Found these forums recently and been doing my best to soak in knowledge. We got a new pond dug a couple weeks ago, central Mississippi, roughly 1/2 acre. We're new to all this and have some questions, mainly about stocking timelines. The goal is eventually some nice bass fishing, with some bream and catfish for the little one when she gets old enough. Willing and able to harvest and eat any pond denizens in the name of population management. Depth ranges from 3 to 6 feet. We don’t mind keeping it more wild, and we’d rather not have to manage it too closely beyond fertilization, pellet feed, and restocking small baitfish as needed whenever the fish truck is in town – so with that in mind, please let me know if our plan is too ambitious for a 1/2 acre pond. Expectation management and all that.
Fortunately? Unfortunately? Earlier this week we had two days of solid rain, which was enough to fill it from bone-dry to about 2/3 full. We didn't expect it to get near this full until winter, so we have no structure yet. I'd appreciate any tips for adding all the structure needed to an already full pond. Anyway, now that it's nearly full we’re looking into what we can stock before winter. Plan:
As soon as possible: fertilize, two weeks later stock 5-10lbs FHM Fall 22: 350 BG, 150 RES, 50 channel cats Spring 23: 20 LMB fingerlings, 10 freshwater stingrays (kidding… I wish)
Other notes/questions: - Is this timeline realistic or should we expect to stock BG/RES/cats in fall 2023 instead? - Will we need to pellet feed? (that's fine) - Thoughts on what type of bass? We're planning on Florida LMB. - Assuming we stock FHM by this fall, should we expect to have to restock FHM next spring? Unsure if aquatic plants will come in fast enough to give them cover to hide/spawn in fall/winter, or if that even matters. - We'd like to add a couple koi (no more than 2-3 at first) to control aquatic weeds as grass carp would. We keep some in our little garden pond so we know they do well in this climate. Going to make sure they're big enough to survive any predators in the pond. - We'd like to add some mosquitofish. If they don't all get eaten we expect them to be able to take up residence in the extremely shallow edges of the pond. - Expecting plenty of wild crayfish and frogs moving in - Is it a bad idea to add random, inexpertly-identified small baitfish/minnows from my dad's pond for some variety? - Is it a bad idea to add inexpertly-identified bluegill/RES from my dad's pond? All of his fish originally came from a fish truck years ago. (I'm personally more wary of doing this)
Thank you for any input. If anything I said or asked makes no sense, it’s probably out of ignorance!
Structure and cover from archives. See page 2 starting with this
From the Hands On Structure presentation during PB III.
A method of adding structure to a pond with water. This is an adaptation of the Ray Scott method from the Great Small Waters video. It can be done using xmas trees , buckets of limbs , pallets , or pvc structures. It involves driving a post into the pond bottom and using it to mark and hold the structure items.
The stocking numbers in the original post are assuming that we fertilize. I went by the numbers recommended in the Mississippi publication linked by ewest, scaled to half an acre. Should we add more FHM?
Also, after researching some more, it doesn't look like we will be able to fertilize until spring. (water is still muddy and still needs liming, which apparently takes awhile to dissolve unless we want to mess with quicklime.) If we are going to fertilize but can't do so until water gets to 60 degrees in spring, should we still stock double in the fall? Or just stick to unfertilized stocking rates?
That publication talks about how bass/bream ponds are more difficult to manage for ponds smaller than one acre. Due to how easy it is to overharvest bass. We'd still like to try, unless someone talks me off the ledge here. We're fine with sticking to catch and release for bass. I'm just having trouble deciding how many bass to add. Mississippi publication says 1:10 bass to bream as a rule of thumb, but that is for larger ponds, so I settled on 20 bass initially which would be 1:25.
I prefer to not stock predators until the prey has had time to do some pretty good spawning. Bass can go through a lot of groceries in a hurry. I prefer to stock minnows and sunfish simultaneously and predators after they have had time to spawn a couple of times. In other words, stock bass when they can go to sleep with their mouth open and wake up with a full belly.
Cats seldom do a good job of reproducing in a pond. They are slow swimmers and go everywhere in a school so are easily picked off by everything larger.
BTW, welcome to PB.
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
Gotcha. Why double the usual recommended bream stocking rates, if you don't mind me asking? Not doubting, just trying to understand.
Because they are using outdated stocking rates.
Here's food for thought, I'll let you break out the calculator and do the math.
A bass does the best (growth wise) when it eats fish that are 1/4 to 1/3 it's body length (talking about bluegill/sunfish here). It also takes 10 pounds of fish to put 1 pound of weight on one bass. If a bass has plenty of food to eat of the correct size, it can grow from 2.5-3 inches in length to 13"+ and 1.75# from April to late October. (or larger) here in Northern Indiana.
So, going by the 1/4 - 1/3 the body length, there has to be fish in the pond that are from 1" through 4" within 7 months of stocking the fish in the pond. Fatheads only get to a max of around 3" so you will be seeing the bass eating the small Bluegill and Redear Sunfish.
A 1" Bluegill will weigh 4 pounds per thousand fish. A 4" bluegill will weigh approximately 40 pounds per 1,000 fish.
So, if you stock 20 bass, and expect them to put on one pound of weight each in the next 12 months, how many fish will those 20 fish eat in the next 12 months?
A bluegill usually won't spawn before it reaches 5"-6" in length, and it will take at least a year to grow to that size, so your bluegill that are stocked typically won't be reproducing in the pond the first year, unless you get some great growth on them, OR they decide to spawn when they are around 4" in length.
Fathead Minnows run anywhere between *maybe* 180 to well over 400 fish per pound depending on the size of the Fathead Minnows, but in any case they aren't used to grow largemouth bass if the bass are over 8"-10" or so in length because the bass that big will burn as many calories as it gets when it does catch a fathead to ear. Remember that a bass doesn't catch a fish every time it tries to catch one but it burns calories every time it tries to catch a fish.
I am not a pro like these guys but here is what I would do and have done. I am in tennessee and I am building new pond this month that will be nearly 1/2 acre and 7 to 8 foot deep. I would put in 10lbs Fat Head Minnows and 200 RES this fall and feed them Purina Aquamaxx starter. The minnows love it and the RES, ( to me), have time to learn to eat the pellets which will help you later. Early next spring if you are in Miss. I would stock 200 to 300 Copper Nose Bluegill ( best thing I have done in my other pond), keep feeding Aquamaxx starter for at least a month. When your CNBG get up to 3 to 4 inches. Buy Optimal Jr. food and mix with Aquamaxx until you stock your bass in the early summer. Then mix optimal jr. with Optimal bluegill food, when you stock bass. I would stock 50 to 75 bass. It is just me but I would not stock any catfish at all.
I am no pro but my pond has worked great and the key is feeding. You have to feed them like cattle everyday. Just my 2 cents hope it helps. Guys on this forum are great!
The old, suggested stocking #s at 10 to 1 was for producing fish for food during the depression. Newer models for recreation (depending on goals) for southern ponds use higher BG/RES #s to sustain LMB populations for an extra year or so. 20 to 1 for regular pond goals and 30 to 1 for trophy LMB ponds are now common. Those are just starter #s and mgt is necessary after stocking.