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#431588 - 12/14/15 08:26 AM Bluegill size, genetics or environment?
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
I know a healthy pond with all the factors a healthy fish needs to thrive is key. Given that... How important are genetics to growing optimal sized bluegill? I'm in upstate NY. Many of our lakes and ponds have bluegill. Some provide much larger average sized fish than others. Two waters come to mind. Both have great environment and offer plenty of food. But the bluegill in the one average 40-50 percent larger than the other. How much of this is caused by environment? Most of it? Or is the gene pool in one stronger than the other?
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#431615 - 12/14/15 02:54 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
ewest Offline
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What is the source of the BG in each? Could they be from the same source?

" Both have great environment and offer plenty of food" - that is extremely hard to determine.

Has either had a winter kill or O2 event? Fishing pressure differences?

IMO food (lack of) accounts for nearly all the difference in the vast majority of waters (non or lightly managed type). In waters that are well managed and with supplemental feeding and good water quality (low stress)genetics becomes much bigger factor.

In most of the published data food is the limiting source.


Edited by ewest (12/14/15 02:55 PM)
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#431618 - 12/14/15 03:05 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: ewest]
Hollywood Offline


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So, it sounds like environmental factors, food availability, etc, would determine the ultimate size of the fish, more than which gene pool they were swimming in... grin
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#431620 - 12/14/15 03:34 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill Cody Offline
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Environmental factors are important for growing big BG, however genetics puts extra size that leads to trophies on the already big BG. Population size and density relative to the food web (productivity of right sizes of consistent food) plays a big part IMO for producing consistently big BG.
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#431627 - 12/14/15 04:42 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Don't forget in many smaller public waters anglers cull the largest bluegill which may be primarily males. Some research has shown this causes smaller males to mature earlier which may reduce average size of bluegills.

Hollywood is the lake with the smaller bluegills a smaller lake by some chance?
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#431633 - 12/14/15 05:01 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill Cody Offline
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A smaller lake or one that is harvested differently? Type of harvest practices will definitely have an impact on fish population / community dynamics.
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#431642 - 12/14/15 05:37 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Cecil Baird1]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: Cecil Baird1
Don't forget in many smaller public waters anglers cull the largest bluegill which may be primarily males. Some research has shown this causes smaller males to mature earlier which may reduce average size of bluegills.

Hollywood is the lake with the smaller bluegills a smaller lake by some chance?


Both lakes are pretty large, one is probably 15 square miles, the other several times that. Both are heavily fished, especially ice fished. The smaller of the two has the smaller average fish. Most ice fishermen will throw back 6-7 for every one they keep. It is fairly easy to take a 50 fish limit nearly any afternoon you want to. The larger lake has huge panfish and it is usually more difficult to catch a limit there, but nearly all fish caught are of "keeper" size. The explanation of the effect of culling makes sense. I appreciate all the replies, you all are great!
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#431644 - 12/14/15 05:45 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
About how many pounds of bluegill could one expect to harvest from a well managed 1/2 acre pond? The pond water depth mix is currently 1/3 0 to 4 feet, 1/3 4-8 feet, and 1/3 8-18 feet deep. I have an excavator coming to do some work. I'm thinking about expanding this pond to 2/3 acre. Would it be better to keep the depth profile mix I have, or increase the 0-4 foot area? It seems that would boost productivity? The area I'm thinking about expanding is in the back (first pic) or the lower area a bit to the right in the second pic below.


Edited by Hollywood (12/14/15 06:01 PM)
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#431650 - 12/14/15 05:51 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


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#431652 - 12/14/15 05:57 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
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Loc: NY
photobucket.com/user/tomhollywood/media/image_zpsb5sck5xk.jpeg.html][/URL]
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#431653 - 12/14/15 06:01 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill D. Offline


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Loc: Boone County Illinois
Beautiful setting!
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#431656 - 12/14/15 06:48 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5871
Loc: Boone County Illinois
Originally Posted By: Hollywood
....
Both lakes are pretty large, one is probably 15 square miles, the other several times that. Both are heavily fished, especially ice fished. The smaller of the two has the smaller average fish. Most ice fishermen will throw back 6-7 for every one they keep. It is fairly easy to take a 50 fish limit nearly any afternoon you want to. The larger lake has huge panfish and it is usually more difficult to catch a limit there, but nearly all fish caught are of "keeper" size. The explanation of the effect of culling makes sense. I appreciate all the replies, you all are great!


Makes me suspect the lake producing the big BG has more predator pressure on the smaller BG size classes.
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#431658 - 12/14/15 07:14 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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The best bluegill lake in Indiana as far as large average size is very predator heavy and large at about 800 acres (for Indiana). Northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and rainbow and brown trout. The bluegills you catch are at least a pound and I've actually caught bonifide 11 inch bluegills.

Another interesting thing about this lake is the bluegill beds are hard to find and in deeper water due to the clarity of the water. Makes wiping out males on beds hard to do.

