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#43689 - 03/28/03 11:11 PM stunting bluegill for bass
green head Offline

Registered: 04/25/02
Posts: 106
Loc: southern IL
If I had a 2 acre pond and the only thing I cared about was trying to grow bass in the 4-6 pound range in southern illinois would there be any problem with stocking a pond full of bluegill trying to purposely stunt the population at 4-5 inches for bass food? Would nest predation eliminate future generations of bass? What other pros and cons would there be? Thanks,

#43690 - 03/29/03 10:14 AM Re: stunting bluegill for bass
Critterhunter Offline

Registered: 02/10/03
Posts: 45
From what I've read if you have way too many bluegill (stunted) eventually your bass will almost dissapear as the bluegill will eat the bass fry/eggs. You'll be alright for a few years until the large bass die of old age. Not to mention the fact that you're bass will be harder to catch as they have plenty to eat.

There is no reason why you can't have large bass in a balanced bluegill/bass pond by simply installing a size limit on bass, throwing back some of the larger ones to grow big. If you're having problems with bass stunting problems you'd be better off removing the bass that are showing signs of slow growth (say skinny bass under 12"). Some suggest removing 25 pounds of bass per acre per year until they show signs of growth and weight increase.

You might also consider trying to increase the forage base (golden shiners, crayfish, etc). Another method would be to stock fathead minnows, although many will tell you they'll only amount to a quick snack for the bass. Still, if you have the money to spend stocking them once a year in the spring can only help.

I'm sure you'd get some good ideas from these guys on the forum.

#43691 - 03/30/03 10:42 AM Re: stunting bluegill for bass
Mike Robinson Offline

Registered: 01/19/03
Posts: 111
Loc: Richmond, Illinois
Bluegill usually stunt at a size that is too large for the bass to consume and too small for the fisherman to keep. I understand your idea of providing plentiful feed to the larger bass, but you need to support the entire food chain to do it...stunting does not provide a balanced food chain. I'd recommend keeping your Bluegill under control and adding supplemental feed in the form of golden shiners or large pellets (9mm or so & the bass need to be trained before you stock them) if you want to grow large bass in Southern Illinois.
Mike Robinson
Keystone Hatcheries

#43692 - 03/30/03 09:06 PM Re: stunting bluegill for bass
Bill Cody Offline
Field Correspondent


Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12851
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
g.head - This could theoretically work, but you have numerous hurdles (as pointed out above) for it to be successful.
Unless you have a passion for doing things in a difficult manner, it would be easier to grow your large bass the traditional way.

I personally would not want to "experiment" raising large bass with a two acre pond unless you had several ponds and could "afford" the potential loss/failure of a "fish experiment" in one of the ponds.
I wouldn't want to do this with my only fishing pond.

There are always different ways of approaching a goal. As I think about your idea the concept may have some merit.

Thoughts & Theory. These are NOT fully proven methods. - As noted bass recruitment would be minimal in a stunted bgill population due to bgill preying on bass eggs, fry & 1" young. Thus the total bass carrying capacity would not have to be shared with numerous smaller bass. The carrying capacity would be basically the current adult LMB weight. For example 50 lbs of bass per acre X two ac = 100 lbs of bass (all of them large to extra large.). One with optimum conditions could produce up to 100 lbs of bass per acre. But too many large bass in this pond could adequately thin the bgill to a point of the bass successfully reproducing and your project or plan hits a snag.

Stock the pond with only bgill and get them into a stunted condition or have an existing pond dominated by stunted gills(majority 4"to7").

Recritment of bgill should be minimal in stunted population due to several population stresses or pressures.

Stock approx 80+ lbs of LMB (preferably just females) (8@2lbs 16", 8@3lbs18", 6@4lbs19", 4@5lbs20")= 26 bass for 84 lbs. Do not stock 100 lbs so bass have some "space" or capacity to grow. If you stock only females you are guaranteed no young bass to fill carrying capacity and no males who do not grow to trophy size. Ideally you want only females to maximize the numbers of truly trophy bass.

According to B.Lusks "Growing Trophy Bass Book" a 16"LMB can eat a 5" bgill a 20"LMB can eat a 7" bgill. So your 26 bass should have little problem "handling" the stunted bgill. Hopefully your stunted bgill population will produce some bgill larger than 7". Your largest bass should grow beyond 21" to maybe 23-24". These bigger bass need optimal forage items which means bgill larger than 7".

In an old pond, my large, old, northern bass often got eye sight problems. Often it appeared as cataracts. The eye would cloud over and the fish could not see w/ the 'bad' eye. You would probably have to thin out your largest old bass and periodically replace them with younger fish since the stunted bgill would prevent bass recruitment. You would have to monitor their condition. We can routinely get LMB to live 12 to 18 yrs in the north.

Now for an interesting twist. With a little time, effort and patience you could turn this into a pond of "trophy pets".

I used to have several 4 to 6 lb bass that had been trained to eat wounded bgill. They learned this from eating big (1"-2") softened fish pellets. Pitch a big pellet or a dead fish into the pond and they would all rush to the point of impact. Great fun and entertainment. The fish became tame enough that a couple would take a dead bgill from my hand. These big fish are basically lazy and will instinctively feed on the easiest meal available providing there is no hook in it.

Training Big Bass.
I have often had big bass try to eat a small hooked bgill. I usully do not hook the bass. It lets go or I pull the gill away from the bass. If you could get this to happen, immediately catch some more small bgill, stun them and pitch them into the pond in the vicinity of the opportunisic bass. Another way is to cut most of the tail off the gill and it can only weakly swim; an easy bass meal. This or another bass would soon learn to feed on them. Many of the bass will learn that you are not always a threat but a source of easy food. The only time you are threatening is when you are "waving a long stick in your hands". Other bass would probably learn the same way of easy feeding. Soon you could have a dozen or more of the large bass producing a feeding frenzy when you came to the pond with a bucket of bgill. Actually it becomes more fun feeding trophy bass than catching them.
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