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#208315 - 03/16/10 10:07 AM I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
I have a half acre pond that is probably 40 years old. My grandfather managed it for catfish until he died about 15 years ago. I've fished it for catfish several times over the last few years and haven't caught any. But the pond seems to be overcrowded with bluegill. I've thrown a baitcasting net, used traps, and fished for bluegill and gotten tons of them in the 2-4" range, very few that are any bigger. I would like to get the pond back to what it used to be, a channel catfish pond. Do I need to drain it and kill off the bluegill (and anything else) and then stock it with catfish? Or is there another way to do it? The bluegill overcrowding problem would stunt the catfish if I stock it with catfish, right? I have a bass pond on the same property. Would it work to put some bass in this pond to control the bluegill numbers? How many?


Edited by Nathan Payne (03/16/10 10:08 AM)
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208317 - 03/16/10 10:08 AM Re: I want a catfish pond [Re: Nathan Payne]
jeffhasapond Offline
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Hi Nathan Payne and welcome to Pond Boss. Hang on for some expert feedback.
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#208325 - 03/16/10 10:21 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Omaha Offline
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I would imagine an overpopulation of BG would be beneficial to a catfish pond, much like it would be a trophy LMB pond. Is there spawning structure in the pond, that you know of, for CC?
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#208328 - 03/16/10 10:30 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Omaha]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
Omaha, I'm a total newbie at this. But some of the stuff I read said that channel cats don't eat much bream. This document, http://theurbanrancher.tamu.edu/publications/B1319.pdf, says
"A common problem in managing
catfish ponds is the invasion and
overpopulation of unwanted fish
species. Sunfish (bream or perch),
shiners, shad, suckers, carp and bullheads
often invade catfish ponds and
compete with the catfish for food
and oxygen. They also increase the
likelihood of disease. Because catfish
eat mostly aquatic insects and
worms and actually catch few fish as
food, these fish species are relatively
unimportant in the catfish diet."

I've never added any spawning structures to the pond and never heard my grandfather say that he did. But it's very possible.


Edited by Nathan Payne (03/16/10 10:36 AM)
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208329 - 03/16/10 10:50 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Omaha Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Nathan Payne
Omaha, I'm a total newbie at this.


Same here!

 Originally Posted By: Nathan Payne
But some of the stuff I read said that channel cats don't eat much bream. This document, http://theurbanrancher.tamu.edu/publications/B1319.pdf, says
"A common problem in managing
catfish ponds is the invasion and
overpopulation of unwanted fish
species. Sunfish (bream or perch),
shiners, shad, suckers, carp and bullheads
often invade catfish ponds and
compete with the catfish for food
and oxygen. They also increase the
likelihood of disease. Because catfish
eat mostly aquatic insects and
worms and actually catch few fish as
food, these fish species are relatively
unimportant in the catfish diet."


Interesting. I don't know much about catfish in ponds, so I'm very interested to see what the experts have to add.

 Originally Posted By: Nathan Payne
I've never added any spawning structures to the pond and never heard my grandfather say that he did. But it's very possible.


Nathan, I wonder, and maybe I'm just thinking aloud here, if you simply fished all the CC out of there. I mean, that's an old pond, and if there isn't spawning habitat for CC then the likelihood of recruitment is very small. When was the last time you caught a cat out of this pond?
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#208330 - 03/16/10 10:51 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
I don't know if it makes any difference, but the pond is spring fed and surrounded by mostly pine forest. At its deepest point it's about 15 feet deep.
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208331 - 03/16/10 10:57 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
Omaha, the last time anyone caught a cat out of it was probably 10 years ago. I want to restock it with catfish but wonder if I need to do something about the bluegill first. That article I linked to also said that you don't want to have a spawning habitat in a small pond because it will lead to catfish overcrowding. You're apparently supposed to restock every few years, which I'm happy to do. Catfish fingerlings are pretty cheap.


Edited by Nathan Payne (03/16/10 11:08 AM)
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208333 - 03/16/10 11:01 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Omaha Offline
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Yep, that's what I've read too Nathan. Looks like you're headed in the right direction then. Let's let one of the experts weigh in and get you on your way to catching cats again.
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#208346 - 03/16/10 12:44 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Omaha]
Dave Davidson1 Online   content
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The BG numbers certainly won't cause stunting of catfish. They will be quite happy with that plentiful forage.

However, I do have a couple of concerns. Catching cats when they will never be hungry could be a challenge.

