Pond Boss
At the request of Chief Forum Research Librarian ewest.

From the thread Genetically Superior Fish :

Originally posted by Theo Gallus:
WRT stunted LMB growing:

If bass numbers are reduced and forage base is present, both sufficiently, stunted bass will resume growing. But there are a couple of caveats to go with this.

12" stunted bass presently in such a pond will probably never reach the size that bass in a never-stunted pond will. They've already used up part of their lifespan, and won't live long enough to grow as big as a younger, 12" non-stunted bass.

Secondly, there's a lot of thought that if a pond stays in a stunted condition for a sufficient amount of time, the fish may become genetically selected for their stunted state. In a pond managed for big bass, we remove the small bass and retain the large ones, rewarding fast growth and large size with enhanced reproductive rights. In the stunted pond, these (artificial) genetic selectors are not present. There is no penalty for bass which grow just big enough to reproduce and then stop growing, instead expending all their energy on spawning and none on growth.

Perhaps over time this produces bass predisposed to stunt; I certainly think the longer a pond has had stunted bass, the better the chance that it has happened.

IIRC, the course of action usually prescribed is to reduce the overpopulation of bass and improve the forage base (if needed), then to consider adding fresh LMB genetics (with fish large enough to survive predation from the existing bass).

Posted By: Theo Gallus Re: Stunted Fish - 03/14/07 06:13 PM
Yet to come:

-Stunted Bluegill

-The Bill Cody Stunted Fish Report
Posted By: Theo Gallus Re: Stunted Fish - 03/18/07 12:26 PM
"Fish Want to be Stunted" - a view of success by numbers.
Posted By: ewest Re: Stunted Fish - 03/18/07 12:45 PM
Bill's post on Stunted LMB here.

harvesting LMB


stocking an old pond




Posted By: ewest Re: Stunted Fish - 09/07/08 11:13 PM
Adding a good thread and Bill's thoughts.

Bill Cody

Registered: April 18, 2002
Posts: 3595
Loc: Malinta OH

Raw10 - From your 1st post Sep 01 10:20pm, I assume that you do not own this pond. IMO and out of courtesy, you should first check with the owner and inform them what you would like to do. The owner, a family member, or friend may like the pond fishery just the way it currently is of being able to quickly catch numerous 1 to 2 lb feisty aggressive bass and the occasional large bgill/sunfish. If the owner has no preference then proceed with caution as advised.

It seems most everyone is inferring and assuming from your 1st post that you want to be able to catch significantly bigger bass in this 10 ac pond. If so, then that is your goal, and we can help advise you how to nudge the pond fishery more toward that goal.

A. As previously advised to do this project correctly you should begin to keep catch records of the fish that are caught. These records serve as a measure of how well the pond is moving toward the new goal of larger bass. Without the records then what you are doing basically becomes guess work and the chances of achieving the goal are diminished. The records serve as a gauge or measure of the progress toward the goal. Catch records are the MOST important item in managing a fishery.

B. It is not quite so simple as removing X number of bass per acre. Every water body is different and so is the fishery. There are common conditions that often occur in ponds but different numerous complex environmental factors combine to contribute to the status of each water body. In other words “your” pond may not be the same as someone else’s. The number of bass present and the number that need to be removed could be quite different than “Joe’s pond” in Kentucky or Georgia.

C. Basically the overall fertility of the pond determines how many fish will be present. One can usually determine a general estimate of fertility by measuring water clarity. Cloudy greenish water means potential for more fish and the clearer the water means probably fewer fish. So first determine the fertility (water clarity) then that will suggest how many bass will be supported by the pond and how many might need to be removed.

D. IMPORTANT. Remember that pushing a pond toward having big bass will mean that the balance AND size of fish in the pond will change dramatically to achieve your goal of numerous big bass(5 lb and larger). Essentially this means there will be fewer bass to catch but they will be on the average bigger. And anglers will not catch as many bass per hour of fishing as they now do. In other words, catch rate will be noticeably slower or lower but size will tend to be larger. As a general rule the bigger the average size of bass tend to become the lower the catch rate will become. You are basically sacrificing quantity for size. When the pond has a greater number of larger bass and relatively few smaller bass then on each fishing trip an angler could catch only 3-5 bass instead of 16 or 20 per trip.

E. As you remove more and more bass, their average size should increase and expect the average size of the bgill-sunfish to become smaller. AS they become smaller, their numbers should be more abundant because fewer bass are present to eat increasing numbers of bgill thus more survive. As the average bass size becomes larger, then they will tend to crop off the larger bgill while ignoring the smaller bgill. It is also possible that the current bass population in this pond is eating and cropping some of the smaller bass as food items.

F. IMO start by asking those providing numbers of bass that they removed from their pond “what was their water clarity”. This will be a starting point. If you have cloudier and greener water (less visibility) then remove slightly more bass per acre. If your water is clearer then remove fewer bass per acre. For example and starters, for each 1 ft of clearer water than 2 ft, then I would start by removing 2-3 fewer bass per acre from the “standard of 30 bass 10”-12” removed per acre (2ft of clarity). A pond could easily not have a total of 30 mature bass per acre if the average water clarity is 10 to 15 ft.

