I'd like to share some of my findings on feeding trout through the ice. I have a 1 acre pond in Ontario, Canada stocked with brown trout. They are fed floating pellets in the soft water season, and I wanted to see if I could get them to eat during the winter through the ice, as that makes up a good portion of the year. I was skeptical that sinking feed would work, as I don't think of trout as fish that eat right off the bottom. However, I gave it a try and was impressed with the results.
I made a sinking feed by soaking my floating pellets in water for about 0.5 to 1 hrs and then forming the moist pellets into a dough, with a similar consistency to Powerbait. I made a hole in the ice and then rolled balls of food just smaller than golf balls and dropped them in. I did this for a few days and then dropped an underwater camera. As the video shows (linked below) the fish do attempt to eat off the bottom, and I caught a trout filled with the dough in its stomach.
I am happy that I can now get an extra 4 months of feeding in on my pond while it is iced over.https://youtu.be/-Oy0LLv7diM
After drilling the ice hole over deeper water try making some noise in the surface water or under the ice. Maybe tap a stick or broom stick against the hole to attract the trout. If you made this type of noise during the open water season the trout would learn to always come to this noise. Then drop some smaller rolled soft pellets into the hole. You could use the underwater camera to determine when trout are below. When you see the trout drop lots more softened pellets. You may as Cecil Baird found some of the trout will rise to just below the ice for the pellets. Allow the pellets to soak for a longer period to time maybe 4-6 hours. Higher protein trout type pellets soak and soften much better and are pliable than lower protein pellets such as 32%-36% protein. Just enough water to moisten the pellets to where they are the consistency of pie dough that is moldable but not sticks to the fingers. These rolled large pellets can be frozen thawed and used anytime later.
I do this type of winter feeding thing with my yellow perch with the same results as you saw with your trout. Occasionally I have had some perch actually come up into the ice hole for the pellets. Although when the perch are below the hole no pellets make it to the bottom.
Thanks for your reply, Bill. I will use all of that information.
I am wondering if fishing in the same area as feeding is a problem? If I am catching fish in the feeding area, will they avoid that area and, thus, not eat. I am wondering this because if all of the fish are under one place in the ice, you'd think it would be hard to catch them in a completely different area.
Angling through the ice is not much different fish behavior wise compared to summer open water fishing in regards to creating or producing hook smart fish. Fish can become hook smart due to too frequent fishing and fishing for too long of periods and releasing lots of fish. Each time a fish is caught the experience becomes or serves as negative reinforcement to that fish. It has been proved with research that some fish individuals learn quicker than others.
When I ice fish in an area that has been chummed with pellets, I do not "over fish" that area and only remove a few fish each time. Plus I keep chumming until I quit fishing. I often will go auger a hole in the ice and just feed the fish without angling. I use the underwater camera to make sure fish are eating the sinking pellets. Catch and release fishing during chumming could cause some hook smart fish. If you fish with a different bait than the type of chum used would reduce the problem of making hook smart fish.
You ask ""....if all of the fish are under one place in the ice, you'd think it would be hard to catch them in a completely different area." In my experience the fish will often tend to disperse after several fish are caught and removed. Also fish will only move about 50ft to maybe 80ft to come for pellets. Thus fish a long distance away did not move to the ice hole feeding area. Lack of fish in other areas will depend on how big the pond is and and how many fish are in the pond. The more fish present and bigger the pond the more the fish community will be spread out. Plus ice fishing from just one small area under an ice hole is somewhat different fish behavior wise compared to regular summer fishing where casting and drifting over large areas is used. Only a few fish can gather in one tight spot below a hole in the ice.
Thank you very much for all of that additional information.
In order to avoid the negative reinforcement you mention, I will feed the fish in a different area than I fish from. I will also make sure to use a different bait on my hook. I don't believe hook shy trout are an issue at the moment, as I haven't released any through the ice and very few have been released in general. The only ones that might be hook shy are the few that I have lost while bringing them in. The underwater camera will be a good indicator of if I am feeding and angling in the right areas. I haven't yet figured out where the trout spend time during the winter. I have only had luck angling close to shore in shallower water, but that might be because of the feeding and methods I was using. I will now try chumming as you mentioned as a way to encourage fish to come to the angling area.
