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#7617 - 12/28/05 10:47 AM Blue gill spawning beds
David R. Offline
Member

Registered: 04/04/05
Posts: 16
Loc: Fairfield, Texas
We have been in an incredible drought. I have an opportunity to build lots of blue gill nesting areas in 1'-3' water (easily). I've heard of people using pea gravel. Can anyone give me any advice on this ?
Much thanks

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#7618 - 12/28/05 12:22 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
David :

Welcome to the forum and glad you posted. Look at the PB link below esp. at Dave Willis comments . The PB mag. has included several articles on BG spawning etc. and I would suggest you subscribe as I think your point will be covered shortly.

http://www.pondboss.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=20;t=002198
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#7619 - 12/28/05 01:57 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Meadowlark Offline
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Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas
David R.,

Welcome and Happy New Year to you!

If you have 3 foot water and sandy bottom I question that the addition of gravel is cost effective for increasing BG spawns.

The study I would like to read is the one that compares two relatively identical pond situations, one with sandy bottom and the other with gravel in the shallow areas. Measure BG recruitment and compare results. EWEST will know, if anyone does, if such a study exists.

My reasoning is based on experiences with such ponds in East Texas. This year, water levels have dropped exposing the BG beds. Honestly, I can not see any way that adding gravel could possibly increase the number of beds...its already wall to wall beds like a giant Hotel. \:\)

Unless you have a "free" supply of gravel...it now costs over $700 for a truck load in my area...I just don't see that it is cost effective.

Let's see the studies that prove I'm wrong. Perhaps Northern situations may be different but in East Texas, I just question that it is cost effective to add gravel over sandy bottoms.

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#7620 - 12/28/05 04:38 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
ML :

There is data/info out there and Dave Willis found it not me and the next PB issue will have info on it from Dave. It is astounding and is worth the subscription price. I will hold off for now but can say it is not the exact study conditions you are asking about.

Every pond is different and it depends on your pond as to recruitment rates . As Dave said in the post linked above BG will choose gravel if they can but it is not required for them to spawn. The question you should ask is why do BG choose gravel if it makes no difference. There is a reason.

I can say this don't buy pea gravel until you read the next PB issue. Cost/ benefit ratios are not something I deal in wrt ponds as every one and its owner are different. I can make that judgment on my ponds but not on others as I don't know their situation pond vs. dollars. I can tell them my experience -- mine is to put one shovel of med. size mixed gravel in the ided BG/RES beds esp. the ones in the center of the colony. I have ,but will not again, spread gravel across the bottom at random. I limit it to proven beds as described above.

I will say this without hesitation -- this forum does not know how lucky it is to have Dave Willis as a member and advisor. If you do any research on fish you will quickly run into a bunch of studies and papers which Dave wrote or took part in on a huge range of fish species and topics. He co-authored the best selling textbook -- Fisheries Techniques 2nd edition and is greatly respected at the top of his professional organization , AFS. There are not many fisheries biologists that in my opinion can match Dave. That is why he is one of a very few who are asked to teach the next generation of fisheries biologists. Dave may have/want/need to be humble about it but I don't have to be. Dave I hope this was not out of line or an embarrassment to you and apologize in advance.
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#7621 - 12/28/05 04:50 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Meadowlark Offline
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Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas
EWEST,

I certainly agree with your comments on Dave and look forward to reading that article. Dave knows that I tried to study under him, but the hurricanes this fall precluded that for me, unfortunately.

The question I was trying to raise was "does it really make a substantial difference to BG recruitment sandy bottom vs gravel beds"?

If a pond has otherwise poor conditions for spawning, i.e. all hard clay bottom, then it certainly stands to reason that addition of gravel would make a difference. My question was more subtle, I guess, and born out of observing huge numbers of very close proximity BG beds in sandy areas of my ponds. Would adding gravel increase the number of beds? I don't see how physically that is possible, but certainly look forward to being proven wrong...again. \:\)

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#7622 - 12/28/05 05:25 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
ML :

I am not saying you are wrong . I agree gravel will not increase the number of beds. I don't think BG are into second homes and mortgages. \:D One per adult male per spawning event is enough.