My biggest concern might be the bluegill biomass. These guys might be so crowded that they could cause a dissolved oxygen crash that would wipe out the cats. Since all of the BG are so small, it may have been an annual occurrence with only small fish that can get in the shallows surviving. These guys are spawning machines and catfish cannot control bluegill numbers.

I wouldn't put bass in. They will reduce the bluegill numbers but will also over spawn. It would be fun for awhile but inevitably you would become bass crowded.

If it were me, and it's not, I would kill off the bluegill or transfer all you can to the bass pond before killing and then restock with Hybrid Bluegills and channel cats. Add a feeder and you should have a pretty neat fishing hole in about a year.
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#208360 - 03/16/10 02:04 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
Thanks for the advice, Dave. And I like the idea of transferring bluegill to the bass pond. Have you ever heard of someone training bass to eat bluegill on command? Like is there a way to injure a bluegill and make it thrash around on the surface until a bass comes and makes a meal out of him (hopefully with a big splash)?

Also, what would be the reason for restocking with Hybrid Bluegills in the catfish pond? Do they work well with the cats even if I'm not wanting to fish for them?
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208362 - 03/16/10 02:12 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Omaha Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Nathan Payne
Also, what would be the reason for restocking with Hybrid Bluegills in the catfish pond?


I believe he suggested this because they're not as prolific spawners as straight BG.
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#208367 - 03/16/10 03:02 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Omaha]
Nathan Payne Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
If I don't want to fish for any type of bluegill should I stock them in the pond at all with the catfish?
_________________________

1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208368 - 03/16/10 03:08 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Nathan Payne Offline
Lunker

Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
 Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
My biggest concern might be the bluegill biomass. These guys might be so crowded that they could cause a dissolved oxygen crash that would wipe out the cats. Since all of the BG are so small, it may have been an annual occurrence with only small fish that can get in the shallows surviving. These guys are spawning machines and catfish cannot control bluegill numbers.


That's interesting. Are you saying that it's possible that every year there could be so many bluegill that they use up all the oxygen so all of them die except the little ones in the shallows? Is there more oxygen in the shallows because of there being more surface area per volume?
_________________________

1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208372 - 03/16/10 04:10 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
kurt Offline
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Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 179
Loc: roscoe, illinois
Hey nathan,

I am up north building a pond in Southern Wisconsin. I am currently building a main pond for WE/SMB/YP but above the main pond will be a catfish pond, .5 acre size. I posted a similar question under the topic "Catfish and what". The guys gave a lot advice on what could be stocked and put with catfish that you might find helpful. They ran through the whole gmbit of ideas with pros and cons. Hope it helps
_________________________
13 acres,
5 ponds 1 still working
FHM, Shiners, CC, SMB, WE, Yellow Perch
living the dream




Can't have everything...where would you put it?

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#208389 - 03/16/10 07:11 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: kurt]
Greg Grimes Offline
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Nat, diff opinion. What size cats do you plan on stocking channels or blues? If larger blue cats they will hammer the bluegill and grow like crazy. Also larger 3 lb channel cats will also eat the bluegill.
If you put in bass they will indeed eat the bluegill and reduce. Dave if it becomes bass crowded, what is the problem? They will help control channel catfish reproduction to help Nat with catfish growth. Or sell the bluegill or use them to fed bass in other pond as suggested. Sorry I see the "pond as half full" not half empty. I would love to have a pond full of bluegill. I could grow the heck out of cats anm a few monster bass that way. Good Luck
_________________________
Greg Grimes
www.lakework.com

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#208395 - 03/16/10 07:46 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Greg Grimes]
Yolk Sac Offline

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Registered: 02/06/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Nashville
Nat, I think Greg makes an excellent point-larger blue cats are excellent predators, and would probably thrive while controlling the 'gill population. Todd Overton sells blue fingerlings, or if you want to jump start things, you could add a few larger blues along with your channels. It might make the fishery a little more interesting to have a few really large blues around...someone around here caught a 90 pound blue out of a 2.5 acre pay lake a couple of years ago, they estimated that it had been in the lake for 15 years, as none larger than 20 lbs had ever been stocked.

You could still have an excellent put and take fishery with channels being the mainstay as well.

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#208398 - 03/16/10 07:47 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: kurt]
catmandoo Offline
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Registered: 08/08/06
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Nathan,

First, I agree completely with my good friend Dave D., except that I have some minor reservations about his last suggestion of killing off the pond and then including hybrid bluegill in the restocking ... more on that below.

No matter what, catfish in a small pond are both good and bad. Catfish generally cannot successfully generate new populations in small ponds for a wide variety of reasons.