Thanks again and I'll update with this week's results.
Your methods of places and ways of angling with the trout seem very good and the correct things to do to minimize producing hook smart fish. Possibly catching trout close to shore is due to making noises creating an ice hole and fishing in the area where you feed the fish. Do you also catch the trout in other shallow water areas of the pond? This ice auger noise might attract trout which is why I suggested making noise in a deep water ice hole to hopefully attract inquisitive trout. Making noise should then attract them to any area you are fishing angling? I am not real familiar with trout behavior but I suspect in a pond the trout would roam all over in the pond searching for foods. It is possible the trout frequent the shallow water areas because there are more invertebrates and small fish in the shallows . Try it with some chumming with noise making and report back here with the results. Good luck ice fishing.
Thanks again, Bill. I will fish in deeper water this weekend, making noise. I'll be trying worms and a variety of lures to see what works. Some of the more aggressive trout should hit spoons, I would think. I will report back with the results. Thanks again.
I have been thinking about running my Texas hunter in the winter where my spring flows into the pond. It remains open year round and with an aerator in 2-3' of water I could keep a large area open for pellets. How deep are you feeding right now? I am hesitant because it will be hard to see if the fish are taking the pellets or not and could easily over feed.
For what it is worth, I have a trout pond and I regularly catch rainbows early and late ice on fathead minnows in the deeper parts of the pond (10-12'). They always seem to move shallower in the middle of winter. I also have been catching most of my brook trout on golden shiners the last few weeks. All of my fish get released for now.
Thanks for the reply, Chris. I am also concerned about over feeding, so I'm really barely feeding much at all. I would say no more than a handful of pellets a day, three times a week. I'm still figuring it all out. I need to make a new batch of food like Bill suggested. My dough froze rock solid outside and when I thawed it the consistency was ruined. It is now like wet sawdust.
Thanks for the fishing tips. I'm going to try with worms today. Minnows would be my first choice but they are just less convenient.
Adam try using dead frozen minnows with a small size 8 or 6 ice jug/spoon. Collect the small fish in fall and freeze them in a small zip loc bag with a little water that covers and encases the minnows in ice. Lots of fish eagerly eat dead minnows. To make a fish attractor in deeper water try lowering a weight or a weight with some tin lids to the bottom and bouncing it around before bringing it back to the surface. An underwater camera will show the results.
I'll pick up some real minnows this week to try, as I want to see how the trout react. Those frozen minnows also sound like a good idea.
By the way, I fished yesterday for a few hours with no bites. I was mostly using two deadstick rods with worms, as I was clearing snow from the ice for most of the time. They are not a common ice bait, but I figured it was worth the shot.
To confirm, clearing snow to increase light penetration is beneficial? We also do it to make a skating area, but lots has been shoveled just to clear the ice in general.
I'll be back at it again today to see what happens with a few different techniques. I'd like to have a camera like an AquaVu with a live screen but I just have a regular waterproof camera that I put down on fishing line with a light, so I can only review the footage after the fact.
Thanks again for all the advice, Bill.
My fish are always pretty easy to catch. and it is usually easy to get bites because I regularly feed them. I also chum them with a few soft pellets while ice fishing. I also occasionally feed them during ice cover.
However I have always had very poor fishing success while and just after shoveling lots of snow from large areas of the ice. I think the extensive noise puts them in an 'anxious' or highly excited condition and they are hesitant to feed. I have the same type thing happen when I disturb fish that I am growing in a cage. It takes about one day after the disruption for them to calm down and begin feeding again. Thus now I always allow the fish 24hours after shoveling snow to give them time to 'settle down' and get back to normal before trying to catch them by angling.
It makes sense that shoveling would scare the fish. Today, I picked up some live minnows in small and medium sizes and still could not catch a fish, even after 24 hours since we shoveled. If they reject a live minnow, I'm not sure what they will take. It might be that I'm fishing unproductive water. I'm going to stick the camera down while I'm fishing to see if any trout show interest in the bait and the new pellets I made. Thanks for the help and I'll be updating with new information as it comes up.
One acre pond in Canada stocked with brown trout. How many browns do you have in there? Cecil B always said that browns are harder to catch compared to other trout. Could the trout be somewhat hook shy/smart from over fishing and catch and release during open water season?