There is a lot to BG spawning, hatching, recruitment and survival to age one, even to age 6 weeks or 6 days. A whole lot more than spawning #s and LMB/CC/Crappie/YP/fish predation . For example certain types of plants harbor a certain type of small hydra like zooplankton which if in close proximity to spawning beds can cause problems as they kill and eat lots of small larval BG at swim up . We just thought that BG eating plankton was a one way street -- not.
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#7623 - 12/28/05 05:35 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Meadowlark Offline
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Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by ewest:
For example certain types of plants harbor a certain type of small hydra like zooplankton which if in close proximity to spawning beds can cause problems as they kill and eat lots of small larval BG at swim up .
Dang EWEST, more to worry about. Now we have plants eating small BG. Its a wonder we ever get them to a size where the predators can eat them. \:\)

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#7624 - 12/28/05 07:23 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Bill Cody Offline
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Gravel based spawning beds may ultimately be somewhat better than other substrates because gravel (coarser particles) results in a higher percentage of swim-up fry. The fish don't realize this but they probably instinctively know this.
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#7625 - 12/28/05 09:25 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Loc: Miss.
ML :

Here it is on this link and not copywrite protected so you can read the whole study. Below is link and abstract.

http://aslo.org/lo/toc/vol_42/issue_6/1416.pdf

Predation by Hydra on larval fish: Field and laboratory
experiments with bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
J. K. Elliott, J. M. Elliott, and W. C. Leggitt
Department of Biology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6
Abstract
We found high population densities of Hydra canadensis (up to 30,000 m ‘) on macrophytes in Lake Opinicon
(Ontario, Canada) and tested whether they influenced the survival of larval bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus. Hydra
were observed to capture and ingest bluegill larvae in laboratory trials, IndiAduals that ingested fish larvae turned
black; those fed a variety of crustacean species remained brown. The ingestion rate of Hydra on larvae in 8-liter
laboratory microcosms was higher during the night (0.197 larvae predator-l h-l) than during the day (0.111 larvae
predator-l h-l), Many larvae also died after escaping from the stinging tentacles of Hydra (on average 26% of
larval mortality). Population densities of Hydra were highest on the macrophyte Myriophyllum spicatum. Bluegill
colonies were surrounded by dense beds of M. spicatum in some areas, and larvae in the colonies had to swim
through the plants (with the attached Hydra) in order to reach open water. We sampled Hydra in the vicinity of
bluegill colonies on the morning after larval swim-up. The number of black Hydra decreased with increasing
distance from a colony; 72% black within colonies, 45% at 0.5 m outside colonies, and 31% at 2 m outside of
colonies. We estimate that up to 20% of the larvae produced by a colony csn be killed by Hydra within this 2-m
zone. Many more larvae likely die as a result of encounters with Hydra that are abundant throughout the lake
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#7626 - 12/29/05 06:33 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
george Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/02
Posts: 1074
Loc: Plano, texas
David R, if you follow this forum on a regular basis you are aware that we are privileged to associate with some of the top fisheries folks in the country, but sometimes overwhelming with information they provide.

With apologies to Dr. Willis, ewest, BC and others too numerous to mention, I believe in keeping things simple as possible. (KISS).

You are located in Freestone County Texas and our ponds are in southern Delta County, some 200-mile to your Northeast.

I am very familiar with Freestone County, located in what is know as the Post Oak Savannah geographically, and the Wilcox Tertiary geologically.

Southern Delta County is located in the same zone and you have predominately sand, clay and sandy clay.

You will be spending money needlessly on pea gravel – you will have many excellent spawning beds as is.

It’s a rare day NOT to catch a 10 inch,, 1 lb BG on our pond – it’s not a matter of gravel or sand – it’s water quality, genetics and a good feeding program.

We normally will have a balanced population of BG ranging from 1 inch to 10 inches.

Good luck,
George Glazener

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#7627 - 12/29/05 10:41 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Dave Willis Offline

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Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 2587
Loc: South Dakota State University
No apologies needed for me, George! ;\) 10-inch bluegills are something special!
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#7628 - 12/29/05 10:44 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
overtonfisheries Offline
Lunker

Registered: 04/25/02
Posts: 882
Loc: East/Central Texas
George is right.

