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Joined: Jan 2013
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I have a 3 acre spring fed pond in southern Mississippi. I purchased it about 2 years ago and my understanding is the pond was refilled about 5 years ago and stocked with BG and LMB. I stocked 400 8-14 inch CC about a year ago and have been "feeding" with an automatic feeder ever since. My goals are to be able to catch LMB regularly with occasional larger one, plentiful eating sized CC, and BG of varying size. I had an electroshock study done last spring which indicated reasonable reproduction of LMB and BG, but was told that low alkalinity was affecting the ability of the testers to bring up as many fish as they would have liked to see. I believe they said the low alkalinity water was more difficult to shock and their equipment was being significantly taxed during the study. No catfish that I had stocked a few months earlier were brought to the surface. As a result I limed to bring up the alkalinity.
When we initially stocked the CC, we were able to catch several each day we fished (C&R). We never could positively identify catfish at the feeder, only BG. We have a feed ring in front of the feeder that catches some of the pellets. As time went on, we could rarely catch a CC. When we did catch one, it was healthy looking and was growing well. We have never seen a floater and have not seen any evidence of otters. I don't know whether the CC became "hook shy" or what. I finally ran a trot line for a couple of days and caught virtually none. I concluded (correctly?) that something happened to them and they were not there. I then added 1000 5-8 inch CCs. Again I have not seen any CC at the feeder and have no idea if they are just not hungry during the cooler weather. If a pole is in the water for all light hours during a weekend, we are lucky to catch a single catfish. This past weekend we caught one that was likely one of the original ones we stocked about a year ago. It was healthy.
I did catch a single pickerel, and we used to catch a few bullheads so obviously some other species are in the pond but I believe in small numbers. I really need some help and guidance as to how to proceed to determine what's going on. My number one goal is to be able to have kids and grandkids be able to throw out a worm and have some action. What steps should I take before starting over on the stocking program? There are some nice bass in the pond. I would appreciate any help from you experienced pond bosses.

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I have no idea why your cats won't bite. I also find it strange that they won't come to pellets.

Thinking while I type here. Cats are usually one of the most common fish sighted when feeding. You know that they were raised on pellets at the hatchery. If they are healthy then you know that they are feeding on something other than pellets. Yeah, they can get hook shy but that generally takes time.

I am down to 3 large, hook shy, cats 10 years after stocking. I find that when I do catch one, it is on a hook that is not suspended under a cork.

I certainly wouldn't restock any at this time.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Are you feeding with a feeder and if so and you dont see any come May they are gone for the most part. SHocking is inefficient for shocking catfish unless setup for that goal. We shock lots of poor water (low conductivity) and if there are a bunch and 400 in 3 acres is bunch a few will show in the survey. I suspected either a high percntage were 8 inches and fell victim to bass, they were stressed on hauling truck and died later or you have an otter.


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Thanks for responses. Fish were pellet fed at the two different hatcheries. The first bunch of 400 actually averaged 11 in with many 13 inches. (supplier missed earlier scheduled delivery and compensated me with larger fish) I'd sure feel better seeing something other that bream/BG at the feeder. They were healthy looking in the truck, became stressed some in bucket from truck to pond, but all seemed to recover and we did catch a number of them in the first couple of months after stocking initially. It really bugs me why none were observable at the feeder from day one. A neighbor said that, although the pond was refilled a few years before I bought it, the pond was actually 25 or so years old. Since it is spring-fed, it apparently was never totally dry and this is observable on earlier google earth images. My daughter caught a 7+ lb LMB out of it. Maybe there are other predators in there that have munched them up. Does anyone know if observation using underwater cameras have been successful in evaluating fish status in ponds? The Secchi reading was 28 inches. As always, any help is appreciated.

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Mullyden,
I stocked 50 4-5" CC in late 2005 after my 1 acre pond was started. I caught about 10 12-20" CC often during the first couple of years on BG or LMB baits but rarely attempted to fisn the CC but still caught a few on nightcrawlers. I only kept 2 of the CC. Over the next few years, I would see a couple of CC feeding to seeing none over the last three years. I suspect a neighbor fishes while I'm not at the pond site but really am in the same boat as you with wondering where they went. I've tried to fish for them 3-4 times right before dark over the last 3 years because I found out they are piscivorous after a couple of years and caught nothing. My wife caught a LMB on a piece of hot dog but no more CC.

BTW... My pond is in between Poplarville and Lumberton. Where about are you?


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Even using mortalities for small stocker fish you should have 100 or so that survived. With the bigger fish you stocked you shold have even better survival than that.
















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My place is near Tylertown. I am amazed that the CCs have gone away twice and have never adapted to the feeder. I have a cousin that is a retired fishery biologist in Iowa. He said that they have had lakes stocked when everything looked great and the fish disappear. They don't see a die off, but yet the fishing does not improve. This is not a rarity. He suggested that I stock the next CCs in a cage. They will have to adapt to the feeder and can be kept there until they would not be in little danger from predator fish. I have no experience with this but it makes sense to me. The most significant issue to me is how to feed them. I guess I would need to come up with some sort of dock as I doubt if I could get enough food into the cage without wasting lots of it if the feeder is on the bank and the cage in deep water. At least we would know how many fish survived the transition to the pond.


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