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Original Post (Thread Starter)
by SSJSayajin
As some of you may recall, I recently (2022) built and stocked a new 1 acre pond. Since then I have had some issues with my pond construction and as such have been in a holding pattern while looking at various things. During this time, I have taken the last couple of weeks and read as many threads as possible on this forum about raising Trophy Bass in a small pond and have a couple of questions as different threads appear to read to me to say different things.

My overall goal is to grow very large but "catchable" trophy bass. I read several threads about how the true monster bass that many people talk about are almost impossible to catch as they become hook smart and shy. There was a bunch of talk about how different people have different definitions of Trophy. My specific goals would be to have LMB that are much larger than your average bass but arent going to be winning any world records. I would rather be able to catch slightly smaller "Trophy" bass every now and then as opposed to never catching the "Monsters" living in my pond.

I stocked my Forage fish in 2022 with 600 4-6in Bluegill and 10,000 (about 44lbs) of Minnows. I plan to stock 50 LMB and 10-15 RES this year in Spring. I also have a Texas Hunter Feeder and plan to feed high quality food 3-4 times per day (as much as they will eat in about 15min)

Originally, I thought that I had the right amount of Bluegill in the 1 acre pond for my goal, as much of what I had previously read talked about stocking between 250-300 BG per acre. However I have read threads on here with people stocking 1000-2000 BG per acre as the biggest challenge with growing LMB is not having enough forage fish.

So now I am questioning do I have enough BG stocked in my 1 acre pond for my goals. I read the articles about the survival rate for adding additional fish to an already established pond with an active predator base and I know the odds as extremely low. I did read about the various things you can do to improve this rate, but it is still less than a 50% survival rate. Which mean, I would much rather stock the additional BG (if necessary) either now or with the Bass I plan to stock in order to increase the overall survivability rate.

However, I then read the articles about pond carrying capacity and that by stocking too many fish, you run the risk of either having a fish kill (various reasons) or stunting the growth of your LMB.

This is where I am struggling. It doesn't sound like carrying capacity is only for your predator fish and would include the prey as well. However in that case, how do we stock 1500 BG per Acre and not approach that carrying capacity issue? Is it that 50 LMB per acre will eat so much BG that the pond never approaches max capacity? Or am I misunderstanding things?

I plan to stock another 5k-10k (22-44bs) of Minnows this year and am trying to decide if I need to also stock more BG and if so, how much BG to stock. As mentioned, I plan to stock 50 LMB in my 1 Acre Pond.

I would appreciate any insight that can be offered!
Liked Replies
by esshup
SSJSayajin, here's some numbers to crunch, some reading for you to do, and I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to how many forage fish to stock (and what size they should be).

LMB (put on the most weight) by eating food that is 1/4 to 1/3 their body length (or a great quality fish food). That could be Fathead Minnows, Bluegills, Golden Shiners, etc. OR commercial fish food that is of a great quality (forget about buying it from the local Tractor Supply). If the LMB aren't feed trained, then 90+% of them typically won't eat feed and won't learn how to eat feed. The larger the feed trained LMB, the more habituated they are to eating pellets, and the longer they will stay on feed.


From the link that is posted above: "I do know that many LMB can grow 1 lb per year (maybe more weight gain in the south with a longer growing season). This equates to about 10 lbs of live meat (bugs, crayfish, fish, amphibians and birds) of some sort per year per fish. If we use a 16" LMB (2.25 lb std wt) as an example this means it could eat around 226 to 453 four inch BG (10-20g ea) to get 10 lbs of BG. More individuals would be consumed if BG were smaller and if the BG were 5" fewer (66). If we had 30 16" LMB in an acre and each was eating 350 BG per year this means they are consuming around 10,000 4" BG per year. If that 10 lbs consumed fish were 2.7" FHM this would for 30 LMB consumers equate to around 44,100 FHM. See now why LMB ponds are often low on forage fish???? Plus as you should be learning by now you do not want your largest or even large bass eating or thriving on FHM or they if they do they will not be gaining weight. Keep reading for more information and answers."

Info on Carrying Capacity

One thing that I've seen in electroshocking ponds, is that without the correct amount AND type of cover in the pond, LMB will struggle to put on weight. Think of them as marathon runners. Eating a tremendous amount of calories but burning off a tremendous amount of calories at the same time. In a pond without cover, there has to be a LOT more forage fish for the bass to eat than a pond with the correct amount AND type of cover, so the pond has to be pushing the limit of its carrying capacity. I've electroshocked a 10 acre pond that had 20 fallen trees in it. We would not get any LMB in the area between the trees, but get within 10' of the trees and we'd start to see the LMB.

I would fin clip your stocker LMB. That way 2-4 years down the road you can see what LMB you stocked and which ones were hatched in the pond. Catch a small, low weight LMB that is fin clipped, take it out of the pond. Without the fin clip you might think that it's a young fish that is growing well.

Remember the amount of fish that a LMB has to eat per year to grow quickly? I have stocked 3"-4" LMB in late April and have had those same fish grow to 12"-14" and weigh 1.2#-1.6# by late October. That was 50 LMB per acre. Think about how many fish each LMB had to eat and what size they had to be to stay with the 1/4-1/3 their body length for max growth.

LMB won't catch a fish every time they strike at it, so that is calories expended with no gain. Fish food tends not to swim away, so LMB that are feed trained will have a higher RW than non-feed trained LMB. The caveat of that is that if the food has too much fat in it, it will lead to fish with fatty livers, and those fish don't live as long as fish without fatty livers. I prefer to use Optimal Fish Feed, LMB seem to do very well once they are bigger on a 44% Protein, 8% fat food. Smaller fish need higher protein levels to grow quickly up to around 55% protein and up to 20% fat, but once they get 9 months to a year old, then the protein/fat levels need to be dropped. I have caught an 18 3/4" LMB in my pond that weighed 5#-15 oz but I never caught any larger, so I am assuming that they died due to fatty livers. That was before I switched to Optimal Feed and before I changed the focus of the pond from LMB to SMB/HSB.

Here's some BG weights so you can figure out how many you need to stock.

1"-2.5" fish 3-9 #/1,000
2.5"-3.5" fish 10-24 #/1,000
3.5"-4.25" fish 25-44#/1,000
4.25"-4.5" fish 45-59#/1,000
4.5"-5.5" fish 60-99#/1,000
5.5"-6.0" fish 100+#/1,000

If you stock 4" LMB, then they will need to have fish 1" long to eat at the start, but if there is enough to eat, they could be needing 4" fish to eat in 6 months.

Look in the archives for threads on what cover needs to be in the pond. Rough rule of thumb is 25% of the surface area has to be underwater cover for the fish, from small fish to large fish. So that means fine cover in shallow water near spawning areas AND in deep water for the smaller fish to use during the winter under the ice. Ditto for medium open and large open cover.

Water quality is a HUGE part of the puzzle. Water quality also means enough O2 in the pond ALL year long. If you pay close attention to the carrying capacity thread, you will see numbers for a non aerated pond, a pond that is aerated and a pond that is aerated and has a fish food feeding program. You will need underwater plants to utilize the nutrients that will build up in the pond.

Carrying capacity is relative to the amount of time and effort (and $$) that you spend on the pond monitoring water quality and the amount of food that the LMB are getting. I know of people that raise LMB for the food fish industry, they are stocking 5,000 LMB per acre, feeding the snot out of them, have paddlewheel aerators to keep O2 levels up and they are harvesting around 4,000# of LMB (1.2 pound fish each) at around 14-16 months of age. They are starting out with 4"-6" LMB. No other fish in the pond, strictly feeding pellets.

The links above should keep you out of trouble for a week or more. grin
3 members like this
by Bill Cody
Bill Cody
Note - I have edited this original post. All the edits and enhancements are in the Common Pond Q&A Archive post linked here:


SSJ - This is probably my lengthiest post on the PondBoss Forum. Bob Lusk wants around 2000 words for a Pond Boss magazine article. This post has close to 8,000 words. It is a lengthy one. I may return later to add a few brief clean-up edits.

