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Hi Everyone,
My parents have a farm in Hume, Virginia about an hour west of Washington, DC. In order to get my wife and I to bring the granddaughter over to the farm more on weekends they are having a pond constructed (I am an avid bass fisherman who spends most Saturdays out on his bass boat), the farm is short of activities that draw people down there (it gets boring to put it bluntly) and a trophy fishery will definitely help!

The pond is almost finished and will be approximately .75 to 1 acre with depths as deep as 18'. The pond is fed by a creek and a spring. Construction should be finished this week. The pictures below were taken yesterday and when finished the dam will be 4 feet higher and the bottom will be dug out more. We will be adding several large stumps, rock piles, a "fish house" made of cinderblocks and concrete slabs, a few large logs, and 4 of the porupine fish structures (1 large one for the far shore bluff wall and three small ones for the sloping shallow shore) and a wooden dock which is being constructed as I type this. The area around the dock will not have any stucture as a swimming area will be set up around the dock.

Here is the pond as of yesterday:







Sloping shore:






My hope is to grow trophy bass (around these parts anything over 6lbs is a trophy) but I have not decided on largemouth or smallmouth yet. I know I need to get the forage base going, my intent was to wait until the pond was 4-5 feet deep (should be mid-March if not sooner) and stock 40-50lbs of fathead minnows, 20-30lbs of shiners, along with crayfish/snails/tadpoles/daphnia. Then wait until fall before stocking 500 bluegill, 200 RES and 50 bass of either largemouth or smallmouth variety.

Would threadfin shad be a better forage fish than shiners? I have seen people suggest that a few goldfish will be helpful for alge removal, is this true? Should I stock catfish (I don't plan on eating the catfish but I hear they do well at cleaning up the pond but hurt the bass)? We will be adding a feeder if we can get sufficient power to the area but that is not a certainty, can a feeder be run off of solar panels? I know the stocking numbers I proposed are on the high side but I know the FHM will get annihilated by the bass and bluegill and I figured too many pieces of bass candy would not be a problem and would get the bluegill and bass off to a good start. Am I right?

I have a bass boat and fish tournaments on the Potomac River regularly, I hope to catch big bass but I don't see myself ever throwing worms under a bobber for bluegill once the kid is old enough to graduate to a spinning reel. If the bluegill get big and provide bigger bass then great but I am not looking for a trophy bluegill pond at the expense of the bass. I am sure my daughter will catch bluegill but I will get her into bass fishing so she can join me out on the river; hopefully she will be casting for bass in the next three years just in time for these pond bass to be in the 3-4 pound range.

Any help or advice is appreciated! I know I wrote this post in a hyper manner but thinking about this pond gets me psyched!!!


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Hey Rock,

Welcome to the PBF! I also have a 1 acre pond. And if I had to do it again I would have stocked BG and HSB. As many have stated on this site trying to get a trophy LMB pond out of a 3/4 to 1 acre pond is almost impossible. Don't mean to burst your bubble! And if you try it and get it to work let me know what you did cause I love to bass fish too!


Good Luck, The pond looks good by the way!


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Thanks for the response! There are a lot of ponds in the area of this farm that produce big numbers of bass with the occasional 5lb+ fish. I know that most of these ponds were stocked by the standard "pond mix" that is dumped in the water by a truck and then never thought of again. I also know that most of these ponds have no structure in them at all. I had hoped that with a more patient stocking program I could end up with a good population of bass ranging from 3-6lbs with more small bass that we could regularly harvest. Is my hope an actual possibility? If I just wanted to get the biggest bass I could out of this pond (not trophies but not 100,000 identical 8" fish) what would the best approach be?


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Welcome to the forum Rockville, gonna be a nice pond. As far a feeders go most will operate fairly well on just battery power but you can get solar chargers for most of them, and since your feeding go with the aquamax Largemouth pellet, it's big and 45% protein.
Also if you want big bass don't overdo the amount of structure so they will be able to get at your forage.
Hang on and you should get info from the bass experts, good luck.



