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#17786 - 11/12/02 05:13 AM culling bluegill???
tim k Offline
Member

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 297
Loc: lampasas texas
I will try this question again as did not get any suggestions last time. In a very healthy bluegill population, should bluegill be culled similar to culling bass when they are overpopulated? If so, how does one know when to cull and what sizes to cull? Since objective of bluegill is for forage, seems like the more the better. Have two feeders going 4-5 times per day on 8 acres. Any input appreciated.

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#17787 - 11/13/02 09:50 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Bob Lusk Offline
Editor, Pond Boss Magazine
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Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 3128
Loc: Whitesboro, Texas
When bluegill are overpopulated, culling helps. But, be sure bluegills are overcrowded. Here's a sure way to tell.
No bluegill except full grown adults exist.
No baby bluegill, no baby bass, adult bass are underweight. Bluegill outnumber bass 10-20 to one, and growth of all fish seems to have stopped. Also, adult bluegill are underweight.
If you have all those symptoms, cull bass and bluegill. Culling stimulates spawns, spawns stimulate growth.
And, never take the biggest bluegill. Take the smallest adults.
If you catch 20 bluegills, 10 larger than 9 inches, 10 smaller than 9", take the smaller 10. Size is genetic, and larger bluegill tend to be better spawners, and will protect their territory. So, your gene pool stands a better chance by leaving the largest fish.
_________________________
Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...

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#17788 - 12/03/02 12:00 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
Bob I'm puzzled.

Are you saying when only full grown adult bluegills are present they are stunted? I thought that meant too many bass. Am I missing something or did I just read it wrong?
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#17789 - 12/04/02 01:45 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Fishman Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Waco, TX
I with Cecil on this one, kind of confused. All of these indicators seem point to overcrowded bass, with the exception of the underweight adult bluegill. I guess the truth of the matter is that I've never seen all of these factors together in one lake. More specifically, I can't say that I've ever seen large bluegill, say >8", that were skinny in any lake where there few smaller bluegill. Bob, is this a theoretical situation, or have you seen this in a few lakes? Have you remedied the situation by culling only, or have you used it in conjunction with instituting a feed or fertilizing program? I'm intrigued because usually the general philosophy is that you can't have too many bluegill when your goal is growing bass. Now if your goal is to produce 10" bluegill, that is another story . . .

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#17790 - 12/04/02 01:56 PM Re: culling bluegill???
tim k Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 297
Loc: lampasas texas
Let me just add that my bluegill are on heavy feed thru the warm months and reproduce well - I have all sizes with some large, very healthy adults - I have coppernose and hybrids - Tim

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#17791 - 12/05/02 10:19 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Bob Lusk Offline
Editor, Pond Boss Magazine
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Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 3128
Loc: Whitesboro, Texas
There's really only four fundamental bass/bluegill pond situations.
1) Balanced-bass & bluegill several size classes, good relative weights;
2) bass overcrowded-not enough forage;
3) bluegill overcrowded-not enough predators; 4)everything else-transitional fisheries...