Sunil no doubt assumed you stocked your BG sometime in spring or early summer which is why he was wondering why you had not been pellet feeding them. You and others are correct about reduced pellet feeding of BG & minnows during water temps less than 50F. Although one might see some occasional fish feeding at water 45-50F, on warm sunny days limited hand feeding can be used during these cold water periods to minimize waste and uneaten food.
Some of my commentary below is repeated. This IMO is a good thing. Teachers know repetition enhances learning.

As noted - Your 4"-6" bluegill stockers in 2022 will spawn at various times during 2023 as the youngest or smallest stocker individuals become mature as summer progesses. If you want to maximize food production for the new LMB then one option is do not stock the LMB until fall, thus the pond will be at optimum carrying capacity full with forage fish when the LMB are stocked. This will compensate for initially only stocking 250-300 BG. The BG 2023 offspring will be the right sizes as prey food for the Fall stocked 2023 year class of LMB. See later. Maximum growth of the stocker LMB or any new stocked predator fish will then occur.

You plan to aerate the pond. Excellent. A well mixed pond with bottom aeration will boost the carrying capacity by 2X-3X because it makes more of the entire pond volume productive due to full water circulation and overall oxygenation of the entire ecosystem. Depending on the size of pond and type of aeration used it does not always have to operate 24 hrs a day. Goal is to get one pond circulation per day to lift and remove the lowest water quality layer and move it to the pond’s surface where water quality is renewed. Aeration helps a lot to improve water quality - to a point based on water quality in the pond.

IMO if you want LMB to be Kansas grown big or near trophy 10 lb bass then I think you should be adding some golden shiners to further diversity the forage base. Bigger bass will be produced if you have a G.shiner population has 6"-9" individuals.

For the best LMB fishery - think forage diversity. Also consider adding some of your native Northern Crayfish technically called Orconectes virilis – although make sure the seller is selling Northern crays and not southern white river or red swamp crays. Initially and asap locate and stock 300-400 Northern crayfish per acre. Until predators reach 16” the stocked crayfish adults and most of their reproduction are safe from predation. As soon as the LMB recruitment reaches small adult size the crayfish population is in jeopardy of extinction without abundant habitat especially composed of large rocky / waste concrete pieces.

Annually adding some tilapia each year for algae and small leaf submerged plant control also adds forage diversity plus algae control and some bonus large tilapia for Fall harvest & table use. All the tilapia offspring will die each Fall and as they struggle to die they will be aggressively eaten by whatever can slurp them up. Blue tilapia will be the ones to buy and stock. Numbers to stock will depend on the extent of the algae growth – plant problem. Sometimes one to a few grass carp (GS) are needed to help tilapia reduce non algae plants as in submerged leafy more coarse types of vegetation.

I later discuss maybe adding yellow perch as forage panfish to enhance the fishery.

Make sure that you have ample or correct amount of habitat for various sport fish because without it your LMB will not reach their growth potential. Proper habitat in the form of “fish cities” boosts pond productivity and carrying capacity. Learn as much as you can about proper habitat. Proper habitat is not several or numerous isolated fish attractors. Know and learn the differences. See podcast referenced below.

For growing big bass with a few or some being sub-trophy size category of 7 to 9 pound individuals, be sure to LEARN about the numerous proper management methods to make that happen. Remember growing trophy bass is not a cheap endeavor, it takes diligent effort, and it is not easy. It takes patience, diligence and continued careful attention to management details to achieve the goal of truly BIG BASS of 10 to 12 lbs. Plus it then takes consistent careful management to MAINTAIN that big fish fishery for the LONG TERM of having consistent year to year big bass present because ignoring the needed monitoring of the populations and the proper size structure numbers, the biggest fish will quickly decline in Relative Weight as the pond ages. (More about RW later). A big-fish fishery is a delicate balance that can easily develop an unbalanced condition if good monitoring of the fishes is not used.

Items to learn more about:
1. Correct and consistent water quality parameters. Bob Lusk’s “Happy Water”

2. Habitat - Habitat - Habitat for the entire fishery is paramount and is pretty important to be in place before the predators are added so the fishery develops at its best. Normally the BEST is needed for successfully growing really big bass. It all works together and in unison.

3. Spring and Fall monitoring methods for evaluating the fishery size classes, their abundances and weights.

4. Proper Harvest for Achieving and Maintaining for the intended Goals When The Populations are Annually Reproducing.

5. Most Important IMO for growing trophies is GENETICS. Genetics is King for choosing and stocking initial and potential trophy fish. Example male LMB genetics never become trophies and only a low percentage of female genetics have true trophy potential. You have to start with premium sport fish to get premium results.

Sub-par fish and runts starting out do not grow into trophies. PICK YOR LMB SUPPLIER WISELY AND CAREFULLY AFTER GOOD STUDY AND REASEARCH OF THEIR BIG FISH HISTORIES AND PREVIOUS CUSTOMER’S TESTIMONIES. If there are no testimonies and good examples of past trophy production,,, I would chose another more reputable and proven fish farm. You have one chance at the beginning to do the stocking correctly – make it count.

Do you get Pond Boss magazine? Reading and learning from all of Dave Beasley's articles about growing trophy bass is VERY educational. He is very informative with good ideas including numerous original hands on experiences.

Have you read and studied all the pertinent big bass discussions in the PondBoss archives about growing big Bass? They too are educational. But always remember most all the articles deal with managing mixed sex reproducing fish.

Are you staying current on all the Pond Boss topics and discussions for growing BIG or trophy bass?

Bob Lusk has a new podcast about growing trophy bass. Listen to it several times. Make good notes. You will need to fully understand those concepts before adding any bass and then review them again as bass grow beyond the 5 lb and 6 lb marks.

Understand a 1 acre pond has numerous LIMITS for producing trophy fish due to the size of the pond as living space aka lebensraum. Smaller waters are more vulnerable to animal crowding which puts significant limits on reproducing populations. It all trends back to carrying capacity.

Always keep in mind that you have a small 1 acre pond and not 3 to 10 acres. This makes it a lot harder to grow several really big fish in a small acreage. IMO to get several to numerous trophy or near trophy fish in a smaller water body one has to think outside the “normal pond stocking box”. The smaller the pond is the more creative one has to be to produce big fish in a small pond.

I am helping a friend manage a 1 ac pond for producing large fish. 1 acre is not a lot of water space to grow high quality BIG bass. For this we are thinking “out of the box” for this special fishery.

If it was my pond and I wanted the most and biggest LMB possible in small 1 acre of pond, I would be doing a few additional things.

1. Do your very best to stock only female LMB. Stocking mixed gender LMB means 50% of them will be males who usually stay small around 3 to maybe 5 lbs. These male bass IMO are counterproductive for your goals for having several or numerous big bass especially in just 1 acre of water. These male bass will never achieve big bass status, plus they are always consuming your valuable forage fish that are needed by the biggest female bass – your ‘trophies’.

If you use only female bass then all the LMB in the pond will maximize their big size growth genetic potential with the most numbers practical big size bass in your small pond - IF and PROVIDING they get all the necessary food in terms of consumed numbers and proper food sizes that big fish need for optimum growth as they grow bigger. All females reduce the need for annually harvesting small LMB and reduces the need for the intense juggling of the forage base in terms of numbers, species densities, and sizes.
Having to occasionally add another female bass to the fishery is a minor expense compared to the total efforts involved in managing a mixed sex bass fishery.

Fewer total predators will require fewer total forage fish pounds needed in the pond. If you are able to locate and achieve all female LMB stockers,,,, then you could also effectively use yellow perch to help diversify the forage base and improve benefits for especially the younger anglers. More nice interesting fish for them to catch more often.

