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#250431 - 03/05/11 11:55 AM Mississippi pond management options Input welcome
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
Hello all: This post is to document my pond management in action in hope of inspiring those with similar problems, and to solicite any advice from members. I am assuming this will be a success story. I would also like to welcome any input. This long post should give patient readers good background information.

Foreword: The pond is located at my parents house, and i live 2.5 hours away.

Pond specs:
-Located in south mississippi
-10 acres total water. Watershed fed. 2 separate 5 acre spillway connected bodies of water
-5 acres 15 years old, 5 acres 7 years old, 4-8'deep
-initial 5 acre pond built from expanding 3/4 acre gum pond containing few species of natural fish
-stocked with F1 LMB, coppernose bluegill, and few white amur GC.

Pond history:
the pond has seen its fair share of changes over the years. After producing a few years of good fishing, we began having an infestation of lilly pads. This was fun at the beginning, fishing frogs, but soon became a chore. At some point early in the history, my father, against my wishes, put about 30 adult crappie in the 5 acre pond. Father knows best- right? Anyway, I moved to college, and the pond didnt get fished much. Even when i came home to visit, i didnt battle the lilly pads. Eventually, father needed a project and expanded the pond another 5 acres by removing a 15 foot section of the existing dam to flood the additional 5 acres. And now we have the final 10 acres of water. No stocking was done in the new water.

The problems: Overcrowded, Stunted LMB

1. Late spring, during great golf weather, we decided to fish before our golf outing. We caught 6 LMB, all about 10-12" long in about 1.5 hours. The love of fishing that i had lost, came back with a vengenance. So i returned home the following weekend and fished again. Caught 4 fish all day, one 5lb'er and 3 stunted bass. There was no diversity in size of fish, so overcrowded stunted bass is the number one problem.

2. Additionally, we cured the lilly pads a couple of years ago, but massive amounts of water grass and weeds were growing on the bottom. i forget the species of weed. so this presents problems of its own: clear water, massive vegetation, too much cover for small fish.

3. Water clarity and alkalinity. you know how this relates

So last year, without planning any strategy, i did my research, thanks in part to the pond boss forum. AND

-I spent the rest of the summer fishing and harvesting LMB every weekend that i could manage. Total harvested approximated at 100 and ~50 total lbs.

-GC stocked at 6/acre total of 60, for gradual weed reduction in July last year. Hoping they would destroy cover for little fish and provide more food for forage since my bass are starving.

-Water sample analyzed by friend in his lab. Sample taken in july at 3pm. ph 5.6, alkalinity 1mg/dl. pretty bad.

The goal:
To re-condition the pond by balancing population in order to provide quality fishing with occasional lunker bass. Average LMB catch weighing 2-4 lbs. Apply the knowledge that i have learned on pond boss to accomplish my goals without spending thousands of dollars.


The strategy this year:
1. Harvest LMB:
-I will harvest every LMB under 2lbs and 14" and any LMB looking stunted with large eyes, and long slender body.
I will consider population studies if economically possible.

2. Grass Carp:
-I will evaluate the effectiveness of last years stocking and increase if vegetation is not properly controlled.
I am hoping the GC will muddy the water a little as they uproot the aquatic vegetation. If they muddy the clarity, sun wont penetrate and allow the plants to grow on the bottom. They will continue to destroy habitat, and small fish will be available for forage.

3. Water, soil testing:
-I will take a soil and water sample within the next 2 weeks and have it analyzed at Missippi state university or MS department of wildlife fisheries and parks.
-Based on this analysis, i will consider liming the pond for optimal buffering capacity during the hot months.
-I do not plan on fertilizing this year until pH and alkalinity is stabilized. Will also need to consider water exchange to see if liming is cost effective.

4. Strict fishing log:
-Keep an accurate log with weights and lengths in order to monitor the effectiveness of my treatment plan.

5. Enjoy myself as much as possible knowing that any day fishing is better than working.

6. Take one step at a time. Be patient. Think economically.
Know that this pond may be doomed and in need of starting over.

7. Document and update on pondboss for those of you with similar problems.

Postword:
Thank you to the pond boss directors and contributors and forum members who have provided valuable information through their posts. Please feel free to advise. Since its that time of year in mississippi to start fishing, please check back for updates on this thread and offer advice. I was planning my first fishing excursion today but mother nature didnt agree.