1) Balanced. Everyone strives for this...good size ranges of bass, plenty young of the year and intermediate size fish, both bluegill and bass. Relative weights are average to above average for all fish.
2) Overcrowded bass-not enough forage--the most common scenario I come across. Out of 100 unmanaged lakes I come across, probably 90 are in this category.
3) Bluegill overcrowded--not enough predators--This probably occurs 1 or 2 times out of a hundred. Yes, I have seen it, and when you do, it's pretty obvious. What you will see is this--lots of full grown adult bluegill, relative weights from 60-80%, often laden with parasites, with too few intermediate size bass, also 60-80% relative weights, no large bass. What happens? Bluegill become the dominant species (maybe because a bass fishery is overharvested early in the pond's life). When bluegill dominate, several things happen. First, they over-compete in their own food chain. They over-compete for nesting sites. There's just enough bass to eradicate young bluegill off the nest. Also, bluegill reproduction is hindered in overcrowded situations. Nature has a way to signal overcrowded fish to slow their reproduction. Overcrowded bluegill produce fewer eggs, and viability is affected because nutrition is affected. A consequence is also minimal reproduction of those intermediate size adult bass. Too many mouths, overall, between bluegill and bass, and the food chain stops mid-stream. Leave that fishery as is for several years, expect the same fish to lose weight, and the food chain to be prematurely eradicated each spring. The solution is this...cull bluegill in conjunction with improving the pond's ability to produce more fish. Increase production, reduce numbers, remaining fish compensate by spawning. New fish, a change of dynamics, improved food chain, and you see a big difference. Feeding, fertilization, and adjusting fish numbers is the best answer for this scenario.
Another way to attempt to correct overcrowded bluegill populations is to use large bass. Know the average size of your bluegill, and stock large bass, big enough to eat the dominant size range of bluegill.
4) Everything else--transitional fisheries. The only time I see this type fishery is after a major drought or a flood, or a fish kill. Fish are resilient, and will always attempt a come back. When their numbers are adjusted by some rapid change of nature's pulse, fish respond by spawning and growing. Here's an example..a sampling of fish shows only young of the year bass with intermediate bluegill in an established lake. Further sampling reveals two adult bass, underweight, with six adult bluegill, fat and healthy. This is a transitional fishery, headed toward one of the three above scenarios.
If the above overcrowded bluegill situation was bass overcrowded, you wouldn't see the 10-20 bluegill to 1 bass ratio. Overcrowded bass almost always dominate the ratio, sometimes 20 bass per adult bluegill. Look at ratios, and body condition. That tells the true tale.
Fishman, the biggest key (next to ratios and body condition) is how large the bluegill are compared to how large the predators are. In a healthy bass/bluegill population, only the largest bluegill can't be eaten by the largest bass. All other fish are fair game for big bass. As long as you have a variety of sizes of bluegill to go with your managed predator numbers, you're right, you can't have too many bluegill.
And, Cecil, there are more signs than just adult bluegill.
It's learning this kind of stuff that keeps me doing it. Just when I thought everything made sense, something else shows up. The most fun thing, about pond management, to me, is trying to figure out all the factors, water quality, chemistry, fish species, populations, dynamics, communities, micro, macro, vegetation, silt. It's like a huge puzzle, and the more pieces you find, the better the picture looks.
Fun, huh?
_________________________
Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...

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#17792 - 12/05/02 11:17 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12804
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Cecil & Fishman. That's why he's our PondBoss. It's real good info above.
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#17793 - 12/06/02 06:52 AM Re: culling bluegill???
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 20043
Loc: Northeastern Indiana
Bill,

Interesting reading. Most literature says stunted bluegills are the most common problem in farm ponds due to overharvest of bass, but you find in only 1 or 2 out of a 100 cases.

I have lots of large bass I pellet feed to grow big bass and a good number of smaller bass in the pond that were reproduced in the pond and are not pellet trained. I'm hoping the slower growing bass that are not pellet trained and are feeding on gills will keep their numbers down so I can grow big gills. Trying to have my cake and eat it too. If Jason comes out to electroshock this spring I may find out how close I am.
_________________________
If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.







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#17794 - 12/06/02 10:21 AM Re: culling bluegill???
Fishman Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/02
Posts: 188
Loc: Waco, TX
Wow, great info Bob!

I very much appreciate your reply. It's very helpful in understanding the fundamental reasons how a bluegill-crowded fishery could develop. I have very limited experience with this scenario.

The couple instances I have seen where ponds had lots and lots of skinny bluegill, there were few or no bass, and there were few if any bluegill longer than 6" (hence my confusion regarding the presence of large skinny bluegill in your description). My recommendations were to add 8" or larger bass at a rate of 50/acre and institute a feeding program. The rationale behind this was to convert the excess biomass of bluegill into desirable bass. It sounds like this approach is similar in concept to what you propose.

Thanks again.

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#17795 - 12/06/02 10:35 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Bob Lusk Offline
Editor, Pond Boss Magazine
Lunker

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 3128
Loc: Whitesboro, Texas
That's right. Your recommendation is right on the money. Be sure the client tracks bass growth rates, to confirm how well they are solving his problem.
_________________________
Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...

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#17796 - 12/10/02 05:28 PM Re: culling bluegill???
Greg Grimes Offline
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Field Correspondent
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Registered: 05/03/02
Posts: 3973
Loc: Ball Ground, GA
CB,
Most literature is out dated. My expereince all be it not as comprehensive is very close to Bob's. Out of 140 first time lakes electroshocked....3 were bluegill overcrowded,
14 were balanced and 123 bass heavy (88%).
_________________________
Greg Grimes
www.lakework.com

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