Could you next year add another type of trout to see how it is to catch them compared to the browns?
Thanks for the reply, Bill.
The pond was stocked 4 years ago with 80 browns at 8-10" in size. This fall, another 80 were added at 10-12" in size. Some of the larger, original trout have been released in open water season, but not that many. Less than 3 this season for sure. Of the newly stocked trout, two have been released. Otherwise, there should be lots of fish that have not been exposed to a hook, as the pond is not fished very often. In total, my guess is around 8-10 trout have been caught in the last 12 months, so I'm not sure if that is considered over fishing or not. The pond is fished a lot, but for short periods of time and most often no trout are caught. I do catch lots of bass in the summer, but I'm not sure if that effects the trout.
I wonder if the weed growth in the pond makes it hard for the trout to hunt? The pond has a major curly leaf pondweed problem, and it seems to be getting worse. I will put a photo from a camera I put down today; it shows a crazy amount of weeds under the ice. The camera was in the place that I fish and zero fish were captured after I dropped pellets down, making me think I might be fishing the wrong area.
Please let me know what you think. I will update this thread as I continue to use the camera to find fish.
I too have curly leaf pondweed that I have dealt with for at last round 10-12 years. When the curly leaf at about 2ft to 3 ft tall was abundant during winter ice cover, I had a real hard time catching yellow perch(YP). I am convinced the perch were down in the weeds and did not see or now there was food and bait present. I had to fish above the weed tops and perch were not holding at that depth. When they did find the bait catching fish was easy. I have a lot more YP per acre in my pond than you have trout. I think trout will be much more active in 39F water compared to YP.
I started killing the curly leaf (sonar 10-12ppb) in fall and sometimes AGAIN in the spring when water temps were around 48F-55F. Fall treatment give me a pretty clean bottom during winter. Diquat is another good herbicide for curly leaf. Diquat kills the curly leaf fast and the chemical decomposes fast in a week or two. I have used Sonar for around 6 years now. This pretty well reduced the curly leaf to a rare, short 6"-10" plant on the pond bottom in winter with sparse plants during spring - summer. I did not treat this fall 2020 and since ice has only been 2" thick as of Feb 02, I have not used the camera to check for curly leaf growth on the bottom. Ice is now thick enough for the ice shanty so I will check for plant growth and try to feed perch tomorrow. I have most of the pellets softened and rolled into 1/2" dia pellets. When I feed the pellets the minnows/shiners find the food first and quickly. This attracts the perch.
Time will tell the rest of the story.
I definitely need to find where the fish are holding. How could they ever find a bait in weeds that thick? The fish should be active for sure.
Your control strategy for the curly leaf sounds great. I would really like to use that strategy, but it is nearly impossible to obtain permits and the chemicals to do any treatment on a pond in my province. We tried last year and could not get a permit. Thus, we have had to resort to cutting weeds manually, which is not sustainable. The pond was almost fully cleared by mid July via the weed razor, and then the weeds began to die down anyways. So, the weeds must have grown in the fall. They make fishing very difficult in the summer, and it seems like it will be a winter problem too. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there is that much I can do other than adjust my angling technique.
Please let me know how the feeding goes. I am trying again as well with the camera and will report.
Since I have abundant larger perch in my pond, I did not have any problem getting them to quickly show up and eat sinking pellets in all three deeper water spots that I checked. In two of the spots perch were present on the bottom as soon as I lowered the camera. Once the perch were food inquisitive some were rising from 15ft to 6 and 8 ft of water.
Curly leaf growth was absent in two of the deeper water spots and a few sprouts were seen in 13ft spot. I did not treat the curly leaf last fall, but I did have a lot of adult tilapia in the pond who apparently ate most all the new sprouts from the winter bud turions before the tilapia died.
Curly leaf's life cycle as a cool water plant is to grow and rise to the surface in early summer. At that point it produces seeds and winter buds called turions. The plants then die back mid summer and turions sink to the sediments. Turions sprout in mid-late Aug-September and grow until the water temps drop to around 50F. The short plant growth remains viable as it waits for water temperatures to rise to 50F-55F and it restarts growing toward the surface to complete the annual life cycle. It is easiest to chemically kill the curly leaf when plants are small (12"-3ft tall). Since I saw some small sparse curly leaf plants , I will treat with a 12 ppb dose of sonar in April. My 0.6ac pond has around 1.2million gallons. So to treat with fluridone at 10ppb I use around 55-60 milliliters (2 ounces). I then about 2 weeks later add a bump dosage of another 2 ounces.