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Keep holding; I'm no expert.

Dynamics to consider. These are POND Bass101

1. The AVERAGE BALANCED pond can carry about 100 pounds of predators per acre. A predator is an animal that eats smaller animals.

2. It takes 10 pounds of forage(smaller fish, frogs, etc.) for a bass to gain one pound.

3. A bass needs to consume prey that is 1/4 to 1/3 its body size. This means that it has to have more calorie intake than energy expended. From this we see that a 3 pound bass could starve to death on minnows.

4. Bass are spawning machines and have to be managed(culled). And it's a lot of work. After the 2nd year you need to cull every bass 14 inches and under. If you don't the pond becomes what we call "bass heavy". The smaller bass eat the normal forage before it becomes large enough to feed the larger bass. The bigger bass suffer and lose health. And, those smaller bass get conditioned to the top of the line predators presence. They get lockjaw and refuse everything with a string attached.

These are the reasons why RC51 is saying that bass are really hard work in a 1 acre water hole. That's why a lot of us are thinking more about HSB and pellets.


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.

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HSB aren't an option in VA as they are illegal to stock. Just FYI on going that route...

If you can source pellet trained SMB I'd say they may be as good of an option as I can think of for what you are trying to accomplish. Good luck finding them in the mid Atlantic area though, we aren't exactly blessed with a large number of fish hatcheries to choose from. You can stock non pellet trained SMB, however I would attempt to keep them from having much success in spawning. This should prevent them from becoming too abundant and over eating their forage.

Speaking of forage, you have a new pond which means you have the golden window to establish a well rounded mix of forage species. Be patient in stocking them and you'll reap the rewards. Stocking SMB over LMB will mean you have a better chance of having at least a few species of forage naturally reproducing in your pond, particularly if you keep their numbers in check and provide good habitat for your forage fish.

Forage species I would highly recommend for a SMB pond in northern VA would be:

fathead minnows
bluntnose minnows
banded killifish
spotfin shiners
satinfin shiners
golden shiners
tessellated darter

If you decide to go the LMB route and not the SMB route, then your sunfish(BG/RES) will be the backbone of your forage as the LMB will almost certainly remove all the other non spiny forage fish. If you go the SMB route, I would skip the BG and only stock RES with possibly some redbreast sunfish. SMB struggle at best to properly control BG reproduction, even LMB struggle to control BG reproduction here in northern VA.

Skip the threadfin shad, they will not over winter in northern VA. Do not stock goldfish. They will make a muddy mess of your water and don't eat aquatic vegetation. If you can source a safe crayfish species, they would be fine to stock. Just understand that some crayfish dig holes and can damage your dam. If you don't plan on eating catfish and don't have much interest in fishing for them, skip them. They'll just compete with your bass for limited forage a 3/4 acre pond can produce.

In northern VA, it probably will be 3 and more like 4 years before your bass hit 14". Even with good forage. We don't have nearly as long a growing season as the south does... That is why a 6 lb bass is big around here! Research the forum... Understand how to measure and weight fish and keep track of relative weights. Do forum searches on SMB to decide if you want to go that route. The one nice thing about SMB is if you do decide on them and later don't like them, stock a few LMB and within a few years they'll be gone and you'll have a LMB pond.

Hume is a beautiful area, you can see that in your photos. Best of luck! Read up... There's lots to learn here in the archives and by doing searches with key words of interest to you.

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Thanks for all the help guys! Harvesting fish will not be a problem if I go LMB or SMB but I am leaning towards SMB since I think they fight better and make better table fare. Will SMB survive on FHM, GSH, RES and crayfish or will I need to add something else to the mix? If a 3lb bass will starve on minnows then what forage would be ideal for larger SMB and should I stock that forage now or wait until fall when I stock the bass? Would stocking a smaller number of bass potentially be a good thing so that they can crow quicker and take longer to annihilate the FHM population?

