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#493211 - 07/03/18 11:46 PM What has happened to our bluegill?
Jack R. Stein Offline


Registered: 01/12/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Florida Osceola County
Hi Guys, it has been a while since I posted but have another question but will give you the play by play to get you up to speed. My family purchased a home on a 20 acre lake (manmade) with very clear water and a sand bottom. The builder stocked bluegill, minnows, perch, and rainbow trout. It is in central Wisconsin and has 20 foot max depth with about 8 to 10 foot average. The bluegill,perch, and minnows were doing well for about three years and then the perch disappeared. For 6 years I had been putting in 14 inch or larger keeper largemouth in there 150 in total over those years and about 50 keeper smallmouth. One of the other homeowners told me he and a buddy had put some black crappie in there and I told him to stop that immediately after about 15 were transplanted. The bluegill population seemed unaffected and the bass fishing was awesome and this year, the bluegill have almost disappeared. I have a kayak and have gone out in the deep water where the bluegill would follow me around and they are not around. The bluegill used to be something the swimmers would complain about as there were so many and they would nip at your toes. Schools of 5 to 20 bass circle the lake and come as close as 1 few feet from shore to feed now. As I said, the population was great last year and now seems in serious trouble. There is minimal vegetation and they do treat the lake for algae and to keep the weeds down. The homeowners are not going to spend the money to shock it and find out what is really up. I know that we cannot determine anything for certain without shocking the lake but would appreciate your opinions. I just cannot imagine that since last year the bass has decimated the entire forage base. Thanks for your thoughts!
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#493214 - 07/04/18 06:45 AM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 13536
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
No real way of knowing without a Pro to shock and analyze. However, I would suspect the algae treatments during the Spring spawning time.
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#493229 - 07/04/18 12:27 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Jack R. Stein Offline


Registered: 01/12/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Florida Osceola County
I know that the algae treatments were made during the spring and again in late June. Supposedly this would not harm the fish. The bass seem unaffected but the bluegill are few and far between where all the years prior, they were all over the shoreline and out deep. I cannot find them deeper either.
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#493241 - 07/04/18 03:17 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5097
Loc: SE Kansas
I'm no expert and don't even live in your area so my ideas might not apply, but some red flags jumped out at me while reading your post.

These are things to think about, not recommendations. I'm in no position to recommend anything.

"There is minimal vegetation and they do treat the lake for algae and to keep the weeds down."

With no place to hide, where will newly hatched BG hide from schools of roving LMB, SMB and BCP? If there are no weeds is there any artificial structure to provide hiding places for your forage fish? BG live about six years give or take. If all the newly hatched BG get slaughtered before reaching any significant size, where will the breeding replacements come from as the old ones die off or are harvested? You did not say how long ago the original BG were stocked but you have been stocking predators for 6 years. If the predators are keeping the BG replacement population decimated the original stoked BG and their offspring hatched before the heavily stocked predators arrived may be reaching the end of their lifespan and simply dying off.

It sounds like you may be predator heavy and that is keeping your forage fish from successfully recruiting because of heavy predator pressure along with a lack of good cover for newly hatched forage fish.

That is my off hand observation based on limited knowledge of the situation and just from what you describe. I have only been managing ponds for 5 years so by all means do not take my word for it or take my ideas as advice. They are just my observations of possible problems.


Edited by snrub (07/04/18 03:22 PM)
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#493250 - 07/04/18 07:55 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: snrub]
Jack R. Stein Offline


Registered: 01/12/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Florida Osceola County
Thanks for chiming in! There are some sparse tall weeds out in the deep water and quite a few floating swim platforms and inflated trampolines and water toys. They provide a bit of shade but not great protection for the forage fish or young bg.

As I said, last year the bluegill were plentiful and all over, and all sizes. This year, very few bluegill.

I do see schools of bass coming within 3 feet of shore cruising and consuming anything between them and the shore. They go back and forth from 5 to 20 bass cruising and eating. The bass are still healthy but I am afraid that the forage base has been decimated this year.

Do you really think that in 1 year 200 keeper largemouth in a 20 acre lake could consume a forage base that was plentiful for 6 years. Remember that the bass were put in from 2012 to 2017. I thought that the forage base could sustain these bass but I do agree that the lack of vegetation does make it tough for the small bg to hide, especially the way the bass schools cruise the shallows and push the baitfish against the shoreline.
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#493251 - 07/04/18 10:25 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5097
Loc: SE Kansas
But the 200 you put in created how many thousand more?

LMB can be very prolific.

From what I have read here on PBF the initial stocked fish is not where the problems develop. It is the offspring of those original stock that determine if the pond is balanced or tipped in one direction or the other favoring either predators or forage fish.

