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YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
#517903 03/12/20 09:53 PM
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Hello, I had a stand pipe fail and a full pond kill last summer on a 3/4 acre pond in Northern Virginia in the blue ridge mountains. The pond is 14 feet deep at max and about 1/3 of pond is 8-10 fee and average depth is ~6 feet overall. It is spring fed and also has a ~40 acre drainage that feeds a small creek into the pond. A new outlet pipe has been installed and pond is refilled. My goal for the pond is to produce big panfish for my sons and I. There are steep sides primarily dropping to 4 or 5 feet within a couple feet of shore and a ledge through middle of pond dropping down to 10 to 14 feet. There is limited cover although one end is shallow near shore and has a decent amount of plant life and is a good minnow "nursery" from what I can tell. I do not intend to feed and want to boost natural food sources. From photos you can see a very natural area and there is plenty of amphibian and insect population already and I am considering adding crayfish once plants re-estabilish.

Last week I stocked 400 mixed BG and RES minnows in the 1-2 inch range and also 100 YP minnows about 2" long. My current plan is to stock in the spring of 2020 FHM and then a couple weeks later 50 LMB. Longer term I would love to have a sustaining population of all three sunfish but I get it is a small pond to accomplish that. I would not harvest LMB except to control the population and would allow a high density of smaller LMB to keep the BG and YP in check. I get that I may not have a sustaining population of YP long term and can live with only LMB, BG, and SC.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated. I am willing to be patient and want to do this right and its my first rodeo!

Attachments: First photo is from last spring before pond drained down and there was a full kill. Second photo is last week after pond has refilled. Water is muddy as contractor mucked out pond as well as installing new outlet pipe.

Attached Files
Last edited by Ken77; 03/13/20 02:24 PM.
Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #517904 03/12/20 10:22 PM
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2 sunfish.. Perch is, well, Perch. :-))
I'd hold off on LMB until at the least, Fall before stocking if not the fall of 2021.
If your BG and RES were 1-2", I don't think you'll have a hot load of YOY, this year. Could be a few BG pull off a spawn but likely a late summer deal if at all this year. I'd give the FHM a full summer to explode before adding LMB, They'll clean them out this first year.

Last edited by Snipe; 03/12/20 10:25 PM.

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Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #517941 03/13/20 02:11 PM
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Thanks Snipe. I edited my post as my current plan was to stock FHM next spring and then bass a few weeks later. Sounds like I should go ahead and stock FHM now to let them get established as well.

Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #517944 03/13/20 07:06 PM
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Absolutely.. They'll start spawning at around 68 F if mature. You'll have thousands hatching every day within no time.
Even if you only threw a few pounds of FHM in you'd have literally millions by next spring.


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Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518035 03/16/20 08:29 PM
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Okay thanks. I was concerned FHM might compete with sunfish for forage but the YP might slow them down a bit till I get LMB in pond next year. Plus BG will eat small FHM minnows right?

Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518037 03/16/20 09:22 PM
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YP will seek and eat FHM as will most species of predators. You want them to explode long before the Apex predator comes along (LMB). The Bigger BG may eat a few but those sunfish will utilize many insects and other organisms, aquatic invertebrates mainly..
If you can afford to stock 5000-6000 2"+ FHM ($150-$220) I'd do it.


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Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518046 03/17/20 12:00 AM
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Consider alternative apex predator like SMB or HSB - both will allow your YP to perform much better. Your BG will become a management issue, but through seining, trapping an angling it can certainly be achieved - then you can repurpose those BG to feed your other species. Leads to significant growth in fillet trained fish and is an absolute blast!


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Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
teehjaeh57 #518428 03/24/20 11:13 PM
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Hey there Teehjaeh57, I really like your suggestion of trying an alternative apex predator like SMB and if I loose control of the BG I can also introduce LMB later as I understand it right? I really would love to have a healthy YP population with good recruitment, the pond, while small, is quite deep so I feel it is good YP habitat.

