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#555260 01/31/23 11:07 AM
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What do you think is a reasonable budget to maintain a 67 acre lake to grow trophy bass. This question always comes up at our Lake Meetings as I don't feel enough is spent each year. Also what should be included in an annual expense to assure you are doing the best job to maintain the body of water. This could include an annual stocking budget, a budget for habitat, a budget for vegetation, a budget for electrofishing??? Thanks.

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My first thought is a pro to do some electro fishing and water quality analysis. They do written reports after asking about your goals and expectations.


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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Trophy Bass lake will be an expensive investment, lot of pieces to the puzzle. I agree with Dave on the starting point, that is cheap insurance...Our lake committee manages a 54 acre lake for our HOA. A lake management company that we have used in the past put it this way. $ 500.00 an acre to maintain a fishery, $ 1000.00 an acre to make stellar progress. This is an annual commitment...Our HOA membership quickly said " no way "

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Originally Posted by hendog
Trophy Bass lake will be an expensive investment, lot of pieces to the puzzle. I agree with Dave on the starting point, that is cheap insurance...Our lake committee manages a 54 acre lake for our HOA. A lake management company that we have used in the past put it this way. $ 500.00 an acre to maintain a fishery, $ 1000.00 an acre to make stellar progress. This is an annual commitment...Our HOA membership quickly said " no way "

That seems about right, maybe a wee bit more now than 2 years ago. My fish costs to me from my suppliers have increased between 35% and 60% in the last two years, depending on species and size of the fish.

I have heard that a company in Central Indiana (but they also service the Northern part of the State) is charging $1,800 per acre just for weed/algae control and that is 12 treatments per year.


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We maintain a 50 acre 70 year old lake. We stock most years, fingerling Florida bass most every year (3000), older bass when available from area lakes that are culling, threadfin shad as needed (30,000 last year). We raised crappie a few years ago in the brood pond and transferred maybe 5000. I'm trying to establish native vegetation on a limited budget, maybe 500-800 a year, mostly my free labor. We re-brush the posts in the lake every other year or so. I did a dozen myself this year with big 30 foot cedars. We need to lime badly. The bid to have it done, 100 tons, was ridiculous. Labor was bid at $400 an hour. We will instead re-power our old work barge, buy lime, and hire local labor at $20-25 an hour, with some of our labor and volunteer front loader work. Our annual lake budget is $18,000 this year to include $15,000 for the barge repair and liming. Normal years its more like $6000-9000. I do our weed control, but its pretty minor right now. Anything you can move in-house will save you big over paying a biologist company labor rates. We no longer survey annually, maybe every 3 years. The recommendations from our biologist haven't changed in years. We always need lime, we always need bass, we need more cover and vegetation.

Lake record LMB 15.5#. Numerous 7-10# bass every year. I had an 8.6# and a 12.6# in one day this year. We consider the fishing average right now. It has been better.

Last edited by RossC; 02/02/23 01:08 PM.

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Convey this entire message to the lake membership.

Creating a trophy bass fishery takes a lot of effort and expense. Then maintaining those trophies and perpetuating the size distribution of the biggest ones for their best body condition for growth of the biggest bass requires probably more effort and expense than even creating them. As already noted in examples above Trophy bass are NOT cheap. There are some significant challenges, requirements and allowances for maintaining a trophy fishery.

Firstly for big bass, let’s look at relative weight = RW. RW indicates how healthy and plump that a bass is compared to a measured and calculated “standard” bass. A big part of maintaining and managing trophy fish is: 1. Not having too many per acre and 2. to be able to maintain enough of the right sizes of food for these big girls to catch big food and stay fat (RW) and GROW. RW is calculated by taking the standard weight of that fish specie and dividing it by its actual weight then multiplying the answer by 100 to get a %value called RW aka Relative Weight. Plump fish that are actively growing are above 90% RW. Std Wt/Actual Wt X 100 = RW. The best goal for managing a trophy fisher is to have the biggest bass with RW above 100% and toward 120%.

Number 2 is - what defines a trophy bass in your circle?. Is it a goal of top end bass in the 5-7lb class or bass in the 8 to 10+ pound class?
Each trophy bass relative to each lake location has a very high value and each trophy is probably worth around at least $400 - $500 or more up to $1000 each for each 10+lb bass (see a calculation later). This does not even consider the TIME involved in getting the trophy bass to that size. Trophy fisheries are not for the average owner. Trophies are a big expense in both time and effort. Done right an annual electroshocking survey needs to be conducted to verify that forage foods are adequate and bass are not too crowded and still are geing plenty to eat and have high relative weight. Lower relative weight as RW signals lack of food and little or no growth. If the bass are not always growing SOMETHING is lacking or wrong.

Number 3 is - a lake cannot maintain very many actual trophy size fish per acre. Their predator weight requirement equals that of several smaller predators. Thus the bigger the bass are, the fewer of them there will be per acre. Thus if an actively managed lake has 1 trophy, top size fish per acre that is a lot. Many natural lakes only have 1 trophy fish per 5 to 10 acres. Fish density and weight regardless of fish size is based on water fertility and habitat. Clearer, less fertile water means fewer fish per acre. The clarity of your lake determines the fishery production ability and its potential for growing fish poundages.