I contacted Cecil B about your having a difficult time catching the brown trout. He has extensive experiences with growing various types of trout. Here is what he sent me:
"""Yes all other factors aside browns are much harder to catch than rainbow and brooks. One of my coldwater pond trout management pubs says not to plant them in ponds for that reason. I can send you a link to share on PB if you're interested .The secret is to match the hatch as in if they are fed pellets use Stubby Steve's bait pellet or something similar. We've fished with panfish jigs and caught one brook and tiger trout after another, but no browns even though there were just as many in the pond. As soon as we started fishing pellet imitations that changed. Then even not brown were harvested and had to be seined out. """
Thank you for the information on the perch. I believe my trout are not in the area I am feeding. I tried a slightly different spot today with less weeds for fishing with minnows and had no luck. It seems very surprising a small minnow would be passed up by trout with little pressure, so I think I'm in the wrong spot. I will try the middle of the pond tomorrow.
In terms of the curly leaf, it sounds like it is manageable, as is evident by your pond. Those chemicals and even fish like tilapia are not legal here, so it makes it difficult to control.
Thank you for reaching out to Cecil. It really sounds like they are not easy to catch. I will purchase some of those pellet imitations. Furthermore, I will try tomorrow fishing with the trout food on my hook. I know it's not a good thing long term due to hook shy fish, but it will be a good test of whether or not they are in the area / catchable.
Thanks so much for the advice. More information will come tomorrow. I'll try and have the camera down in different spots as much as possible.
Bill, if at all possible, would I be able to have the link Cecil mentioned regarding trout? Thank you.
Here is an update.
I fished yesterday in the middle of the pond, near our floating raft which is frozen in the ice. The depth of the pond is nearly consistent everywhere, so this new area was not a different depth than where I fished before. Yet, to my surprise, I dropped down a hook with trout food on it and it was bit within 10 seconds. It was an instant take. The trout clearly are not going to the areas I had been fishing before, even though I caught them there earlier this winter. I prefer to not use their food as bait, so I dropped a minnow down and it got no bites. My guess is there were other fish down there that ignored the minnows. I am not sure why the trout seemed to move to this new area. I will fish there again, but I hope to not need to use trout food as bait.
Inside the stomach of the fish, there was no trout food, meaning I don't think they were going to the area I had been feeding in daily. There were some small bugs in the stomach. I will link a picture; I wonder if anyone can tell me what those are. The fish was also very dark which is typical of the males in the pond, I've noticed.
I'd really like to watch with a camera in the new spot I fished, but it's been not working, so when I fix it I'll drop it back down.
Good for using trout pellets as bait. The trout obviously recognized the pellet as food. As long as you remove all pellet caught trout you catch, you should not have problems with producing hook smart fish. Depending on the size of the stomach content bug that is partially digested, from the shape of the antenna, it looks like the underside of an aquatic isopod (aquatic sow bug - Asellus). If it is large maybe the underside of a crayfish? How wide were the flooring boards to estimate the size of the 'bug'.?
Here are the links to the articles about browns being the more difficult trout to catch in ponds. I especially like the bulletin from Washington State Extension; lots of good pond trout info in it. Thanks to Cecil Baird (CB1), he is my go-to pond trout raising expert.
In the New York publication see page 8 for trout info. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstr...agement+In+New+York+Ponds.pdf?sequence=2https://research.libraries.wsu.edu/...0756_1981.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Bill, I'm curious if your perch were pellet trained when you stocked them or not? I recently added 300 5-9 inchers and would love to feed them if there's a way to get them to eat it,
Thanks again for you knowledgable reply, Bill, and thank you to Cecil as well for providing that information.
I believe that the "bug" is an aquatic isopod you mentioned. It was very small. Those are actually small pieces of a cutting board. I figure its a good thing the trout have something to eat during the winter that is natural. They clearly have a big advantage over the bass when the water is cold.
I really appreciate those links. They seem like great resources.