Snipe, I was only able to afford 250 FHM at the the moment, spawning age. The YP are small at 2" so I they shouldn't target the spawners yet. Hoping the FHM might reproduce enough to still scale over the summer with only 100 YP minnows to contend. If needed I can go get more FHM but I need to find another supplier as Zetts is crazy expensive at $35/200 count.

Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518451 03/25/20 08:00 PM
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Maybe this isn't a super useful comment, but your situation reminds me a lot of my family pond situation, the main difference being that you have an opportunity to start from scratch, which is a luxury that enables you to question the status quo and dream a bit. I would just add on to Snipe and TJ's advice regarding LMB: Think very long and hard before adding LMB, and take your time in making the decision to add them, because once they're added, they limit your choices, and there's no going back to a LMB-free pond without draining and nuking it. This isn't a bad thing if you love LMB and BG, which many people do, but if you'd like to experiment with any other type of pond (e.g., with SMB and/or HSB as apex predator), you have one chance to try it, and that's before the LMB are added. Then, if you don't like your alternative apex predator, you can then always stock LMB and the balance will over time shift towards a LMB and BG pond (because of them being prolific reproductively, and LMB just being such a dominant, large-mouthed/gaped predator).

If you decide to experiment with something else, there are many people around here with experience with ponds having SMB and/or HSB as the apex predator.

I don't have the years of experience managing fisheries as others here, so please defer to them, but I will just throw in my limited experience with an incredibly similar pond to back up TJ's comments above. My pond is in the Appalachians of southern PA, similar in size and shape, fed by a similar-sounding watershed, surrounded by trees like yours, etc. Prior to last year, our pond was predominantly a LMB and BG pond, but Dad was and is really excited about YP and generally cares more about catching plenty of decent-sized panfish than having any big bass, so we went on a big mission last year to shift the balance. The LMB would ruin our plans of having much a YP fishery, so we fished hard pre-spawn to remove nearly all LMB and BG, and I trapped and cast netted all spring and summer to manage the pond into a decent balance for our YP to have a chance (our water is quite clear, and I grew quite familiar with 2 LMB after hunting them all summer, so there's a chance there are only 2 LMB left). In summary, the LMB were and will be our perennial headache regarding having a sustained YP population, but with near zero LMB, then BG's reproduction is hard to control. We did end up stocking feed-trained YP and a few RES last spring.

I'll just highlight TJ's comment as a possibility in a SMALL pond, because I saw from a year with BG and almost no apex predator that it is possible to control your BG population with lots of manual effort (BIG NOTE: Do not try this in a large BOW, because if you think about it from an impact per unit manual effort, trapping all year and removing 1000 YoY BG makes a difference in a small pond, but in a 10 acre lake, removing 1000 YoY doesn't make even the slightest dent.). I also got a great reaction from our feed trained YP in feeding them cut pieces of BG YoY, so I agree with TJ that, if you're willing to spend plenty of time at your pond trapping and feeding, you can turn a slight BG overpopulation issue into a fun activity and an opportunity for free feed to help your feed-trained predators grow even faster.

Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
teehjaeh57 #518457 03/26/20 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by teehjaeh57
Consider alternative apex predator like SMB or HSB - both will allow your YP to perform much better. Your BG will become a management issue, but through seining, trapping an angling it can certainly be achieved - then you can repurpose those BG to feed your other species. Leads to significant growth in fillet trained fish and is an absolute blast!


+1

I would just add this. The inclusion of BG with YP seems to be sourced to a desire for angling diversity. YP and BG play the same role in their respective biomes as prey and so the benefit they provide as forage is determined by the species complex you will be stocking. TJ rightly warns that the BG will become a management issue. This is a when ... not if ... scenario. Rather than creating such a management issue, you may consider an alternative that allows you to have cake and eat it too.

Consider BG on a put and take basis where they play the role as small predator and bonus fish for angling. Once they have reached 7", BG are fairly easy to sex. If you stocked only males on a periodic basis harvesting them only after having reached a minimum length of say 10" then you would have BG ... but only BG that are on track to becoming trophies and that do not over produce the SMB/HSB food chain.