The upside is that channel cats, at least in my area, are extremely cheap to stock -- even at the 12-14 inch size. I think I last paid about $1.50 a piece for 12-14 inchers. They transport very well, and they are very hardy. They are voracious feeders that grow very fast. Mine typically double in size each year.

The downside is that channel cats are voracious feeders that grow very fast. They are very smart. The become hook shy real fast, and can become quite difficult to catch. When you can't catch the smartest ones, they get to 10-20 lbs., and they can cause a lot of damage to a pond.

It is certainly a balancing act. As Dave says, they can run out of oxygen in a bluegill heavy pond.

One option is to go with a catfish-only pond that is pellet fed. A second option is to put twenty-five to a hundred 12-15 inch channel cats in your pond with the bluegill this spring, and see what happens.

DON'T PUT MORE CHANNEL CATS IN THE POND THAN YOU REASONABLY FIGURE YOU CAN PULL OUT IN ONE OR TWO SEASONS!

If after one season, you aren't catching decent catfish, and there are still lots of stunted bluegill, then I'd think about either adding bass, or taking Dave's suggestion. If you use hybrid bluegill, you will probably have to feed the catfish. Then they are easy to catch on flies and pellet flies.



Lastly, if the channel cats over-populate, call some buddies from Oklahoma, and they'll gladly come noodle the big ones out by their front teeth!


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#208418 - 03/16/10 08:43 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: catmandoo]
Dave Davidson1 Online   content
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10106
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Nathan, I like HBG's because they have limited spawning. They eat the mosquitoes.

Regarding the biomass: Yep, they can overspawn and cause a die off. I have a 1/4 acre forage pond. It's not always that big due to lack of rain in my area. In theory, I need to seine what I can of it several times per year and transfer the bluegills. However, I have trouble getting suckers to pull on the other end of the seine. So, they spawn and overspawn until they foul the water and have a cleansing die off. By the next summer, they are back in force.

Greg, I have a problem with bass crowded ponds. Your idea has some merit but he already has a bass pond and wants a catfish pond. I don't see a bass heavy 1/2 acre pond as being half full or half empty. I don't like the idea of a bunch of big blues in a water hole that size. Now, as they use to say in the CB Radio days: "Kickerback".
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It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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#208549 - 03/17/10 11:02 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
Wow, great feedback guys. This is a great forum.

I think I'm leaning toward getting as many bluegills out as I can with traps and my bait casting net (and feeding them to my hungry bass). And then stocking with the larger channels (12"-14"). Catmandoo, did you suggest the larger ones because they will be able to control the bluegill population sooner? If I get 100 of them would I need to get all larger ones or could I get say 25 larger ones and 75 4"-6" ones. Would the 25 larger ones control the bluegill population?
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208557 - 03/17/10 11:44 AM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
One more question. Should I transfer all the bluegill I can into the bass pond on one day? Or will that negatively affect the bass pond? The bass pond still has some bass overcrowding, but it's getting better. I fertilized it last year and have been harvesting the bass I catch. So anyway, if I drop 500-1000 bluegill into the bass pond this Saturday would that cause problems?


Edited by Nathan Payne (03/17/10 02:10 PM)
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208583 - 03/17/10 02:05 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
Dave Davidson1 Online   content
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I don't see a problem.

BTW, how big is the bass pond?
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It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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#208586 - 03/17/10 02:15 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Nathan Payne Offline
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Registered: 03/16/10
Posts: 105
Loc: East Texas
It's about an acre and a half.
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1 3/4 acre, 1/2 acre, and 1/10 acre ponds in NE Smith County, East Texas.

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#208596 - 03/17/10 02:41 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Nathan Payne]
rcn11thacr Offline
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Sounds like your bass will be having a great weekend! If it was me, i'd ice down a 12 pack and find a comfortable spot to watch the action.
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#208598 - 03/17/10 02:47 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: rcn11thacr]
Dave Davidson1 Online   content
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Registered: 01/04/06
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Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Nathan, Greg and I disagree on one point.

He is a well known Professional in the pond world with dang good credentials, education and reputation. I, on the other hand, am only a pond junkie. That might make a difference when you are evaluating different ideas.

Of course, he's not from Texas so that ought to just about even us out.


Edited by Dave Davidson1 (03/17/10 03:00 PM)
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It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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#208609 - 03/17/10 04:42 PM Re: I want a catfish pond but have bluegill crowding [Re: Dave Davidson1]
CJBS2003 Offline
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A lot depends on how much money you want to sink into this endeavor as to what my ideas would be.
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