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Im getting geared up to stock my new 3 ac pond this spring and have done a lot of research on this site and must say thank you for all the great info..

My primary goals are trophy SMB and big plump YP for the table. I do plan to feed purina aqua max. to maximize fish growth. I will be aerating the pond also.

My pond is about half full at this point so I have 6' of water in the deeper areas. I am pumping water in from my well and as the snow melts it will hopefully fill quickly. I'm guessing it to be around mid-late April before it is full pool.

My plans are to stock 300 6-8" pellet trained YP as soon as possible in hopes I can get a spawn this spring... I also plan on 250 2-3" RES with 60# of FHM and 20# of golden shiners.

I will wait until fall to stock 120 SMB.

Does anyone see any problems stocking the fish this spring given my water depths and it being a new pond?? I have put a lot of concrete slabs and rock/gravel for spawning. Also I am adding several plastic structures I have made out of 55 gallon drums and irrigation pipe. The pond has a 10' ledge running all the way around that is about 4' deep and also 2 long ridges running down the middle of the pond that will be 3 1/2 to 5' deep when at full pool.

Also how do the numbers of fish Im stocking look?

Thanks for any advice!

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Hey there 3 acers, welcome. I'm not qualified to give any solid advice but some of the higher ups will probably soon jump in. What is the nearest town to you? I live 1 mile E of Butler and have YP SMB WE and HSB. I put in FHM which were consumed and eliminated in about two months. They are slow and stupid. A good alternative Bill cody recommended to me were Spotfin shiners and Bluntnose minnows. They have survived and reproduced very well. If you haven't researched the arcives for SMB spawning structure, you should. Lots of good posts about it. The way the weather is, doubt you'll be getting anything in there terribly soon. Probably too late for a YP spawn but again more knowledgeable folks will chime in. Good luck and maybe we can visit this summer.


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Your numbers are reasonable. If some of the stocker YP are breeder sized 5" up to & including some 8"ers and stocked before Apr 5-8 you should get a few strands of perch eggs. Some of the stocker YP can be 3"-5". One successful YP egg strand will produce more than enough young YP. Adding SMB in fall is a good idea. If you wisely harvest the SMB based on recruitment you should be able to maintain adequate numbers of YP for a good annual harvest. SMB can when reproducing over-eat the food source (forage fish). Which results in too few YP for harvest.

If after several years you notice small black spots or grubs in/on the fish then you can stock some redear sunfish to help reduce snails which are a link to the fish parasites. Or you can stock 30-40 RES in spring or fall with the SMB.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/18/14 07:09 PM.

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Hey Bob, thanks! Im just south of Ft.Wayne, IN. Sounds like you have a very similar setup as I'm shooting for. I was hoping the GS would be more of the long term food for the SMB along with the YP. Is there any negative to the Spotfin S or the BM? That sounds like some things to consider... Did you stock any crayfish? I am going to look for some paper shell crays to stock this sping as well.

I have done a lot of research and have read a lot of the info. on this site and have gained a lot from the 5 part article by Bill Cody. Great stuff! I have built several nesting sites for the smallies out of concrete blocks as recommended.

How old is your pond and how well is it going for you? Do you feed? Are the SMB reproducing for you at all?

That would be great to get together some time... Id love to check out your pond!

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Bill, thanks for the response! I have read a ton of the articles you have wrote on SMB in ponds and in fact that is why have decided to give it a try...

I was planning to stock some of the smaller sized perch in the 3-5" range, but the guy at Shelby fish farm didn't recommend it saying he was concerned that the larger 6-8" perch may eat them. He told me to go with the 6-8" YP and to for go the larger size of 9+" YP as well... It would definitely be cheaper to use several of the 3-5" YP instead of all the larger size. What's your take on this? I thought since the YP would be feed trained and on food they wouldn't eat too many fish and that 3-5" fish seemed pretty large for a 6-8" YP to eat.

As far as spawning substrate goes for YP, does it have to be tree limbs? Would Fishiding plastic structures work for the egg strands? They make some with narrower strips that I thought might work well. Im trying to keep the wood out of the pond as much as possible, but I could always pull it back out if necessary.

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Sink some x-mas trees in 3'-5' of water as soon as ice is out and drag them back out when the water hits 55-60 degrees. Save and repeat next year.


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Some comments.
1. The main negative with the spotfin and BNM is they need lots of cover to withstand predation from SMB, thus I know of no ponds where they maintain populations with reproducing SMB. SMB can be "death" on small forage fish. I have seen GS maintain breeding adults (8"+) with SMB, YP and RES with moderate weed cover.

2. With SMB you can't have too many crayfish. With a strong SMB population one has a hard time maintaining crays.

3. Shelby Farm is a good source for fish. I know his source for his YP - great fish. For his larger fish 6"-8", the majority of them, maybe 60%-70% will be females from the 2013 year class and some from the 2012 hatch depending on how he has held them. The 9"+ ones would be mostly females from the 2012 year class. You are correct if the YP are good pellet eaters they will not prey heavily on minnows or small YP. Expect most of the 3"-5"ers in your case to survive. IMO I would buy at least 50 3"-5", just to get a good group of male YP. His larger YP will eat mostly FHM minnows before eating small 3"-4" YP. IMO if you feed Shelby fish pellets you will not notice a loss of minnows or small YP the first year. After YP and SMB spawn then loss of small fish will be more apparent.

