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Hey ya'll. A client of mine who happens to be my father in law, just finished his new lake. It is around 3 acres and has some 20' water, and some very great littoral zones around the edges. It is a fairly decent size body of water and has an island in it that we had built. So far it is in the filling up process, but should be full by winter. It was extremely well built and is made to last. Has a good clay bottom with field tiles coming in from about 45 acres of runoff. Three dry dams were put in to hold back silt, and field tiling will be put in to collect extra water for the lake.

We want this lake to be something special, and I personally am tired of going to almost everyone's lake and them telling me they have BLGL, LMBS, CNCF and a few crappie. It seems like that is just what everyone does. I have a couple of interesting ideas, but wanted to throw it out and get some crazy ideas that we could experiment with, or try to replicate!

Today Nate and I stocked it with FHM so they can start spawning and making some food for these fish when we get them rolling!

I am open to any cool ideas you all have wanted to/have successfully done!

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Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/22/17 11:47 AM. Reason: fixed IL

Austin Bennett
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Austin, if you are in Illinois then you could consider some sort of walleye, perch, smallmouth combo. Alternatively you could make a muskie pond for kicks and giggles.


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Don't get me wrong, the walleye perch smallmouth combo is killer. I just stocked one of our family ponds with that last fall. I am full considering it, but want to try something new. The Muskie pond actually sounds extremely cool...


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In my 3rd pond, I am hoping to stock blue catfish. Not sure what forage species I will use yet, but some have suggested pumpkin seed. I will probably include YP and GSH also. My newest pond will be around 1/2 acre, so it is unlikely to support many of the blue catfish as they are apparently aggressive predators.

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I'd agree Austin, I think a muskie pond would be awesome and the only reason i didn't do it was because i don't have a big enough pond!
For muskie you'll need a strong forage base as they are voracious predators and grow very large. This could be achieved by using game fish or exclusively forage. Maybe GSH and shad or some other large growing forage. Or do a WE,SMB,YP, and maybe RES and just add muskie to that and accept that they will eat your large gamefish. This all depends if the WE or SMB spawn because they are too expensive for muskie chow.


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I'm almost 2 years into establishing a blue catfishery. I don't have much advice for forage fish selection, but mine seem to be thriving on young crappie, carp and channel cats. On top of that I go thru as much feed as I feel comfortable with financially. Another thing that has come along lately is I've begun throwing in cleanings from a commercial trout farm down the road. I'm hoping the blues take to eating that. I also have an ability to seine to cull out my over population of channel cats. Keep me informed on how your Blue Catfishery goes as it doesn't seem like many people have tried it.

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I don't see why a Muskie fishery would not work. I believe that we could load it up with LMBS or some other forage fish and allow them to spawn and get multiple classes of forage, then throw in ??? Muskie/acre per year. Maybe add bluegill or some shad.

Another cool idea was maybe do WE as the predator fish and then throw in YP or something else along the lines of forage there.

Getting kind of crazy here, but I think that these ideas can work with a little tinkering and creativity.


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How about some bowfin or drum as bonus fish? Can you source those?

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Austin, what were your initial ideas for a creative fishery in the father-in-laws pond? IMO the field tile entering the pond is questionable especially if the tile drain agricultural fields. Do some N&P periodic monitoring and testing of the tile water after crop fertilizer application and 1" rains. The tile drainage can accelerate the eutrophication and associated plant problems.

What do we know about musky management in ponds 1-5 acres? Are musky and hybrid musky that much different than northern pike? Why can we raise more pounds of bass per acre than musky?. Is their food conversion efficiency different than that of a LMB?.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/21/17 09:26 PM.

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Ditto what Bill said about the nutrients. I'm seeing more cases of Blue Green algae this year than in previous years.

As Nate will tell you, the key to having good sized predators in a pond is the forage base. Both in terms of numbers of forage fish and having them the correct size for the predators to eat and not expend too much energy catching them.


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Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
Austin, what were your initial ideas for a creative fishery in the father-in-laws pond? IMO the field tile entering the pond is questionable especially if the tile drain agricultural fields. Do some N&P periodic monitoring and testing of the tile water after crop fertilizer application and 1" rains. The tile drainage can accelerate the eutrophication and associated plant problems.

What do we know about musky management in ponds 1-5 acres? Are musky and hybrid musky that much different than northern pike? Why can we raise more pounds of bass per acre than musky. Is their food conversion efficiency different than that of a LMB.


Totally legitimate concerns. The main issue of raising a population that is large enough to have regular catch rates is the territorial aspect of the musky. Would they stack up like LMBS or WE? It's not very likely. So that makes it really a big challenge IMO. Along with that, the forage aspect of raising 50 musky even just up to 5 lbs each is so astronomical. Even if we hand feed each musky all day long every day, I don't think we'd be able to produce enough forage with LMBS. Not sure... The idea sounds awesome, but the carrying out of the plan is very high risk/high reward I think.


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If it were me, I'd go HSB, SMB, YP, RES, HBG, (BG after a season or so) maybe some bonus WE or Tiger Musky.

I went a little non traditional in my 3/4 acre pond and really enjoy it so far....

Does you Father In law plan to pellet feed? these fish are fun to feed.


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He will end up with a feeder or two.