I have been looking at finding a hatchery that sells bluntnose minnows/banded killifish/spotfin shiners/satinfin shiners/tesselated darters but I have had no luck, anyone know where I can get them in this area?

I was planning on using this hatchery for my FHM, crayfish, GSH, RES and eventually Bass: http://zettsfishhatchery.com/ Does anyone have any experience with them good/bad?


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Catmandoo as well as a few others here have experience with Zetts WVA and there are not many complaints. Dave's comment about "3 lb bas starving on minnows" was ment for primarily for LMB not less regarding SMB, although larger smallies do much better on larger forage than primarily 3". IMO 4 lb SMB is equivalent to abt 6 lb LMB. The only way you will get the "bluntnose minnows/banded killifish/spotfin shiners/satinfin shiners/tesselated darters" is to contact CJBS in private messages or collect these fish from the local waters. If you go with these smaller minnows IMO and experience you will need some submerged vegetation cover for them to maintain long term survival. Hardy hybrid water lilies 'small varieties' work well for this. The only ones that Zetts sells in this category are 'Bronze Commanche", Indiana, and Yellow Chromestella. Also see Lilypons Water Gardens in Adamstown, MD. There is quite a bit of old topics discussion here about water lilies for farm ponds.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/22/12 10:53 AM.

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Thanks Bill!

Is stocking Yellow Perch a good idea and if so when should I add them? My experience with YP comes primarily from fishing for them in very deep water during the late winter on the Potomac River, they are delicious and fun to catch but I was under the impression they are predacious on fingerling bass and can raid spawning nests. Then again bluegill do the same thing... I am pretty sure I will stock SMB at this point and I want to be sure that I add something for the big ones to prey on and I hope YP could be the answer.


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Welcome to the forum. I'm just west of Winchester, and know the Hume area well.

I don't think you will have any success with bass without having bluegill. It would be very tough. Before you start stocking, I'd suggest you order two of Bob Lusk's books -- "Raising Trophy Bass", and "Perfect Pond -- Want One?" (Pond Boss Book Store) Both are excellent primers on what you want to do. I'd also suggest a lot of reading here on the forum. There is a lot of info about what you want to do. We'll also be very glad to answer questions.

Zetts does a good job. It is best to call first to find out what they have available. Plus, they like to have you call in your order. They stay pretty busy, but they will have your order boxed and ready to go when you arrive. Zetts doesn't always have SMB, but they always have LMB.

The "Fish Wagon" (Fish Wagon) out of Arkansas will be coming through to the Southern States stores in about two weeks, but I doubt you'll have enough water in the pond by then. They do a good job, and come through about four times a year. I know they will be stopping at the Winchester store this time, and I believe they do the Middleburg store. It is possible they do the TSC in either Marshall or Warrenton. If you have enough water, they can provide fathead minnows, and their prices are much better than Zetts. The Fish Wagon charges about $1/lb. for them, with a 10 lb., minimum.

Ken


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I've got lots of experience with YP and SMB in NW OH. The combination works well in my experience. I've never seen where the YP raid SMB nests unless YP are over abundant and too crowded and there is a lack of smaller minnnow forage, thus the minnow diversity suggested by CJ which is an especially good plan if you go with YP and SMB. Quite a bit of info here also on the YP and SMB combination. Minnows of spotfin, satinfin shiners and bluntnose minnows and crayfish are very important for this combination to be really successful. I've found that YP eat lots of YOY crayfish if they are available.

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Thanks Ken I will give them a call.

The dam and excavation will be completed by Friday and the posts for the dock will be done Friday as well, I am going to the farm on Saturday to meet with the builder and use his heavy lifting equipment to place some structure and create a gravel bed. After that he will be doing some tests to ensure the dam is good to go and then the valve will be closed. The builder expects the pond to fill in 10 days, the creek that fills it runs pretty fast and has an 8 foot waterfall that flows hard even in dry weather. Adding fish in 14 days won't be a problem at all.


