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#484125 - 12/14/17 12:05 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
I stopped down last weekend and it was frozen over with about 2"-2.5" of ice on my south short, north was probably closer to 1". If time allows I'll ice fish it this weekend now that its over 3". It'll melt down to about 1.5" if the extended forecast for next week holds true.
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#484975 - 01/05/18 12:58 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Tayten b Offline


Registered: 12/08/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Green Bay,WI
Hi Matzilla did you get out ice fishing i imagine with this cold weather there was enough ice

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#485134 - 01/10/18 07:31 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
Finally made it down to the pond to check the ice...snow melted (thanks mother nature) and I have 2-3" of slush/ice over 1" of water, over 4-6.5" of hard clear ice. It'll all be solid again this weekend.

My feeder creek from the upper pond is frozen mostly solid and backed up.....the surface seep in this area is also frozen, it was wet most of last winter.


Frozen inlet/surface seep spring. This is usually about 18" wide and 3" deep of moving water entering the pond...it still has some flow but its backed up and widened out

Rest of the pond


I'll be ice fishing the pond at some point in the next week
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485255 - 01/15/18 10:40 AM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
I went to the pond yesterday to do some ice fishing as the snow storm blew in - fished for about 3 hours.

I caught 6 crappie from 5-9" - my average size is 7-9" observed fishing the last 6 months.

This was the smallest. The larger fish are much more aggressive and look fairly healthy with thick shoulders.

I fed a couple of bullhead to the raccoons


A couple of my 175 fall stocked 6-8" LMB - I caught 4 in all, from 6-10", they're extremely aggressive, roaming with schools of bluegills still, but in fair body condition. They sure didn't have bulging stomachs.



The best part of the day was picking up a couple of my WE



I also bagged well over 20 bluegill from 4-6" which I returned to the pond.

Should I be removing bluegill from the pond or should I let nature run its course? I haven't removed any since August when I was running the cloverleaf trap and also catching them on rod and reel.

We've picked up another 2" dusting of snow in the last 24 hours, but it is forecast to rain again and be 40+ degrees toward the end of the week. It sure is nice not having to shovel snow off the pond! The ice thickness has increased to 6-8" of solid clear. My primary feeder creek is 90% iced over, as is the feeder creek coming from the upper pond. Flow through the pond has slowed to maybe 1-3 gpm

I'm extremely excited for the next year on this pond! The clarity after ice out is going to be a great time to survey the fish in the pond. I can't wait to see the hsb and lmb suface feed on young bullhead lol! It is going to be a fun year of hand feeding and running the cloverleaf
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485265 - 01/15/18 04:53 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill Cody Offline
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Quote:
Should I be removing bluegill from the pond or should I let nature run its course?

What are your goals for the fishery? Since you have crappie and bullheads, I would protect all bass and encourage them to be mostly 8"-13" long that eat lots of 2"-3.5" fish. You want lots of smaller bass to be eating lots of small bullhead and crappie if you desire larger harvestable panfish. You could harvest a couple or a few bigger (14"-16") bass each year after the 1st bass spawn (offspring) has grown to 6"-9". By this time the larger bass of 15"-16" will be usually eating larger fish in the 4.5"-5.5" range. You normally want 5" panfish around to fill the gap of harvested 8"-9" panfish.
Note: a few HSB will eat numerous small crappie when these small crappie hang out in open water as 1"-2" crappie.


Edited by Bill Cody (01/15/18 04:58 PM)
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#485267 - 01/15/18 05:18 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
DrLuke Online   content


Registered: 06/04/15
Posts: 250
Loc: Grinnell, IA
Congrats on seeing your hard work pay off! And thanks for the ongoing updates. The knowledge you document is what powers the forum (and of course the input from Mr Cody and the rest of the mods).
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#485272 - 01/15/18 08:58 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
Bill, the pond is enjoyed by the HOA, but out of 40 homes, fewer than 10 fish it. The HOA wanted to have improved fishing for large panfish. A couple of us really want it to be great for ice fishing.

I would like to have a healthy population of great bluegill 7+"
Aggressive but not large LMB that are fun to catch
Bonus WE and SMB (SMB will go in next spring/fall)
Large YP
Large HSB
RES to cut down on parasites

Bullheads will be thinned by predation, fishing, and cloverleaf trap (adding another 1 or 2 next spring). The way I see it for each bullhead removed, 2 bluegill can eat and grow in its place.

My native bass larger than 14" are going to be caught and transferred to a friend's big bass pond in the spring.


Should I help nature along and be removing <5" bluegill now?

