I have been struggling with the feeding mysteries.
If I feed more, am I growing bigger CNBG, or just more CNBG???
Brian, its probably not one or the other but both.
Am I putting too much effort into trying to recruit anything resembling a Shaquille O'Neal or even a Dennis Rodman out of my 1A pond size??? What are the odds???
Feed is but one part of the equation and it is easy to be seduced by the illusion that feed may make up for shortcomings elsewhere. A trophy CNBG pond will by necessity have many, many starving LMB. Unless recruitment is limited by some other means, if your pond doesn't meet this criteria it probably will not produce 2lb BG no matter how much feed you give them. Only maybe 200 BG/Acre/Year can achieve 8" + status if your heart is set on 2lb+ BG. These fish should achieve this length by the end of their second year. Considering every year millions of fry hatch per acre, a major thinning of 0 year BG is an absolute must. The next major thinning are the 1 year olds greater than 6". To have 2lb bluegill requires intense mortality of 0 and 1 year olds. If its not happening, there will never be enough food to go round to make it 2lbs.
I think that feed can help grow 2lb+ BG but it simply cannot on its own. If the predator population structure and fisherman harvest doesn't ensure low numbers of 8"+ 2nd year fish, the feed requirements to grow 2lb+ BG would be unhealthy and unsustainable for your pond.
With regard to feeding, unless big LMB are your goal, I would never feed pellets small enough for a 0 year fish to consume. This is not by experience and it isn't advice. It's just what I would not do if I were paying the bill at my trophy BG pond. O year BG are a trophy BG BOW's worst enemy. You need only a minute portion of them to survive to the gape limit. Every mouth to feed beyond the necessary works against the goal of Monster BG.
A forage pond is recommended for LMB goals. For trophy BG, one may need a "predator pond". Perhaps a pond with LMB and shiners to help maintain the small bass population of the trophy BG pond. If recruitment is limited as suggested and one doesn't feed the 0 year fish directly, it may be possible to grow a few 2 lb BG in a 1 acre pond. The key would be limiting recruitment.(Edit) You know what? 2lb fish must be extremely difficult to achieve and just may be pipe dream. 200 8+ BG/acre/year might be too much recruitment to prevent overcrowding of big BG. Below is tabulated a 5 year grow out from the 2nd birthday. The assumptions are 20% annual mortality with 2nd year BG numbering 60 per acre at the beginning of the 2nd year. 100 % mortality at the end of 6 years is assumed. .4 lbs gain/fish/year is assumed.
______________________________________GR WGT TOTAL
This distribution of sizes would be a significant portion of the typical fertile pond's BG carrying capacity. The O year offspring of these fish would need to support the predators. This may be a very rosy outlook Perhaps a more realistic picture would be greater yearly mortality or fewer 2nd year fish. I just don't know. It must be exceptionally difficult to restrict reproduction to these levels. Perhaps the only easy way to restrict reproduction to this level is to annually stock 60 7-8" males/acre. In that case the carrying capacity need only be 210 lbs/acre. So even a poor pond with a little feed might be able to do it under a male only scenario provided they live 6 years and grow an average of .4 lbs a year.