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Thread Like Summary
anthropic, DannyMac, FishinRod, jpsdad, roymunson
Total Likes: 12
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by 1997pond
1997pond
This Spring I started working on an old 2/3 acre pond that has been untouched in 20+ years. The details can be found here: previous thread

The summary is that the pond was full of stunted LMB and no BG. I made the decision to get a healthier/bigger LMB population the hard way and not drain and start over. I culled about 23lbs/acre of LMB and added 150 4-5" BG in May. I know acheiving big LMB will be a challenge with a pond this size.

As the title of this thread says, the BG are loving the pond. I caught several that were 7+" and round and fat- I'm guessing 3 times bigger than stocked sized. I have BG on spawning beds everywhere around the pond. I also see plenty of BG and LMB YOY. Things are hopping. For entertainment my wife and I will buy crickets and earthworms and toss them out and LMB and BG gather for a free meal.

I'm guessing the BG are taking advantage of the empty niche in the pond. The LMB size remains unchanged. In a couple of hours fishing, I can catch 15-20 LMB. There is no statistically significant size/RW weight change from the previous sample (see previous thread above). The fish remain mostly in the 10" range and below 100% RW.

I'm thinking about repeating what I did last time and dedicate a day to fishing and placing all the LMB in a 55 gallon drum (with aerator). At the end of the day, I will measure and weigh all the fish and execute (so to speak) any culling plan.
Liked Replies
by DannyMac
DannyMac
I've caught my largest feed-trained bass (18") and largest bluegill yet (11" and 1#4oz) and my apparently one surviving HSB (18") several times on the Bass Throw pellets, scored and secured with a tiny rubber band to a small hook. It floats the hook, so, I may free line it on the surface or have it float above a weight on the bottom. The hazard of this baiting is one of three large "pet" channel cats (one is 32 inches and 20#) is always ready for a fight. I also feed the two smaller sizes.
2 members like this
by 4CornersPuddle
4CornersPuddle
I'm with Sunil. Ruthlessly cull LMB until you lose count, then cull some more. You may be at it for quite a long time.
Those small bass are good to eat. We ate nearly 300! as fish tacos from our 1/4 acre pond over a three year period.
Have at it!
1 member likes this
by ewest
ewest
Originally Posted by Augie
Originally Posted by Sunil
Regarding the feed, HSB will hit all sizes of feed, but they'll also grow quickly enough to hit the Aquamax Largemouth/Optimal Hand Throw which are all close to 1" diameter.

I'm glad that you mentioned this. I stocked 8"-10" HSB last fall and I've been wondering if they're ready for the Hand Throw pellets.
I sampled a few in the spring, and they were ranging 12"-14". .

Check the gape size of your HSB and see if the pellet is more than 30% of gape size. I use to cut LMB pellets in half to hand feed 12 in HSB. I would hand feed a few uncut pellets and see the results. If needed cut them in half.


1997 -- regarding LMB culling


For LMB

This is what is suggested by Dick Anderson - the Prof who wrote the book on PSD.

Keep taking <12 in bass until the number 8-12 equals number 12-15. Ideal pond structure is 40% 8-12, 40% 12-15 and 20% 15+

This assumes good fish condition.

Another suggestion is take out all the fish in poor condition in all size groups. Note the size group that is stunted will have a much higher % of fish in poor condition.

These are all correlated to the concept of RW mgt.

Here are 3 archive links with a ton of info on the subject.

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=255372#Post255372

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=255359

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92492#Post92492
1 member likes this
by 1997pond
1997pond
Originally Posted by 1997pond
So I'm up to 99 LMB removed since the Spring for a total of just shy of 30 lbs total. I've been logging each catch.

It's very homogenous. Here's the stat:

Length (inches)
Average: 8.7
Median: 9.0
StdDev: 1.5

Smallest was 6" and the largest was 14" There have been only two bass caught bigger 12" or larger. Almost all bass have been below 100% RW

Update on progress:
I've now reached 128 LMB removed since the Spring totaling 26.1 lbs. This is almost exactly 40lbs per acre as recommended by esshup. I'm seeing more RWs at 100% but not a majority.

On the flip size, the 150 BG I stocked in the Spring (no previous BG population) are monsters. I've measured a few and they are all in the 130% RW or higher. YOY BG are also visible along the bank around the entire pond. Hopefully they will continue to grow and provide some good eating!
1 member likes this
by ewest
ewest
For LMB/BG when water temps get to 55 and dropping reduce feeding. Stop feeding when fish stop eating actively. This can changed from place to place based on local conditioning. When temps start rising in early spring start feeding slowly and increase with activity. Two very important times for feeding for fish health is in fall when temps are dropping but still 60-55 (improved condition going into winter) and when temps start to rise in early spring (improved condition for reproduction).
1 member likes this
by Sunil
Sunil
Somehow it seems there's not even close to enough to eat for the LMB. That may also be an issue for some HSB even if you have a feed program.

