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#488289 - 04/07/18 10:22 AM Western NY pond, what to do now?
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1876
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
Hi all,

I have decided to ask here rather than just go on instinct this time. All I know is the old "it depends" is really confusing me in my pond, but here goes:

This is our 1/2 acre 10+ foot average pond. Goal is to restore the predator prey relationship for light fishing and swimming.

When we first stocked the pond, 6 years ago (I think) we started with the FHM the first year until their numbers were high, then later we stocked:

Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Black Crappie all at once, and same relative size. Oh, and 4 pesky Koi.

Everything seemed OK, but the few WE we caught were pencil thin, and obviously not thriving as they looked like toothpicks with eyeballs. They seemed to be competing too heavily with the YP and BCP for the same forage and losing. I later regretted not ladder-stocking since all the mouths were the same size going in. The FHM didn't last long, and the perch were too large for the stocked WE.

The YP thrived in the past 5 years, in fact most of the original stockers were at least 11" this year, and many on the 13"+ range. We decided this past summer to have a full-out fish fry and pulled 16 big ones out plus one decent BCP. No WE were caught despite extensive fishing and targeting. The idea was to make room for future perch and take the pressure off the forage. We planned on tossing the WE back in if caught, but nothing. The estimate is there is ~15 large perch left based on feeding and observations, and zillions of smaller ones.

So this spring, it is clear the YP are thriving based on all of the ribbons and small perch everywhere, but we have found many dead and obviously starving young BCP floating up or being devoured by the snapping turtles. We have had quite a stretch (6 mo) of ice and cold weather, and I believe the perch are much better adapted to the cold water and simply out-competing everything else. The BCP are dwindling to very low numbers, and we have only caught tiny paper-thin fish.

So the fish supplier appears correct: The BCP are difficult to maintain in our northern ponds. Spring has to be just right for a successful spawn.

Our water is sparkling clear, and I believe fairly low levels of nutrients. It doesn't appear to be very productive, and honestly I don't want it to be, since we like swimming in it without picking algae out of our teeth. So we are not planning on fertilizing and don't really want to struggle against nature and balance if we did.

The goal at this point is to restore balance between top predators and prey/forage to keep starving fish to a minimum and keep perch numbers in check. So here are my thoughts:

Idea 1:
Stock larger WE (10 or so) plus a load of FHM. Knowing the FHM may be mostly devoured. I would put in some pallets for breeding as most of the rocks I originally set are clogged with chara. This would be the original species mix.

Idea 2:
Stock some Small Mouth bass instead, along with pumpkin seed sunfish and FHM. I don't want bluegills as they are terrible nippers when it comes to swimming. The pumpkin seeds are easy to catch for fun, good fighters, are easy to observe, and would hopefully be easier forage for the bass. I hear they nip also, but don't get so large that it hurts.

The problem with idea 2, is the pond bottom is clay with some stones here and there, but no really good gravel beds for bass nesting. Perhaps a good thing?

I don't plan on buying many predator fish except for the FHM. Just enough to put a little pressure on the massive numbers of perch that I see in the pond, reduce starvation, and in the right numbers to prevent chaos.

Any insights would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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#488290 - 04/07/18 10:23 AM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1876
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
I forgot to mention, we cannot stack hybrid striped bass in the watershed of the great lakes, as it is a "gentleman's agreement" with Canada due to fears of upsetting the balance in the lakes.
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#488313 - 04/07/18 11:43 PM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
anthropic Offline


Registered: 05/03/14
Posts: 969
Loc: Louisiana, USA
Not an expert, but I did live half my life in the North. I'd go for option 2. SMB will cut back on YP and keep Pumpkinseed in check.

If SMB don't reproduce, you can always stock more in a few years.
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7 acre pond in east Texas, full pool reached March 2016. CNBG, RES, FHM stocked Nov 15; TP May 16; LSL bass 30 June 16. Added 100 12 inch N LMB and 1,000 shiners Oct 17.




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#488394 - 04/10/18 08:32 AM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1876
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
I just realized I posted this in the wrong forum, it should be in corrective stocking? Can any admin out there move this over please?

I am leaning towards the SMB option #2 as I don't have faith the WE are going to thrive.
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#488403 - 04/10/18 10:28 AM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12303
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
I also vote you use option 2, but I would leave out the PS until the SMB have the small YP under control and numbers noticeably reduced. Do you best to locate and stock some, or at least a few 6"-8" long so they start immediately eating small YP. Do you have any SMB located. Wanting them and finding them are two big differences? Stocking fingerling SMB into a crowded YP population could easily resort to starving SMB and they all die. Worst case is you can buy some smaller ones, cage them, and feed them first small minnows for a few weeks and then add your smallest small perch to the cage for most of the summer until they are 5"-6" long and able to eat small YP.
http://hicklingsfishfarm.com/pricelist.htm

You may not be able to locate any of last year's SMB and you have to wait until fall for them. Then this summer you need to implement an aggressive removal of small YP.

Either way you likley will have to start aggressively manually removing small YP to help the SMB achieve a predator - prey balance to where the YP and stocker SMB are actively growing. Too many small YP create a big food shortage and will prevent all of them from growing. Simple manual removal can be angling and trapping.

If you are still seeing some YP eggs remove all of them you can locate. I remove all my YP eggs and always have some young ones each year. One missed strand will provide more than enough of a year class for 2018. Missing a whole year class of YP will not overly damage your goal of balance since you currently have too many small YP. Adding a few breeder sized PS will provide some small PS fry providing the over abundant stunted YP don't rob PS nest of all the eggs.

Are you feeding the YP pellets? It will help many of them grow faster.

I think the SMB will find a way to produce at least one or two spawn nests each year which is all a small pond needs. You can always add some WE & PS later.

Post IMO is okay in this forum topic.


Edited by Bill Cody (04/10/18 10:44 AM)
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#488412 - 04/10/18 01:06 PM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
ewest Offline
Moderator
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19227
Loc: Miss.
Agree with Bill. PS can also overpopulate like the YP. I would consider seining/trapping out a bunch of small YP as an additional reduction method. You may be able to sell some of the small YP.
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#488495 - 04/12/18 09:17 AM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1876
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
Thanks for all of your help! Luckily I am within easy driving distance of Finger Lakes Aquaculture, so typically I can get the fish and size class I want. However, it doesn't look like they carry SMB any more :-(.

http://www.fingerlakesaquaculture.com/2018_Price_List.pdf

I can get LMB in the size I would need to control the YP. I am just not as keen on getting LMB as they can strip my pond's ecosystem fairly clean as they are gluttons, and may wind up with the opposite problem, no perch. Hmmm. Never easy.

I may be forced into going fishing at a nearby reservoir.

A good part of this is I wanted rid of the BCP, my pond is too small for them to thrive. This YP issue may have taken care of it.


Edited by liquidsquid (04/12/18 09:18 AM)
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#488510 - 04/12/18 07:53 PM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5524
Loc: Boone County Illinois
I think I missed something. Why is it you don't want to stock WE?
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#488682 - 04/16/18 05:13 PM Re: Western NY pond, what to do now? [Re: liquidsquid]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1876
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
I am slightly resistant to WE since the last batch did so poorly. They may do a lot better with a variety of perch sizes that I have now. The last problem was caused by all the same sized mouths competing for the same FHM forage which was quickly stripped.

Seems like nobody is selling SMB near me, though two places are selling pumpkin seeds. Since I am somewhat fearful of introducing disease or some other intruders into my pond from another public BOW, I will suppress my urge to bucket stock.

I'll try again, though I may not be able to get WE either, as is noted in the price list I have to call for availability.
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