Even if you have silt or sludge on the pond bottom, bluegill will fan that out to find hard bottom. Some evidence may suggest that pea gravel substrate provides better egg hatch rates....but providing that substrate may still be overkill.
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#7629 - 12/29/05 07:49 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12520
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
I also agree that purchasing gravel would not be necessary for adequate production of young bluegill. Bgill nests in MI and WI were found to have an average of 17,000-22,000 fry per nest. Plenty of fish for repopulating the pond even after the Hydra Ewest mentioned above get their share. Note that predation of fry by Hydra is dependant on 1. if Hydra are present in your pond and 2. dense weeds or some form of dense upright structure for Hydra growth need to be very close to the bgill nests for predation to be significant.
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#7630 - 01/26/06 11:19 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
I just recieved my PB mag. so now we can revisit this thread. Dave's note is in the readers questions part of this issue. Here is the abstract of the article which Dave found and told me about.

Role of Male Parental Care in Survival of
Larval Bluegills
MARK B. BAIN AND LOUIS A. HELFRICH
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Science•
Virginia Polytechinc Institute and State U niversity
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Abstract
Mortality of larval bluegills Lepomis macrochirus from predation was measured in 56 nests
guarded by males and 21 nests from which the male guard was removed. Mortality was s ignificantly greater in unguarded nests(median= 68%)than in guardian nests (median= 14%).Fish
traps placed in unguarded nests captured significantly more predators than traps placed in
guarded nests. Bluegills( 3-12 cm total length)w ere the most abundant nest predators Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus (7• -11 cm),largemouth bass M icropterus salmoides(4- 5 cm),and whitefin
shiners Notropis niveus(5 -6 cm) also were nest predators. Nest preparation by male bluegills
exposed coarse gravel( 8-32 mm diameter)and pebbles(3 2-64 mm) in nest substrate and removed particles smaller than 2 mm. Particles larger than 8 mm provided suitable interstitial
space to accommodate bluegill larvae. Survival of larvae was directly correlated with the proportion
of coarse substrate in the nest.


Some points of interest:

Our data from
Virginia implicated juvenile bluegills as the major
predators on bluegill larvae, followed in importance
by pumpkinseed. Dominey (1981)
drew the same conclusions from a New York....


In addition to direct protection afforded larval
bluegills by nest-guarding males, nest preparation
by the male parent influenced survival
of larvae in Lake Caroline. The availability of
suitable nesting substrate has been recognized
as a major factor affecting reproductive success
of centrarchid fishes (Breder 1936; Kramer and
Smith 1962; Muncy et al. 1979).

In laboratory observationss,
coarse particles provided suitable interstitial
space to accommodate yolk-sac bluegill larvae.
That coarse substrate may function as protective
shelter for larvae was supported by field
data: ....


Although
other factors undoubtedly influence
mortality of tested larvae, our data suggest that
predation, particularly intraspecific predation
(cannibalism), can be a major cause of early
bluegill mortality.
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#7631 - 03/20/06 05:24 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Fishshocker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/20/06
Posts: 4
Loc: Ackerman, MS
New to this forum, but let me put my 2 cents in. Have been placing gravel to enhance spawning for warmwater fish, mostly Bream/Bass for 25 years and this is what I have observed: A. Bream prefer gravel as a spawning substrate. Why gravel?? Gravel allows for water to circulate throughout the egg mass as the guardian male fans the nest. This in turn carries the oxygen necessary for the survival of the individual eggs. Better circulation = better hatch from each nest = better fisheries dynamics. Washed pea gravel is probably best, but also the most expensive. Washed river rock #57 grade is also good and less costly. Washed rounded rock allows for better circulation. Sand, "white" rock, lime rock all tend to "lock up" and restrict the circulation of water/oxygen to the bottom of the egg mass necessary for egg survival in that part of the egg mass.
B. Thickness of the layer of spawning gravel will thin or "pancake" out after several years and eventually becomes useless. The mechanical action of fanning the beds makes the gravel migrate out over time. Counter this by boxing in the gravel with 1x12 inch cypress boards, filling in the outside of the boards with dirt. Looks like a shaved off pitcher's mound with gravel recessed in the ground. Dirt shoulders keep the hooks from snagging as easily.
C. Avoid sloping ground, level sites have the greatest use.
D. Dispurse the sites according to depth and aspect to allow for greater overall use throughout the spawning season.
E. Avoid locating sites adjacent to incoming streams, or tribs, they end up being silted in.
Just my 2 cents, hope this helps.FS. \:\)

