What a great forum! Although I am a little overwhelmed with all that I need to learn.
I am new to managing a pond - just dug a 2.25 acre pond with clay bottom in NE Ohio. 2/3s max 10-12' depth, 1/3 max 14-15' depth with a clay divider about 9' tall between the two. Placed spawning beds along the entire sunny side about 2.5-3' deep. For this, I used fabric with 12" tall rock circles to hold 6-8"deep beds filled with pea-sized smooth river rock. For structure, we have 3 pyramid shaped boulder piers about 7' tall in the shallow side, the divider with 5-12" rock layer for fish to suspend on, (4) 4x8 concrete culverts, and we are in the process of sinking trees, lots of larger boulders random placed in shallows and large rip rap in multiple areas where we collect water to prevent all the silt running in.
No cover as of yet. Have plans to put a section of lillypads between two rock outcroppings. Need to buy plants! Have been reading and researching shore plants and submerged. The side opposite the spawning beds is very shaded, and the shallow side - the sides are steeper here so I am not sure what if anything will grow.
The goal is to have a beautiful healthy fishing pond - LMB (big ones) and catfish are my favorite to catch but would be nice to have panfish for dinner on occasion. I like catching bigger fish so I am not sure what species I can stock together - its not that large of a pond. Perch would be nice, and any bass species is fun. I do not know what is realistic.
I was told we didnt have enough acreage to fill it, so I built a horseshoe-shaped bowl with all the dirt/clay we excavated about 30' tall to drain water to it. Its terraced so we have access but it appears to do the job. Its been 5 months and we have about 3' to go before its full. I would assume we have enough water to get started this year - thoughts? Water should be over the spawning beds by late spring the way its going.
I was able to find the stocking template, only its not for my area. Perhaps someone can direct me if there is such a thing?
I am looking for a step by step way to prepare the water for fish and keep it healthy. Was told I needed to add lyme and alfafa prior to adding fish from a local guy that stocks fish. His program seems the same for every pond, he did not ask me what the goal was so I am not sure this is a good formula. He adds minnows in spring, then bass in fall, and then BG, HBG a month after the bass.
I plan to feed the fish and hope to do this right so I dont get stunted fish - didnt know it was a thing until I found this site. I am the type that will try to train bass to come the edge for me to bring them supper. While anxious to fish my pond, I will do it right. I am OK paying extra for larger fish to expedite the process ( but read I may be getting stunted fish).
Any recommendations for the best quality fish suppliers, plant suppliers, etc would be extremely appreciated.
I was planning to aerate and now I worry I will turn the water and make it too warm. We get a lot of wind and there is often a water disturbance from it - what do you think? I would assume if we did aerate, we put it at the end where winds come in?
Hope my files come through, they are progress pics. Thanks for reading!
NEOHIO - I THINK all your local hatcheries are using the standard BG (forage) stocking recommendations for Ohio, IN, PA climate. These stocking densities were/are strongly promoted by DNR & University Extension Services and adopted by most northern fish farms.
jpsdad has good alternate stocking options. As he says stock to produce what goals YOU want to happen in the first several years. After that the resulting fishery is how you manage it.
The current higher stocking numbers suggested here of 2000-3000 BG/ac were developed in more southern pond waters to grow double digit LMB or fast growing trophy predators. NOTE the associated predator stocking densities were also reduced from traditional 100/ac to around 50/ac. This high panfish: lower predator stocking ratio densities philosophy or concept does make sense to me if one wants to grow bigger predators FASTER.
Also I think these high stocking panfish densities are based on using highly productive ponds where fertilization and/or ample pellet feeding occurs. Something has to feed these high fish densities. If biggest predators faster are not your goal then stock the lower standard DNR / Univ densities. The more forage fish available the faster and bigger your predators will grow before their growth rate "hits the wall" due to a forage fish shortage.
Note IMO when the higher BG numbers are used, then I question if the pond is also or will it be producing trophy class panfish. Normally with real high densities of panfishes are present,,,, they tend to be too dense to produce really large panfish types.
The other important factor in all trophy fish production is proper fish management, monitoring, adjustment and harvest. Producing a high quality fishery for the long term takes lots of wise fishery management effort. Producing big fish from the original stocking I believe is relatively easy. The really hard thing to do is maintain the high quality big fish populations for the long term of 8-20 years.
