Bluegill - Big Bluegill

Do you love big bluegill?

I manage a 20 acre pond in southern Mi. The Bass fishing in the summer is only exceeded by the occasional 11 inch bluegills that will hit top water plugs. We only allow about 20 individuals on this pond on a strict catch and release basis. Ice fishing is a topic that recently was asked of me. There has never been an open harvest in the winter. Should I allow a limited harvest, put a min or max size on the fish, or just keep things the way they are? There appears to be more Bass than bluegills in this pond. Any suggestions or comments?
Tony I

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11" Gills! wow.... Got any pictures of these monSTARS!
Jeremy,
I'm still looking for our pictures from fall. I'll upload them when I find them.
Tony
Tony ..
If the pond that you manage has 11 inch bluegills in it ...and you think you want to let a select group of people fish it in the winter...I would be very careful... bluegills over 9 inches in Mich. are rare in any numbers...I suggest that no more than 10 fish at a time be taken by each person fishing..and any fish over 8 1/2 inches goes back.....Bruce Yinger
Bruce,
Thanks for the advice. I was leaning this way but wanted to hear more. The average bluegill caught with bass lures is around 10", and we caught and released 4 over 11 inches last year. I'm trying to find the picture of my largest at 11-3/4 inches. The digital scale clearly shows it weighed 1 pound 5 ounces. Because it was caught in a private pond, I didn't submit it for a master angler award. It's always a blast to catch one of these on a bass lure.
Tony
you should be taking the smaller bass out, say under 14 inches and under. this should allow some of the big bass to get bigger
bluegills are good spawners so taking some out each year should not hurt the population.

thats if the 20 people that fish play by the rules!!!
Chris,
I personally would like to harvest bass under 14 inches at least for one year. The only problem fish biologist have with taking out the smaller bass is the population of the bluegill in the next spring may increase too much and the then the balance is off. I have planned to bring the biologist over to check out our pond and let us know if he agrees with us. The bigger bass would be a nice bonus.
Tony
If you harvest any bass the bluegill will get smaller. Right now the bass are saturated and eating most of the new fry every year. This reduces competition for food and allows the big ones to get really big. If you take out bass more of the young will survive and competition for food will stunt the bluegill population. Right now the bass are either stunted or headed in that direction. Of course I am assuming you are more interested in a strong bluegill fishery.

What Ryan said.  If you are interested in big bluegill, which I'm guessing you are to some degree since you're here, harvesting bass will mess that up.  Ponds with 11" bluegill in your region don't come along often; that pond right now is something special.  It would be a shame to mess it up.  There are probably other ponds in the area that have better bass fishing - I'd suggest fishing those for bass, and leaving this one the way it is.

Uncontrolled ice fishing can decimate a population of big BG's. Lots of times they school tight in the winter, and , once located, can be hit hard. I would recommend the same thing I always do, returning the biggest males, and harvesting the smaller ones. A fish that is 11.75" and 21 ozs. has a relative weight of around 91%, that's not too bad but it could be better. I would try and remove some of the smaller BG's, say 8" and under. Do you feed the fish on this lake? It makes all the difference in the world.

11" is considered extremely rare in our waters. Like Tony said, best to preserve as much of the large ones over certain length. I, and a few of us who love panfishes over here, preserve anything larger than 9" when possible. We will harvest females after they off-load their eggs. Otherwise, try to keep those wonderful size fishes. Wow, 11-inchers. Man, that would be the day when I can land a few of those.

have you ever thought of throwing in some crappie in and taking out alot of those small bass? I dont know what this would do but I imagine that the crappie would act like those smaller bass and you have a bonus when fishing for those big bluegills.

Crappie will thrive regardless if we take the small basses out. Take out the apex predator like the basses and cats/carps, too much of a population of preys over predators, will only have small panfishes. We have an example of that here at one of the lakes, called Skinner. Very healthy level of predators and yields huge panfishes. Too much predatory fishes like Lake Irvine and we only get small panfishes. Too much panfishes but not enough predatory apex species, we got small panfishes like Lake Gregory. We have a bit of sample here. However, only one lake I know that is well balanced, which is my favorite Lake Perris.

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