Yesterday, I was able to catch another trout, this time on orange PowerBait. I think I am figuring them out more. They like to stay in the areas with moderate weed density or no weed density at all. They do not seem to ever go to the extremely dense weed areas. I also fished with salted minnows and a soft plastic on a jig and did not get any bites. I will try worms if I get a chance today, because I think they might bite them.
I am also continuing to use the camera to see where they are feeding.
JohnK - All my stocked perch are pellet trained. I would never buy a YP that was not raised on pellets. Their growth eating pellets is faster and one can raise more large YP per acre if they are eating pellets.
Very nice, I was unable to find any very close to me here in the Leavenworth Kansas area.
Yellow perch are a bottom oriented fish which makes it hard to get them to learn or be conditioned to rise to the surface for floating pellets. In my experience the older the fish the harder it is to get them to eat floating pellets. I think if you wanted pellet eating perch you should have made the long trip to get them or have them delivered. Sometimes you can convince or 'bribe' the fish farm to meet you for your pick up of perch fairly close to you on one of their deliveries in your region. Having pellet fed perch is a big benefit to them being a really great panfish in a pond. Of course if you have LMB don't ever expect the YP to thrive or prosper long term in a pond with BIGmouth bass. LMB 14" will eat 7"-8" perch.
I fished today and yesterday from one hour before dark until dark and did not have any luck on PowerBait, spoons, jigs, salted minnows, worms, and roe bags leftover from Steelhead fishing. These brown trout are definitely picky, but I will keep at it and have some time to do a lot of fishing this weekend.
On another note, if Bill or anyone else could inform me on whether it is possible to catch some of my LMB through the ice that would be much appreciated. I have never caught a bass in the pond past October when the trout start to become very active. Ice fishing all of this time, I have yet to see evidence of any bass. However, as the little ones school up, I think if I could locate them there is the potential for good numbers. The question is, do they eat at all under the ice? Will they be shallow or deep? What happens to them when the water is cold? Are they simply shut down and lethargic? The reason for all of these questions is it would be great to catch some bass to eat during the winter, since I need to cull them anyways and I figure they should taste even better in the cold water.
Here is also I picture of a trout caught a few days ago on PowerBait I forgot to attach in another post.
I think LMB are harder to catch than brown trout while ice fishing. I have caught a few but for me they are few and far between hooks ups. Knowing this I don't think LMB are active and aggressive under the ice, but they do eat and can be caught as shown in these recent posts by Dwight from MN and Brad from Colorado. Brad's post shows he caught several LMB on his day on the ice.
See Jan 19 2021 posthttps://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=40759&Number=529420#Post529420https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=40793&Number=529981#Post529981
If you want more active catches of trout ice fishing you should be adding around 100-120 rainbows this year. But get them large enough that your darn bass don't eat them, probably 8"-10" and feed them well so they grow fast ,,,,well beyond prey size for the LMB.
Thanks for the reply, Bill.
I am sure the bass will be very hard to catch through the ice. Browns shouldn't be too hard, but the ones in my pond seem finicky, as Cecil seemed to say was common. On the other hand, bass are extremely rare to catch through the ice (and it is illegal in public waters), so I think it will be a real challenge and it's unlikely to work. It would be nice to get a few bass to eat and cull though, so I will be at it today. I've scoped a few spots, two near underwater ledges where the bass congregate in summer, and one in a deep area just to try. I will try small baits for the lethargic fish.
I will update when I finish. It seems like, especially from Brad, that it is possible to catch some through the ice. We have a cold front moving, and I've heard that doesn't help.
Here's an update on the ice fishing and feeding on the pond.
I attempted to target bass at a few underwater overhangs in the pond that they like to hand out under in the summer. I used small jigs with salted minnows, tiny tungsten jigs with pieces of minnow, small spoons and worms with no luck. I don't think there is a good chance of catching one through the ice.
I also tried fishing for trout a couple of days since the last report and got one brown. They are definitely a very finicky fish, and I haven't figured them out yet. I've been feeding pellets, so I hope they're eating.
We got lots of snow overnight and more is on the way. I re cleared some paths for fishing, but won't be able to try again until Friday. I will update then. As Bill said, I think calling the fish in is very important. I will try dropping a lure down with a lot of action and flash to see if the fish come and then eat the trout dough. I should have tried that more this week.