1. What you want to buy if using mixed gender LMB is get them in Fall that are sub-adult or yearling premium bass and insure in Sept or Oct they are 4 to 6 month old bass not last year’s bass. CHOSE YOUR FISH SUPPLIER CAREFULLY. They need to be trustworthy. YOU HAVE JUST ONE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THIS INITIAL STOCKING RIGHT TO OPTIMIZE SPACE AND OPTIMUM PRODUCTION OF PREDATORS THAT WILL DRIVE YOUR FISHERY FOR THE NEXT 10-15 YEARS. DO NOT MESS UP BY STOCKING SUBPAR BASS.

2. Do not buy those 5 month old bass that are 2”-3” long fingerlings. Don’t do it. IMO 2”to 4” fingerlings are only valuable as stocker sizes used in July –early August. High quality fast growing fingerlings should be a full 3 inches long in August; smaller than that they were over crowded and sup par trophy potential. Real high quality genetic bass fingerlings should be growing close to 2mm per day when raised the best ways. May 20 to Aug 10 = 80 days X 1.25mm growth per day = 100mm(3.9”), 120 days X 1.25mm/day = 150mm = 5.9”. Fingerling bass of 2”-3” in October thru April are the slow growing bass with less than exceptional genetics of that year class of bass. October yearling LMB should be a minimum of 5.3” and the “Jumpers” could be or should be 7”-9” long. Choose your stockers wisely. See next.

Fast growing best genetics bass at 5 months old (October) should be at least 5”-6” and MUCH better if they are 7”-9” long IF they were ALWAYS well fed daily with plenty of forage. These bass are called “jumpers”. Some 6-12 month old “jumper bass can be 10” long. Those young bass with less size than those 5 month old 6”-8” lengths of bass are IMO when wanting trophy stockers are the “runts” and will never reach trophy status. They can be big bass but never achieve trophy status They had too little food, were too crowded, and will never become trophy bass. True trophy 10lb+ bass are unique aggressive eaters and fast growers and HAVE to be 9”-10” long at one year old.

Loss of body length for the first year of growth is NEVER regained. 2”-3” fingerling of mid-western bass by October COULD have been and should be at least 6” long if well fed. Those fingerling 2”-3” bass in Fall will always be 3 inches shorter that those bass with the head growth start of those 7”-9” sizes of the fast growing sizes that the ‘jumper’ bass have achieved.

A low percentage of “jumper” size bass are almost always present in each year class of bass hatchlings. “Jumper” bass are the most aggressive and are ones genetically programmed to be the fastest growers with biggest ultimate size. Size of the “jumper” bass depends on how well fed they were from the day they hatched. It is your job as trophy manager to CAREFULLY locate a fish farm that will hand pick out and sell you those aggressive fast growing ‘jumper’ LMbass. Fish farm managers who know anything about growing trophy fish know all about the category of ‘jumper’ bass.

Heck - I can grow a small percentage the lowly yellow perch panfish who are always well fed to become ‘jumpers’ as 6.5” to 8” long by October – same thing happens with bass. It is readily possible by good fish growers who know how to raise high quality fish.

3. Here is another option for your goal of producing big fish in a small 1 ac pond. I would replace some of the planned number of your stocked LMB with some 6”-8” HSB. Once you experience what HSB can do and what they can be,,,,, then you will wonder why or doubt why you even like LMB. State record KS LMB is 11 lb 8oz and 28.5” long. Thus big LMbass of 6-9 lb can be raised in KS if everything is done properly from day one. However the KS record HSB is 25 lbs and 33.5” long! Thus you should be able to grow HSB to several pounds bigger in your small pond compared to top end sizes of LMB. HSB pull like fast moving passenger trains and inch for inch they make LMB appear as whippy fish.

Largemouth especially ‘jumper’ females can grow to more than 2 and even 3 pounds after their first year as premium stocked fingerlings under ideal Southern water conditions, but in nature in the Midwest,,,, bass weight of a full 1.0 pound increase per year is better than average. Listen to Sitting Dockside podcast #41 noted below.

Midwest and Indiana – a 5yr old LMB can be 4.3lb to 5 lb and sometimes at 5yrs old it can be 6 lbs -7 lbs if that fish was a “jumper”.

Growing trophy bass is a lot of continual work and effort. Read on. Most people do not want to deal with the high cost and lots of the continual effort needed from day one to have a true trophy bass fishery. Good mixed sex trophy maintenance usually involves electro-shocking surveys at least one or twice a year to properly monitor forage items and measure the representative bass weights to verify that the bass are gaining weight and not losing weight. Very important to know.
Thus most pond owners are very satisfied with producing numerous 4 lb to 6 lb bass.

Stocking Notes: Listen to this Sitting Dockside podcast for Fish Stocking for Old and New Ponds for a best balanced high quality fish stocking. They tell how some pond owners got fingerling bass to grow to 2-3lb in one year. Rayl and Goldsby are experienced BIG fish growing experts.

http://www.buzzsprout.com listen to episode 41

- Fish Stocking for Ponds and Lakes New and Old. They talk about some very good informative topics including good mixed fish gender(sex) information, stocking rates, bass early growth rates, catch rates, back end forage stocking, fish feeding and fish foods, conversion production rates, maximizing bass growth, trophy management, etc. Note Rayl uses Optimal fish food for high conversion & production rates. BE SURE TO TAKE GOOD NOTES DURING THIS INFORMATIVE PODCAST! Listen to it a least couple times.

Trophy LMB ponds always have and always need a CONSTANT and an almost over abundant amount of forage fish of the Right and Correct sizes to feed continually growing BIG bass. Trophies always need more food than bass weighing 5lbs to 7lbs. Often this means added stocking of bigger forage sizes than the normal small forage fish sizes to feed these big and fast growing bigger bass. Here we can be talking several thousands of dollars a year for additional bigger size forage stockings depending on size of the water and numbers of big bass.

As bass grow they always eat more and more of the larger expensive foods per year. For optimum annual growth, these big fish are NOT eating small minnow like fishes for optimum growth and the needed food amounts actually needed to keep them growing at the rate of at least 1 pound weight gain per year. 18" LMB grow best eating 5"-6" BG and often eating 7”-8” long small bass or perch if available. Then Larger bass eat even larger fish and foods. Smaller 16” bass are eating 3”-4” BG and 5”-6” long bass, perch or trout. If you have to buy these forage fish due food shortages things quickly get expensive.

As esshup above mentions - Medium 15”-17” bass eating minnows will not grow larger because these bass expend too much energy and effort catching enough too small of fish that do not provide enough needed nutrition for growth. Maintenance weight maybe - Growth: little or None. Example – A 2lb bass (15”) needs to eat 12 lbs of food PER year to JUST maintain it’s 2lb weight AND then to grow an additional 1 pound it needs to eat another 10 lbs of the right sized forage. So for just a 2 lber to grow to 3 lb (15” to 17.5”) it needs to eat a TOTAL of 22 lbs of food that year! So 30 of these 2lb bass in 1 acre need to eat at least 660 lbs of forage fish! Do you see why CONSTANT forage amounts are very important especially when lots of bass per acre are present?

I will use just 30 bass instead of 50 bass stockers per acre.
If 30 bass get to 4lb, each one needs to eat 24lb of forage to maintain its weight and then an added 10 lb of forage for a total 34lb to grow each bass to 5 lb. A 1 ac pond then needs 1024 POUNDS of CORRECT forage to get 30 4lb bass to grow to 5 lb. See the challenge? Example - for a 5 lb bass just to maintain a good, well fed high body weight with a high relative weight for more growth it needs to eat close to 30 lbs of fish per year AND then to grow from 5 lb to 6 lb it needs to eat another 10 lbs of food for a total of 40 lbs of fish eaten for just that year for just that one bass. That amounts to a lot of small fish for 30 bass.

NORMALY the bigger the bass are in a pond, the fewer of them that can co-exist, stay healthy, and get enough of the RIGHT food to maintain weight and grow due to pond carrying capacity and forage basis. This all has a lot to do with how much bass growing food's that can be raised and maintained per acre. Carrying Capacity.