The lake is Clear Lake east of Fremont in Steuben County. Very close to the Michigan and Ohio lines.


Edited by Cecil Baird1 (12/14/15 07:21 PM)
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#431659 - 12/14/15 07:18 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Bill D.]
Cecil Baird1 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Bill D.
Originally Posted By: Hollywood
....
Both lakes are pretty large, one is probably 15 square miles, the other several times that. Both are heavily fished, especially ice fished. The smaller of the two has the smaller average fish. Most ice fishermen will throw back 6-7 for every one they keep. It is fairly easy to take a 50 fish limit nearly any afternoon you want to. The larger lake has huge panfish and it is usually more difficult to catch a limit there, but nearly all fish caught are of "keeper" size. The explanation of the effect of culling makes sense. I appreciate all the replies, you all are great!


Makes me suspect the lake producing the big BG has more predator pressure on the smaller BG size classes.


Makes sense to me.
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#431662 - 12/14/15 07:30 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill Cody Offline
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The larger lake with bigger harder to catch BG likely has a more diverse habitat providing a better food web (food items). Harder to catch BG in the larger lake I think indicates the BG are fewer per acre (good predation of the optimum size class of BG) and possibly has clearer water allowing the adult BG to easier to see baited hook/line vs real food.

Number of pounds of BG that can be harvested from a well managed 0.5 ac pond will be mostly dependent on if BG are fed high protein pellets. Pellet feeding produces bigger BG quicker and more BG per acre. Adequate predation and proper harvest maintains the high quality fishery. I think BG harvest guidelines have been discussed in a couple threads in the Common Pond Q&A Archives of this link for growing big bluegill:
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=189988#Post189988
And an Archive thread about wise harvest of bluegill from lakes and ponds.
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=431667&#Post431667

The general guideline for panfish harvest is to remove 20% to 30% of the harvestable adults which research has shown will be the annual natural mortality of old individuals. The number that comprises the 20%-30% will be determined by the productivity and management of selective harvest.

From my experience and best guess, a fertile pond in limestone soils with a good algae bloom (18"-2.8ft vis) will produce about 200-260 lbs of total BG per acre which remember includes a lot of smaller (2.5"-5.5") individuals who are important to fill the gap of those harvested. A good algae bloom consists mostly of algae - zooplankton and not primarily suspended detritus, silt/clay particles that also reduce visibility (Secchi measurement) and presence of non-plankton particulates have been proven to significantly suppress plankton blooms and overall productivity.

Clearer less fertile water (vis 4ft-7ft) will result in one half or fewer BG lbs per acre (abt 80-100 lbs/ac). The smaller(2.5"-5.5") BG in both situations of bloom and clear could easily comprise 70% of the total BG density. Special management ('selective harvest' of natural & manual, and predator density) could skew the number of larger BG from 25%-30% to somewhat higher percentage to possibly 40%-50% of the total BG density. I know from experience this is true with yellow perch populations.

Pellet feeding and aeration could boost the total pounds of BG per acre to 400 maybe 500lbs/ac which would allow a larger annual harvest possibly 100-130 adult BG (7"-9")per acre. The actual number of BG harvested will depend on their total weight (average and total) more than just BG number/acre. Selective harvest methods can skew the average size of the BG present for harvest.

IMO the better the quality of pelleted food (protein) used will produce more better quality BG faster than cheaper average quality fish food (32%protein). Remember in a higher production system your crop will depend on the quality of food it receives. Some fish foods have been proven to have higher digestibility, produce more body mass, and better growth improvements with less waste per pound of pellets fed.


Edited by Bill Cody (12/14/15 08:35 PM)
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#431672 - 12/14/15 09:56 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
Wow... Got busy for a couple hours processing the doe I took and canning it. Just got back on here between batches through the canner... And everything you ever wanted to know about managing a pond for BG is here! Thanks so much! I will put the info to good use. Any thoughts about expanding the pond as far as what depth to go? My thought was that more 0-4 fow might help with generating more food. But if it's not going to make much difference, I'd prefer to just run with the depth profile that's already there, an even taper from 0-15 or so. Thanks again!


Edited by Hollywood (12/14/15 09:57 PM)
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#431688 - 12/15/15 08:30 AM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
Found an old pic... Ice fishing the larger lake. Some of the bay's are loaded with pumpkinseeds. There's a representative bluegill just above the top crappie on the left. For reference, that's a 12 inch crappie.