"Calling the fish" becomes much more successful if one also does this noise making during the open water season. This way the fish get conditioned to recognize the unique noise with food as was very successful in the Pavlov's Dog experiments. aka Pavlonian Response.https://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html
That is something I will certainly try in the open water season. I'm really hoping to get some solid growth on the trout via feeding once the ice goes out. I am thinking the trout will stop eating in the middle of summer, since they will probably be at the bottom of the pond and less active. The water is not spring fed, so it does warm up. Luckily, we have never seen to have any heat related die offs.
I think April until mid June will be the key growing months, but I do wonder if they will eat during the warmest months.
Today, I attempted the "calling in" the fish method. I fished a Vibrato bait (mix between a spoon and a blade bait) as well as another rod with trout food. I was surprised when it seems zero fish came to the area. We have gotten a lot of snow recently, so it's a pain to make too many holes around the ice as there is some slush. I fished this area for more than 2 hours with bait and not much jigging but had no bites.
I measured 14" of ice in that spot, but the slush in other areas makes fishing inconvenient. I will wait for it to harden up where I've shoveled and try there tomorrow. I'm amazed that 2 hours with trout dough did not lead to a bite. The fish are obviously not in that area, but the pond does not have many features, so I'm not sure where they'd be.
I think most of your fish are probably down in the weeds.
I was fishing heavy weed cover. I should have taken a picture of all the weeds I pulled up.
How do I get their attention in all of those weeds? It seems like finding the lure or bait would be impossible.
I fished yesterday for a couple of hours with zero bites. Not much to say anymore about the fishing, as I've pretty much said it all before.
I did find a new way to make sinking pellets that is very efficient and easy. First, I grinded up the dry pellets in a electric coffee grinder. It worked great. Then, I took the powered pellets and put them in a ziplock back and added enough water to form the dough. I then just rolled it into pellets and froze it outside. This was, for me, much easier and quicker than soaking the pellets and then making the dough.
I have attached some pictures of the contents of the feed. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me how the food is based on that picture.
Grinding pellets and then adding enough water to form dough is a new way to make softened pellets. Creative. I shape my soft pellets into elliptical shapes thinking the larger elongated pellet is easier to swallow. Plus elongated sinking pellets have a wavy motion as they sink suggesting it is wiggling and alive.
Probably the only way one could get more fish activity and bites in the presence of lots of bottom weed growth (curly leaf) would be to have a lot more fish per acre. If you can significantly reduce weeds going into winter fish catching should be a lot better. With all the weed growth most all the fish don't even know pellets are being dropped into the water. Probably not very many ways to attract fish out of the bottom weeds unless you get them conditioned or trained to a unique noise when you feed them in the open water season.
That elongated shape sounds like it is a great idea. It the trout were waiting under the hole like your perch, I'm sure the slow fall would help.
I think you are right about the fish. It's just not possible for them to find my lures with all the weeds. If I can get my lures or bait infront of them I'm sure I could get bit.
On another note, I'm wondering about whether or not I should be feeding/trying to prevent the bass from eating the pellets in the open water season. You might be thinking the bass would not eat the pellets since they are not feed trained, but I think they will. They will literally bite at anything that falls in the water, as they are hungry and very competitive for food. I assume they will learn it's food and frequent that area.
If they do try and eat the food, will it be good for the pond to have bass being fed? Or is that against my goal of growing bigger trout and having some bass to catch and eat just because they are there? If the bass do eat the food, I wouldn't mind some bigger bass for better eating when they are culled.
I'm fairly confident the bass will eventually eat the pellets, so I'm just wondering if it's a good thing or not.
If you are agreeable to having bass with trout and the benefits of both then encouraging LMB is okay. The one problem of LMB with trout is the supplementally stocked trout will need to be larger size to minimize bass eating new small trout. I am not aware of a method to selectively catch LMbass and not trout. Others may have some ideas. Probably the thing I would do is when trout numbers are low density and before restocking trout focus on removing as many bass as feasible. The LMB will annually reproduce and be competitive to the trout in the pond. Bass are more MUCH more likely to learn to eat pellets when the pellets are softened and rolled as elongated shapes. Bass eating pellets allows them to have good growth rates when natural foods are lacking or limited.
