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Hey guys I am actively trying to manage my 3 acre pond for trophy largemouth, and bluegill simultaneously. Do you believe this is possible? I've read a lot, and understand the importance of a stunted bass population and it's role in growing giant bluegill. Can both be done. I'm feeding my bluegill as much as I can, practicing suggested selective harvest of the bluegill, and providing plenty of forage for the largemouth, crawfish, fatheads, golden shiner, and trout in the winter. What are your thoughts???

Also, what do you think of substituting the stunted largemouth with stocked hybrid striper???

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A wise man (whose identity I am unwise enough to have forgotten) recently stated here that "you can have a lot of little predators and a few big prey, or a lot of little prey and a few big predators" (or something to that effect).

You can get big BG by feeding and having the number of BG reduced - in three acres, lotsa small LMB are your best bet for that.

IME HSB are not as good a predator for BG as LMB are, BUT you can get great big HSB via feeding. Consider small, crowded LMB and trophy BG and trophy HSB. I think you could do that.


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Theo is correct about fish balance and the ways to do it. LMB are compatible with HSB; crowding them both will produce larger BG. The more BG present and fewer bass present the bigger the bass will grow. If bass are not growing around 1 lb per year there are too many bass present. Each one to grow well however has to have lots and lots of BG to eat.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 06/30/23 02:03 PM.

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Abaggs - For starters and reference what is your definition of trophy LMbass and a giant bluegill as sizes that you want to see in your 3 ac pond? One needs goals to determine the best management methods to use and then know when those goals are achieved? Target sizes for larger individuals?

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/01/23 09:04 PM.

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Originally Posted by Abaggs
Hey guys I am actively trying to manage my 3 acre pond for trophy largemouth, and bluegill simultaneously. Do you believe this is possible? I've read a lot, and understand the importance of a stunted bass population and it's role in growing giant bluegill. Can both be done. I'm feeding my bluegill as much as I can, practicing suggested selective harvest of the bluegill, and providing plenty of forage for the largemouth, crawfish, fatheads, golden shiner, and trout in the winter. What are your thoughts???

Also, what do you think of substituting the stunted largemouth with stocked hybrid striper???

Abaggs,

I think you should choose big bluegill where you set the stage for numerous small LMB. In this scenario, the BG reproduction will be mostly consumed by LMB and you can further manage BG through harvest. You need many LMB to grow large BG. This is because LMB consume prey at a limited range of lengths proportional to their own. What this means is that big LMB need roughly the same number of BG to maintain themselves as do small LMB. So if you have a greater number of LMB there will be a greater number of BG YOY consumed each year. The idea is to have LMB standing weight divided among many more smaller individuals in order to maximize the consumption of individual BG YOY thus preventing too many BG.

This would create a situation where large LMB cannot find enough to eat. So to have large LMB you have to have some artificial means of supplementing food. The choices are feeding a few female LMB/acre an artificial diet or by supplementing forage that has attained a minimum length. Let's look at the possible pros and cons.

1. Artificial Feed.

Pros. Artificial feed could provide all the nutrition a few trophy LMB need to be maintained and grow.

Cons. It would be best implemented by providing daily rations. So one complication is how do you feed them through the cooler months under ice? Or when they are deep and won't come up to feed? The simple answer is that the LMB can't depend entirely on artificial feed and it is likely that they need to rely in part on natural foods in the pond. Although at first this seems totally cool ... we must consider what it may mean for the primary goal of having large BG. The problem is that large LMB that consume natural prey will consume small LMB. So figuring that an LMB will consume around 350 to 500 BG annually ... each small LMB that a big LMB eats increases the survival of BG. There is only so much standing weight of BG you can have and if its 500 lbs then if divided by 500 BG then they can average 1 lb. The loss of just a few small LMB can increase the need for harvest management of intermediate sized BG. Just something to consider. Having a few large LMB will make it easier to grow large LMB but it won't make it easier to grow large BG if any cannibalism of small LMB occurs.