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What does Nate think about your idea? Doesn't he have musky in some of his water? What was his stocking sizes & density, growth rates, and fish ages so far? Nate may have as much experience with this topic as all of us combined. For optimum success with musky IMO you would likely need to annually add trout as premium forage during the cool water season in IL since musky are considered an active cool, cold water fish. Ideally this type of fishery especially if the top predator is somewhat crowded requires a separate forage pond where larger fish are regularly transferred primarily as forage items. If you do extensive homework you may find that in smaller waters musky would not feed well in mid-summer when water is warm. This will slow the growth rates of musky during when they are not feeding frequently. Remember that when fish are not eating daily they are not growing - Bob's Law.

IMO you would see and raise MORE numbers of larger angler exciting sport fish if you used HSB instead of musky. Have you caught some of Nate's largest HSB yet? Some are 15+ lbs and that equates to a 38"+ musky. A HSB out fights a musky. Keep in mind most think it is important to have higher CPUE of larger fish than long hours spent for getting the occasional bonus fish such as a musky.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/22/17 11:38 AM.

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We have been discussing this for a while, but just getting input from all different angles! We've been really successful with tiger musky in lmbs and shad forage lakes.

Listen to Nate. He now is a learned, experienced pro. Few here match his creativity and fish wisdom. Goose Lake Ranch is testimony.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/22/17 11:35 AM.

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Also, I most definitely have caught those HSB. We catch some of those suckers close to 15 lbs. they are insane fish. That's another options for sure. I agree with the CPUE part


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CPUE?

Catch Per Unit Effort?
Cody Note: Yes In angler surveys this is the number caught per hour of fishing.

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You are going to grow more 15 lb HSB per acre and have more predator fish carrying capacity than using musky primarily because you are feeding them pellets. Think about it.

I would not call a 15 lb musky an 'insane' fish, but a 15 lb HSB - yes it qualifies IMO as "insane". When you or Nate get some HSB to 20 lbs be sure to let us here at PBoss know about it with pictures. Thanks.

Do your stocking in the 3 ac, then after year 1 or 3 add a total of 3 musky at 12"-15". Then wait 8-10 years.

Please keep us updated regularly on this project. Don't forget. Don't be a stranger here like Nate.

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I'm going to do some searching on pictures of some of the big boys and I'll post them on here sometime. I'll take finding the 20 pounder as a challenge and get back with you. I will try getting him back on here. We're just so busy I hardly have time to be on here. It's worth it though.

I'll keep you up on the stocking and whatnot


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I told Austin to make sure to engage with Bill Cody about the perch....
I am looking forward to hanging out with everyone in Houston this October!
I am thinking about feed trained walleye and feed trained paddlefish for this particular pond, gonna be an interesting one to follow along with for sure. The paddlefish will eat pellets after dark and I'm thinking the walleye will stay on pellets with an after dark feeding as well....


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Originally Posted By: n8ly
I told Austin to make sure to engage with Bill Cody about the perch....
I am looking forward to hanging out with everyone in Houston this October!
I am thinking about feed trained walleye and feed trained paddlefish for this particular pond, gonna be an interesting one to follow along with for sure. The paddlefish will eat pellets after dark and I'm thinking the walleye will stay on pellets with an after dark feeding as well....



Feed trained paddlefish? Whoa, now that is thinking outside of the box!! I'm looking forward to following this thread.

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Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
If you do extensive homework you may find that in smaller waters musky would not feed well in mid-summer when water is warm. This will slow the growth rates of musky during when they are not feeding frequently. Remember that when fish are not eating daily they are not growing - Bob's Law.


I would research Webster Lake in Northern Indiana. It is a relatively warm water lake, I'm told that it is THE premier Muskie lake in North America for catch rates. Research how many Muskies are there per acre and what their forage base is like.

The Indiana DNR uses Webster and the other lakes in that chain as brood stock for their egg collecting expeditions.


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Originally Posted By: n8ly
I told Austin to make sure to engage with Bill Cody about the perch....
I am looking forward to hanging out with everyone in Houston this October!
I am thinking about feed trained walleye and feed trained paddlefish for this particular pond, gonna be an interesting one to follow along with for sure. The paddlefish will eat pellets after dark and I'm thinking the walleye will stay on pellets with an after dark feeding as well....

I didn't know paddlefish ate pellets. I thought they were filter feeders. Thanks for the info and I can't wait to hear more about this!


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Around this time of year paddlefish will surface feed emergent insects in backwaters of the mississippi - I can see them taking to feed based off of this.


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Originally Posted By: AustinBennett
I don't see why a Muskie fishery would not work. I believe that we could load it up with LMBS or some other forage fish and allow them to spawn and get multiple classes of forage, then throw in ??? Muskie/acre per year. Maybe add bluegill or some shad.

Another cool idea was maybe do WE as the predator fish and then throw in YP or something else along the lines of forage there.

Getting kind of crazy here, but I think that these ideas can work with a little tinkering and creativity.


I have some experience with Tiger Musky in a high altitude lake (well, for Ohio) in the midwest. They did very well and got up to 38 - 40 inches maximum. Nice thing is that they don't spawn, so no worries about overpopulation.

Tigers and regular musky can tolerate heat better than northern pike, so might be a better choice in your climate.


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