The older stocking numbers of BG for southern waters was around 1000/ac. The relatively recent higher stocking densities of panfish was found to produce faster growing bigger predators in southern climate. I personally have not read, heard about or witnessed how well this stocking philosophy performs in north central USA.
It would be a really bad idea to stock 2000 adult BG. WAY to many but 3000 2" BG stocked with 50 LMB could be a recipe to grow some larger LMB. IMHO even this arrangement needs a good minnow species like FHM. I personally like 80 to 400 adult BG per acre as a starting place even with 50 LMB to the acre. It depends how important BG are to you for fishing. If not at all then go 80/acre which will make your pond like a hatchery pond producing many thousands of small BG. I think I would stock 3 lbs/acre FHM right now. When LMB are available in May stock 50 if you want to grow big ones (and aren't concerned with BG as a fishery) or 100 if you want grow decent ones and are interest in growing large BG. Fertilize to get the FHM off to good start. Around the first of July, after the LMB are acclimated and growing well on FHM and too large for 6" BG to be effective predators. Stock 80 adult BG then if you want to grow very large bass or stock 400 adults if you like fishing for BG. So you see it really depends on goals. With a small number of breeding adults and a smaller number of LMB there will be very rapid growth of LMB and many small BG which will inhibit LMB recruitment in the early going, perhaps as long as 3 or 4 years.
Now you could simultaneously stock 400 2" bluegill at the time of the LMB stocking, BUT, you should expect they won't spawn until late in the season. There will be good survival of these initial BG because they will outgrow the gape of LMB as they also grow. There won't probably be a good winter population of BG forage for the LMB and there may actually be growth of BG over winter. The LMB may recruit heavily the following year. Usually with simultaneous stocking at 50 to 100 LMB and 400 BG the goal is a fishery with 8" BG and 1 to 2 lb LMB. Balanced sufficiently to produce fishable predators and prey. I guess my point is it depends more on what you want less about how many or what it costs. If you get what you want, its priceless, but if start with the deck loaded against you then the investment is lost and will cost you in other ways (eg harvest management efforts). When the initial stocking is loaded one direction or another (big bass or big BG) its going to take time and effort to reverse the skewing. So make sure you know what you want before you begin.
jpsdad - "With a small number of breeding BG? adults and a smaller number of LMB there will be very rapid growth of LMB and many small BG which will inhibit LMB recruitment in the early going, perhaps as long as 3 or 4 years."
Can you explain this? .
Sure. Year 1 BG (second summer) in excess of 4" should spawn fairly soon after stocking especially if fed. They could get off a couple spawns in fact. But these breeders will not have to contend with other smaller BG harassing the nest until the first crop gets about 3" in length. So the recipe for maximizing 1" to 2" BG fry production is 20-40 lbs of BG pairs or roughly 40 pairs to the acre. Best would be brooders 6" to 8" in length but smaller fish (4" to 6") should be OK. You might add smaller ones sooner than July 1 ... say maybe June 1 instead.
This stocking density of brooders will maximize production of fry because they won't consume as many as a larger population of adults will. There is just more room for fry to grow, more food available to them, and less predation. When a hatchery does it they are hoping to produce a crop of 100,000 to 250,000 1" to 2" fry in 45 to 60 days. Your pond wont make that many because there will be a population of minnow they will compete with and there will of course be 50 growing bass. But if you can get 10,000 to 20,000 to make it to 1" you will "BE SET" for forage to continue the growth of your LMB. The LMB are going to greatly reduce the FHM and target them preferentially. The BG will then be consumed more prominently. By this time in early Fall, if everything went as planned, there will be much fewer FHM and the BG will be in the 1" to 3" lengths and dominate the forage weight taking the LMB into winter with a very good standing population of BG. There should be enough survive the winter to prevent LMB reproduction the following year. The problem for the LMB is that BG will work together to raid the nest. While the LMB chases one raider ... in dart two or three from the other direction. Under sufficient harassment, the LMB is worn down and gives up the nest. When there are a lot of BG its very hard to get recruitment of LMB because the sheer numbers of raiders overwhelm the nest caretakers. Limiting the number of LMB makes large LMB possible. A single bumper crop of 0 year LMB can drastically reduce the number of BG growing to the sizes the larger LMB need.