Once people realize what it takes in dollars and proper management effort and time to grow a trophy 10lb bass,,, they are content with having more bass in the 4 to 7lb size range which is a much easier and manageable fishery compared to focusing on a few 10+ lb bass per acre. It is said a 10 lb bass is worth $150-$200 because of the amount of feed that it has eaten to get to 10 lbs. Actually the 10 lb bass has eaten much more than $200 worth of forage to grow to 10 lbs. IMO once a bass grows to 5 lbs its dollar value goes to at least $20 per pound. 5lb bass X 20 = $100. Actually for this bass to grow to 5 lbs it has eaten 3,300 average size 3” BG for a value of $2,970 of eaten BG at $0.90 each. When starting a pond using big stocker fish, you are buying time similar to buying landscaping trees; in both cases you are buying time for growth. Time has money value.

See information in these links for knowing about pond carrying capacity and LMbass management. Excellent information in both of these informative threads.

Carrying Capacity

LMbass Management

Again do your good diligent homework – read through, study, and take notes from all links. The trophy pond needs 'Fish Cities' as good PRODUCTIVE habitat. See next.
Listen to these good Sitting Dockside pond management podcasts about growing big bass and the Importance of abundance of good habitat and needed amounts of good habitat as benefits.

Episode #1 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats?t=0

Episode #66 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/1...and-fish-habitat-for-lakes-and-ponds?t=0

To grow trophy or BIG bass, it takes lots of work and diligent effort. You don’t just stock run-of-the- mill young bass and expect trophies to grow.

You will need to do at least 2 of several important additional things.
1. LMB are prolific spawners. Once the LMB start spawning and recruitment bass are 8"-12" --- HARVEST, HARVEST, HARVEST of the smaller bass to help maintain lots of uneaten food for the REMAINING bigger bass to keep growing, so at certain lengths, they don't hit the 'growth wall' due to bass crowded conditions and food shortages.

Why harvest? - Which Ones and How Much Harvest of Bass

Sitting Dockside Podcast Episode 34. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/6...-it-is-almost-biblical-for-your-lake?t=0

Podcast Episode 55. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8...redator-fish-why-do-you-harvest-bass?t=0

Remember - trophy bass ponds very rarely have very many large trophy BG because the trophy bass are heavily cropping TOO many of the 5"-7" BG that would become big BG.

2. For mixed sex bass,,,, always keep track of relative weights (RW) for ALL caught bass by anglers including those smaller bass that should usually be removed when RW is low. See info and link later below.

If it was my mixed sex bass pond, I would be cutting tails off all the removed small bass and tossing them alive back into the pond to feed the largest bass rather than you eating or wasting or discarding small bass. Small LMB or small panfish can be frozen and then later thawed and hand fed to some of the “tossed meat trained bass”. Training them to do this is relatively easy.

As mentioned a RW of 95%+ indicates the bass is healthy and growing. Less than 90% RW the bass is not getting enough food for the the optimum best growth. Remove thin bodied bass. Bass with above 90% are at least growing, but probably not growing optimally. At higher RW around 100% those bass are growing better and faster than the 90% RW bass.

3. To grow big bass the pond needs lots of healthy and high numbers of BG or other panfish type species that have been fed a high protein pellet to keep the BG / panfish population growing and abundant enough to feed those big, actively growing bass. Standard fish feeders for this are 1 to maybe 2 feeders per acre that distribute 40% plus high quality protein fish food. Fish can also be well fed if regular hand feeding of pellets is used. When one does not do this, expect fewer trophy bass per acre and overall smaller bass per acre from a mixed sex LMB population.

How and Why to Feed Pellets to BG to Grow Big Bass.
Podcast Episode 44 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8180502-episode-44-how-to-feed-fish-and-feeder-fundamentals?t=0

Producing Trophy Bass
Creating a trophy bass fishery takes a lot of effort and expense. Then having to maintain those trophies so they don’t lose weight and continue to grow and so they perpetuate the long term good size distribution of the biggest bass for their best body condition for the continued growth of all the biggest bass, requires probably more effort and expense than even initially creating them. This is because as the pond ages completion due to continued annual reproduction of bass CROWDS the fishery and lowers the growth potential of all resident fish. As already noted in examples above Trophy bass are NOT cheap for several reasons. There are some significant challenges, requirements, and allowances for maintaining a trophy fishery.

Firstly for big bass, let’s look at RELATIVE WEIGHT = RW. RW indicates how healthy and plump that a bass is compared to a measured and calculated “standard” bass. A big part of maintaining and managing trophy fish is: #1. Not having too many per acre and #2. to be able to maintain enough of the right sizes of food for these big fish to easily and regularly catch that big food and stay fat (RW) and then GROW BIGGER. RW is calculated by taking the standard weight of that fish individual and dividing it by its actual weight then multiplying the answer by 100 to get a %value called RW aka Relative Weight. Plump fish that are growing are above 90% RW and the best active growers are above 100% RW. RW = (weight of bass / standard weight of LMB) X 100.

Secondly what defines a trophy bass in your circle? Most anglers are well satisfied to catch 4-6 lb bass. Is it your goal to have top end bass in the 5-7lb class or are your trophy bass in the 8 to 10 pound class?

Each trophy bass is relative to the productivity and fish balance of each lake location. Trophies have a high value and each 10 lb bass trophy is probably really worth around at least $400 - $500 and probably more for each biggest bass because of the amount of food it has eaten over its life time to reach the trophy status. This does not even consider the TIME involved in getting bass to that size. Trophy fisheries are not for the average pond owner. True trophies are a big expense in both time and effort.

Number 3 is - a lake cannot maintain very many actual trophy size fish per acre. Their individual predator weight requirement equals that of several smaller predators. Thus the bigger the bass are - the fewer of them there will be per acre. NATURE’S LAW. Thus if an actively managed lake has 1 trophy, top size fish per acre - that is a lot. Many natural public lakes only have 1 trophy fish per 5 to 10 acres. Fish density and biomass weight regardless of fish size is based on water fertility and habitat. Clearer less fertile water means fewer fish per acre. The clarity of your lake determines the fishery production ability or its potential for growing fish poundage.

Number 4. Proper size and amount of habitat strongly affects the fishery production. Best habitat of the right density increases production. Correct types and placement of habitat has been proven in fishery science to increase fish production. Grouping of structures significantly benefits the fishery. Proven fact. See the associated Sitting Dockside podcasts noted below. More habitat may need to be added later to maintain the status of trophies long term in the lake. Depending. Learn about both. Bass do have normal natural life spans of around 16 to in best conditions 20 yrs, providing an angler does not miss handle that bass and kill that fish first.

Number 5. Realize that bass become hook shy and angler smart the longer they live and the more often they are exposed to lures. Proven fact is - the larger the average sized basses become, the harder they are for anglers to catch. The larger the average bass become in a lake - the FEWER bass that anglers will catch per hour of angling because there are very few present and these are usually angler – lure wise individuals. Some days angers will not even catch a really big bass. The opposite is true, the smaller the average bass are,,, the more of them there will be per acre and anglers will then catch more of these smaller bass per hour of fishing. Proven many times over. Most fishing groups prefer to catch more smaller sized bass of 2-4 lbs more frequently with the occasional 5 lb to 6 lb bass,,,,, compared to catching fewer bass of 4 to 6 pound bass sizes per trip and rarely ever catching that rare smart trophy bass of 8 to10 lbs. It is a matter of preference.
Trophy bass are NOT cheap and are not cheap to continually maintain long term as healthy growing individuals in a well managed fishery. Sometimes or often,,, these ‘hog’ trophy fish need to be regularly fed with annually added larger sized forages because they have ‘hogged out” most all the existing abundant and preferred size class of forage foods.

All these challenges for growing trophy mixed gender bass are really only for the wealthy lake owner. Once these things are realized for the resultant final goals produced after for all the expenses, are why very few succeed in producing a true trophy bass fishery without professional help. Always – the bigger the water the more it costs in time, effort, dedication, and MONEY. Most owners are willing to accept and be happy with a quality medium bass balanced community rather than the trophy class fishery. The two are definitely different.