G. You mention the predominate bass caught is 1.5 lbs. A 1.5 lb standard wt bass is 14” long – skinny it is closer to 15” and fat closer to 13”. I suggest you start weighing and measuring each bass caught so you have a bench mark and starting point for the project. As bass are removed you should see the lengths and weights tend to increase. Compare length and weight of bass caught to standard length & wt LMbass to see how the project is progressing. If the lengths and weights of bass in the pond are not increasing then one of two things are likely not right. Either not enough bass per acre have been removed and or there is not enough of the correct sized of forage fish present to feed the remaining bass – maybe a combination of both.

H. Make adjustments as necessary. We can advise if needed. For additional advice from us that is truly meaningful we will need to see some catch records, what species, size, and how many have been removed, what are the forage fish species present, and some monthly (fishing season) water clarity data.

I. Good Luck with this project.

J. Postscript. In rereading your 1st post and in regards to "harvest 3-4lbs of BG for every 1 lb of LMB". This rule of thumb applies to a general fishing pond that has a fairly normal balance of predator to prey. Maximum size of bass in this pond is often in the 2-3 pound range. When one's goal is more toward a trophy panfish or trophy bass pond then this rule is not as applicable. As a general rule for every bass harvested it leaves behind in the pond 3-8 pounds of panfish that will not be eaten by the bass that was removed. Thus more forage is available for the remaining fish. This is one of the objectives of your management, to harvest bass leaving more food in the pond to feed the remaing predators so they get larger. Remember that as LMbass increase in size (esp at and above 5 lbs) they want and NEED larger sized food items and an abundance of them, if one expects the bass to grow well. Large bass (4-5+lbs) rarely "do" well so they grow to the 6, 7 and then 8 lb sizes on a diet of 2"-3.5" fish.

Edited by Bill Cody (September 03, 2008 07:57 PM)
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From : Old pond! How do I get the bass to grow???



"So is the reason for removing more bass in greener (more fertile) water because since it's more fertile the pond can support more forage base fish (BG in this example) and by harvesting more bass then you will be leaving more forage base in your pond? I'm just trying to make sure I fully understand your post."


Registered: March 08, 2005
Posts: 6915
Loc: Miss.

JHAP fertile water (greener) as a general rule has a higher standing crop of fish (all types). It can grow more just like a fertile field can grow more crops. To get the pond to move toward balance (or any goal) it takes more in a fertile water situation. More LMB removal from an overcrowded LMB status pond or more BG removal from an overcrowded BG status pond. Because there are more fish due to fertility more have to be removed to create change.

Here is the point most people miss. If you have a natural pond (no feeding and no fertilizer) and it is crowded with either LMB or BG and you want to change most people think that addressing one end of the problem will cure the situation. For example start feeding or fertilizing to increase growth. That may only result in a lot more numbers of small BG or more small LMB if it is not coupled with proper population adjustments (removing some of the overcrowded species). This is more easily done prior to starting a feeding or fertilizer (its all energy in a bioenergetics model whether feeding or fertility) program. Its easier to remove 10 per acre before increasing capacity than 50 per acre afterward and it costs less.
Posted By: ewest Re: Stunted Fish - 09/11/08 03:25 PM
Bill Cody

Registered: April 18, 2002
Posts: 3599
Loc: Malinta OH
( Many ponds experience the problem of slow growing or stunted largemouth bass (LMB). How can the pond owner reduce this problem and get these bass growing again? Some wonder if these bass will even be able to start growing again if pond conditions are improved. The following link which provides hints from three advisors, two of them professional fish guys, will help you get started with solving a problem of slow growing bass.

Commentary - Any fish that has experienced less than optimum growth has lost the amount of growth that would have occurred if the fish had been eating properly or at optimum levels. In other words that slow growing fish will always lag behind in size of its same aged siblings who annually ate optimum amounts of food. However, it has been proven numerous times that a stunted fish will again start growing when food becomes available in surplus quantities. Depending on the length of time that this fish endured slow growth, it may not live long enough to get to the ultimate trophy size, but it could very likely reach a respectable size and produce numerous healthy offspring who with adequate food will grow to become new trophies.

The initial question that stimulated this archive is from Mark Z who lives in southern Indiana: I am at the end of my 2nd year trying to get my 1.5 acre pond in balance. Started with lots of stunted LMB, some crappie, and pretty nice BG. After removing all crappie and 100 LMB I am seeing nice weight gain on the remaining LMB. I am seeing all sizes of BG that I was not seeing in the first year. I take that to mean I have a decent food supply for the remaining LMB.
My question is: What is the growth potential for previously stunted LMB? Will they start growing again at normal rates for my area or are they somehow "handicapped" after having a lack of food for some indefinite length of time? I assume that their actual age will control how much more they will grow, if they can grow. Would it be wise to add a small number of new LMB to the pond to shake up the genetics at this time?

Here is the link for kick starting slow growing LMB -
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The Journal of Pond Management
Posted By: Bill Cody Re: Stunted Fish - 08/24/21 01:49 AM
ewest - all those links to Cody's LMB management for small bass problems do not work nor open.
Posted By: ewest Re: Stunted Fish - 08/24/21 06:15 PM
Some do now.
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