Number 4. Proper size and amount of habitat strongly affects the fishery production. Correct types and placement of habitat has been proven in fishery science to increase fish production. Habitat may need to be added to maintain the progression of trophies long term in the lake. Learn about both. Bass do have normal natural life spans or around 16 to in best conditions of 20 yrs, providing an angler does not miss handle it and kill it first.

Number 5. Realize that bass become hook shy and angler smart the longer they live and the more often they are exposed to lures. Proven is - the larger the average sized bass become the harder they are for anglers to catch. The larger the average bass are in a lake the fewer bass that anglers will catch per hour of angling. The opposite is true, the smaller the average bass the more of them there will be per acre and anglers will catch more bass per hour of fishing. Prove many times over. Most fishing groups prefer to catch more frequently smaller sized bass of 2-5 lbs and the occasional 6 lb bass compared to catching more big bass of 4 to 6 pounds or regular catching even fewer trophy bass of 7 to 10 lbs. Trophy bass are NOT cheap and are not cheap to continually maintain in a managed fishery. Sometimes or often these ‘hog’ fish need to be fed added larger sized forage items because they have ‘hogged out” the existing abundant and accessible forage food.

All these things are only for the wealthy lake owner, once realized and the final goals produced are why very few succeed in producing a trophy bass fishery. Always – the bigger the water the more it costs in time, effort, dedication, and money. Most owners are willing to accept a quality big fish community rather than the trophy class fishery.

Maximum size of true trophy bass will vary due to latitude, genetics and temperature growing degree days per year. Those big top end fish in the South will typically weigh more compared to those trophy class bass in Northern states such as Indiana. NOTE: the Indiana State angler record of LMB was a whopping 14 lb 12 oz which was very likely a real old female carrying late stage egg development.

Just as an example, new research and philosophy indicate for a 2 pound bass to maintain its proper plump body weight (good RW) it needs to eat 12 lbs of food/fish per year AND then to gain one pound it needs to eat another 10 lbs of fish/food. Total 22 lbs.

Proper size best food for a big 6-7 lb bass are not small 2”-3” fish. Weight gaining foods for big bass are sunfish 5”-7” long or something similar size/wt for that big bass to get maximum nutrition with the last amount of wasted energy of the hunt. And they need to eat a lot of those types of foods. This is why big bass transferred to new ponds usually struggle to maintain weight, they gradually lose weight (low RW), become unhealthy and die on the bottom, and remain unseen long term by the owner. They did not get enough of the RIGHT type and sizes of food. A fish with a low RW is not a healthy strong actively growing fish. It is vulnerable to sickness, parasites, fungus and disease.

Now for a 7 pound bass to maintain a 90% - 100% relative healthy plump weight (RW) it takes 42 pounds of the right size and amount of food. Actually you want trophy size bass to have 110% to 120" RW. They have to eat a lot to stay fat!. It is common sense and a natural fact of fish physiology who are cold blooded animals. However then, for that one 7 lb bass to gain another one pound to reach 8 lbs it needs to eat an ADDITIONAL 10 pounds of proper size foods for an annual total consumption of 52 pounds of food to be eaten that year. That is why there are not a lot of trophy fish per acre in normal natural lakes. Example. BG 5”-7” long cost $3.60 ea. It takes 295 of them to weight 52lbs for a cost of $875.

If we use 317 trout 7” long weighing 52 lbs cost is $871. See the value of fish needed for just that one 7 lb bass to gain one pound? Extrapolate all this info up to around 65-67 acres. 295X 1 bass per acre in 67ac = $19,675 BG 5+” long.
Now that 8 lb girl needs to go to 9 pounds for moving toward the larger trophy status. See the challenge?

As an example, those 7lb bass will want to eat 5.7”-6.8”($3.00ea )BG or 6”-8” ($2.75ea) trout. Larger predators who swallow food whole need to eat bigger foods to efficiently and effectively gain weight. It is called Optimum Foraging Theory.
Trophy fish or bass management is NUMBERS management of predators and forage. Most importantly then is the numbers management to remove enough bass so remaining large bass and the trophies get plenty of easy catch food for continued growth each day. Every day a bass does not FILL it's belly is a day it does not grow. If large bass are competing with too many smaller bass, trophies will lose weight and obviously not grow. Plus next size smaller bass than trophy have a hard time growing into the upper size class because foods have become a limiting factor. Numbers management.

If not enough small thin bodied bass are not removed to properly feed all bass present, the club will have to spend lots of money adding trophy sized forage foods to keep too many bass well fed. It is like a Zoo having too many rapidly reproducing lions and tigers. Each year Nature will always push towards adding lots of new bass predators. Bass are prolific spawners. You have to manage against this strong trend of recruitment for having trophy fish.