You've mentioned how well the new bluegill are doing, so we should see some increased forage numbers happening. Have you considered what kind of structure you have for newly born bluegill to use?

Regarding the feed, HSB will hit all sizes of feed, but they'll also grow quickly enough to hit the Aquamax Largemouth/Optimal Hand Throw which are all close to 1" diameter. Franky, my bluegill love those larger pellets also after they break down a bit, even though I feed two smaller sizes of pellets also.
1 member likes this
by jpsdad
jpsdad
Originally Posted by FishinRod
jpsdad, (and everyone else)

I have seen lots of discussions about supplying forage that is the correct size for LMB. However, I have not seen the equivalent discussion for large BG.

What do you think the large BG are utilizing for their forage diet in this pond (or in any trophy BG pond)?

I think all BG have tiny mouths, so I do not have a good grasp on how gape size changes their feeding habits as they get larger. Do 3-4" BG eat essentially the same diet (species AND size) as 8"+ BG?

Fishing Rod, I think 8" BG can eat things that are larger than 4" BG. Just based on allometry the anticipated increase would be around 4 times the cross sectional area of the prey. I'm not sure allometry applies, however. I haven't taken the measurements but just looking at smaller BG their mouth size does look proportionately larger relative to length than mature BG. Just judging by casual viewing but not applying metrics.


We talk about LMB expending energy to catch their food. Is the diet of BG dumb, or do BG also expend significant energy to catch and consume their forage?

A BG's suction when taking a food item is remarkable and most smaller prey are unable to swim out of the flow. Near the surface you can hear an audible pop. It takes energy but BG feed all the time as they slowly move around. Minnows definitely take more energy as they have to get close to a creature that is already running away. But if they can get close enough and the minnow is small enough ... gets eaten. A minnow is significant food, highly significant food. Read Swingle's findings on BG with GAMs, for example.

All of which is relevant to my final question. If a good fertile pond is producing trophy BG, would supplemental feeding be unlikely to increase the size of the trophy BG?

The fertility of a pond actually has nothing to do with producing trophy BG. It is far easier to grow a trophy BG in an pond of good water clarity than it is to grow them in rich water. The reason is that BG and LMB benefit from clear water. It helps them find prey and the better water quality keeps them healthy with plenty of O2. All the major state and world records were caught in clear water lakes. So the water doesn't have to be fertile.

The question is too short sighted I think. Were I to venture a guess, it would under most circumstances increase the size of the largest fish already present. But if the feeding causes less clarity and if more BG are recruited than if unfed the demand for food increases substantially. What about those BG? How much feed is it going to take to make them trophies? I've caught a lot really nice BG in ponds that are not managed but rather simply have a natural population structure such that the numbers of BG are very limited. That's really all it takes and in this condition large BG can be grown year after year. This cannot be said long term where BG are too populated to grow without supplemental feeding. There is a breaking point and it isn't hard to find and experience it.


Even if all of your trophy BG are over 100% RW, would supplemental feeding increase the number of trophy BG or is that too dependent upon all of the other pond fishery variables?

Again, I think its questionable and kind of short sighted. A person can expect gain according to the weight of the feed that is fed. It depends on the number of fish eating the feed and how it is distributed. So yes it is possible in the short term to boost the weight of individual trophies with feed.

A person should look at feed/fertilization as a means to grow a greater biomass of fish than the pond could otherwise support. So in a lean pond, of course, feed will allow one to grow more large fish than it could otherwise grow. But in a eutrophic pond feed can cause many other problems so yes ... its a combination of fishery variables IMHO. In the end, whatever food a pond has, whether natural or artificial, the size that fish can achieve is not dependent on whether the food was natural or artificial. It depends on the number of mouths competing for that limited food.
1 member likes this
by FishinRod
FishinRod
jpsdad,

Thanks for taking the time to type out all of that good information. [My post is referring to his BG post above. I see jpsdad was also typing out a LMB post while I was typing.]

Hopefully, the title hook (BG growing like crazy) from the OP will drive some traffic to this thread for other people to read up on big BG.

I remember your previous post about Swingle showing great BG weight gain on gams. I don't know how much of the diet of a large BG is minnows and how much is the available invertebrates in the pond. (Or even LMB fry, etc.) I just expected their gape might have some profound effect on their diet, because it seems so tiny compared to the other fish I commonly catch.

In a Swingle type experiment, if there were fewer gams but a great abundance of some small zooplankton would the BG have shown as much weight gain? (Correcting for the relative nutrition between fish protein and zooplankton protein.)

