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Topic for Discussion (That a question when it's a moderator who doesn't know the answer):
Are Feed Trained LMB in a Pond Managed for Big BG a Good or Bad Thing?

Feeding BG seems like a good thing whether you're managing for big BG or trophy bass. Want big BG - supplemental feeding helps you grow more pounds of BG, to manage into more or bigger BG. Want big bass - feeding BG means more forage for the predators.

Similarly, if you want big LMB and they eat pellets in addition to forage fish, they should grow bigger/faster. But what if LMB eat pellets and you want big BG? This has me puzzled.

I've currently got about a dozen LMB ranging in size from 10" to maybe 16" or so eating pellets every day. The number keeps going up slowly as more figure it out. On one hand, I surmise they've been enticed to eat pellets because they're hungry (on average my LMB are below 100% RW, where I want to have them to keep BG numbers reduced). OTOH, to some extent if they're eating pellets, they're not eating BG.

My current management planning has me figuring next year I'll reduce LMB numbers some for sizes bigger than the 12"-15" LMB that should be best at eating 3"-5" BG. I'm trying to decide if I'm better off removing fat LMB eating pellets or skinny LMB who don't. What do you PMs think?


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Even though I have a strong preference for large BG, it would be hard for me to harvest a pellet trained 16 inch largemouth just because they're a rarity. I doubt if you'll ever have large numbers of feed trained largemouth (I don't know why I doubt this, but I do) so their presence is probably a non-factor in a pond your size. One thing that I've noted however is that any significant number of larger fish present in the feeding area will intimidate some of the bluegill to an extent that you may ultimately have fewer BG at the trough. Catch-22 I guess. Hopefully every year you have enough LMB reproduction so that you've got 2-3 inch LMB pounding on the larval and fingerling BG. The smaller the BG getting pressured, the quicker they'll get to a size that pellets are of interest to them.


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theo, i have a couple thoughts, dont know why i have them, but i do \:\)

i think the key to large BG (lepomis) growth in the ranch ponds out here is the presence of high numbers of skinny hungry slot size LMB. i would opt to harvest some of the lunkers, great table fare.....if a few learned to eat pellets, others will learn too. in addition, in large pond, you will have other LMB rising through the ranks to the status of lunker to replace those you've culled. a ranchhand told me that two weeks ago he and a friend (respectively) caught 10 and 11 pound LMB out of my GSF source pond. this pond also contains high numbers of underweight slot size bass, and of course, guiness sized GSF. and culling the larger LMB would temporarily relieve pressure on the BG at the feeding trough as bruce described.


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Lusk definitely needs to write "Raising Trophy Bluegill"; I'm getting tired of managing for big BG while holding my copy of "Raising Trophy Bass" upside down. ;\)

Keep the ideas coming, guys!


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Yeah, remember too that some of the very biggest bass are the cannibals of other bass. If you manage strictly for high numbers of low Wr LMB 8-14 inches, then you should be able to strongly control each subsequent class of BG to the point where the remaining fish grow rapidly. What can you do to give the bluegill refuge feeding areas without those nastly LMB patrolling the area and scaring everybody?


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Bruce, even the slot bass are cannibals out here. the ranchers asked me to please remove all the bass i caught whether or not i keep them..throw em up on the bank and let the vultures have em they said.....anyway, i put a bunch of the slot size guys in 5-gallon buckets and they begin burping up a bunch of LMB fry...

the ranchhands said the 10 and 11 lb fish had bellies full of frogs.......this is the big time of year here when, en mass, the bullfrog tadpoles convert to frogs


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 Quote:
Originally posted by Bruce Condello:
Yeah, remember too that some of the very biggest bass are the cannibals of other bass. If you manage strictly for high numbers of low Wr LMB 8-14 inches, then you should be able to strongly control each subsequent class of BG to the point where the remaining fish grow rapidly. What can you do to give the bluegill refuge feeding areas without those nastly LMB patrolling the area and scaring everybody?
I find myself feeding over a larger and larger area to maximize the % of feed the BG get wrt CC, GC, and LMB. I am also using multiple small feedings (now down to 2/day as the water has cooled and metabolisms dropped) instead of one bigger one; many small BG bellies fill up and then hopefully the feed's about gone.

The biggest antagonists to BG feeding are still my CC. A 6 lb cat is at least as big a distraction to a feeding BG as a 2 lb bass, and eats a lot more feed to boot. So LMB reductions are not as important as my continuing pogram against the catfish.

I hate to take a 16" pellet trained LMB out myself, but with HSB on the way, some of them are either going this Fall or next Spring. With all the big Cats I can catch.


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Some ramblings.

Here is something to add to the mix. Keep in mind that both pellet trained BG and LMB eat other things. Feed trained LMB as they get older and bigger eat less and less pellets and more big and live forage. I would guess that the vast majority of initially feed trained LMB when they get to over 3 lbs eat little if any pellets if they are in a regular pond (not a crowded aquaculture operation). Studies show the largest predators/consumers of very small BG including yoy are intermediate to adult BG. So the increased bio feeds them to a larger degree.

Also important to recall that supp. feeding does not just/always mean bigger fatter fish but often just a higher bio-mass ( more fish not bigger fish). In that case you will need more LMB to account for the much higher BG numbers/bio.

IIRC there are some large variety of pellets (size of tater tots) made for larger LMB.

I would lean toward not culling the one/few 16in feed trained LMB as I think it/they are irrelevant in the large BG mgt. plan. The LMB who will be doing most of the BG mgt. will be the 8-12in LMB who eat few pellets. It is also those fish that will be competing with the new HSB. That is where I would cull if the BG are doing ok. I would also reduce the large CC some.

I am not sure there is an answer to this question. To many variables and interactions. I will do some checking.

















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