A pond can only grow so much forage. The more adult BG the more fry ... but only to a point. The fry need space to grow into and they need BG carrying capacity. If there are too many adult BG, there won't be enough in situ forage production. Taking this tack will skew the numbers of BG to slow growth. This favors the LMB keeping the BG small enough to eat for extended time. The BG fishing could be good for those initial brooders for the first 2 to 3 years however and you could grow some large ones if feeding. I would feed them a large pellet so that that their offspring can not compete for it. Focus on the brooders when it come to feed. As for the offspring ... probably slow growth. So just keep in mind. EVERY pond is compromise. After growing some monster LMB, you may actually welcome in time the normal pond it will tend to transition to, where there are more but smaller bass and fewer but larger BG.
inhibiting LMB recruitment - is this good or bad if my goal is to grow XL LMB fast? I am not worried about trophy bluegill - pan size is great though.
Thoughts on having a couple of CC? They are fun to catch but I worry about them taking over.
Thank you for responding. I wish there was someone nearby to help me with management
Inhibiting recruit makes it easier to limit the number of LMB. It is not sustainable however, you eventually need recruits but the original 50 are enough LMB to take you through the first 6 to 8 years. Beyond that you'll need replacements but by then you will probably already have more than you want of them via natural recruitment.
You are going to need to cull even with a stocking rate of 50 if the goal is big bass. In the second and third years you should try to take 10 under-performers each year. Beginning the 4 year if there is still no recruitment you might starting taking stock and working on a plan for recruitment whether naturally or artificially. If artificially, you are still controlling recruitment and growing bass maximally. Once the LMB begin to recruit, you must lower your expectations of ultimate weights.
If you want a couple of CC in there, put them in. If you don't want them to reproduce dig through my posts. There was a post I made to guy in Utah on how to sex CC. If it is bigger than 18" ... have someone hold it upside down with the tail facing you. Run a pencil across the genital pores, If it catches (or sticks) its female. Females have a smaller head width than body width also.
Spiral Eel grass or straight eel grass I don't think it will matter. Your pond will limit the depth the plants can grow by the light penetration which will be limited by the amount of phytoplankton in the pond.
Bill should be able to give some advice on where to get the bait fish, he's located in Malinta, Ohio. If you don't know he's an Algal & InvertebrateTaxonomist, Aquatic Ecologist/Biologist
Note esshup emphasized you buy only feed trained bass. I absolutely agree. Feed trained bass in OH will grow faster if pellet fed. I would get LMB in the fall 2022 when they are 6"-8", verify pellet trained. Fingerling 2"-4" LMB are poorly trained to pellets and at that 2"-4" size many of them do not stay eating pellets after stocked. Get those 6"-8" pellet trained LMB and you will see big bass quick. As an option you can stock 40LMB/ac and in spring of 2023 add 10-16 hybrid striped bass(HSB) per acre. You will IMO like the HSB far better as a big fish compared to LMB. With lots of food expect the HSB to easily grow to 10lbs in Ohio and pull like a high speed freight train. HSB are very difficult to find at all Ohio fish farms in fall. If you can find them in fall 2022 stock them.
As noted stock your minnow/shiners anytime now or before May15. In May or June stock your BG-RES. OMIT the HBG. HBG grow quickly to 8" but then will not get as big as pure strain BG when both eat pellets. ALSO HBG will spawn very little to provide basically no forage fish to grow LMB. HBG are useless to grow big bass. You want & need lots of forage fish to feed big 3lb-6lb LMB bass and BG do that. RES are a bonus big panfish that keeps the fish flesh parasites out of the pond by eating snails.
As an option which is my preference you can stock BG of 3"-5" at 1500-2000/ac with BG-RES combo instead of fingerling 1"-2"BG at 3000/ac. The larger 3"-5" BG will spawn in June or July 2022 to provide lots more small BG early for the bass stocking in fall 2022 or Spring 2023. As our YFI - who suggested "add lime and alfalfa"??? . In Ohio even NE OH I doubt you will need to add lime. All our soils are limestone based so your total hardness should be close to 180 and alkalinity easily above 80. That chemistry grows plankton well. The Optimal BG food is a proven winner for growing BG fast and big. If you live at the pond you can hand feed the BG instead of using an auto feeder if you add feed daily in 2 or 3 locations.
As an early panfish option you can blend in 20%-30% yellow perch with BG,,, IF they are pellet trained. Stock them in spring 2022 or fall 2023 as 4"-6" size. (1500BG & 500YP/ac). Your lilies and other submerged plants as habitat on the shallow flat areas should provide good habitat for some long term perch populations in the fishery even with LMB present. Expect your perch if feed trained to grow to 12"-14". Use the Optimal food as the best fish grower.