JB







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#250439 - 03/05/11 12:36 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Rainman Offline
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JB, Great post...thanks!

In 10 acres of water with stunted, overpopulated bass, the numbers of LMB you mentioned are about what would be removed for a single acre. Larger bodies of water (BOW) are great, but take a LOT of work to control. Removing 1000 or more LMB in the 10-14" range would be needed, but we have to start the process regardless.

Clarity reduction from muddying the water would be a VERY bad thing IMO. Given your low, acidic PH, adding several tons of Ag Lime would be a far better solution in hopes of creating more fertile water and planktonic algae bloom to reduce sunlight penetration...this is also the base of the food chain. Muddy water wold reduce the light penetration, but also KILLS the base of your food chain...not good, as you end up with even more starving, stunting fish of all sizes.

I think massive LMB removal (1500-2000 10-14" fish) and a moderate to heavy Ag Lime application (2-8 ton per acre) would be your fastest, best, easiest and longest lasting correction for reaching your goals.

Get your soil tests to know how much lime is needed and be sure to tell the testers it is for water and no for soil ammending..Ag Lime poses no danger of being over applied as the PH will never exceed 8.2 and the water can only absorb a limited amount of Calcium and Magnesium before becoming saturated. Over-applying Ag Lime simply reduces the frequency of applications needed in the future.

In short, you have fertility in the bottom soils of your pond, but not in the water column itself...the available nutrient are bound up in the soils...I would hold off on more GC and wait to see what a Lime application brings in the way of rooted plant control first...assuming you can create an algae bloom that is.

I'd bet ewest could offer some great advice from his experiences with Mississippi waters!
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#250443 - 03/05/11 12:55 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Rainman]
bobad Offline
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Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
Hey JBrown,

Do you think the Ph reading represents the spring water, or the pond water is turning slightly acidic from an overabundance of decaying vegatation?
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#250449 - 03/05/11 03:34 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: bobad]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
Rainman, thanks for reading that huge post. heres another one to inspire/educate.

Thanks for the advice about lime. I see what you are saying about muddying the water. I was holding off on liming since the pond is filled by natural spring. I should have posted more about the spring in pond history. There is a natural branch that runs alongside the family's property. It runs into my uncle's 2 acre pond and when full follows its natural course through the woods. we dug a ditch to divert the water across our property. In summer months, there is no water flowing into our pond, and the spring is a trickle. but it flows during the spring rains. I dont know what the water turnover is. I havent seen the pond in a couple of months, but in december, it looked like the carp were doing some work.

from what i have read, the pH needs to be buffered before the fertilizer will dissolve. you can lime a pond all day long but if the pH is too low, you just wasted your money. Liming will solve this by buffering pH. so if i lime it, i am confident i could create an algae bloom. I like your idea of massive bass harvest. sounds like fun and that is my plan first. Will probably lime too if cost is right. that way we buffer the water. then fertilize and get an algae bloom which will decrease water clarity, choke out submerged plants, and feed the food chain at the same time. Cant wait to get to work. thanks again.

Bobad,
the spring was dry at that time and before the GC so not decaying vegetation. The pH was most likely a product of animal life producing ammonia and CO2, time of day/temperature, dissolved O2 in the water, and no buffer system. No lime, no buffering of pH. The pH doesnt concern me, it was the low alkalinity. talking with my friend after the testing, i couldnt believe the alkalinity was that low. But after learning of the alkalinity, i accepted the pH measurement. hope that answers your question. Thanks for the comment. This is what he did. From the EPA, Link below :how to test.

Water Analysis Outline
1. Filter through Whatman #1 paper to remove particulates larger than medium size silt (pore size = 11m).
2. Filter through PES membrane (pore size = 0.22m) to remove all particulate matter.
Note: the majority of the particulate matter from the sample was located in this fraction; possibly this suggests an abundance of clay particles based upon the Friedman data I included in the spreadsheet.
3. Read pH at 22C
4. Titrate 100mLs of filtered pond water sample with 0.16N sulfuric acid until pH = 4.5 (a) and then until pH = 4.2 (b). Calculate mg/L of alkalinity according to EPA recommendations, i.e. (2a-b)*0.1

http://www.epa.gov/volunteer/stream/vms510.html

i believe that happy bass grow large. so a happy bass has to have food and comfortable environment to live in. bass feed optimally at a narrow pH range. given the fact that my ponds pH is swinging, i think that has led to the stunted growth as well as overcrowding. bass will feed at all pH ranges, but they prefer some over others. we did catch 3 large fish last year, but they were skinny and could have easily been 9-10 lbers if they werent starving. i am going to remove biomass first in hopes of freeing up some food for the remaining fish. in previous years, we did catch several lunkers without having lime in the pond. i think liming will add a few lbs to the lunkers.