I don't feel like I have much of an option in terms of removing all of the bass, which seem to reproduce well and rapidly in the pond, so why not have them reach a size worth angling for? I will still remove all bass caught, as they are actually a great eating fish in my pond. We do not stock trout less than 10-12" in size as per the recommendation of the hatchery due to the 20+" class of trout already in the pond being a potential threat to small trout being added. Is a bass capable of eating a 10-12" trout? I should specify that the largest bass in the pond is only a 2lb fish that looks skinny.
I will roll the pellets in the elongated shapes as you recommended to encourage feeding. Does anyone know how much bass can grow in one spring/summer/fall season in a pond? It would be nice to have the bass a good size for culling, although I will be culling all throughout the open water season anyways.
Thanks again for the advice, Bill. I am hoping that feeding is a way to mitigate the forage shortage in the pond given the unwanted bass.
Supplemental stocking of trout at sizes of 10"-12" should be safe from predation of your Canada LMbass. Does your hatchery have rainbow trout? I think you will have a lot more overall success using rainbows rather than browns. If the trout do not reach the soft elongated pellets first the bass should quickly learn to eat them. Let us know how the soft elongated pellets work this spring for training the bass. These soft pellets can even be shaped into elongated big worm shapes which may work even better training the bass than oval pellets especially if you also at the same time mix in some 1/2 to 1/3 long pieces of nightcrawler.
The hatchery does have rainbow trout. I only chose browns because they are supposed to be more tolerant of higher temperatures. Because my pond is not spring fed, I worry about rainbows getting stressed in the warm summer weather. While we don't get extreme heat here, the nights in my area don't get very cool mid summer unlike areas even a hour away, so I worry about water temperatures. I will attach a list of our max and min temperatures in the summer to give everyone an idea of whether or not it would be too warm for rainbows.
The bass always were happy to eat leftover nightcrawlers I threw out last summer, so the elongated pellets should work well.
It does sound like rainbows are a little easier to catch, but hardiness is the main concern. There are also brook and tiger trout at the hatchery. I believe brook trout are more sensitive (they are native in my area as well) and I'm not sure about tigers.
Temperatures in Fahrenheit for the summer months:
June: max: 68 min: 57.74
July: max: 74.7 min: 64.76
August: max: 74.12 min: 64.58
September: max: 68.72 min: 58.46
The next time you buy trout I would split the total number with brown, rainbow, and tiger trout; maybe 30%,30% 30%. Don't put "all your eggs in one basket" and see who all survives. Stock them in early fall, with good feeding and by spring they should be nice sizes before July-Aug when air temps are in the warmest period. Do you aerate? One small open water area near shore could allow the trout to feed all winter maximizing their growth rate. Presence of several rainbows might create enough feeding competition to better encourage the browns to bite. Have you ever put some of the softened rolled pellet on a hook and tossed it into the water when you are feeding pellets? I works really well. Keep all those caught and it minimizes hook smart fish.
Fyfer123 -- Here is some additional very good trout information for you from our emeritus trout expert CecilBaird1.
Can't say how much more warm temperatures brown trout will tolerate compared to rainbows but allegedly a little more. One source says it also depends on the strain of brown trout. As you know there are strains that are native to North Africa all the way to Siberia. The more northern strains would be less tolerant of warmer water right? Browns also have one more thing going for them: According to a paper I read from Australia the females browns are less prone to issues with egg reabsorption if they retain their eggs due to unsuitable spawning conditions. Supposedly reabsorbing eggs is very stressful and can kill trout.
Tiger trout are much easier to catch than brown trout. In league with brook trout which are very easy to catch.
My hatchery source says tiger trout are even hardier than brown trout as does the prof in NY that writes articles for Pond Boss. I'm thinking his name was Mark Cornwell. I haven't seen any data that backs that up though.
Bill and Cecil, thanks for all of the information.
I think a mix of trout is a good idea. Seems like catch rates go up, and it's nice to have variety. I aerate with a fountain all ice free months. The browns were not as difficult to catch during open water season; it's really through the ice that it becomes a problem. I think the weeds are one of the key problems, but a mix of trout also seems like a good idea, and I'll stock a mix of browns, tigers, and maybe bows next time. I like that tigers are hardy.