Maximum size of true trophy bass will vary due to latitude, genetics and temperature growing degree days per year. Those big top end fish in the South will typically be bigger and weigh more compared to those trophy class bass in Northern and Central states such as Kansas and Indiana. NOTE: the Indiana State angler record of LMB was a whopping 14 lb 12 oz which was very likely a real old female with all the EXCEPTIONAL needed genetics and also carrying late stage egg development.

Genetics are King for all big trophy category fish. Not all basketball players are 7 feet tall. Why? Tall genes are unique to certain individuals. Same character applies to bass. Only a low percentage of bass have the trophy genetics. “Jumper” bass have unique big fish genetics. More later on “jumper” bass.

Amount of abundant food is also very important. Just as an example, new research and philosophy from Sitting Dockside via T.Goldsby indicate for a 2 pound bass to maintain its proper plump body weight (good RW), it needs to eat 12 lbs of food/fish per year AND then to gain one pound it needs to eat ANOTHER 10 lbs of fish/food. Total 22 lbs consumed per year for a well growing 2 lb bass.

Proper size best food for a big 6 to 7 lb bass are not small 2”-3” fish. Weight gaining foods for big bass are sunfish 5”-7” long or something with a similar size/wt for that big bass to get maximum nutrition with the least amount of wasted energy of the hunt and capture. Optimal Foraging Theory – see later. And these big bass need to eat a lot of those types of foods. This is why big bass transferred to new ponds usually struggle to maintain good body weight, they gradually lose weight (low RW), become unhealthy, gradually die on the bottom, and remain unseen by the owner. Transferring small adult bass is often much more successful compared to moving big bass.

Now for a 7 pound bass to maintain a 90% - 100% relative healthy, plump weight (high RW) it takes 42 pounds of the right size and amount of food. These big fish have to eat a lot to stay fat with good RW for the necessary body conditions for increased growth!. It is common sense and a natural fact of fish physiology that fish are cold blooded animals and grow differently than land warm blooded mammals. However then, for that one 7 lb bass to gain another one pound to reach 8 lbs it needs to eat an ADDITIONAL 10 pounds of the proper size foods for an annual total consumption of 52 pounds of food to be eaten by that just one bass that year. That is why there are not a lot of trophy fish per acre in normal natural ponds or lakes. Example. Forage size BG 5”-7” long cost $3.60 ea. It takes 295 of them to weight 52lbs for a cost of $875 to feed that one 10 lb bass for just one year.

If we use 317 trout as forage fish 7” long weighing 52 lbs cost is $871. See the value of fish needed for just that one 7 lb bass to gain one pound? Big bass are expensive to feed. Extrapolate all this info up to around 65-67 acres. 295 fish X one 7 lb bass per acre in 67ac = 19,675 BG 5+” long for a 7 pounder to get to 8 lbs..
Now an 8 lb bass lady now needs to go to 9 pounds by eating 58 lbs of food for moving toward a larger trophy status. See the challenge for growing several of these per acre?

As an example, those 7lb bass will want to eat 5.7”-6.8”($3.00ea ) BG or 6”-8” ($2.75ea) trout. Larger predators who swallow food whole need to eat bigger foods to efficiently and effectively gain weight. It is called Optimum Foraging Theory - Getting the most amount of food with the least amount of effort.

Trophy fish management or all bass management is NUMBERS management. Most importantly with reproducing predators,,, then it becomes PROPER numbers management to remove enough bass so the remaining medium-large bass and the trophies get plenty of easy catch foods for continued growth each day. “Every day a bass does not FILL it belly is a day it does not grow” – Bob Lusk. If large bass are competing with too many smaller bass, trophies will lose the fat weight (RW) and obviously not grow.

As big bass educational homework - learn from these topics:
Learn to use and encourage all anglers to use SmartFish App. found at Quality Lakes Inc.

Read & learn through the following articles for managing trophy fish and big bass management.

Pond Boss article: PB mag Jan-Feb 2023Vol 31 No4. CHOOSE TO DO HARD THINGS. W.Bales. Discusses electrofishiing vs catch and release for improving LMB growth. Bales was also a guest on Sitting Dockside podcast Episode 65

PBoss article: Jan-Feb 2022. WHY LARGEMOUTH BASS GROW BIGGER IN THE SOUTH. Dave Beasley shares the basic pond characteristics needed to grow trophy bass..

PBoss article: Mar-Apr 2022. LARGEMOUTH BASS. CATCH RATES ON PRIVATE TROPHY FISHERIES. Beasley shares ideas for good data collection, improving angling strategy, concentrating bass numbers, and improving bass aggression..

PBoss article: Jul-Aug 2022. PUSHING THE SOUTHERN LIMIT FOR TIGER MUSKY. Beasley discusses how musky improved a bass fishery.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2022. A THRIVING FORAGE BASE. Beasley explains why trophy LMB fisheries are only temporary unless special management is used.

PBoss article Jan Feb 2021. CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CREATING AN ENTERTAINING FISHERY. Beasley. Setting possible realistic goals.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2021. 10 ACRE CAROLINA TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS FISHERY. Beasley. A fishery profile of 10 years to 10 lb bass.

PBoss article. Jul-Aug 2021. LEGENDARY FISH FOR A LEGENDARY RANCH. Beasley explains how to do it in 2 yrs for 3.7-5.2lb bass and in 4 yrs one bass was 14.2 lbs in a new 33 ac TX lake. IMO that fish was a “jumper”

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2021. A SUCCESSFUL FISHERY: ITS IMPACT ON A CLOSE KNIT FAMILY. Beasley describes a 31 acre lake for growing bass bigger than 10 pounds and what the management keys that were needed.

PBoss article. May-June 2020. MISTAKES MADE MANAGING FOR TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS. Beasley – Numerous do’s and don’ts.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2019. UNDERSTANDING WHEN TO PRIORITIZE ELECTROFISHING. Beasley values and benefits of using it for proactive fish management.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2019. FALL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES & STRATEGIES. Beasley tells the things of why, how & what to do in Fall for improving and maintaining trophy bass fisheries. Why Fall harvest is very important.

Listen to these good Sitting Dockside pond management podcasts about growing big bass.
Importance of abundance of good habitat and amount of good habitat.

Episode 1 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats?t=0


Proper bass harvest improves a mixed bass fishery. Guest - Wade Bales
Sitting Dockside Episode 65. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/9951429-episode-65-harvesting-fish-the-smart-way?t=0

Why bass harvest is important – It is almost biblical
Sitting Dockside poscast #35.


Where to buy all female bass???? This is a very difficult task to find them and it may take lots of research and money, plus maybe lots of time and effort to get them. Dedication to the plan is paramount to not lose your focus of the plan.

The all female bass option would be very worthwhile, however it could be very, very difficult to locate and to buy just female bass that are 1-2 year old farm raised female bass to amount to your 50 bass per acre stocking goal will IMO require some LUCK and big expense. LMB need to be at least 1yr old to determine male & female gender. Only the EXCEPTIONAL fish farm will be willing and able to do this for you. The all female LMB are SPECIALITY items produced I think by only one or two places in the entire US. For starters - If you can locate some all female bass possibly via Bob Lusk now partnered with American Sportfish you will be a very Lucky pond owner. Start your search for all female bass with Bob Lusk and or contact Dave Beasley director of fisheries at Solitude Lake management.com. He has brought all female bass as far west as TX.

Here is my optional stocking idea for growing some really big fish in your 1 ac pond. Instead of using just mixed sex LMB as the main predator,,,,,, consider this alternative stocking plan and modify your plan to using mainly HSB as potential big fish predators with annually stocking a few to several female LMbass. See more later.

Why Hybrid Striped Bass

HSB can thrive to big sizes using pellets as the main food or some pellets as supplemental, large size, hand throw 1” nuggeted pelleted foods from Optimal or Purina brands. Then with the HSB, you gradually each year add a few ‘angler caught’, hand-picked female LMB from local ponds. Then harvest an appropriate number of the HSB in your pond based on how many female LMB that were newly added. For harvest of HSB, maybe select the slower growing HSB who are better dinner guests than the biggest HSB. As the HSB grow,, you may decide you prefer HSB to LMB. Then you may decide that adding female LMB each year might become less of a needed spring task.