for readers that dont understand alkalinity and buffering, heres my best explanation. do you remember making a volcano as a kid? vinegar poured into a paper machet volcano containing baking soda?
same principal, vinegar is acid, baking soda is alkaline. a buffer would keep the volcano from exploding. H+, hydrogen ions/vinegar, produced by fish, plants, etc enter the water in the form of ammonia and decrease the pH, Lime or calcium carbonate(Ca+CO3-) will bind the H+ and form HCO3 or bicarbonate(which is what is in baking soda). there are no bubbles or explosions because the acid and bicarbonate are already in the same water all the time unlike being separated in the volcano until eruption. so it holds onto the H ion as soon as it is produced. therefore, if you lime a pond, you create excess buffer to accept the H ion when produced and the pH doesnt change wildly. youre probably confused now, sorry, my degree is in biochemistry. it is amazing how far we go to catch big fish!

JB



heres the aerial showing water flow and a new pond filling this year



Attachments
JBrown Aerial.JPG (319 downloads)



Edited by jbrown2004 (03/05/11 04:43 PM)
Edit Reason: added photo link

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#250461 - 03/05/11 07:38 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Rainman Offline
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JB, In the sense of the term Buffer as it is pertaining to ponds, Dolomite Lime IS the buffering agent! Ag lime is Dolomite Limestone that is crushed...Chemically, it is pure Calcium and Magnesium. The PH of Dolomite (ag lime) is 8.2 so it can never raise the ph above that and it will most definitely counteract the acidic nature of your water.

If your pond had a high flow-through rate of acidic water then you would need to live with it, but that is not the case here from what you have said as Ag lime would not help and Hydrated lime is just too difficult to keep from being lethal to fish. Bob Lusk has some experience with a high flow acidic water lake and has worked wonders...at a cost higher than most would tolerate though.

I believe the information youhave may be a little mixed...Fertilizing will be of no use unless you add Lime. Lime WILL raise the PH..no if's about it...the only "If" is how much lime is needed. PH is only the measure of the acid, neutrality or base of anything...it is nothing unto itself, just a measurement.

If testing your water, the alkalinity and hardness readings should be similar...this indicates the hardness in the water is from calcium and magnesiuom instead of other, less desirable salts...Alkalinity is essentially the buffering capability of the Base elements to counteract acids. PH fluctuates daily from natural plant/fish respirations (carbon dioxide forming carbonic acid) and other factors that form acids...Ag Lime merely reduces these fluctuations...nothing will stop them.

PH, alkalinity and hardness are all intertwined and the perfect solution for optimum water quality is adding Ag Lime...Crushed Dolomite. If you have for example high hardness with low alkalinity..the hardness could be a salt such as manganese or lithium, or many other salts that are of little value for buffering acids.

Edit..Buffering is nothing more than a natural chemical reaction between bases and acids. As acid is formed, it dissolves the ag lime in a chemical reaction till a neutral PH is reached...Having a PH higher than Neutral, such as when excess lime is dissolved in water, is what allows the "buffering" or counteraction/neutrilization of the acids as they form.

One way you could also buffer your spring water, and add some hardness and alkalinity would be to line your ditch and inflows to the pond with Limestone Road Rock or larger rip/rap.


Edited by Rainman (03/05/11 08:05 PM)
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#250463 - 03/05/11 09:20 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Rainman]
ewest Offline
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JB welcome. Rex is right you need , above all else, to lime the ponds. At that alka and ph your fish will be under stress and the pond will not be productive.