You have the start of a great pond, keep us advised of how things are progress in the future. We are here to help you grow big fish for your goals. We are not here with biased information to sell fish.
"Before May 15th - 30lbs per acre FHM - 30lbs per acre GS Any specific size I need to request or not get?
May/June - 3" - 5" BG 90%, RES 10% @ 2000lbs per acre - If I can find feed trained YP.... Reduce BG+RES to 1500 fish lbs per acre and add 500lb per acre YP"
-Just a few comments on the starting point. You mostly want all these forage species of fish to spawn as much as possible BEFORE you add the predator fish. Whether or not you get a bluegill spawn or not this Spring '22 is a question that exists; if you get 4-5"+ bluegill in the first stocking, or at least some of them in that larger size, I think you may get a spawn in June or early July. Note that when given a size range of fish by a hatchery, the fish will usually be on the smaller size of the range.
As you want bluegill spawns before you get bass in the pond, the role of the Golden Shiners should be thought through. They are nest raiders, and my guess is they will be of sufficient size to impair your bluegill reproduction during this spring and summer.
I PERSONALLY like to wait a year before stocking bass or any larger predator. That gives the forage enough time to go through several spawns without predation of the original stockers. You only get one chance to do this.
While I agree with you Dave, I will say that in my case my BG got ahead of my LMB and prevented them from spawning/recruiting. And I just stocked my BG in the spring (though a lot of them were 3") and my LMB in the fall.
I had to eventually supplemental stock LMB and harvest the heck out of BG to get it turned around and start catching recruits LMB.
Where I am mostly more interested in pan fishing (though friends that come mostly want to bass fish) it worked out ok though as we had a good fishery for what we wanted.
So there are potential problems either way as I see it, depending on what a persons ultimate goals are.
Lots of theories, generalities, personal experiences, common sense, locations/climate, etc.
My personal ones from my place. About 5 miles South of Bowie, Texas. I don’t live there.
I prefer to stock too many smaller size bluegills and throw the feed to them. Oh yeah, add in too many fathead minnows. When I later stock predators, (bass, Cats, HSB, etc) I want them to go to sleep with their mouth open and wake up with a full belly.
Regarding balanced numbers of predator/prey, I think that happens for about 15 minutes in the life of the pond.
Correct Alkalinity, ph, etc can drive you nuts and financially embarrassed.
It took the water turkeys(cormorants) 20 to 30 years to find my ponds and almost clean them out. They appear to have hit me again while I was recovering, about 6 months, from some pretty nasty surgery and couldn’t adjust the cords over my pond that I call cormorant excluders. Oh well, I expect to mostly start over again next Spring.
Regarding location: pick one where it rains. I didn’t. When I first met Lusk, a long time ago, and told him where my land and new pond were, he said that he had been watching radar for years and wondered why the rain clouds always split when they hit that location. That hasn’t changed. We either get frog strangling rain or extended drought. Right now, I’m 4 to 5 ft low on both ponds. Tornado hit the town yesterday and I got 1/10 inch of rain.
Oh yeah, don’t lie to the wife about costs of the pond. You’re gonna get caught every time.
If you want only a couple CC ask your fish farm owner if he can save you a few of the white CC in one of his deliveries.. Usually there are a few per several 100 CC delivered. If jpsdad's plan sounds reasonable and doable for you,,, go for it. The plan is one acceptable method of options available to stock a new pond for producing larger LMB and harvestable BG. Remember it was his advice not the consensus of the Forum members. Use him as your main mentor and advisor for success with his plan.
Agree on the cats. Some people don’t. I love to watch bigger cats feed. They feed differently than bass and sunfish. Bluegills come up and “hit” the piece of feed. Cats swim along the top sucking a bunch of it. My kids called them Hoovers since they vacuum the pellets rather than hitting them.
Therefore, getting them stocked in the perfect size and numbers is tricky.
One of the (many) things I have learned at Pond Boss is that no pond can stay in balance for an extended period of time. I thought you could just follow the expert advice and create your pond and fishery like a well-constructed house.
I had to read a lot of posts to realize that even our experts are constantly tinkering with their ponds in an effort to just improve the balance of the fish population.