I have the opposite problem in my 3 acre pond. The BG have done so well and procreated so efficiently they have over powered the LMB and I have had little to no recruitment of LMB. So I have small numbers of large bass but almost nothing since the original stock. I'm slowly getting that turned around by additional stocking and growing out some LMB in another pond to add to the 3 acre pond.
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#493366 - 07/06/18 02:55 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: snrub]
Jack R. Stein Offline


Registered: 01/12/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Florida Osceola County
I understand your first line. Once again I ask, why did we have plentiful bg up until this year? The lmb have had successful spawns but the bg were present in great quantities until this year. We are catching some 10 to 12 inch bass last year and this year and those must be 3 years of age or so. I guess I screwed up the pond with to many 14 inxh plua bass. Now I need to find a lake where I can catch some big bluegill and start removing some of the bass. Thanks for your comments, much appreciated!
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#493367 - 07/06/18 03:37 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
RC51 Offline
Ambassador
Lunker

Registered: 07/06/09
Posts: 4237
Loc: Arkansas
It a 20 acre pond but not real deep? Could it of had a fish kill maybe over the winter? Maybe you have a couple of otters they will kill a pond quick!! Although you would think the bass would be hurting as well.

LMB can eat a LOT of food. And the BG in your area don't spawn I would guess near as much as say mine do. It's so warm here my BG will spawn 6 or 7 times a year.

Here is something to think about.

So you think you want to grow trophy bass? If so, get ready to feed them, feed them well - and this may be more of a challenge than you realize.
Recent research suggests that largemouth bass, under optimal conditions, are capable of consuming as much as 5 percent of their body weight daily. So a 5 lbs bass could eat up to 8 or so 4oz bluegill a week. So if you have 200 plus LMB in your pond BOOOYAAA baby you better find you a BG hole and recruit!! lol. I am just now starting to have a issue with some of my bass having a little bit bigger head than body... and that's because I don't have the right size class BG for them to eat. It's always a juggle man. If you have 5 to 10 bass in the shore together cruising looking for food your BG cant keep up I bet! Good Luck! When you catch the bass start taking some Relative Weight samples and see if they are near or at 100 percent RW if not at 95 percent or better you could be in trouble and it's time to start taking out some bass or putting in some BG. Or both. Good Luck man!! RC
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#494297 - 07/27/18 01:23 AM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
Jack R. Stein Offline


Registered: 01/12/14
Posts: 23
Loc: Florida Osceola County
Based on the facts and information discussed, it is quite obvious that I have created an over abundance of bass and need to remove some. I will have to do that and encourage some of the other homeowners to do the same.

I am also going to ask around to see if there is a local pond that has some big bluegill that I can catch and add to our pond. Hopefully I can find that resource nearby or our pond may be in big trouble down the road. Thanks for all the help!
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#494300 - 07/27/18 06:41 AM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 13536
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
Bass have to be culled or will be their own biggest problem. A good rule of thumb is to never release a bass 13 to 14 inches or smaller after the second year of stocking.
_________________________
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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#494308 - 07/27/18 09:48 AM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Dave Davidson1]
Pat Williamson Online   content


Registered: 08/08/14
Posts: 2372
Loc: Oakwood,Texas
Jack
It probably wouldn’t hurt to add cover such as cedar trees and the like close to shore to give the baby BG a place to hide to get big enough to benefit the LMB. As was said earlier your BG populations are aging with little or no recruitment . Feed the BG to help them produce more offspring

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#494323 - 07/27/18 04:38 PM Re: What has happened to our bluegill? [Re: Jack R. Stein]
scott69 Offline
Lunker

Registered: 07/12/08
Posts: 1021
Loc: Chambers county(Valley), alaba...
I am shooting for a trophy bluegill pond here so bass crowded is good for me. but with that being said, i feed my bluegill good food and a lot of it and i think i may be able to have a good bass fishery as well. i have a 10 or so bass that are pellet trained that are in a class of their own. i do try to catch and cull lots of bass though. i can't imagine trying to stay ahead of the bass in a 20 acre pond. you guys are going to have to be really dedicated fisherman. I would suggest installing a feeder, even if it is just one. i have a friend with a 30 plus acre pond (old quarry) and he is having good luck gathering fish to one feeder. i am going to attach a link to a picture of what i call my shark cage. the fish in the cage were never added. i hung it off the side of the dock and tossed feed in it daily. the fish just hung out until they were too large to get out. there is a bunch of fish in my cage. i think you could do the same thing and release bg from time to time.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/fcy7sy5feZLaXmFRA
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