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Original Post (Thread Starter)
fish conditioned to eat almost out of my hand #523268 07/06/2020 9:27 AM
My pond has different species stocked and I've noticed different strange but true things this year (if not strange at least true).

I never knew pumpkinseed sunfish would still be on spawning beds in summer. I've seen five bed in shallow water being guarded by ps.s. or in the process of mating. Always thought late spring was the time all sunfish spawned.

Three weeks ago I happened to throw a bread ball into shallow water near shore. A sunfish swam over and grabbed it. Did it again and more sunfish started to take notice and get closer. As of yesterday there are almost 20 sunfish - including one green sunfish - that wait for bread balls to be dropped or thrown. Sitting on my dock overlooking inches of water that drops to 4' I can see the fish school lined up to one another parallel and in lines like soldiers at parade rest once I show up. The school will even follow me along the shoreline.

The water is clear with a green/brown tint and easy to see fish darting 100 mph to beat other fish to the unnatural food object. Fish size range from 1" - 6" with the green sunfish the largest and most aggressive. Pumpkinseed and LM bass have investigated the activity but swim away not touching bread thrown to them.

But one thing I have to be careful of: when retrieving my small lures, these fish will attack any of them aggressively as they get close ot shore, trusting that they are just another consumable the human is offering them - like the Jap Beetles and slugs I started throwing in the water yesterday. At first they didn't know what to make of them but soon the bigger gills attacked them on the surface like bread that isn't balled up.

The other thing I was concerned about was the fluffy algae floating on and near the surface. I used to rake most of it but now it doesn't grow as fast and does provide some cover similar to the lily pads I put in years ago.
Liked Replies
Re: fish conditioned to eat almost out of my hand #523310 Jul 6th a 06:13 PM
by snrub
There is a forum member from some time back named Gar King. I think he goes by fish whisperer on Youtube. He has videos of pet bass in a pond where he would hold out a piece of fish or a chicken nugget for the bass to eat then he would catch the bass by the lip with his hand and pull it out of the water. Then put it back. He could do this with multiple fish.

Hand catching fish by getting them used to eating out of your hand.

A couple years back I had an excess of 2-3" HBG in a pond I was trying to thin out. I would catch them in a minnow trap and around noon each day take the catch out on my dock in the main pond. After cutting the tail off the fish to slow it down to make sure it got eaten, I would toss it out for the bass to eat. After about a week I had a cadre of not only LMB but also CC waiting for me to toss in the free live fish. I think if I had done it long enough and started to feed them by hand I could have done the same thing.

The fish become conditioned to being fed. One thing that is said on this forum is to be consistent in feeding time. That is probably good advice but i have found it is not the time that is so important about consistancy. It is anything the fish can cue in on to know when it is feed time. In my case it is the thump, thump sound of my UTV that is the dinner bell. Drive it around the pond and I can see fish wakes coming at it from both directions. When I was feeding live fish described in the above paragraph it was the sound of my footsteps on the dock. I will sometimes have bass follow me around the pond on the UTV because as its shaddow scares out small BG from the bank the bass will hammer them. The bass associates good hunting with the UTV.

Fish know a lot more about what is going on above water than we might imagine. They are very aware about the shoreline activity. At least the smart ones. The dumb ones are probably in the belly of a blue heron.
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