2. Supplemental Forage.

Pros. If supplemental forage is stocked at sizes to ensure good survival (from predation by small LMB) then the forage supplemented will provide forage for the largest LMB in the pond. In principle, the large LMB need between 350-500 appropriate length forage fish per large LMB annually. The supplemental need is probably less than that.

Cons. The same caveat applies. Only it is more complicated. First large LMB may cannibalize smaller (LMB) increasing the need for BG harvest. Second, you really can't supplement BG without undermining the original goal. Supplemented BG will compete with BG already in the pond thus reducing growth rates. Also, if you must already harvest BG ... isn't supplementing BG just adding to the harvest need directly? If you were to supplement forage, you would need to introduce other species that are less competitive. Crawfish and trout seem to be good choices but they still need to be in the appropriate sizes throughout the year to be optimum supplements for forage.

I think either approach would allow you to grow larger predators but I just wanted the response to clearly describe how having larger predators will come at the expense of the goal of large BG. I don't think there is way to make both goals optimum. Each goal comes at the expense of the other like some kind of law of nature. Any action will create effects that cascade through trophic levels. To return to Bill's question ... the key to understanding what to do will be to understand what your goals are in terms of ultimate sizes. If 2 lb BG are a goal ... I would definitely only sparingly harvest LMB and I would concentrate harvest on the largest of the current sizes. If 8 lb LMB are the goal, then it will be very, very, difficult to grow 2lb BG sustainably. The question is do you want optimum for one extreme or the other or do you want some type of compromise between the two extremes?

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/02/23 04:47 PM. Reason: added bold lettering

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jpsdad - explains some good details that having both really big bass AND trophy 2 lb BG are very, very, very difficult to achieve. At least very difficult to achieve for having high number of both types in the same pond. As he mentions maybe the easiest option and and still a good fishery is to try to manage for acceptable numbers of 3 to 5 lb bass and 1 lb BG. - "a type of compromise between the two extremes".

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/03/23 09:30 AM.

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Bluegill over 1lb, and bass up to and over 8lbs.

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I am working on an answer.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/10/23 07:48 PM.

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Discussion with some other wise fish managers concludes that you can PROBABLY do this IF you feed the fish best quality protein foods and PROPERLY aerate the 3 ac pond so it gets at lest one complete turnover per day; better is 2 turnovers per day for the main basin. .

One pellet size for growing BG and also feed the 2 LB+ bass the hand throw type of high protein pellets. Pellets for the BG grows the 10" BG and the hand throw 1" pellets help in growing big bass where it helps take predatory pressure off the the BG to better create the 10" BG. For growing the best fishery it is often recommended to have one automatic feeder per acre of water. Less than that expect less than the best results for the type of fishery that are your goals of 1 pound BG (10.3") and 8 lb bass (23.8") .

Comments regarding growing larger bass. With proper feeding and aeration do not expect to have more than 30 total bass over 5 pounds (10bass/ac). IMO I don't think you will be able to have more than 2 "top end" bass at 8 lb in 3 ac assuming a normal number of 4lb, 5 lb, 6lb,and 7lb present and coming "up" to replace the natural attrition that will occur of the largest oldest LMB in a system. The population structure PER ACRE of the mature BG-LMB fishery (of 5-6yrs) if you do all things correctly would be something similar to 6bass@4lb; 5@ 5lb; 3@ 6lb; 1or2@ 7lb and 1@ 8lb. And If you are lucky 1@ 9-10lbs for the 3 acres of water. This all assumes that you carefully manage the numbers of 10 oz to 1 pound bass to provide adequate food to keep these larger 5lb+ bass growing properly each year. Example - A 7 lb bass needs to eat 50-52 pounds of fish a year to grow to 8 pounds. The challenge is can you manage the fish foods and correctly manage the fish numbers per year to accomplish your goals?. Time will tell the rest of this story.

LMB do not live forever especially if anglers do not know how to properly handle big old bass to minimize handling stressors while the bass are unhooked and released. Anglers will likely kill your largest bass from latent or delayed deaths due to improper handling. Body slime removal kills lots of fish despite the fish swimming away. Body slime is the fish's defense of fungus, bacterial and virus infections. Despite the obvious, the biggest oldest LMB are not the strongest most durable bass in a pond.