URL=http://s28.photobucket.com/user/tomhollywood/media/icefishing002-1.jpg.html][/URL]



Edited by Hollywood (12/15/15 09:19 AM)
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#431689 - 12/15/15 08:35 AM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
sprkplug Offline
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Some nice sized p-seeds in that mix.
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If we accept that: MBG(+)FGSF(=)HBG(F1)
And we surmise that: BG(>)HBG(F1) while GSF(<)HBG(F1)
Would it hold true that: HBG(F1)(+)AM500(x)q.d.(=)1.5lbGRWT?
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#431690 - 12/15/15 08:44 AM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
When I was a kid I used to spend my winter school breaks ice fishing this lake. Guys would come around with snowmobiles pulling sleds filled with buckets and a scale and buy your catch. There was no limit on panfish back then (it's 50 a day now) there were over 100 guys taking buckets each for months on end... From one bay alone. There hasn't been much of a change in catch rates from then (70's) to now. If anything, the fishing was better back then. Kind of amazing.
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#431696 - 12/15/15 10:05 AM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
Bill Cody Offline
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Nice picture. Your picture shows very well that pumpkinseeds (PS) will grow to nice harvestable sizes when the habitat is good. Many northern members here are now trying pumpkinseeds as an alternative pan fish to bluegill in pond management. Hopefully others using pumpkinseeds in the future will share pictures of the pumpkinseed harvests from their pond.

To address your renovated pond depth question, I would remember that the more shallow water you have the more weed and filamentous algae pressure you will get. These plants rarely grow in deeper water and they cause most of their problems in shallow water next to shorelines (littoral zone). Ideally a pond/lake needs only 25-35% of shallow water with structure/cover to produce a quality fishery and even less shallow water is needed if the fish are fed pellets which very well supplements the natural forage available. To minimize weed problems especially in ponds that tend toward clear water (vis 4-8ft), I would minimize areas with shallow water and regularly feed the fish a very high quality fish food to produce a high harvest, high quality fishery.

As an example, go to Google earth and look at your example of the big BG lake using aerial view. Now estimate the amount or percentage of shallow weed zone shoreline water where light will penetrate to the bottom (weed growth zone) compared to the area of deeper open water. This will give you a good idea for the amount of shallow water in a water body that is able to produce big BG.


Edited by Bill Cody (12/15/15 11:43 AM)
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#431702 - 12/15/15 11:02 AM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Bill Cody]
Hollywood Offline


Registered: 08/09/13
Posts: 249
Loc: NY
Great input Bill... Thank you! This pond does tend to the clear side except during rainy periods. I fill follow the depth contour that's already in place. This will still leave a good 35% at < 4' . I will be adding brush to that section and some deep water structure throughout this winter. I will also be adding my warm water fish to the pond this winter. I thought I wanted more open area between these two ponds.... But... Must.... Dig... More.. grin
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#431720 - 12/15/15 03:00 PM Re: Bluegill size, genetics or environment? [Re: Hollywood]
ewest Offline
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To add to the equation :

From my presentation at PB IV Fish Nutrition Applied Science to Small Waters


natural food is better for fish over the long term

pellets (the right type) are 4 + times more efficient than natural food because the fish does not have to expend energy to catch it

lack of food is the single biggest limiting factor in fish growth and condition


Bioenergetics is the subject of a field of biochemistry that concerns energy flow and transformation through living systems.

Growth, development and metabolism are some of the central phenomena in the study of biological organisms. The role of energy is fundamental to such biological processes. The ability to harness energy from a variety of metabolic pathways is a property of all living organisms. Life is dependent on energy transformations; living organisms survive because of exchange of energy within and without.

Living organisms obtain energy from organic and inorganic materials. For example, lithotrophs can oxidize minerals . In photosynthesis, autotrophs can produce ATP using light energy. Heterotrophs (including fish) must consume organic compounds. These are mostly carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The amount of energy actually obtained by the organism is lower than the amount present in the food; there are losses in digestion, metabolism, and thermogenesis.

Energy Budget ---- Inputs = Outputs + Growth


Because fish growth often is limited by food availability, supplemental feeding is a logical tool to improve the condition of fish in small impoundments as the energy cost for bluegill to feed on pellets is small relative to the high caloric intake, which can be 4-5 times greater than those fed natural foods (Schalles and Wissing 1976). Substantial increases in the standing stock of bluegill in ponds that receive pellet feed have been recorded (Schmittou 1969) and, in lakes, pellet feeding has been found to increase the number of large bluegills (Nail and Powell 1975).

These results indicate that total fish production and production of bluegill were each increased approximately 75 to 80% by supplemental feeding in 19 months after stocking (Schmittou 1967)

Previous studies demonstrated that feed in excess of 10 pounds per acre per day in bluegill ponds was not utilized. Some accumulated and decomposed, thus depleting the supply of dissolved oxygen which resulted in fish kills (Schmittou 1967) .

the rate of growth of sunfish can be increased by short-circuiting the food cycle, thereby producing harvestable size sunfish in a shorter period of time than would occur under natural conditions (Carnes 1966).

The pellet size should be approximately 20-30% of the size of the fish species mouth gape. Feeding too small a pellet results in inefficient feeding because more energy is used in finding and eating more pellets. Conversely, pellets that are too large will depress feeding and, in the extreme, cause choking. Select the largest sized feed the fish will actively eat. Addition of supplemental pelleted feed did not contribute to the rate of growth of young shad, but did increase the growth and spawning frequency of adults.
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