This HSB-Female LMB plan puts you in VERY good control, actually excellent control, of the predator populations in your pond. HSB are not reproducing, they are providing angler excitement, and fast growing, big action packed fish. With these two predator species and before the larger female LMB are introduced, you can NOW stock some pellet trained yellow perch (4”-6”) as supplemental panfish who can thrive and grow to big 13” to 15” sizes and annually produce more good forage fish numbers. A 15” plump YP weighs 2 lbs and more when containing a full complement of eggs. Anglers will like catching big YP who thrive and grow fast eating pellets with the non-reproducing female LMB and HSB. However mixed gender LMB do not allow YP to perpetuate long term because the high numbers of smaller LMB will be cropping all the slender bodied small perch before they reach the larger harvestable sizes of 8”-9”+.

For your female bass portion of the fishery.
IMO annually adding a few Small adult female bass caught from a local pond is a decent alternative plan. These LMB show aggressive feeding genetics compared to existing shy bite bass in the same pond. This is why I think annually adding a few pre-spawn females each Spring from a pond can be a good method for producing potentially big LMbass in your small pond WHEN one cannot locate any farm that raises all female LMB. A really good fish farm might be able to select and sell you a couple gravid 12”-14” LMB each spring!.

Adding a few female bass per year to your pond maintains a good various size structured bass population that that you have very good control of the total numbers of bass predators. Good control of numbers is PARAMONT in having or producing high quality fisheries and the same concept applies to managing any prospering wildlife community. Good control of numbers.

Female pre spawn bass caught from a balanced pond, as small adults as a recognizable gravid female bass 12” to 14” will likely have good aggressive angler friendly genetics which is why adding some female bass from a pond can be a good idea and a method for later producing a few really big bass in a small pond. Note - Few of these bass will have “jumper” genetics.

Firstly you need to know how to recognize and choose which bass is a good female stocker. This is a big learning curve involving good homework and careful attention to detail. Ideally, I think you need to learn about how to use catheter tubes for sampling eggs from a prespawn bass in Spring. This tube egg sampling verifies 100% the fish was a female. Using just visual observation methods of a prespawn or spawn season bass for choosing a FEMALE stocker often results in 98% to someimes100% success. One male bass MISTAKE will ruin this plan and they will quickly produce the mixed gender bass population with all its disadvantages in a small pond for a goal of trophy bass.

Your current plan has 50 stocker LMB per acre. Remember half of those will be males. In your small 1 ac pond you would not initially need nor want 50 stocker FEMALE bass. 20 to 30 HSB or fewer and a total of 5-10 female bass over a few years of stock in spring would I think be a good number of predators in one acre to eventually easily produce all or most bass with true trophy size status using minimal cost and effort. I think the fewer number of both species that you stock the quicker they will become trophy size. Ideally 15 – 20 HSB and 5-10 female bass would be the best number of non-reproducing predators for 1 acre. If you use the 25-30 HSB initial stockers,, plan on harvesting some of them when they reach the 15”-24” sizes. 8”-9” HSB stockers can grow to 17” in one full growing season IF they are very well fed. It is Fast growth for them when they have all the food they can eat.

Why use all female bass together with hybrid striped bass?.?

1. Both predators do not reproduce and cause problems with over population

2. It eliminates the all the problems associated with bass crowded

3. It reduces, but does not eliminate, the need for always locating, buying and adding proper size/s of forage fish.

4. It reduces the numerous added costs of producing a mixed gender of trophy bass

5. It reduces the need for frequent expensive electroshock surveys to get premium results

6. It increases the number per acre available of large predators

7. It makes growing or producing a trophy fishery easier to obtain

8. It allows easier regulation of panfish populations

9. It allows more big panfish to be present to make anglers happier

10. It allows an annual harvest of big multi species of panfish as dinner guests.

11. HSB live and co-exist well with LMB.

12. HSB will pull harder and fight longer than LMB.

13. HSB and LMB together diversifies the catch possibilities for angler anticipation and excitement.

14. Non-reproducing predators make it easier to produce a multispecies fishery of big panfish because lots of small bass are not always present who over eat the recruitment from the panfish population/s.

15. Non-reproducing HSB predators can easily be added later as needed.

16. HSB can easily be added or replaced as needed depending on needs of the fishery balance. Too many predators remove some; too few predators add some.

17. HSB have a small mouth compared to largemouth. This forces them to eat smaller fish compared LMB when both are the same body length. Smaller panfish need to be cropped harder compared to larger panfish mainly because there are more smaller sizes compared to larger sizes.

18. You get two very differently behaving species of action packed predators that can more easily be grown to trophy sizes in a one acre or in even a smaller pond.

19. Best Bonus - If in years later you are dissatisfied with the quality of the non-reproducing trophy fishery, all you have to do is add some mixed gender bass and the fishery is then converted to your current original stocking plan – one with mixed gender LMbass. Reproducing LMB will then soon take over as the most abundant predator.

This from esshup as printed below. Good fish lessons are worth repeating.
Great write up Bill! Another IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle is learning to correctly handle the large LMB once caught. You don't want to grow them large, then injure or even kill them by handling them incorrectly once they are caught. 1) Use a rubberized net, don't grab them by the lower jaw. 2) Use two hands to support the fish to take it out of the net. One hand on the lower jaw, one supporting the back 1/3 of the fish. 3) Don't let it flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat - that removes the slime coat and opens the fish up to infection. Doing that is basically a later death sentence for that big fish even if it appears okay as it swims away. Body infection with fungus growth on a fish takes a week to 10 days to take its toll on a big fish.

A customer in Texas that has a 35 acre trophy LMB lake has a few rules. Break the rules, and you cannot fish in the pond. 1) Barbless hooks. 2) Support the fish with 2 hands. 3) Net the fish, keep the fish in the net in the water while you figure out what you are going to do next. This is important because of the next step. 4) The fish can only be out of the water for 30 seconds max. If you want to weigh the fish, leave the fish in the net, weigh everything and then weigh the net after the fish is released, don't hang the fish by it's jaw or worse, the gills. Texas Share Lunker program has had LMB come in with broken lower jaws because of poor handling, and the fish never recover.
3 members like this
by SSJSayajin
I will read over the articles and data provided as well as await the post by Bill Cody,

With that said, I wanted to answer a few questions.

I stocked the BG and FHM in August of 2022. I plan to stock the Bass in the fall of 2023. I did hand feed the BG throughout the winter whenever we got a warm day, however did not feed them on any regular basis at that time.

Currently, water temperature is still below 60 degrees as it is still cold (30s) in the morning before warming up into the 70s in the afternoon. I expect that within the next 2 weeks, temperatures should continue to rise to increase the water temp above 60 degrees.

I am currently hand feeding the BG late afternoon every day to get them both acclimated to the feed as well as to feed them in general. I plan to begin running my TX Hunter Feeder as soon as the water temp gets into the high 50s. I will start with 2 feedings per day of shorter intervals and then increase to 4 feedings of the appropriate intervals.

As far as food, I know that quite a few people here swear by the Optimal Fish Food, however I am currently using Purina Aquamax Sportfish MVP. I was impressed by the fact that there are 9 different pellet sizes with a mix of floating and sinking feed. To me, this means I am better equipped to feed the entire food chain. I know the Optimal has a lower fat rating then the AquaMax and as I get bigger fish through the years I may need to make a change, however as someone mentioned in here, I need more fat content for my younger and smaller fish.

My pond is not currently aerated, however I do plan to do so in the future. I plan to read over the aeration section of the forum as I would specifically be looking for a solar powered unit (my pond is not close to an electrical connection) that allows me to aerate from the bottom of the pond to provide as much oxygen as necessary.