Another important piece of the puzzle for growing big bass is learning to correctly handle the large LMB once caught. You don't want to grow them large, then injure or even kill them by handling them incorrectly once they are caught.
A. Use a rubberized net, don't grab them by the lower jaw.
B. Use two hands to support the fish to take it out of the net. One on the lower jaw, one supporting the back 1/3 of the fish.
C. Do NOT let it flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat - that removes the slime coat and opens the fish up to infection. Doing that is basically a later death sentence for that big fish even if it appears okay as it swims away. Body infection with fungus and bacterial growths takes one to two weeks to take its toll on a big fish.


A pond owner in Texas that has a 35 acre trophy LMB "lake" has a few rules. Break the rules, and you cannot fish in the pond. 1) Barbless hooks. 2) Support the fish with 2 hands. 3) Net the fish, keep the fish in the net in the water while you figure out what you are going to do next. This is important because of the next step. 4) The fish can only be out of the water for 30 seconds max. If you want to weigh the fish, leave the fish in the net, weigh everything and then weigh the net after the fish is released, don't hang the fish by it's jaw or worse, the gills. Texas Share Lunker has had LMB come in with broken lower jaws because of poor handling, and the fish never recover. Loss of body slime coating almost always eventually kills fish from various types of mishandlings.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/12/23 09:12 PM.

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Thank you! Great stuff!

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Just to add to the above posts, water quality, correct cover in the pond for the fish (both LMB and BG) and having the correct SIZE forage fish in the pond for the LMB will be your main things to watch for. Ponds need roughly 20% of the surface acreage in cover for the fish. Wintertime means cover in deep water, summer is shallow water. Without cover for the LMB to hide in and ambush their prey you will be growing marathon runners, and they don't weigh a lot.

Correct size forage fish mean fish that are 1/4 to 1/3 the body length of the LMB. FOR EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES. 4" lmb = 1" fish. 24" LMB = 6" fish.

If there is enough forage fish of the correct size in the pond the LMB will grow fast. I've had customers follow our recommendations and have had 3" LMB stocked in early April be 13" by early October.

Do your research on the fish food pellets. You want a feed that will NOT cause fatty livers, which leads to premature deaths. You want a feed that fish will metabolize, not a feed that they only metabolize part of it and the rest of the feed passes through the fish to feed underwater plants, phytoplankton and algae. Stocking feed trained LMB will help you. Maybe towards the middle of year 2 but definitely by year 3 look at the Sweeney Big Mouth Feeder or the feeder by Texas Avenger that can feed the handthrow pellets (1" dia pellets). You probably will need to get at least one of those feeders if not 3.

Good water quality means no stressors on the fish. No low O2 events, no big swings in pH, No boiling hot water during the summer. (think of shade for the pond). Having the correct alkalinity will help greatly.

An electroshock survey every other year will tell you a lot about the fishery without educating the fish to angling tactics.


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Thanks so much for the feed back, that's basically what i am doing.

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Where is the science to back all of these claims of yours???? Grabbing a bass by the lower jaw will eventually kill it???? 30 seconds out of the water and it dies???? I'm not a professional tournament fisherman, but you are basically saying every single bass weighed into a tourney dies. Also a a majority of your largest bass are completely uncatchable fish so no way are u going to wipe them all out by taking a few photos that time over 30 seconds out of the water. I've caught the same 6 1/2 lb bass multiple times over multiple years based on distinct marks the fish has, that fish has been photographed, probably hit the dock and is still alive. Come on now.

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I handle fish nearly everyday in large numbers. The suggestions are merely to maximize survival by minimizing potential health issues.
It's not a cut and dried deal but error on the side of caution provides the best possible outcome.
It's a numbers game that includes a very substantial amount of time, labor and of course cost- a very substantial monetary investment that most anglers are never exposed to.
I have no dog in this fight here but I respect the judgment of the owner's requests and I have enough experience in fish handling, including State tournament mortality studies, to say this is a very realistic request.
FYI, Tourney mortality studies show 20-30% mort is about the norm.. by collecting random fish from these tourney's and held in controlled conditions, often times it exceeds 60%.

