First time here......I have a 1/6 acre pond, in FL. Have cared for it for about 6-7 years now. It took years for it to stabilize to the right pH from starting at 3.8!!
My bluegills now are approaching say, 7-9 inches. Caught one at 9" (from tip of nose to center base of tail. Is this considered big/or small/ or medium? I remember catching a few in the Tennessee River that was 10"+.......
9" is not exceptional for Florida, a little on the small side if that's your biggest one. Your pond is pretty small, so there's a good chance you have too many bluegill in the pond, which makes it exponentially more difficult to get them big. Do you catch a lot of small ones? If you catch a good number 6" and under, I would suggest keeping every single fish under 7" that you catch. Another thing you can do to improve their growth rate is make sure you have a high concentration of small bass. If you don't have a lot of bass in the pond presently, to the point that you regularly catch bass while fishing for bluegill, stock 10 or 15 largemouth if you can get adult fish 12" or better, or 30 if you have to buy smaller ones (6").
Two other things you can do are 1) stock a few coppernose bluegill if you don't already have them (there's a good chance you do since they're native to your state) once you have thinned out the ones currently in the pond - they grow faster and larger in the South than northern-strain bluegill and 2) keep all the females you catch. If you really wanted to maximize the potential of your pond for growing big bluegill, you could drain or shock it and take out every 'gill you can't positively identify as a male, and make it a male-only pond so there's no spawning and thus no risk of overpopulating. For a pond your size, thirty or forty adult male bluegill would be a number that would give each fish the chance to get truly large; if you feed as I'll detail below, you could eventually have almost every gill in the pond over two pounds.
If you're not presently employing an automatic feeder, you're cheating yourself. You can realistically expect to grow bluegill two pounds or better, 12" or more, in a lot of states with the use of a feeder and top-quality food (I use Burress-Cargill but Silver Cup and Aquamax are also good); in Florida you could realistically expect to eventually get a bluegill to three pounds if you have coppernose bluegill in your pond. The small size of the pond is your big negative factor. But that can be mitigated by the methods I've outlined.
Thanks, Walt, for the valuable info and perspective! Wow, 12"" gill??? Too much!
Yeah, I do have Fl large mouth bass, and funny as they too seem to not grow much over the years......
Aquamax? The local fed store sell what they call floating catfish food. Should that be as good/adequate? I feed them by hand mostly every night. I have lots of fingerling gills most of the year. I actually understood that for a small pond I should be careful on having TOO many bass, thats why Im scared of adding more, but now I find I should ad perhaps 3-4 more med size. I have say, 4 bass in there now. (one 15", 2 about 9", one at 6", thats all, I believe.
Yes, I have coppernose!! I done want to keep only males, as I like the progent idea. How much does an auto feeder cost? Why is it an advantage over hand feeding?
Aquamax feed is what I use. The feeding of them is one of my major factor in getting my fish to grow and as Walt stated keeping the numbers in tack. I have a few that has grown from 2" fingerling to 7 and 8" in about eight months. But I feed them now that the water temp is up twice aday. Rember if only 25% of your fish eats the food that still gives the other fish 25% of the forage fish. Good luck.
Well, I researched aqua max analysis, and it looks like the protein and fat are a little higher than typical catfish feed. Wonder if this could account for what you guys are saying regarding growing big bluegill faster.......
I can get this aqua max, but have to order a 50lb bag....this would spoil unless I freeze it.....LOL
Four bass is way too few unless they have spawned, which they probably have unless you put in all of one sex. If you're trying to grow big bluegill, you want the bass crowded because they'll keep the bluegill thinned out so the 'gills that live get big. This is by far the biggest key, more important than feeding or anything else, to growing big bluegill - if you have too many of them, they won't grow as fast, or at all without a lot of supplemental feeding.
An automatic feeder is a big advantage because you can set it to feed multiple times a day, and it feeds every day without fail whereas typically even the most devoted pond owner will only feed once a day, and beyond that will usually miss a few, or more than a few, days here and there, and those days add up. And multiple feedings per day makes a huge difference.
You should have at least twenty bass in a pond that size if you want to grow big bluegill. And the higher protein content of premium foods makes a very big difference also; and, the better foods are made mostly of animal protein, whereas catfish chow is mostly plant protein, so the good foods not only have more protein, it's better protein that bluegill can more fully utilize.
Thanks again, Walt, for the appreciated feedback. Wowe, I didnt know so much of this......time to order a bag of ther aqua max. Also, time to catch more bass and add to my pond!!! Gees, I figured the 4 or so I had was too many "wolves".
I see so many fingerlings, and hardly anytime when I see a bass attack them, so that must mean I DO need more. Only thing about the auto feeder.....Where can I get some homw made plans to make my own as I figure they must be pricey to buy, right?
Oh, I forgot to add.....any time we get table scraps of chicken skin/fat/cartilage/whatever , I feed to the fish and they all go NUTS or this ...noticeably moreso than when I feed the cheap floating feed. It sure contains way more useable protein, I know that!