I believe that currently I have very good water quality. I have a high alge count as my water is green, however there is not moss or pond scum or anything prevalent in the water currently. Later this summer when the pond warms up, I will use some pond testings kits that I have to try and verify my beliefs. With that said, there is not currently a large amount of underwater plants. As this is a new pond, there has not been a significant amount of time for them to grow as this will be the 1st summer.

Structure wise, I opted to go with artificial structure as opposed to organic. I went with Mossback Habitats and have 3 Safe Haven XL, 8 Trophy Tree XL, 2 Root Wad (near the BG spawning area of pea gravel). I also have a tire wall of around 40-50 tires on one side of the pond that is layered to climb up the pond wall from the bottom of the pond to about 2 feet below the water line. I originally designed this for an area for the Minnows, but the BG appear to be loving the area themselves. I am contemplating adding another couple of Safe Haven XL in some of the shallower areas of the pond. However, I believe that based upon calculations, I currently have adequate structure. I was concerned about having too much structure and making it too hard for the Bass to catch BG.

As far as what size bass to stock, that is where things get a bit hairy. If you had asked me a month ago, I would tell you that I was planning to stock adult LMB. My stocking guy tells me that he has 8-10in and 12-14in Bass. I was planning to stock a mix of the 2 of them. However, upon reading here, I am concerned about how old these LMB actually are. Are they 3-4yo Bass that he has hung on to? Or 1-2yo Bass that he is feeding the crap out of to sell for a premium? I don`t know the answer to this questions yet as I am still doing the research on what the appropriate questions to ask are. I know what he does have FTLMB as he mentioned he normally does a mix of food trained vs non food trained LMB. I have read some posts here that say otherwise, but he said in his experience, the non trained LMB learn from the trained ones and begin to eat the feed. I am sure I could request all Food Trained ones to be on the safe side, but wanted to provide what my "prior plan" was. I know that I dont want to stock fingerlings or smaller LMB, but I need to get more information to determine exactly what size to stock.

It sounds like I definitely need to stock more BG, however I will read over the posts to determine what the proper amount is. I also expect that by waiting a full year to stock the Bass, it will allow the BG and Minnows to spawn and further create the forage base. I would stock additional 4-6in BG and another 40lbs or so of Minnows at the same time once I determine the appropriate amount of additional BG needed.
2 members like this
by ewest
Made an Archive thread with Bill's post.

2 members like this
by Bill Cody
Bill Cody
Answers to Questions: I think I covered all your questions. If I missed one or you have more ???? just ask. All readers are very welcome to add comments.

Habitat – Your placement of habitat sounds to me like you are on the right path. Mossback does know what creates good habitat.

GSH (shiners) I think you want to use GSH to diversify the forage base. I would stock them as breeding size adults (3”-5”) this spring so they can establish a strong population because the LMB and HSB can prey pretty hard on them especially as the predators grow into their 2nd year. I would not wait until fall for GSH. Initial stocking of GSH could be 4 to 7 lbs/ac in your case and allow the to reproduce before adding bass. Ideally you would want to stock them before mid June. Stocking lower numbers of GSH acre early allows them to build high numbers economically before LMB are added. I think for your goals, you want the GSH so be established as the same plan the BG are established so they can maintain numbers long term and reproducing to help feed the new bass. GSH could be stocked together with some tilapia in late May early June. GSH are said to eat filamentous algae, however I highly question how much FA that GSH actually eat when other invertebrate foods are available. GSH ‘might’ help with a very mild FA infestation of a new pond, but I doubt it.

Tilapia & Grass carp – You should not need very many tilapia until you have a noticeable filamentous algae problem. However adding some tilapia (5lb/yr) each year before your LMB grow to 4lb-6lb would be a good idea because it diversifies your forage base. Almost always a good thing. A couple GC in a newish 1 ac should help keep submerged weed growth and natural vegetative habitat to a minimum. Watch the development of submerged weeds each late Summer -Fall to monitor development amount of weeds.

Crayfish – The cray in the picture “might” be a white river crayfish based on shape of its ‘claws’. They can grow to be a mouth full to feed big bass.

Top end bass of 7lb to 8lb in any pond are very nice and high quality bass. If you add some HSB to the community they can get to the 9lb to 10 lb sizes as fast as the LMB grow to just 7 or 8lbs.

Meat Feeding Bass – My rule is the more fins you cut off the hand tossed fish the less chance it has for survival. Initially I would cut most all the fins off the ‘small’ bass until get large bass visually and strongly eating the hand tossed small bass or BG. Then removing just tails would be sufficient.

Bluegill Harvest w/ Big Bass As I mentioned it will be tricky to harvest very many panfish when they are needed to grow big bass. Diversifying the forage base should allow some harvest of biggest BG especially prior to initial stocker bass reaching 6-7lbs. Once LMB grow to your goal of 7lb-9lb then harvest of BG may be counterproductive for growing bass to bigger sizes. I would harvest BG as the ones too big for the largest LMB to eat. You could implement an initial slot harvest of BG to be only those larger than 7.5” or 8”. And for best BG production those harvested I think could be mostly the males because you are trying to create more BG rather than wanting the pond mainly for trophy BG where the females are the ones primarily harvested. Others can debate me about this philosophy.

LMB Female vs Mixed Gender – Both types have pros and cons. Mixed LMB can do very well in a small pond. I think the smaller the pond the more that using all female LMB is more beneficial for growing the biggest bass. If I was given two same size ponds and I grew female LMB in one and mixed gender LMB in the other pond, I am convinced that I could grow easier and quicker MORE bigger LMB in the all female bass pond.
As you mention – “”However, I am also not the guy who would be satisfied with 4-6lbs Bass only in the pond.””
If after 7-9years your biggest LMB are only 5lb-6lb then I think you are not doing all that is needed to grow big bass. You will then need to make some adjustments toward better fishery management.
HSB with Mixed Sex LMB. You can mix in any number of HSB in with the mixed sex LMB. Note HSB are sometimes difficult to obtain in Fall. If that happens then just stock the HSB the next spring preferably as 6”-8” sizes.

The beauty of using the HSB is you can EASILY control how many of them you have in the pond. Add some, remove some with no overpopulation problems. The HSB I think will also help reduce the number of small bass. How much will HSB reduce the numbers of small fingerling bass???? . I do not really know. But I do know, they will eat some small bass based on how many small bass are present and how MANY and what SIZE of HSB that are present. If I were using the mixed LMB at 50LMB/ 1ac rate, I would stock 12-15HSB and 35 LMB. Once you decide how well you like HSB and if you want more of these amazing fish,,, then harvest out smaller ORIGINAL lower relative weight, slower growing LMB (probably the males) and replace them with the same number of new HSB. If you have never raised HSB you are in for an exciting PLEASURE CRUISE.

With mixed gender bass you are then more challenged to manage the numbers of smaller bass to achieve the percentage of bigger bass that you want in 1 acre. The management becomes more intensive. This management could easily involve adding forage species and determining the frequency of added forage/s. Remember adding supplemental forage for big bass does not mean small items. Big foods are best used for big bass. Big foods cost more money. Be prepared. Do homework and cost estimates for sizes of bigger forage foods. Basically the more predators you are trying to keep fat the more forage that is needed. I think keeping numbers of bass numbers reduced and more toward a good predator big bass balance in 1 ac the less forage supplements that will be needed. Remember – bass not actively growing shown by high RWs means too many bass and not enough food for them to eat. Balance and monitoring RWs are VERY important for goals of big bass.

HSB - reproduction. HSB will generally develop fertile eggs. However very rarely will pond conditions be correct for those eggs to hatch. As mentioned the eggs need to be in some sort of current habitat to hatch. I know of only one proven instance where HSB eggs successfully hatched to produce young HSB. That occurred or occurs at the base operations of Stubby Steve's Lure Company in Virginia where they have I think a moving water raceway between two ponds. I asked Dave Beasley (Solitude Lk Mgmt) based in VA to write a PBoss mag story about this. Nothing yet.

As this post ages I will add some edits.
2 members like this
by ewest
Add this to your considerations.