Last edited by Snipe; 07/14/23 12:56 PM.
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The smaller sizes of bass can be mishandled and survived a lot better than the biggest 7 lb to 12 lb bass. The bigger the bass the more they are affected by stress.
Why are so few 90 - 100 year old people especially those tubby ones above 90-100RW not marathon runners? Age and stress affects all animals. The suggestions that I provided above were just ideas, things or examples to try and do to minimize stressors on the fish and increase chances of long term survival after release. When one spends lots of time, effort and expense growing trophy fish, and then drag them around on the ground and back twist their jaw pulled by 8-10 pound body weight before release, is this sensible? Remember fish live basically weightless lives until out of the water. Then mean old Mr. gravity is a player.


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And would YOU want this guy messing with your health?
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Originally Posted by Spicelanebass
Where is the science to back all of these claims of yours???? Grabbing a bass by the lower jaw will eventually kill it???? 30 seconds out of the water and it dies???? I'm not a professional tournament fisherman, but you are basically saying every single bass weighed into a tourney dies. Also a a majority of your largest bass are completely uncatchable fish so no way are u going to wipe them all out by taking a few photos that time over 30 seconds out of the water. I've caught the same 6 1/2 lb bass multiple times over multiple years based on distinct marks the fish has, that fish has been photographed, probably hit the dock and is still alive. Come on now.

]A pond owner in Texas that has a 35 acre trophy LMB "lake" has a few rules. Break the rules, and you cannot fish in the pond. 1) Barbless hooks. 2) Support the fish with 2 hands. 3) Net the fish, keep the fish in the net in the water while you figure out what you are going to do next. This is important because of the next step. 4) The fish can only be out of the water for 30 seconds max. If you want to weigh the fish, leave the fish in the net, weigh everything and then weigh the net after the fish is released, don't hang the fish by it's jaw or worse, the gills. Texas Share Lunker has had LMB come in with broken lower jaws because of poor handling, and the fish never recover. Loss of body slime coating almost always eventually kills fish from various types of mishandling.

This is a customer of mine and a friend. His "pond" is 35 acres, and he's put 10's of thousands of dollars into it, if not over $100K. It is stocked with Share Lunker Bass that he was able to purchase at an auction. Annual stocking of threadfin shad, etc., etc. There have been multiple TV shows filmed there, you just don't know it. His pond, his rules and I agree with him. This "pond" is fly fish only except for rare occasions, and the pond best LMB on a fly rod is in the low teens. I caught one that was just shy of 10#.

If you are invited there, either you adhere to his rules, or you end your fishing trip early and are never invited back. Spicelanbass, once you start dumping that kind of money into your pond, how would you feel if someone came and didn't follow your rules?

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I want to address some of the Spicelane comments.

Repeating From Spicelane -
Quote
Where is the science to back all of these claims of yours???? Grabbing a bass by the lower jaw will eventually kill it???? 30 seconds out of the water and it dies???? I'm not a professional tournament fisherman, but you are basically saying every single bass weighed into a tourney dies. Also a a majority of your largest bass are completely uncatchable fish so no way are u going to wipe them all out by taking a few photos that time over 30 seconds out of the water. I've caught the same 6 1/2 lb bass multiple times over multiple years based on distinct marks the fish has, that fish has been photographed, probably hit the dock and is still alive. Come on now.
.

The bigger that fish gets the more likely it can die when mishandled by you or someone else. People and most all anglers do not realize what all it takes in time, money and daily effort and management to grow trophy fish (bass) unless they have grown trophy class fish in a pond. Truly big trophy fish just don’t happen easily by stocking small fish.

Some of my posted comments were “pond rules” used by a Texas pond owner who is actually spending lots of time and big money to grow some valuable trophy bass 10 - 13lb. Those are his rules as noted by "esshup" to protect his fish and not just my rules; although those are very good rules. Some of your Spicelane comments lead me to believe you would not be welcome to fish in his trophy bass lake.