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Originally Posted By: Bill Cody
I've got lots of experience with YP and SMB in NW OH. The combination works well in my experience. I've never seen where the YP raid SMB nests unless YP are over abundant and too crowded and there is a lack of smaller minnnow forage, thus the minnow diversity suggested by CJ which is an especially good plan if you go with YP and SMB. Quite a bit of info here also on the YP and SMB combination. Minnows of spotfin, satinfin shiners and bluntnose minnows and crayfish are very important for this combination to be really successful. I've found that YP eat lots of YOY crayfish if they are available.


Are Yellow Perch essential to grow larger SMB or can I expect to grow some 3+lb smallies with just FHM/GSH/RES/Crayfish/frogs?

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YP are not essential for growing 3 LB+ smallies but it helps esp if the smallies are also feeding on pellets (smb pellet trained can be very hard to find). SMB at 3 lbs are very nice smallies at 17.2"-18" long (std wt). If you can get YP that are pellet trained they will easily grow to 12"-13" long and some to 14"-15" with a regular diet of high protein pellets. YP at 3"-5" make good forage for adult SMB, but so do GSH and RES primarily because RES are minimal spawners and rarely over populate. Read more info here on spawning habitat for smallies. I'll see if I can locate some links. If you plan on having enough frogs to feed some smallies plan on having a significant amount of cover esp emergent shallow water vegetation for the frogs and tadpoles. Smallies seem to like tadpoles. YP do not eat bullfrog tadpoles in my experience.

I see that Lilypons Water Gardens has moved to Adamstown MD. http://www.lilypons.com/
The 'Changeable' lilies are always smaller varieties with small spread, slower growing, and staying in shallower water of mostly 2-4ft.

SMB Spawning and Biology:
http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/smallmouth-spawning.html

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=181122

http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/growing-smallmouth.html

http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/smallmouth.html

http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/smallmouth_bass_stocking.html

SMB Stocking - Management
http://www.sdstate.edu/nrm/outreach/pond...ul-Aug-2004.pdf



Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/22/12 09:03 PM. Reason: small fixes

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Originally Posted By: RockvilleMDAngler

The builder expects the pond to fill in 10 days, the creek that fills it runs pretty fast and has an 8 foot waterfall that flows hard even in dry weather. Adding fish in 14 days won't be a problem at all.


Your location is in one of the best places anywhere for a pond. The soil is perfect -- perc sites for sanitary drainfields are difficult to find. You've got lots of excellent watershed, and springs, that provide ideal pond water. And, even during dry periods, adequate moisture gets ripped out of the clouds as they pass over the Blueridge.

However, before the builder leaves, here are a couple of things to think about, if they weren't already addressed.

You mentioned a spring as one of the water sources. If it is in the pond, hopefully it is one that runs even during serious droughts. If not, it will act as a drain during the dry times.

The stream is the second concern. We normally don't recommend damming streams because of the volume of water they can produce during a big rain storm. In the photos I don't see an emergency spillway. With the thought that the pond could fill in as little as 10 days, I do hope your builder put in a very large standpipe that can handle at least double the average stream flow this time of year. And hopefully, they put in a very substantial spillway for our heavy rains.

I regularly travel Route 50, Route 55, Route 17, and I-66 through your pond area. I'm not sure how many times I've seen new ponds washed out in that area due to inadequate spillways. There are some very good pond builders in the area -- and there are the guys with excavating equipment who will give you a good dirt moving quote. Hopefully, you got the first.

Good luck,
Ken


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Originally Posted By: catmandoo

You mentioned a spring as one of the water sources. If it is in the pond, hopefully it is one that runs even during serious droughts. If not, it will act as a drain during the dry times.


The stream is the second concern. We normally don't recommend damming streams because of the volume of water they can produce during a big rain storm. In the photos I don't see an emergency spillway. With the thought that the pond could fill in as little as 10 days, I do hope your builder put in a very large standpipe that can handle at least double the average stream flow this time of year. And hopefully, they put in a very substantial spillway for our heavy rains.