In our neck of the woods adult BG > 6" can be purchased for $16 dollars a pound and I think for young, healthy, disease free fish this is a bargain. I've yet to check whether they will allow the purchase of sexed fish but I can certainly see why some pond owners would want primarily female BG as remediation and so I don't think it would be problem. 21 7" fish would weigh about 7 lbs and so for ~$112.00 a year you could eliminate the management issue of trapping BG. I've attached an annual stocking scenario for BG at the rate of 28 Males/Year (21 for your 3/4 acre pond). The BG in this scenario achieve a maximum standing weight of 95 lbs/acre (if harvested at 10"). And so if your pond supports 350 lbs of fish, then there would still remain 250 lbs/acre for the (SMB/HSB) -- (YP-RES) biome.

Bump** some additional on the BG growth rates. The assumption of growth at .35 lbs/fish-year is not unreasonable where the BG niche is under populated. In other words, these growth rates are doable. That said, the balance of the (SMB/HSB) -- (YP-RES) biome will play a role in BG growth because a high degree of competition between YP and RES will cause additional overlap of their niches with BG. But if the balance is very good for predator and prey and the YP are making good growth the scenario for BG growth may be conservative.

Attached Files
Male BG Small Pond.xlsx (10.47 KB, 18 downloads)
SHA1: b383877e4823c842c5923d356c2fb2b8e3cde5a2
Last edited by jpsdad; 03/26/20 08:01 AM. Reason: a couple of typos-- and add spreadsheet
Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518471 03/26/20 07:26 PM
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jpsdad above has very good suggestions about utilizing put and take BG for a SMB/HSB - YP/RES fishery. It takes a careful pond manager to accomplish this but with care it can be done with lots of success. Thanks for taking the time to prepare the very helpful growth chart for the male bluegill.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/26/20 07:28 PM.

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Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518475 03/26/20 10:18 PM
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Thanks all for the great comments and I am absolutely listening to the advice to think long and hard about what apex predator I introduce into the pond. Unfortunately the put and take suggestion on the BG is no longer an option as my initial stocking was 400 mixed BG and RES minnows along with the 100 YP. I would have been quite inclined to try a SMB - YP/RES fishery otherwise. I am leaning now toward a SMB introduction as an apex predator instead of LMB as I have a bit of rock structure along one side that should provide spawning substrate and given the pond is spring fed much of the year it is clear and and bit cooler than a local farm pond in VA would be (I have the understanding that SMB are more sensitive to water quality and temps than LMB). I am not familiar with HSB and am more inclined to go with SMB as I am familiar with the species. My goal for the apex predator is to manage the BG and YP to avoid a stunted over population and I won't be fishing for them as a target species other than management.

I don't live at the property but will be there 2 or 3 weekends out of the month staying in a trailer while I build an off grid home so some level of management is absolutely possible as long as effort is on the order of 2-4 hours per visit. I am happy to harvest some BG and have two young teen boys that would be super eager to help keep them thinned out along with their friends. ;p So the stunting may not become a big issue until they are off to college LOL. I am also quite curious about options for managing them by trapping them. I have used minnow and crawdad traps but have not encountered traps for larger fish in the 5-7" range. I am sure there are threads on this but an initial search didn't locate. Any good tips or links to info on BG trapping that can be shared?

Re: YP, RES, BG, and LMB Possible in 3/4 Acre?
Ken77 #518476 03/27/20 12:54 AM
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Angling, trapping, and cast netting are all fun, but FAR more labor intensive and less efficient than seining...get a 4' x 50 - 100' seine and you can collect more BG in 15 minutes than an entire Summer of the other methods combined [that's hyperbole, but I'll bet not by much]. Boys love pulling seines - the big payoff is collection of various species you can perform WR measurements on so you've got your finger on the pulse of the pond. If you insist on BG, get a seine.


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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