Firstly you “twisted” and exaggerated my words to make your points. Go back and carefully reread my wording in my post above. I use words of "likely", "minimize" "reduce" and NOT the definitive words of "always", “definitely” and "will kill", and "30 sec out and it dies". I am not basically saying EVERY weighed bass dies as you accuse. FYI - there are published studies of tournament caught bass and the survival percentages that are available. One just has to know how and where to find that published information. Tournament LMB survival percentages were studied and the results showed it does depend a lot on the techniques of each angler after hooking the bass.

If someone does not believe me and does not like my bass handling suggestions then see and learn from the other “experts”.

Bass resource =


Vermont Fish Specially See 7:00+ min.


https://www.louisianasportsman.com/...r-catch-and-release-handling-techniques/

Rereading From Spicelane -
Quote
Where is the science to back all of these claims of yours???? Grabbing a bass by the lower jaw will eventually kill it???? 30 seconds out of the water and it dies???? I'm not a professional tournament fisherman, but you are basically saying every single bass weighed into a tourney dies. Also a a majority of your largest bass are completely uncatchable fish so no way are u going to wipe them all out by taking a few photos that time over 30 seconds out of the water. I've caught the same 6 1/2 lb bass multiple times over multiple years based on distinct marks the fish has, that fish has been photographed, probably hit the dock and is still alive. Come on now.
.

You are correct that largest bass are often LESS likely to bite and IMO this is because a big percentage of their siblings have been harvested or killed thus the “hook smart” ones are still alive with good survival experiences.

Initially and through the years the weaker ones were maybe not so fortunate as you may have hopefully learned from your current angler experiences. If one actually owns a pond where it took numerous years to grow big fish, and use daily fish watching activity at their pond, the angling experiences do teach some good useful information about latent fish deaths after the fish being mishandled. Experience is a good teacher. My suggestions were mainly for new or inexperienced pond owners with goals to grow some trophy fish.

Grow some big trophy class or state record fish and you will realize what I am talking about regarding the importance of handling of really big angler hooked valuable time involved fish. They just don't happen automatically. Try it and learn.

Science to back the claims.
Spicelane says - “I've caught the same 6 1/2 lb bass multiple times over multiple years based on distinct marks the fish has, that fish has been photographed, probably hit the dock and is still alive.”

Readers should remember that you are an ‘experienced’ angler. SOME of your lucky fish could have “hit the dock and still be alive”. Initially, the unlucky and weaker bass may not have been so fortunate as you were learning on your journey of angler behavior; be it what it seems to be.

However some of your past angled bass may have died and you never realized it because you did not actually own each bass and watchfully and monitor each of those fish’s activities for 2 -3 weeks or longer period after released. One fish example does not make the all inclusive rule. For fish, especially big fish with even mild hidden damage, it sometimes reduces or eventually reduces their ability to eat properly, maintain a healthy slime coat, they then lose weight, become weak and other resultant health problems can easily lead to an early death.

Remember the pond owner’s goal for my post was for growing and maintaining trophy bass in 3 acres where the trophy sizes will eventually amount to just a couple fish 7 lb to 8 lb; maybe one of 10 lbs. Make an unwise handling mistake and all the valuable time and cost for that time invested trophy is lost. Consider all and what have been lost. If you don't actually grow those trophies one does not realize the rarity and value involved. The lucky most durable fish will likely survive some mishandling. Remember smaller fish better tolerate mishandling compared to the oldest mommy bass.

NOTE - Not all fish float when they die. I have had a cage full of fish die and all laid on the bottom with only a few to eventually float.

Spicelane - you are obviously not like the teenage angler who I saw last week drag a 1 lb bass a hundred feet on the GROUND back to the tackle box for someone to help take it off the hook. This type of behavior is something I was trying to prevent for a new pond owner who is wanting to try and grow BIG bass that will take 7 to 10 years of time and effort to produce. That is a lot of time and big expense to lose for a simple careless mistake that could have been prevented with a little education or some basic angler rules or caution. Much better healthy and alive than sick or dead.