Abstract. -- We attempted to control a population of papershell crayfish (Orconectes immunis) in an 11-hectare fish-rearing impoundment in Jackson County, Wisconsin, by using traps and by stocking largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Crayfish were harvested with traps during the summer of 1985, and the pond was stocked with 386 largemouth bass (mean weight, 1.1 kg) in spring 1986. The pond was drained in the fall of 1985 and 1986, and crayfish burrow counts were made to estimate the population. In 1985, we trapped more than 18,000 crayfish, of which 72% were adult males. Trapping had minor effect on the young-of-the-year crayfish. In 1986, the crayfish population was reduced by 98%, predation by largemouth bass being the probable major cause of the reduction.
2 members like this
by Bill Cody
Bill Cody
I am working on a long response that includes some stocking options. Stay tuned.
1 member likes this
by Sunil
There are factors that allow us to increase carrying capacity such as artificial feed and aeration. These 'non-natural' factors let us push certain envelopes.

In your case, I would think your bluegill are going to spawn this Spring '23, and your pond should be polluted with fathead minnows if they were stocked in the Spring or Summer of '22.

If you stocked the bluegill and fatheads in the Fall of '22, I would wait until the Fall of '23 to stock predator fish, and I may not feel the need to stock any additional bluegill or fatheads depending on what you're observing.

Also, why haven't you started feeding? Those 4-6" bluegill could have been on feed from the day of their stocking.
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by esshup
A big thing depends on the size of the LMB that you plan on stocking. In any case, I believe you are way light on the bluegill numbers. It will buy you some time if you wait until this Fall and stock 3"-4" LMB. It'll give your forage population time to grow. You could stock 2.5" BG now and let e'm grown. .
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by esshup
Great write up Bill! Another IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle is learning to correctly handle the large LMB once caught. You don't want to grow them large, then injure or even kill them by handling them incorrectly once they are caught. 1) Use a rubberized net, don't grab them by the lower jaw. 2) Use two hands to support the fish to take it out of the net. One on the lower jaw, one supporting the back 1/3 of the fish. 3) Don't let it flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat - that removes the slime coat and opens the fish up to infection. Doing that is basically a later death sentence for that big fish even if it appears okay as it swims away. Body infection with fungus growth takes a week to 10 days to take its toll on a big fish.

A customer in Texas that has a 35 acre trophy LMB lake has a few rules. Break the rules, and you cannot fish in the pond. 1) Barbless hooks. 2) Support the fish with 2 hands. 3) Net the fish, keep the fish in the net in the water while you figure out what you are going to do next. This is important because of the next step. 4) The fish can only be out of the water for 30 seconds max. If you want to weigh the fish, leave the fish in the net, weigh everything and then weigh the net after the fish is released, don't hang the fish by it's jaw or worse, the gills. Texas Share Lunker has had LMB come in with broken lower jaws because of poor handling, and the fish never recover.
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by Bill Cody
Bill Cody
Thanks guys for the complements. These guys are moderators and also experienced fish growers and definitely not new pond owners now new to pond management.

esshup - Great advice about handling any fish not just the trophies. I edited your above post a little bit to enhance it. This assumes the angler really values that fish. Again look at my estimates noted above for the high value of big bass. I really like the TX pond owner's rules!. I added your post to my saved big bass document.
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by esshup
Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Thanks guys for the complements. These guys are moderators and also experienced fish growers and definitely not new pond owners.

esshup - Great advice about handling any fish not just the trophies. I edited your above post a little bit to enhance it. This assumes you really value that fish. Again look at my estimates noted above for the high value of big bass. I really like the TX pond owner's rules!. I added your post to my saved big bass document.

Bill, that pond owner has a rubberized landing net that also has a scale built into the handle. He's looking for another one, and I couldn't find one for him.

That 35 acre "pond" is also "fly fishing only" but he will allow some visitors to use conventional tackle. Some of the fishing shows or partial fishing shows have been filmed there too. I believe the "Pond" record is over 14# now. He was able to buy (at auction) excess fingerlings from the TP&W Share Lunker program for a few years - so his genetics are good. I caught a 9# LMB there on a fly rod, that's my biggest LMB period. He has a 400# capacity Texas Hunter Feeder that he uses to help feed the BG.
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by esshup
Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
While Bill's comment on HSB not spawning in the pond is 99.9% correct, don't assume that they are sterile because they are not. The HSB just do not have the correct spawning habitat for the eggs to remain viable until they hatch.


Have you ever heard (or read) of a successful spawn of HSB in a pond?

What is the limiting condition that defeats the spawning effort? Might someone's pond be close to favorable conditions?

anthropic is correct. Striped Bass eggs float, and have to float in well oxygenated water (flowing or moving water) for roughly 30-70 hours, depending on the water temp. If they reach shore, they will get silted over and die. So, flowing water is needed to keep them moving. I know of only one pond in the USA where the pond owner has reproduction from the Hybrid Striped Bass. That is the pond owned by the creator of Stubby Steve's Pellets. His pond has a very long fetch that ends up on limestone riprap and he will occasionally get some viable HSB eggs hatch if the weather and wind conditions are "just right".
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by esshup

From what I know of the pond in Va. they have a long fetch that ends up on a riprap shoreline, so the fetch and the rocky shore keeps the eggs suspended for the required length of time if the weather conditions are correct.
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by Bill Cody
Bill Cody
When having pond forum questions it is always a good idea to first use a search engine – I like google.
First type Pond boss forum then your topic search words It works very good for me if I use the correct search words.

First Question: “recommended fish scale to use to determine RW of the fish?”
Scales for weighing fish – what members use & ideas

LMB choosing stockers
Knowing a really good fish supplier is a VALUABLE asset. IMO best way to get jumpers from your local ‘fish guy’ or any fish farm owner is talk to him not the secretary nor helper, give him your goals and why you want jumper bass no more than 1 yr old; 2 yr olds are less likely to be jumpers. You can agree that he can supply young jumpers from his current year class, such as hand picked jumper bass in Jul, Aug or Sept. This ASSUMES that he grows his own bass. If he buys them from a wholesale supplier the jumpers have always been graded out of the bass by the wholesaler that he bought from to sell. Fish farms buying LMB from large wholesalers is a very common practice.
Make sure you tell him if he does not do his best for you, you will provide positive or negative feedback for him on every Facebook, YouTube, and public forum you can find, including Pond Boss Forum. That alone should make him pay close attention to your plan and then agree or decline to sell you bass. IMO do not agree if he tells you his non-jumper bass will grow just as well as all or any normal bass. He then does not know much about and does not fully understand fish genetics and their potential for growth.
Go find someone else who will work seriously and honestly with you. Searching and finding a real good fish supplier can be a big challenge. “Fish sellers are all not cut from the same cloth”. Experts are experts for good reasons; same principle applies to doctors and all professions. Average fish guys are average as they perform with average requirements and casual reasons. If you really want premium bass you may have to travel 4 to 5 hours one way to get the premium fish from a premium fish farm. 25 – 30 jumper bass are not difficult to haul 4-5 hours if they are packed and prepared properly by the fish farm who knows how far you have to travel to get home.

GSH per pound
You ask – “you mentioned in your post to stock 4-7 lbs per acre of GSH and I want to try to get an idea of how many fish that actually is.

Weight of each fish depends on specie of fish, length of the fish, and plumpness of individual fish. For your GSH as an average: @ 3” long = abt 100-125 per pound; 4” 50-60/lb; 5” = 17-22/lb, 6” = 9-12/lb.
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by Snipe
BTW, Kenny does handle LMB...
and several other species not listed on website.
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by Snipe
Female Gam in pic 4..Bill has them in every pond he owns so good chance it came from there.
My recommendation was to wait on craws until some vegetation is established, after looking at the pond, it's in need of some aquatic veggies. Now that the craws are there we need to play hard-ball and start with some good sized bass
The LMB and HSB I have started to feed train and will be fairly advanced when stocked in the mid to late sept range.
The TGC that were stocked was extreme but we'll deal with it as we go!
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