If it were my lake for having trophy class fish, I would strongly consider adding tiger musky. See PB article below. Musky as an unbiased predator will regularly help thin out easy to swallow small 8”-14”bass depending on size of musky. I would start adding tiger musky slowly and initially stock 1 musky per each 4 - 5 ac of water. Then gradually every 1-2 yrs add 1 more musky per 4 ac. This will provide good year classes of musky that each size group are thinning different sizes of bass. Musky at 36”-40+” are eating 1 to 2 pound bass. Big musky in the lake will be an exciting, premium, bonus trophy fish and a valuable tool to eat small bass in the lake. Until the musky reach 30” inches the anglers and consultants will have to make more a concerted effort to remove lots of small underperforming bass from the 67 acres. If a minimum of 20 lbs / ac of bass are needed to be removed to maintain a trophy fishery, this amounts to around at least 1300 lbs of bass. This is a lot of angling hours or numerous man hours of shock boat assistance. Time is money unless it is a hobby and even then it still costs a lot.

As big bass educational homework, learn from his information:
Learn to use and encourage all anglers to use SmartFish App. Quality Lakes Inc.

Read & learn through these articles for managing big & trophy bass fish management.

Pond Boss article: CHOOSE TO DO HARD THINGS. W.Bales. PB mag Jan-Feb 2023Vol 31 No4. Electrofishiing vs catch and release improving LMB growth.

PBoss article: Jan-Feb 2022. WHY LARGEMOUTH BASS GROW BIGGER IN THE SOUTH. Dave Beasley shares the basic pond characteristics needed to grow trophy bass..

PBoss article: Mar-Apr 2022. LARGEMOUTH BASS. CATCH RATES ON PRIVATE TROPHY FISHERIES. Beasley shares ideas for good data collection, improving angling strategy, concentrating bass numbers, and improving bass aggression..

PBoss article: Jul-Aug 2022. PUSHING THE SOUTHERN LIMIT FOR TIGER MUSKY. Beasley discusses how musky improved a bass fishery.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2022. A THRIVING FORAGE BASE. Beasley explains why trophy LMB fisheries are only temporary unless special management is used.

PBoss article Jan Feb 2021. CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CREATING AN ENTERTAINING FISHERY. Beasley. Setting possible goals.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2021. 10 ACRE CAROLINA TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS FISHERY. Beasley. A profile of 10 years to 10 lb bass.

PBoss article. Jul-Aug 2021. LEGENDARY FISH FOR A LEGENDARY RANCH. Beasley explains how to do it in 2 yrs for 3.7-5.2lb bass that were raised and in 4 yrs one bass was 14.2 lbs in a new 33 ac TX lake.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2021. A SUCCESSFUL FISHERY: ITS IMPACT ON A CLOSE KNIT FAMILY. Beasley describes a 31 acre lake for growing bass bigger than 10 pounds and what the management keys that are needed.

PBoss article. May-June 2020. MISTAKES MADE MANAGING FOR TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS. Beasley – Numerous do’s and don’ts.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2019. UNDERSTANDING WHEN TO PRIORITIZE ELECTROFISHING. Beasley values and benefits of using it for proactive fish management.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2019. FALL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES & STRATEGIES. Beasley tells the things why and how to do it in fall for improving or maintaining trophy bass fisheries. Why Fall harvest is very important.

Listen to these good Sitting Dockside pond management podcasts about growing big bass.
Importance of abundant good habitat
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats?t=0
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/1...and-fish-habitat-for-lakes-and-ponds?t=0

Proper bass harvest improves bass fishery
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/9951429-episode-65-harvesting-fish-the-smart-way?t=0

Why bass harvest is important
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/6...-it-is-almost-biblical-for-your-lake?t=0

I am nosey. Who are you considering to hire to quote and manage the trophy fishery? IMO there are a few places in the Midwest that have a good ‘track record’ for trophy fish management. Whoever the candidates are, here are some points to consider.
A. What other trophy fisheries have they managed?

B. See actual copies their trophy bass management results.

C. Get in touch and talk to those client references who paid for the service. Ask some specific questions of the references that the consultant provides.

D. What will you and what do you expect to get for your money?

E. For your money payments are there any guarantees? Why or why not? A guarantee could involve being able to capture with electrofishing more numbers of a certain size of bass compared to the baseline survey. Hook smart bass could learn to avoid angler lures and not be sampled by anglers. You want everyone to understand what goals are expected and the type of typical results that will be produced so both sides are on the same “page”.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/02/23 04:13 PM. Reason: Edit improvements and more need to be done.

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In addition to Bills comments above, look at the bass tournaments today. What are the average bass weights in those tournaments? Look at "Major League Fishing shows. What are the average weights for the bass that they catch? They are scoring bass that weigh 1# or greater. I'm sure if you did enough research you can find the weigh-in weights of the tournaments. That will give you some idea of how hard it is to grow "Trophy" bass.

Another thing is to look at the bass genetics in the lake. Some genetics just flat out won't grow large bass.


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