Peer reviewed published science says some bass are uncatchable and this trait or tendency has been proven to be passed on to the next 2 tested generations. If you carefully read a past Science & Cutting edge article by ewest in PBoss magazine you would know or have read about this science based article that had a literature reference. Individuals in that population of bass in that research were found to have different amounts of "intelligence" or willingness to bite lures. Some bass as your example mentioned will repetitively bite lures. Those fish I interpret as dumb and possibly most aggressive ones will repeatedly accept angler lures, while some on the other extreme of the spectrum never bite a lure and were considered smartest or most cautious bass. Some uncaught bass of the original population was allowed to spawn. Next subsequent generations produced larger percentages of no bite bass. I can look that reference up if you need to have it.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 07/15/23 09:33 AM.

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Hey Spicelanebass...you're in a row boat next to a battleship. smile People still think fish, pecans, and watermelons are free. They're not...when a bass makes it 5 years in a pond, it deserves your best. Proper handling of fish is important. Cody is right on, so is Scott. It only makes sense to handle fish with care. Will holding them by the jaw kill them? Probably not. But the bigger the fish, the heavier it is, the more stressful its weight becomes out of water. Look at it like an over-filled plastic grocery bag. Pick it up by the handle...likely to break. We support our groceries when the sacker over does it...we hold a big bass by the jaw, don't crack it back, support the belly with wet hands.


Teach a man to grow fish...
He can teach to catch fish...
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I don't know how off topic this is but my son and I have had an interesting couple of experiences this week. I have been harvesting around 4 lbs of BG in the 4.5" to 6" range each week. Recently, James had a renewed interest in targeting the big CC so when fileting the BG I severed the spine and removed the skeleton. The result is the fish head with guts still attached (my dad always liked to open bait to have the guts exposed ... he thought it helped fish find the bait faster). OK, so James has landed 3 very good CC but here is what I never anticipated. He has also caught 5 LMB in the 16" to 19" range fishing those BG heads on bottom waiting for CC to bite. Now I didn't expect that to happen but it did pique my interest. Would it be worthwhile to repurpose the by product of fileting as a supplemental food for those bass? Any possible problems?


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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If it was closer to Halloween.....


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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... one could try pumpkin spice bait.


"Live like you'll die tomorrow, but manage your grass like you'll live forever."
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jpsdad - I would also put this cut fish bait information in another appropriate topic; one that more reflects angling for fish. This would spread the information over a wider span of PB Forum and not have it hidden within another topic. Your bass catching using a form of cut bait is interesting information that might enlighten a different way to catch bass. Dead bait has been found to work pretty good for for NP - pike especially in late winter - early spring. I suggest that your described method be used numerous times in several ponds to provide more confidence and reproducibility to the different type of angling bait / method.


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jpsdad,

It may not be so much that your son's bait was right for LMB, but his "timing" was right.

I expect the water in your pond is quite warm now. The bass may have moved deeper, and are now hanging on the bottom. Further, they may have lost most of their good ambush points that you have created for them in shallower water. (They probably move into shallow water to feed around dawn.)

So now they have been trading off comfort against getting easy meals. Lo and behold, your son chucks a tasty meal right into their laps. Not many bass will skip a free meal!

(All of the above is just pure speculation on my part, based on bass switching from their spring pattern to their dog days of summer pattern.)

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
I don't know how off topic this is but my son and I have had an interesting couple of experiences this week. I have been harvesting around 4 lbs of BG in the 4.5" to 6" range each week. Recently, James had a renewed interest in targeting the big CC so when fileting the BG I severed the spine and removed the skeleton. The result is the fish head with guts still attached (my dad always liked to open bait to have the guts exposed ... he thought it helped fish find the bait faster). OK, so James has landed 3 very good CC but here is what I never anticipated. He has also caught 5 LMB in the 16" to 19" range fishing those BG heads on bottom waiting for CC to bite. Now I didn't expect that to happen but it did pique my interest. Would it be worthwhile to repurpose the by product of fileting as a supplemental food for those bass? Any possible problems?

Jpsdad I have been using cut bg and whole bg for LMB for quite some time usually on a jug line….. works good

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