Take a look at this from Coop-Ext.

http://msucares.com/pubs/publications/p1428.pdf
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#250495 - 03/06/11 09:58 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: ewest]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
thanks rainman and ewest.
you are exactly right. i was just trying to oversimplify my buffer explanation. the dolomite or ag lime is a mixture of ca, mg and carbonate. the acid produced by the fish etc displaces the mg and ca in a chemical reaction. it then binds to the carbonate. therefore, it helps keep the pH more stable. i did think about liming the ditch. it could only help.

question:
have people had success with liming from the banks of the pond? this would be more economical than distributing it from a barge boat.

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#250540 - 03/06/11 05:27 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Rainman Offline
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JB, whomever sells bulk Ag lime will likely have spreader trucks and if they can drive along the banks safely, those trucks can sling the lime 50' or more out into the water. Perfect distribution is best but not that big of a deal. Even some small piles will become havens drawing the fish to the better water quality near them. It takes a few months for things to stabilize. Try any farm Co-Op or ask someone at your county USDA office.

Pelleted Lime is the same as Ag lime only processed and about 20 times the price. Here in Missouri, Ag lime is $10 per ton and is spread free with a 15 ton minimum...it is one of the lowest cost investments you will ever make in your pond!


Edited by Rainman (03/06/11 05:28 PM)
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#250550 - 03/06/11 06:52 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Rainman]
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
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Loc: Miss.
What county ? Most co-ops sell bulk ag lime and will deliver it and put it in by spreader truck.

It's not so much the fish that are causing the ph problem but the dirt in the pond and watershed and the vegetation. Much of MS is acidic (pines). The water picks up the acid from the dirt. The lime will offset the acid dirt.
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#250588 - 03/06/11 09:47 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: ewest]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
against my better judgement, i went to the pond today. yesterday we had about 2.5 inches of rain. i went mainly to take soil samples. i caught 2 bass on the first 2 casts. i guess they must be starving. caught and harvested 13 total. i am going to call tomorrow to find out about lime costs.

in another note, while driving around the pond, i discovered this skeleton in the shallows. looks like a fish, a big fish. my best guess is catfish. we did have a few in the pond in the beginning. we didnt stock. they were just natural in the old gum pond. we used to be able to jug a few but i havent done that in a while. guess ill try soon. this is all i found. no pelvis or sternum and since the head is so wide i assumed this is a catfish. what do you think. its 30" long.
ill get information on the bass caught soon. all were under 14" and < 1 pound.


Attachments
sk4.JPG (354 downloads)
sk7.JPG (323 downloads)
sk010.JPG (311 downloads)
sk011.JPG (310 downloads)



Edited by jbrown2004 (03/06/11 09:49 PM)
Edit Reason: added information

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#250592 - 03/06/11 10:03 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Rainman Offline
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WOW!!!

Any signs of Otters? Could have died of old age and been pulled out by a cyote or other scanevgers also.
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#250596 - 03/06/11 10:38 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Rainman]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
you think its a catfish? or carp? it was in the water and i pulled it out. we have had problems with beavers and otters in the past.
speaking of: do you have a great way to rid beavers and otters. they have been drilling the dam.

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#250598 - 03/06/11 10:45 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Rainman Offline
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essup is the guy that;s been sendig traps all over for those critters.

Chainlink fence or rip rap laid on the dam from water level to about 6' deep is about all thet will keep them out of your dam.

I have no clue what kind of skeleton it is.
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#250605 - 03/07/11 06:07 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Rainman]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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The first pic does look like a catfish but I can't tell on the others.
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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.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP

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#250625 - 03/07/11 10:55 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Dave Davidson1]
esshup Offline
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What's the pink powder?

Personally, I really, really like Conibear 330's for beaver. Set them in the run that they use by their den, either in the bank or the beaver house. As close as possible to where they come out. Make sure they are firmly placed on the bottom, and I use a stick either pushed thru the coil of the spring, or inside the jaws to help keep them in an upright position. At times I'll use a stick to help direct the animal down to make sure it swims thru the trap and not over it. Make sure that you use wire and wire the trap chain to a large branch or something that won't move. Even tho the traps kill the critter, they can still struggle for a bit and will run off with the trap if it's not anchored.

Otters can be trapped using foothold traps at the bottom of where they slide into the water, or if the depth of the water permits, I'd set a 330 there as well. Placing a stick on top of the water to make the animal dive down to go under the stick and thru the trap.

Rex, ewest does a good job on beavers as well with the 330's.