I am glad to hear that our soil is perfect! Having read through a few dozen threads on this board written by guys losing their mind dealing with soil issues and dam issues I realize we are very fortunate!

I spoke with my Father about the creek and apparently I was slightly off when I said the pond is both spring and creek fed. While there is a spring in the bottom of the pond and a creek that feeds the pond apparently the creek itself is spring fed and flows no matter the weather (although obviously at times of heavy rain it flows harder than times of drought). The stream starts about 300 yards above the pond and has a waterfall with an 8-foot drop so the water should be well oxygenated when it reaches the pond. The spring-fed stream runs directly into a larger flowing creek known as thumb run which eventually empties into the rappahanock.

No emergency spillway was built because the pond is totally reliant upon this spring, the overflow pipe is 18" pvc and should be sufficient from what we are told.

Here is the aerial view of the pond before construction (pond outlined in blue), the stream runs through the woods under the pond and the creek above the pond is thumb run:


I don't have a good picture of the waterfall but I will get one on Saturday. Here are some of the spring-fed creek when we first began construction:



Here is the overflow and the drain pipes on the outside of the dam:




The only bad thing about our layout is that we would have to take GREAT caution if we ever empty the pond for maintenance to avoid having our fish populate Thumb Run.

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Originally Posted By: catmandoo

Your location is in one of the best places anywhere for a pond. The soil is perfect -- perc sites for sanitary drainfields are difficult to find. You've got lots of excellent watershed, and springs, that provide ideal pond water. And, even during dry periods, adequate moisture gets ripped out of the clouds as they pass over the Blueridge.


Ken I know all ponds are different and there is no easy answer to this question without more data that I do not have at this point, but would it be fair to say that most soil and spring water in this area is fertile and does not require fertilization and/or aeration? I keep reading that many people put a few tons of lime down on the bottom of their pond before filling it and our builder never suggested this and none of the ponds nearby did this before filling up as far as I know. I just want to know if this is something I should be worried about. Your post essentially said that this area is ideal for a pond, I just want to know if ideal means good ph/alkalinity etc.


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2 things I see about the overflow/drain pipe on the back side of the dam.
1) I believe it's too small (diameter for the drain pipe). If you get a lot of rain, the 18" pipe won't be able to get rid of the water fast enough, and without an properly constructed emergency spillway, the dam could wash out if water flows over it for a length of time.

2) There isn't enough protection around the 18" pipe to keep water from starting to eat away at the backside of the dam. I'd see if you could run the end of the pipe further away from the dam, and place a lot of large sized rocks for the water to fall on to help prevent the outflow from digging a large hole.

Has the contractor dug other ponds that hold water? Have you or your parents looked at them? I'm saying this because there are a LOT of people that can move dirt very well, but don't know squat about properly constructing a pond.

How much watershed flows into the pond? If the pond builder doesn't know, then there's no way that he can properly figure out the size of the drain pipe. The pond has to be constructed so it will withstand a "100 year rain event" without the dam failing.

If it fails, and there are houses downhill, then there's the possibility of your parents being liable for some if not all of the damage.........

I think you might be better with the SMB than the LMB. You don't need BG unless stocking LMB, they will overpopulate with SMB.


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I need to talk with my Dad and the builder to see what the situation is with the spillway. I am pretty sure that the back of the dam is not yet complete since the pictures were taken when they needed to add 4 more feet to the dam. We got a permit to build the pond and it is very close to a flood plain so I think the emergency spillway is going to be a short trench to the flood plain. There are no houses behind the pond, just hundreds of acres of grass fields that our neighbor does absolutely nothing with (he won't even let cows graze on it).

The builder lives 1/2 mile from my parents farm and does tons of work for them especially when my parents are in DC during the work week. He feeds cows, repairs fence lines, renovates barns, helps cows deliver their babies (which is really tough work), helps us sell cows etc.