Last fall's stocking was...
Largemouth Bass 6 to 8" 175 (most were over 8")
Walleye - 6 to 8" 50
Hybrid Striped Bass 6 to 8" 100 (most were 9-12")
Yellow Perch 3 to 5" 150 (most were 4-5")
Red Ear Sunfish 3 to 5" 150 (most were 3-4")

Total number of lmb was closer to 200 and hsb were 125
I've stocked less than 10 LMB from 9-14", and 50 bluegills over 7" (11 were females)

We removed over 500 bullheads last year, and I removed 75 bluegills (3-4", skinniest by the eyeball test) caught on rod and reel or cloverleaf trap between June and August. I haven't removed any crappie and my largest native lmb (19") died/was eaten by my female snapping turtle.
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485274 - 01/15/18 10:21 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5421
Loc: Boone County Illinois
Originally Posted By: Matzilla
.....

Last fall's stocking was...
Largemouth Bass 6 to 8" 175 (most were over 8")
Walleye - 6 to 8" 50
Hybrid Striped Bass 6 to 8" 100 (most were 9-12")
Yellow Perch 3 to 5" 150 (most were 4-5")
Red Ear Sunfish 3 to 5" 150 (most were 3-4")

Total number of lmb was closer to 200 and hsb were 125
I've stocked less than 10 LMB from 9-14", and 50 bluegills over 7" (11 were females)
.....



200 LMB
125 HSB
50 WE
and adding SMB in the spring
......

This seems like a lot of predators and potential biomass for a 1.25 acre to me. Is the plan to harvest every thing bigger than 14 inches?
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#485284 - 01/16/18 10:08 AM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12115
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Are high protein pellets fed? How much each year or daily?
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#485298 - 01/16/18 05:52 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
I'm only going to add 5 SMB or less - all LMB over 14" will be removed from the pond

Bill, last year I fed sportsmans choice, 1lb per day for 3 months. This year I'll be using aquamax mvp at 1lb per day. I hand feed in the evenings when the water temps are over 60
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485301 - 01/16/18 07:08 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
teehjaeh57 Online   content
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7744
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Few observations FWIW:

Predator density is very high - suspect slow growth on predators due to limited forage availability - routine WR records will dictate your ongoing strategy, but wanted to mention this observation/concern.

Presence of LMB, HSB, SMB, WE [especially considering the density] will make YP recruitment a challenge unless there's significant macrophytes established - they'll suffer high predation rates and you may be facing issue of supplementally stocking adults to keep population.

SMB don't successfully compete with LMB and the will likely be extirpated unless supplementally stocked - which is an option, but you'll likely need advanced fish [8-10"+] to escape LMB predation which are expensive and hard to source.

Per Bill D - consider your carrying capacity for a 1.25 ac bow and what fishery the water can support. I suspect your fishery likely will never be able to support those numbers of adult fish without significant risk to Summer/Winter kill events. Throw in the BH and BG populations and you're beyond recommended allowances/acre without managing water quality intensely.

Just my observations, hope some of it is helpful.

PS: Your frequent updates to chronicle your fishery management experiments are appreciated and thoughtful - love your tenacity removing those BH good job!!!!


Edited by teehjaeh57 (01/17/18 01:47 AM)
Edit Reason: PS
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#485303 - 01/16/18 09:39 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12115
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
As per TJ above - That is why when ponds are drained owners usually say "What happened to all the fish I added?"
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#485328 - 01/17/18 01:52 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
TJ and Bill, can you guys elaborate on the high predator density? Prior to stocking I had 20 or less LMB as my predator base. After decades of miss management the BG, BCP and BH population had ran rampant. I added the LMB, HSB, and WE to reestablish a predator base to work toward my goal of having a healthier population of larger BG in the pond. My hopes were the HSB would go a long way toward picking off BH and BCP who dominate the open water areas of the pond currently. The WE are just a bonus, if they live and thrive I'll be happy, if they don't, it is no skin off my back. Did I add too many predators? I honestly do not plan to have any LMB larger than 14" in the pond at any given time.

There is definitely no shortage of forage of all sizes in the pond. In addition to the fish I have a massive population of crayfish, bullfrogs and leopard frogs, a resident population of FHM, and numerous emergent insects.

Reducing the number of BH should increase the carrying capacity of the pond dramatically by reducing their competition with BG, BCP, RES, and YP for food.

As always, this is an interesting discussion and I love all of the advice and points of view as I'm here to learn and share as much as possible!


Edited by Matzilla (01/17/18 01:54 PM)
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485330 - 01/17/18 02:24 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bocomo Offline


Registered: 05/06/12
Posts: 1087
Loc: Boone County, MO (pond)
Maybe I missed it but how do you know you had 20 LMB prior to stocking?