It sounds like a clear water pond is definitely your recommendation for big and/or "trophy" BG. In that circumstance, would you recommend periodic fertilization? The resulting algal bloom would hurt water clarity for a little while, but you would jumpstart all of the food chain items that directly feed BG as well as the indirect food chain that results in fat minnows to also feed the BG. After the bloom cleared, the BG should be able to slaughter the once again easily visible forage.

Supplemental floating food would be easy to find during the bloom and then you might be able to cut back during the post-bloom natural forage boom. It seems that would make it easier for management rookies (like me) to push the total weight of BG a little without significantly risking a crash from pushing the pond to carrying capacity ALL of the year.
1 member likes this
by 1997pond
1997pond
I'll keep an eye on length. My records from last year of a 159 LMB caught are:

Average Length of 8.84"
Median Length of 9.00"
Stand Dev of 1.5"

For most of us non stat nerds this means that almost everything was between 8 and 10 inches with the most of the remainder under 12" or above 6" What it felt like was catching the same LMB over and over again...

The RW for this same sample was an average of 93% and the standard deviation said that almost everything was between 80 and 100%. Anything over 100% was rare.

I'll report back in July based on length. This is a marathon not a sprint wink

On a related note, I'll build on one of jpsdad's point. I believe the 150 BG I stocked April 2021 filled an open niche in my pond's ecosystem. I think they showed up at Golden Coral when no one else was admitted. This accounts for their dramatic growth but the open question is what will be the pond's new equilibrium with this new variable.

This is the real fun part for me and invite all to speculate!
1 member likes this
by jpsdad
jpsdad
Originally Posted by FishinRod
In a Swingle type experiment, if there were fewer gams but a great abundance of some small zooplankton would the BG have shown as much weight gain? (Correcting for the relative nutrition between fish protein and zooplankton protein.)

In Swingle's experiment he credited the sequestration of nutrients into the GAMs as the reason for the outperformance. So the BG were stocked at 2" and could not use all the nutrition that the fertilization was providing (they had a low standing weight). But the GAMs reproduced extensively and utilized the foods in the early going when there was insufficient weight of BG to fully consume them. The GAMs could not achieve sizes to evade predation so by the end of the season most of them were consumed by BG (the stocking rate was 1 lb GAMs and 1500 BG/acre). The difference was remarkable with an 87 percent increase in production. FHM performed similarly in combination with BG and LMB.

As to the differences between zooplankton and fish, there are notable differences. Seems like I have read that some of the protein (chitin) in invertebrates is not digestible by fish. Also the water content of most aquatic invertebrates tends to be higher than fish (less energy in a given volume). Fish are high in minerals relative to invertebrates and these are building blocks for skeletons, fins, and scales. Swingle could not get a similar performance from PK shrimp as he did minnow. In part, it may be the quality and/or density of the nutrition playing a role. I am not certain but this seems plausible. IMHO forage isn't just forage. I think some forage is better than others.


It sounds like a clear water pond is definitely your recommendation for big and/or "trophy" BG. In that circumstance, would you recommend periodic fertilization? The resulting algal bloom would hurt water clarity for a little while, but you would jumpstart all of the food chain items that directly feed BG as well as the indirect food chain that results in fat minnows to also feed the BG. After the bloom cleared, the BG should be able to slaughter the once again easily visible forage.

I like a compromise. Maybe oligotrophic water clarity is best for long life and maximum size. Given the many examples of record fish coming from such waters this may be the path to the largest fish. But I think I would personally sacrifice a world record fish to have more fish and better fishing. Seems a risky proposition to focus on very few very large fish. For example, what if you grew the world record fish but never caught it? Seems like a lot is lost in being too focused on individual weight.

One of the things I have learned is that doubling the phytoplankton standing weight does not lead to doubling of invertebrates and fish. When we push, we get less than 1 to 1 reward for the pushing. Here I am speaking solely about natural food chain even if artificially enhanced by fertilization. I am not sure why this is so but I suspect that it is water quality. So I think more oxygen, less pathogens, and better visibility help the consumers and so less bloom and double the secchi doesn't halve the carrying capacity. It takes it down by around 30% instead. Consequently, having 1.3 acres with half the bloom is equivalent to 1 acre.

I think a good compromise is to attempt to maintain meso-tropic water. This would include fertilizing or feeding in water leaner than that or sequestering nutrients through with species like TP that are harvested and removed from the water. Water >3' secchi is not risky water and rarely experience fish kills. A person doesn't have to give up much and the potential for longer lived fish is improved.


Supplemental floating food would be easy to find during the bloom and then you might be able to cut back during the post-bloom natural forage boom. It seems that would make it easier for management rookies (like me) to push the total weight of BG a little without significantly risking a crash from pushing the pond to carrying capacity ALL of the year.

I like a strategy that pushes when temps are forgiving and then eases when temps are not.
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