About the egg absorption, I was told that the trout spit the eggs if they can't spawn. I found roe to be a very effective bait for the browns around the time they would be spawning. I was told by the hatchery that the other fish will eat eggs once the fish spits them. Although, that clearly might not be true. My area is popular for steelhead fishing, and we catch "loose" fish that start spitting eggs once they are brought on shore. I wonder if the trout can prevent this from happening when spawning habitat is not available for long periods of time or if they have to spit the eggs. Either way, I'd like to time my harvest of a few browns for when they have developed eggs, as I use them for steelhead bait.
Fish can't "spit" the eggs, 2 different plumbing systems in the fish so to speak. They will reabsorb them. I'll bet the fish start squirting eggs out the other end once on shore, not the mouth.....
I see how that was confusing. Steelhead fishermen in my area just use the term "spit" the eggs. They do come out the end you would expect eggs to come out of. This seems to happen when the fish are very close to spawning and have little control over when the eggs come out.
Seems like I was given the wrong information about trout in ponds absorbing eggs instead of getting rid of them if there is no suitable spawning grounds. I wonder why they can't just release the eggs after enough time without good spawning grounds?
We had somewhat of a melt this week, and the snow on the pond was almost all melted. It got cold again, and the ice conditions were great today. I think without the snow the light penetrates much better.
I fed the fish yesterday and today 2 hours before I went fishing. I started fishing near the shore with trout food with no bites. I decided to switch to orange PowerBait, and the first bite came very quick. I brought in a 14"( male?) brown. I'm surprised they preferred the PowerBait over the trout food. Maybe the bright colour makes it attractive?
The fish looked very well fed to me, and I was amazed at the quantity of those aquatic isopods in its stomach. The stomach was absolutely packed with them. I've attached a few photos of the size of the bugs. Are these a good food source for trout? I was disappointed to see absolutely no trout food in the fish's stomach. This was surprising, since he was right in the area I was feeding and chumming while fishing.
The aquatic isopods are probably as good as an invertebrate food as any other for fish. These "bugs" are bottom crawling critters so apparently trout and probably most other fish can find and eat them. I want to stock some isopods in my perch pond this spring.
Bill, help us with names of some isopods and how does one source for stocking?
I'm glad to hear that the aquatic isopods are good food for the trout.
I put my camera down today while doing some fishing (no bites) and saw such a strange looking worm on the bottom. It looked a lot like a dew worm used for fishing, except it was moving on the bottom and seemed a little bigger. The last time I fished with worms was two weeks ago, and I used very small red wigglers. I do not believe this could be one of the worms I used. Does anyone know what it is? I was shocked to see it when I reviewed the camera footage. It was also right on top of the trout food. Maybe it was trying to eat it?
Here's a now spring update on feeding in the trout pond.
We have had two weeks of very warm temperatures, and lots of ice has melted. It was melted enough today that I was able to fish some open water on the side. As I was fishing, I noticed boiling on the surface, so I went and got some fish food to throw. After a few minutes of the food in the water, there was some concentrated action at the surface, some of which I managed to capture on video. Please let me know if this is the trout eating or not based on the video. I did not feed much, but will throw some more tomorrow evening as well. I'm also trying to tap a rake handle on a rock under the water as Bill suggested every time I feed.
There is also a high amount of curly leaf pondweed floating where the ice has melted. We will have to get out in a boat within the next week or two to collect it to allow for better fishing and feeding.
That's certainly what trout feeding in my pond look like.
And, that is an awful lot of weed, isn't it!
Good to hear it seems like they are feeding. This is only my second season feeding trout, since they were on a natural diet before. I'm hoping to get some good growth for the next few months.
And yes, way to many weeds. A tricky problem to control.
Here is a quick update.
All the ice on the pond is fully melted, and I have started to feed floating pellets. I see feeding activity only when I feed around 30 minutes or less before sunset. Feeding mid afternoon did not result in any trout surfacing. I have only been feeding about 1/4 - 1/2 lbs of food a day, because I am not sure if all of it is getting eaten or not. I caught two trout in 10 minutes of fishing two days ago, and they were both fairly fat looking, so whatever they are eating, they are eating well.
I ran a castable camera setup through a day ago as well, and caught two fish on camera briefly. Here is the link to the video for those interested: https://youtu.be/NrgMmG3OCzw