He has built numerous ponds in the area. Here is the google earth image of the one on his property that was built 20+ years ago and which he emptied out last summer and renovated. This image was taken shortly after the pond was drained and before the dam was rebuilt, the dam on this one is HUGE:



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I just confirmed that the emergency spillway has been constructed and that the 18" overflow pipe is being extended another 30 feet away from the dam. This stuff was all planned and my pictures were taken while work was still underway.


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That is very good news. I believe you are heading towards success. Now we just have to pick a good day for you and your parents to schedule a Pond Boss fish fry! grin

Hopefully we didn't stress you too much, but the old timers here have seen a lot of pond disasters that didn't need to be.

Good Luck,
Ken

P.S. If you are thinking about getting fish from the Fish Wagon on March 9 in Winchester, maybe we can hook up for coffee at McDonalds.


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Sounds great!


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Originally Posted By: RockvilleMDAngler
Originally Posted By: catmandoo

Your location is in one of the best places anywhere for a pond. The soil is perfect -- perc sites for sanitary drainfields are difficult to find. You've got lots of excellent watershed, and springs, that provide ideal pond water. And, even during dry periods, adequate moisture gets ripped out of the clouds as they pass over the Blueridge.


Ken I know all ponds are different and there is no easy answer to this question without more data that I do not have at this point, but would it be fair to say that most soil and spring water in this area is fertile and does not require fertilization and/or aeration? I keep reading that many people put a few tons of lime down on the bottom of their pond before filling it and our builder never suggested this and none of the ponds nearby did this before filling up as far as I know. I just want to know if this is something I should be worried about. Your post essentially said that this area is ideal for a pond, I just want to know if ideal means good ph/alkalinity etc.


I somehow missed answering this.

We are pretty fortunate in this area for multiple reasons. You certainly could put lime down, but it would have to depend on the pH of the water coming in. I would not base it on the pH of the pond soil.

Although we receive a lot of acid rain, we also have a lot of limestone in our soil. Additionally, our watersheds flow over and through a lot of different materials, which tend to neutralize our water. My rain gauge may show a pH of 5.4, but the water flowing into my pond is always very close to 7.0 as it passes through everything. My pond stays at a consistent 7.0.

It may take as long as two or three years for your pond to stabilize due to the disturbance of the soils below it. Just keep track of it. You mentioned cattle in one of your posts or messages. The cattle are probably going to fertilize your pond with manure, but they could also overwhelm it, depending on how many of them there are, and if the pastures are fertilized. There are a lot of mitigation techniques if they overwhelm it, and you can always add fertilizer if they aren't doing their job.

Until you have the pond for at least one full season, I don't think I'd do any chemical enhancements.

Ken


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CJ, a question for you regarding the forage base for this type of pond. You've mentioned in other threads that you've sourced Orange Spotted Sunfish (OSS) from Zimmerman Fish. How have they worked out?

I realize they aren't for everyone, as you have to pay aquarium prices and breed them, but that aside, how do you see them fitting into the forage base of this sort of Mid-Atlantic SMB/YP/RES pond, if you could grow out a decent number of them and get them established prior to stocking SMB and YP? How prolific are they -- one spawn per year, or multiple, BG style?

Thanks.

David


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I am still in the learning stage with OSS. I know Dr. Willis did studies on OSS as SMB forage in South Dakota. If you do an internet search it is available on-line if I recall. From what I have seen so far myself, OSS only spawn once per year. Their ideal habitat is turbid backwaters. However, they seem to be very adaptable to other habitat types as well. I am also starting to think RBS(redbreast sunfish) make a good choice as SMB forage as well. They are more fusiform than BG, making it easier for the smaller mouthed SMB to prey on them and they only spawn once a year, making them far less prolific than BG. They also seem to prefer similar habitat as SMB. Unlike OSS though, they will reach sizes in excess of 8" and can themselves produce quality angling. There are a number of hatcheries in the southeast that sell them to include their mutant color form.

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