Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

Brand new to the forum, but looks like there is a ton of great info and people on here.
I have a awesome and unique situation here, I have just became the care taker of 9 old catfish ponds. All different shapes and sizes, ranging from .5 acres to 6 acres.

I plan on turning them into some awesome little fisheries so we can have jakes tournaments for our local youth and just for everyone to enjoy, myself included.

None of the ponds have had anything done, as far as management, in a very long time. So, lots of bream and undersized bass with a few other species swimming around. According to alkalinity test all ponds are are way low and lime is in order. Due to money I can't fix all the ponds at once, but I want to start playing with the smaller ponds.

I have limed the smallest two ponds and started a fertilize program this spring. These two ponds have really turned around, alkalinity is up and have a very good plankton bloom. I also put 750 CNBG 3-4" in one of the ponds and the smallest pond I put 50lbs of tilapia for the freezer this fall.

My question relates more to the CNBG pond, what can I do to maximize the potential of the this pond and my new fish? Pond is 1.2 acres and is completely filled by runoff.

Thanks for any input!

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I'm sure you will get a few takes on the pond in question. Personally I think you need to know whats kinds of fish are in it now and the sizes are they normal size are they stunted. What is the waters depth I ask that because the only way I would know the type and sizes would be to seine it and if your to deep that ain't going to happen. The only other way is to poison off the pond and start over. I think you would need a professional who can gather the data and survey the information and he will give you some options. There is lots to it and maybe no one answer will take care of your problem. I know that's probably what you don't want to hear but that's what I would do.

Native BG, largemouth bass, spoonbill catfish maybe 1 or 2, catfish, carp

Bass are 6-14", BG ar 5-7", not many catfish but they are maybe 3lbs

I wouldn't say I have a problem, I'm just trying to figure out how to bring out the most potential with what I have.

Should I aerate or not? If so should I use a diffuser or fountain or both? When to start harvesting fish? Should I put more bass in or just stay where I am and see what happens?

Are you wanting to manage the pond for big bluegill or big bass?  How much are you planning to spend on the pond?  I have a pond management company in Tennessee so let me know if I can help in any way.  

Wanting to manage for big bluegill! How ever much it takes, even though I don't really think it would take much, other than the fish I already bought and maybe some kind or aeration system.

If the ponds have had fish in them for years, and are in Alabama, and the bluegill average 5-7", they're likely stunted, i.e. overpopulated.  Correcting a stunted bluegill population can be done; I've done it several times, including recently; but it's never easy or quick, and the quickest I've ever seen it done has been about four years.  Even if the pond didn't have carp, I'd suggest you rotenone and start over.  If it has regular (not grass) carp, they're a major problem in and of themselves as they're also prone to overpopulation, apart from muddying the water which is terrible conditions for bluegill.

Aeration is valuable to a pond but it won't make nearly as much difference in the growth of the bluegill as feeding with an automatic feeder would.  And, feeding a high-protein, premium food will grow bluegill twice as fast as feeding a cheap food.

If you rotenone the pond and start from scratch with pure-strain (not diluted mutt bluegill like the fish trucks sell) coppernose bluegill fingerlings with top-quality genetics, stocked at the same time as a good number of largemouth fingerlings and a bunch of fathead minnows and crawfish and tadpoles for forage, and you feed daily or preferably multiple times daily with a high-protein food, you could expect to grow coppernose to 9" - many fish this size - within one year.  Whereas if you try to work with the existing fish population, even if you hire an expert, it could take you two or even three or more years to get more than one or two to that size.  Getting overpopulated bluegill under control is only slightly less difficult than stemming the Pacific ocean with a tongue depressor.

Agreed Walt! Funny story is that we have a friend with a bass stunted lake and a friend with a bluegill stunted lake and believe it or not the bucket biology of putting the stunted bass into the stunted bluegill lake has actually worked pretty well. 

Well, unfortunately, the rotenone idea isn't an option on this pond since inhabe already put bluegill in it. I have considered doing it on one of the larger ponds next year. I have started feeding the bluegill with purine game fish chow, just to gt them used to eating and I plan to swap to the grower 500 within a few days.

It seems like the best thing for me is to continue to feed, remove BG as I can, add more bass, remove catfish, and just take a little slower approach to this pond.

I have considered electro fishing and removing as many BG at one time as I can, but not sure.

You definitely will have an immediate improvement if you add 8-10" bass opposed to fingerlings. The bluegill spawn is done where you are I assume so that would clean up a lot of those fish.

Yeah, the spring spawn has been over with for a while now and the pond is loaded with small BG and I'm only assuming the the CNBG had a chance to spawn as well.

I realize now that I had messed up because I took around 25lbs of bass out of the pond in early spring just so the CNBG wouldn't get gobbled up. When they got here though they were a lot bigger than I expected them to be. Which was good, but I had taken a lot of predators out so now I'm trying to move fish from other ponds in there to load it back up.

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