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#537598 07/12/21 02:07 PM
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I have a 4.5 acre pond in central North Carolina. My family built the pond about 20 years ago. We built the pond just to manage for trophy bass. We graded humps and drop off out in the pond, as well as made rock piles, stump piles, brush piles.... We stocked it with F1s from American Sportfish as well as bluegill and some hybrid bluegill. The first generation of the F1s were amazing. In 5 years we were catching multiple fish over 8 pounds per year. The biggest on was 11.22 pounds.

I was just a kid at the time when we built the pond and my dad was managing the pond. The first generation F1s, I am assuming lived their life and died and the pond was still good but never like it was. From what I have read the offspring of the F1s dont carry those same traits and some people even drain the lake and restart at that point. We put a gate valve on the bottom of out stand pipe for that very reason and thats always an option if anyone suggests that. There was a time when my dad lost interest in the pond and there was a 3 year gap between him managing it and me picking it up. During that time the bass got overcrowded and stunted. Over the last 4 years I have removed around 50-80 bass per year under 14". We have 2 feeders that feed the bluegill everyday and they seem to be doing fine. I have started tracking the relative weights and have them recorded for some of the fish. I also bought a tag gun and tags and have about 35 bass tagged in the pond so I can track the growth. I also added some new F1s this year from a friends pond who stocked F1s last year, but stocked his bass density a little too high so he told me I could have a few to put in my pond.

Last summer I stocked 120 pounds of crawfish for additional forage. I dont have a lot of rock around the edge so the bass ate them rather quickly. The relative weights went up for a month or so then went back down around average. This spring I started to fertilize the pond with perfect pond plus. There was a decent bloom and I continued to add more when the bloom would lessen. I have slowed back now with the fertilization because of the high temps of the summer. I can see lots of fry in the pond, I am assuming its the first bluegill spawn of the summer?? The bass I am catching now mostly all seem to be fat and at or slightly above the relative weight for the length. I have about 20 more fish to cull this year and I will be at my goal.

My goal with this pond is trophy bass. I dont care about catching a bunch of fish or anything other than double digit bass. I have caught two bass over 7 pounds this year, several others over 5. I think I have a grasp on what is needed to achieve that goal of double digit bass. However, my question for you guys is this: Is there a permanent additional forage I can add to my existing pond? I think threadfin shad might be something that would work, but think they might die in the winter if we get a cold winter where I am. I have thought about golden shiners, but dont have much experience or knowledge of them. I have also thought about adding a section of rip rap along my pond edge to stock the crawfish around in hopes some of them will last longer than a week or 2. I am not certain but I think tilapia are also still not available in NC. I know if I do stock anything it should be at a high rate to avoid the bass just eating all of the forage. Maybe thats what others do for additional forage is just add them to be eaten rather quickly. I guess thats good for the fish, but I wanted to explore something that would reproduce and become a permanent forage source on top of the bluegill. I have been reading pond boss magazines since I was a kid and I know Bob says all you need is bluegill, but I was thinking more forage equals more forage availability for the bass.....????

I am wanting to get your input on any ideas for additional forage that might become permanent in the pond, rather than just a quick snack. I can list out some relative weight fish information on what I have kept track of on the tagged bass if anyone wants that info. Can also get some pictures of the fish and pond if anyone is curious.

Last edited by Tcbenbow; 07/12/21 02:31 PM.
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I am by no means one of the local experts, and this suggestion will not be agreed upon by all, but if my only goal was Trophy LMB and I had a pond your size, I would consider Gizzard Shad. They can ruin a BG population and overpopulate a small BOW quickly, but if you have a decent population of 5+ pound LMB you may be able to keep them relatively in check. They are more hardy and grow larger than threadfins and will reproduce very well in most pond settings. A lot of discussion on them here, do plenty of research before going that route.

Lake Chubsuckers may also be an option, but they are hard to source and will have trouble getting established in a pond with existing large LMB.

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You're right about the F1's, their F2, F3, etc. offspring don't retain their superior genetics, nor their hybrid vigor. If you want consistent double-digit Bass, you'll probably have to stock new F1's every year or every other year. I agree with what lmoore said above. If you have enough 3.5-4lb bass already, Gizzard Shad is definitely an option. You need a certain percentage of your bass to be over this number, otherwise they won't be able to control the Gizzard Shad and they'll end up taking over your pond/lake. I'm not sure what that percentage is, but the bass experts will probably chime in here soon.