Have you done a creel survey with weights and lengths for relative weight determination? It's a great way to find out what your population dynamics are.
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#485334 - 01/17/18 05:28 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
teehjaeh57 Online   content
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 7744
Loc: Lincoln, NE
Last fall's stocking was...
Largemouth Bass 6 to 8" 175 (most were over 8")
Walleye - 6 to 8" 50
Hybrid Striped Bass 6 to 8" 100 (most were 9-12")

These are the numbers I was going by. These numbers exceed stocking qty I would recommend - thus the dense predator population comment and my suspicion for slow growth and potential water quality issues due to carrying capacity issues. Again, WR records will dictate your ongoing strategy - I'd continue removing all BCP, BH and stunted BG possible. I suspect you'll begin witnessing stunting with your LMB population - a bottleneck at some size, then start culling those, too. If you have a live creek feeding your pond you'll be cursed with that resident fish population also - those BH came from somewhere. If you don't identify the source and eliminate it the LMB will be helpful for managing those recurring populations.
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Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau





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#485335 - 01/17/18 05:46 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12115
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
Numerous thin bodied slow growing predators are needed when there are problematic fish present such as bullhead, stunted BG, crappie, and possibly other fish migrating from the creek. When a pond has problematic fish present causing fish population balance problems the pond becomes quite a bit harder to manage to achieve ones goals of either high quality panfish or larger predators. I suspect that common carp and green sunfish could eventually also become a problem because carp & GSF are common in most streams.


Edited by Bill Cody (01/17/18 05:49 PM)
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#485350 - 01/17/18 10:59 PM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
The creek is 600' from its head springs at the top of the ravine, no fish are present in the creek but it is loaded with crayfish.

Here is the watershed with creek outlined


and the surrounding area



The upper pond however could have been a source of the BH at some point. Another possibility is stocking - at one point small ponds in Iowa were stocked with a DNR program that included BH. The pond was built with grants from the DNR and was initially stocked by the DNR.

I'm fine with stunted bass and large panfish. The only fish I am interested in having quality size would be the BG, YP and HSB.

I haven't caught or trapped a GSF in the pond yet, not saying there aren't any but I haven't seen them.

Last spring when the clarity was exceptional I counted bass on beds while visiting at least once a day if not twice. I fished the pond very, very hard from June '16 to last summer. I caught 2 native bass. I've spoken with other folks in the HOA who have lived here and fished the pond much longer than I have. There was a guy who admitted to catching and removing every LMB he caught over a 5 year period until he was unable to catch any more.

The snapping turtle at atleast 2 of the native bass from the pond over the summer.

This is one of the native bass I caught last May


I chose the types of fish for stocking but the pond management folks I worked with determined the #'s. They wanted to ladder stock more YP and RES in the spring but I believe the HOA is going to decide on building a dock instead.

How many predator fish would you guys have stocked in the pond? How else would you go about managing the pond for my goals?
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485358 - 01/18/18 10:00 AM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 12115
Loc: Northwest Ohio - Malinta OH
What is done is done predator wise. Now it is your job to monitor and manage the predators based on your goals. Use good catch angling records and make adjustments as the fishery evolves. Feed the fish a high quality fish food if you are interested in harvesting fish for eating or transfer. Otherwise keep numbers at densities where the catch records indicate close to standard weights of the sport fish species. Feeding the fish will more quickly produce more larger harvestable bullheads 11"-13" at 3 yrs old. I've grown bullheads that big in cages in 3 years.


Edited by Bill Cody (01/18/18 10:02 AM)
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#485466 - Yesterday at 10:00 AM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Matzilla Online   content


Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 176
Loc: Iowa
Will do Bill!

I spent the weekend clearing some brush with my sons - a couple hours each day. The dam is terribly over grown with brush, saplings and trees - no one has touched it in 10+ years.

brush pile


you can finally see the pond from the corner of the dam


we have a long, long way to go


Outlet is still an ice funnel, lots of flow from the melting snow and ice


My little helper


We didn't do any ice fishing and the ice might be be unsafe after this string of warm weather blows through the next week. I already had as much as 3" of water on top of the ice.
_________________________
Mat Peirce
1.25 acre southeast Iowa pond
LMB, BG, YP, WE, HSB, RES, BCP

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#485468 - Yesterday at 11:20 AM Re: Restoring a bluegill pond [Re: Matzilla]
Tayten b Offline


Registered: 12/08/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Green Bay,WI
very cool great progress what i have learned for trophy pan fish is to limit there numbers by removing them under a certain size when I under stand bass are fun to catch but I would not stock smallies and keep very few large mouth and have HSB and WE be the dominate species as

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