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#7632 - 03/20/06 05:39 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 8854
Loc: United States
Thanks for your thoughtful post, Fishshocker. We always love having another biologist on board. \:\) Where did you go to school?
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#7633 - 03/20/06 05:51 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
Sound, logical advice, FS. It's good to see another Mississippian on board. There are a few. I'm from Philly. We have a guy from your neck of the woods, Weir, that works in Houston in the summer(Roy O) \:\) Keep up the good info.
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#7634 - 03/22/06 10:19 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Fishshocker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/20/06
Posts: 4
Loc: Ackerman, MS
Yeah, Bruce, thanks for your kind comments about my post and sorry for the delay in responding to your question, but have been on the water for the last two days electrofishing and attending the opening of a new State lake (500 plus acres, Calling Panther Lake about 30 minutes below Jackson). BS at Mississippi State '76 and MS Auburn '79. State G&F 1 yr then U.S. Forest Service in Alabama and Mississippi. Biggest bass creeled today as of 3 p.m. was 9.9 lbs. Stocked May of 2003.

Back to burgermeister, familiar with Roy and his family, and follow his career with keen interest. Hope he continues to do well.FS \:\) \:\)

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#7635 - 03/22/06 10:36 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
Welcome to the PB forum. We do have a few Miss. folks on here and glad to have some more. Look forward to your comments. \:\) Are you currently working for the state at CP lake ?
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#7636 - 03/22/06 11:28 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Bruce Condello Offline
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Registered: 08/01/04
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Fishshocker,

Do you know Aaron McNevin or Claude Boyd? They have both been helpful in educating me on water quality issues and I believe are both Auburn folks.

9.9 pounds!!! Got any pictures? Hope you'll consider hanging around the forum periodically. We have a few really good biologists who frequent this site, but of course are really busy with field work during certain parts of the year.
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#7637 - 03/23/06 06:28 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Dave Davidson1 Offline
Moderator
Lunker

Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 13600
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
I'm still working on 9.9 three years after stocking. What size was it at stocking and what has been the formula?
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#7638 - 03/23/06 08:20 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
burgermeister Offline
Lunker

Registered: 02/27/05
Posts: 4025
Loc: Houston, Tx.
Fishshocker, the word is that Calling Panther had a 1 1/2 mile line waiting to launch. Cold and windy, first boat out caught 21 in an hour without ever leaving the launch cove. Is that fact or urban legend?
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#7639 - 03/23/06 08:46 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
BM :

That is true as per the paper. CP is a lot like Natchez State Park lake where the state record LMB was caught , an 18+ lb Florida LMB a few years (don't recall the number) after initial stocking of the lake. Being a brand new lake helps the initial growth rates.
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#7640 - 03/23/06 11:50 AM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
Fishshocker Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/20/06
Posts: 4
Loc: Ackerman, MS
ewest, appreciate the welcome, work for the National Forests in MS as forest fisheries biologist. Newest lake coming on line is Okhissa Lake, currently @ 700 acres and filling. Initial stock of FLB May, 2005. Will have permanent pool of 1070 acres with 39 miles of shoreline. Limed and fertilized. Located just south of Bude, MS (half way b/t Natchez and Brookhaven. Planned to open fall '07. Was at CP State lake to observe opening day events and take notes as to how to help our opening run smoothly in '07.
--Bruce, took water quality under Dr. Boyd at AU. Consider him to be THE guru of that field. Haven't mey Mr. McNevin. Will try to post a picture later this week or next.
--DD1 the FLB were 2 inch fingerlings when stocked. John Skains, the state bio over the state lakes program, has e-fished some over 10.
--bmeister, there is no fiction here, with CP opening now and Okhissa later next year, southwest Mississippi is looking good for anglers.

Looking forward to future events/discussions. Lots of ground ..or rather water to cover.FS \:\)

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#7641 - 03/23/06 01:14 PM Re: Blue gill spawning beds
ewest Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 19590
Loc: Miss.
FS :

I think CP is a great lake and look forward to its many and varied benefits. However I think you have the better of the two to work with. It (Okhissa) is larger and I think will be less crowded, as it is not 30 mins. from a large city. Great location with lots of potential. I hope they will provide the $ to do it right and maintain it. Have been following its planning and progress for many years. Grew up in Natchez and know the Clear Springs/Meadville/Bude area and the Homochitto Natl. Forest.
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