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I'd wait on the Gizzards a bit, but then this is from a guy that is in Northern Indiana and not seeing many LMB over 5# in the BOW's here. Gizzards seem to take over ponds and lakes easily up here.

All of the secondary forage fish that were mentioned are great, but you have to think about managing reproductive habitat for them and habitat for their fry to grow larger. You will want forage fish that are 1/4 the length of the bass or a bit bigger so they don't have to expend a lot of energy for every meal they get. Also look at refreshing the cover that was in the pond 20 years ago for the bass if it was cover that was made from things that would degrade in a pond. Bass need places to ambush their prey from, and if those are few and far between the bass will be expending a lot of calories swimming around looking for food.

Also, before fertilizing too much more, take a reading of your alkalinity. If it's below 40, add lime and that will make the fertilizer that is already in the pond work a lot better.


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Thanks for the advice. This is all great info. I replenish brush both shallow and deep every year or at least every other year in the form of cedar trees in the shallows and big oak limbs out deep. I have great structure all throughout the pond. When we were building the pond they were taking up a sidewalk in town and we got 4 dump truck loads of the giant pieces of sidewalk and we took our tracto around and made a few piles out deep and also stacked them together in several places up shallow. We also took a couple areas that had decent sized trees and cut them off about 5’ tall and left the stumps and 5’ of the trunk in the ground. Those seem to be holding up great even after 20 years.

The alkalinity was around 30 earlier this summer when a friend of mine checked it who works for a pond management company. I am already planning on liming this winter. It’s been about 8 years since we last limed. I still have the floating dock in the pond to barge the lime around on.

I have heard some horror stories about gizzards. I’m going to keep adding crawfish a couple times a summer and work on getting a better bloom next year after I lime this fall. Hopefully I’m back on track with the bluegill reproduction. I should be able to tell in a couple more weeks when the fry keeps growing.

Do any of you guys suggest harvesting big bluegill from time to time? Or just leave them all alone? I was thinking about this in terms of total carrying capacity of the pond. Just trying to wrap my head around everything. Some of my larger bluegill are 9+ inches.

I’m not sure how to share a picture on here or I would show you guys a couple of the bass we have grown over 10 pounds.

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Originally Posted by Tcbenbow
Thanks for the advice. This is all great info. I replenish brush both shallow and deep every year or at least every other year in the form of cedar trees in the shallows and big oak limbs out deep. I have great structure all throughout the pond. When we were building the pond they were taking up a sidewalk in town and we got 4 dump truck loads of the giant pieces of sidewalk and we took our tracto around and made a few piles out deep and also stacked them together in several places up shallow. We also took a couple areas that had decent sized trees and cut them off about 5’ tall and left the stumps and 5’ of the trunk in the ground. Those seem to be holding up great even after 20 years.

The alkalinity was around 30 earlier this summer when a friend of mine checked it who works for a pond management company. I am already planning on liming this winter. It’s been about 8 years since we last limed. I still have the floating dock in the pond to barge the lime around on.

I have heard some horror stories about gizzards. I’m going to keep adding crawfish a couple times a summer and work on getting a better bloom next year after I lime this fall. Hopefully I’m back on track with the bluegill reproduction. I should be able to tell in a couple more weeks when the fry keeps growing.

Do any of you guys suggest harvesting big bluegill from time to time? Or just leave them all alone? I was thinking about this in terms of total carrying capacity of the pond. Just trying to wrap my head around everything. Some of my larger bluegill are 9+ inches.

I’m not sure how to share a picture on here or I would show you guys a couple of the bass we have grown over 10 pounds.

Here's a good article from Pond Boss regarding Bluegill harvesting in a trophy bass pond: https://www.pondboss.com/news/moderators-corner/bluegill-harvest-guidelines

"If your GOAL is mostly bigger bass, you can keep some bigger bluegill each year. Bigger bass are targeting midsize bluegill, not the 8”+ sizes."


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TCBENBOW, I would not use the oak limbs unless they had plenty of time to dry. Oaks have tannins that are lethal to fish. I tried them on a new pond. The tannins turned the water black and killed all of my stockers. I had to pump it dry and burn the whole thing. Then waited for some pretty elusive West Texas rain to restock.

I later experimented. I cut a piece of oak that was about 18 inches long and 10 inches thick. Then filled a tank, about bathtub size or larger with water. I waited 3 or 4 days and added a dozen minnows. They were dead by the next morning.

Of course, the questions would be the amount of oak to water and the size of the tank/ impoundment or?


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