Just be careful with the 330's. There is a setting tool available that will help you compress the spring. If you've never used them before, and don't know of someone locally that can show you how to use them, I'd buy a conibear 110 and practice setting and placing the trap before jumping up to the 330's. The 110's are used for muskrats. While the 110 will hurt if you slip and let it snap on you, the 330 might very well break a bone. You wouldn't want to set a 330 above ground if you have any pets running around.
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#250629 - 03/07/11 11:10 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: esshup]
CJBS2003 Offline
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Here in VA, 330's have to be at least half way under water... They are nasty little buggers. Anything that can kill a beaver dead in it's tracks has to be!
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#250642 - 03/07/11 12:05 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: CJBS2003]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
Thanks for the input on the beavers. i have trapped them in years past with a steel wire noose on their travel slips. it seems after i kill one, they move out of the pond. i will probably set some traps in the next couple of weeks in case they are in there. those conitraps look nice.

update:
im letting the soil sample dry. will have it analyzed soon. contacted lime plant. i can get delivered and spread tons for $40/ton. options are limited in my area of the state but this is the best price i got.

harvested 13 fish yesterday. total weight of 5 lbs. avg .4 lbs, .25-.69 lbs. avg length 9.8".

long way to go but you gotta start somewhere. hoping not to have to start over.

do you have a weight length table?


Edited by jbrown2004 (03/07/11 12:09 PM)
Edit Reason: added question

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#250736 - 03/07/11 11:01 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
esshup Offline
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Originally Posted By: jbrown2004
do you have a weight length table?


From the archives:

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=160456#Post160456
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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).

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#251285 - 03/13/11 05:31 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: esshup]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
fished again this past weekend. heres the total harvest season.
released 4 fish this weekend


Date Harvested Total Weight Avg Weight
6-Mar-11 13 5.1# 0.4#
11-Mar-11 16 8.15# 0.51#
12-Mar-11 17 8.14# 0.48#

Released 5.1# 21"
4.43 23
3.57 19
2.97 22



Edited by jbrown2004 (03/13/11 05:32 PM)

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#251305 - 03/13/11 08:37 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
ewest Offline
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That is a start. Take a few pics so we can assess the condition.
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#251332 - 03/13/11 11:43 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
esshup Offline
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Originally Posted By: jbrown2004
fished again this past weekend. heres the total harvest season.
released 4 fish this weekend


Date Harvested Total Weight Avg Weight
6-Mar-11 13 5.1# 0.4#
11-Mar-11 16 8.15# 0.51#
12-Mar-11 17 8.14# 0.48#

Released 5.1# 21"
4.43 23
3.57 19
2.97 22


The 21" fish was the only one at 100% WR, everything else was under weight for it's length. Personally, I would have kept the 19", 22" and 23" out of the pond as well.

Relative weight chart
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#251376 - 03/14/11 10:50 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: esshup]
ewest Offline
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At this time and under your situation the bigger LMB were probably breeding females and many of the smaller fish were males. Take out LMB 12+- inches and under (unless one looks fat if so put it back) until you have taken out about 25 to 30 lbs per acre this year.

I would have left the breeding females as they are big enough to eat their small kin. They are good at that but need your help to thin things out.
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#251439 - 03/14/11 06:05 PM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: ewest]
jbrown2004 Offline


Registered: 03/05/11
Posts: 29
Loc: Mississippi
so take out larger fish if they are not female? until i reach 30lb/acre total? is there a good way to tell male from female?

the 5.1 lb fish was definately a female. all the other fish caught were small and i killed these. total weight harvested is ~21 lbs. 280 lbs to go.

it was confirmed to me this weekend that we have crappie in the pond. i hadnt caught one, but someone caught several large crappie 2 years ago. this is bad, right? 10 acre pond.

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#251494 - 03/15/11 08:12 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: jbrown2004]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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I wouldn't worry about the crappie. Evidently the bass are controlling them. Anytime you catch one, remove it.
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Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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#251522 - 03/15/11 11:05 AM Re: Mississippi pond management options Input welcome [Re: Dave Davidson1]
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
Take out LMB 12+- inches and under (unless one looks fat if so put it back) until you have taken out about 25 to 30 lbs per acre this year. I would not take out LMB 15 inches and up unless it looks real skinny. Take out all crappie caught. Learn how to do a pond survey with seine and catch records plus visual.
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