, and every living thing in the pond uses up some of that capacity....fish, plants, snakes, frogs, turtles, etc. The living organisms are referred to as biomass, and the amount of fish biomass a pond will support or carry is most often given in pounds of fish, not numbers of fish. Example, you can support 10 lbs of largemouth bass....that means one 10 pounder, or five 2 pounders, or ten 1 pounders.
Now the fun stuff. if you're willing to actively manage your pond, you can tweak (raise) the carrying capacity. We do that by supplementally feeding, rather than relying on nature, adding aeration to improve water quality,( remember, water quality is critical to survival), staying on top of aquatic vegetation, I like around 10-15% coverage depending on the plant, adding or removing fish as needed. More weeds = more hiding spots for young bluegill = less predation by bass = population explosion of bluegills = stunted bluegills. That's not what we want. That's why we usually recommend LMB over HSB. A LMB needs to eat 10 lbs of bluegills to gain one pound of weight. And they're very good at it. it varies according to geography, but in many cases there is far greater chance of too many bluegills than having too few. I see you're in MO., so your bluegills should spawn 2-3 times a summer. Two female bluegills can produce enough fry to replenish a one acre pond in one season.....pretty scary!
Think about where we most often see smaller bluegills. In the shallows, and/or holding close to weeds or cover. By a happy coincidence, that's also where LMB like to hang out. HSB on the other hand, are more pelagic in nature and tend to like offshore, deeper areas, where the BG are scarce. HSB will certainly eat small bluegills, but they are not near as efficient at population control as LMB. The good news is that HSB do not reproduce, so they will not crowd out your pond like LMB might. And that does happen....that goes back to what I said earlier about a balanced pond....very hard to maintain, which is why the best BG ponds often have a sizeable population of small bass. Those starving bass are hammering the young gills, keeping their numbers down, leaving more food for the BG that remain, meaning greater growth.
So what to do? Current strategy suggests stocking HSB and single sex LMB, most often females as they grow larger than males, (but it doesn't matter if large bluegills is the goal), and supplement feeding. On that note, Fish food is a wonderful aquatic fertilizer by the way, and contributes to water quality issues.....hence the need for aeration in many cases, to offset the effects of the feed. Definitely add some redear, and most definitely do not add crappie.
I will continue to thank those participating in my thread, so thank you all very much! And I promise to flip flop back and forth as I learn and develop my stocking/pond management strategy, so bare with me.
I am having difficulty understanding the concept of using non reproductive predators to help with the BG population. I can forego the idea of stocking the HSB for argument's sake, so if one uses only single sex bass, the bass population would not grow. I guess you would stock a lot more bass at the initial stocking? Then, fish them out as the get too big (15" or so and this would probably happen in the span of the third year or so) and then restock once you have successfully fished the bass out, but wouldn't you be risking the consumption of your newly stocked bass by the remaining large bass in the pond (I'll never be able to guarantee that all the old stock bass have been removed without a fish kill) and risk a BG population explosion while the newly stocked bass gain some size? At least with bass of both sexes they continually keep themselves seeded in the pond. I'd like to hear more on the advantages of single sex bass and understand the stocking number strategies.
I am also concerned about feeding the fish regularly after the pond is established with sizable BG, my goal is to have a fishing pond for larger bluegill with the excitement of catching many bass of mediocre size. If my fish get used to eating pellets...would they not rarely hit lures? I do not want to have to fish with pellet scented pom-poms. I love fishing with jigs, spinners, and rubber worms way to much. I do NOT plan on overstocking the pond for mass amounts of freezer filling either.
BTW, my pond before it was drained had 2 foot of standing water most of the time (over 8 to 10 feet of sediment) and NO fibrous vegetation (cattails, arrowhead, primrose, nothing), the only greens in the pond was some kind of floating brownish-green mossy like slime algae and it rarely covered more than 5% of the pond and only in late summer. I don't believe I will put any cover in the pond. I will be putting in some structure in the form of root wads, felled trees and larger stone. The lack of cover should amplify the ability for the bass to keep the BG populations reduced while giving the fish some comfort of the added structure . My pond only gets sun during the noon hours which is why I think it had so little plant life. How else in the world did such a shallow pond not get overrun with weeds? The catch basin near the pond was full of cattails and arrowhead with 1 to 2 foot of water depth.
Anyhow, I am rambling...I look forward to continuing this conversation.
NOEL;;; GO TO TONY;S PIX PAGES TO SEE SOME OF HIS OUTSTANDING BIG BLUE GILL ! TONY HAS BEEN RAISING GILLS; FOR MANY YEARS SOME OTHERS TO CONSIDER TO LOOK AT ARE;; DICK TABBERT;; WALT FOREMAN; THE POND BOSS FORUM HERE;; ALSO PROVIDE VERY USEFUL INFORMATION..
okay, it sounds like you may be leaning towards a self-sustaining fish population, rather than ladder stocking supplemental fish periodically? In that case, the balancing act I spoke of earlier will be somewhat more critical. YOU want a fishing pond with large bluegills and mediocre sized bass in quantity. MOTHER NATURE wants to fill your pond to capacity with whichever species, bass or bluegills, is most prolific and adapts best. Remember the carrying capacity? There's only room in a pond that size for x amount of fish......and chances are, one species will dominate at the expense of another. UNLESS you are prepared to be extremely hands-on. That's why small ponds are often recommended for hybrid bluegills and HSB....limited reproduction means far less chance of stunted fish.
LMB will continually seed themselves alright. And that can be a problem if you're goal is larger bass. To be blunt, it's highly unlikely to have larger bass and larger bluegills in a 1/4 pond, longterm. One species will dominate. In my location, it will be the BG that come out on top. Matter-of-fact, we don't usually wait to stock predators after the BG.....we stock them both together, so the BG will not have a headstart. Once they pull out in front, there's little chance of reigning them back in. Down south, they have the opposite problem. They NEED forage for the bass. Here, we need to cull the forage.
As far as weeds, nature will continue to add vegetation until the nutrients are utilized. More nutrients means more weeds. Fish food is in the nutrient category. Sunlight is key for weed growth, but also for phytoplankton growth, the foundation of your pond's natural food chain. Less plankton means less food, which equates to less fish carrying capacity without adding feed. Back to carrying capacity, and water fertility. More fertile water will grow more weeds, but also more and bigger fish. Double edged sword isn't it?
Tony! you're making my head spin.
All I think I know is...
I do not want to feed the fish forever. To get things started properly is fine, but not long term.
I do not want a stunted pond full of pesky bait stealing fish.
I'd be happy catching larger BG and or moderate to large LMB or HSB. So if the pond balances one way or the other, I'd be content.
Ladder stocking would be an option as long as constant feeding is not required. I'll have to read up on that option.
I'm going to read up some more this weekend and try to slow the head spinning down. Thanks for all the options and attention.