4. Spawn substrate for YP can be Fishiding or most any type of structure. Actually you want very few egg strands to hatch and survive at least until your SMB spawn once. Then with SMB, the small YP become more important to the fishery. I like to use removable tree limbs for YP spawning so I can monitor how many YP egg strands I am getting, removing, and ones allowed to hatch.


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Bill:

With the spawning substrate, how far apart is too far for the branches? I need to put spawning substrate in my pond too, and neglected to acquire x-mas trees.....


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Scott,

I have placed branches as far apart as 40 or 50 feet and they seem to find it.


If pigs could fly bacon would be harder to come by and there would be a lot of damaged trees.






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Well three acres Bill has given you some great advice, Essup is right on the money and I bet as this tread expands you'll get more solid advice.
My pond was dug in Sept 06. I just added 8 mature SMB from Cecil last spring so this summer will be interesting as far as keeping it balanced. Bills response about the SFS and BN kinda scares me cause if the SMB spawn they will have a heyday. I don't know if they will because when I built my pond I placed the SMB beds at between 2 & 4' but my pond has a leak and is a ground level pond. The last few dry yrs have had over half of my beds exposed and the rest very shallow. The pond was dug to be 12' but is usually around 9.5. Hopefully with this yrs snow the ground water table will be higher and my pond may stay more full. I was fortunate to obtain about 16 YP ranging from 8-14" in the spring of 07 (post spawn) and added 50 3-5". Without seeking guidance I put in 50 3-5" HSB which resulted in the quick demise of the FH (they're not the only thing around the pond that is slow and stupid) but man did those HSB grow fast. I took out 28 around late Aug. and they are now 20+"s. I believe I put in 5 4-6" WE in 09 which are now around 17"s. Also without consultation I put in 6 5" Koi that I've shot out or caught out all but one. He is very smart and secretive.
I am in Fl until mid to late April depending on the weather but when I get back I'll have ya up for a tour (the whole 100'X100') and we'll catch some for size checking. I'll pm ya my info.
Keep asking ?s even tho it seems you are already well educated in what ya want and how to go about it.
Scott, Bill showed me his TP spawning trees and they are 3-5 saplings strapped together to make the tops real full, kinda like hardwood sapling xmas trees. He may elaborate. Cecil if yer branches are 40-50' apart you put in tooooo big of a tree.(sorry, couldn't resist)


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Originally Posted By: Cecil Baird1
Scott,

I have placed branches as far apart as 40 or 50 feet and they seem to find it.


Oops, sorry for the confusion. I meant how far apart should the maximum be for the individual branches. 3", 6" ??? It's not like I can put a couple of horizontal broom handles 3' apart in the pond and expect the skeins to stay on them.

(You know what I'm getting at) wink

I know christmas trees work, but for putting branches in the pond, how dense should they be?


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1. If that's the case I think I'll pass on the spotfin and BNM. I really want to avoid an over abundance of weed type cover in the pond as I want the SMB to effectively control perch numbers. I'll have very little shallow water as my banks are fairly steep down to a 4-5 foot ledge that raps around the pond.

2. Im in the process of putting as much concrete chunks and riprap on this steep bank on 3 main points to provide structure for the SMB and cover for crayfish. These areas of rock will be roughly 10' X 75'. Between these points I'm sure Ill have some narrow bands of weeds (hopefully eel grass). In addition to the concrete on the banks I have 2-5" gravel on the very top of the banks all the way around the pond, which is probably not large enough for crayfish habitat. I also dropped 5 tri-axle loads of large concrete chunks in 8 different locations in 6-8' of water mainly for fish structure.

Am I on the right track with the crayfish habitat or am I going to come up short?

3.-4. Thank you for confirming the use of some smaller YP. If I stock 300 YP, should I cut the number of larger 6-8" fish in order to cut down on the number of young YP. I had planned to put a lot of cover in the pond before I get it to full pool so controlling the number of egg strands will be difficult for me. Could I run into a real problem of being over run with young YP before I get the SMB large enough to control the numbers?

5. Have any Idea where I could locate some feed trained SMB?

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Feed Trained SMB - Dan Laggis, Gobles, Mi


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esshup - The branches with numerous twigs arranged closer together seem to be preferred compared to widely spaced twigs such as occurs on walnut, ash trees. Maple branches are medium and could work okay. I prefer small dog wood trees 5'-8' tall.

3acre- 1. Steep slope banks will help reduce amount of weed growth and result in fewer refuge areas.

2. Amount of concrete sounds adequate, although its is hard to visualize the percent of cover along shoreline in 3 acres. Standard amount of shoreline cover for BG-LMB is 20%, although more may be needed for as minnow-crayfish good refuge with SMB as predator esp after SMB have spawned two plus times. A lot will depend on number of fish eating pellets vs pellet eating SMB/acre.

3. IMO I would wait to stock the YP after the spawn early April spawn. Stock YP in late April- early May. This way you will not have to be concerned with an overpopulation of YP yet still get an strong reproduction of minnows-shiners and late stocked YP will feed on pellets one full season resulting in optimum growth. Then fall stocked SMB will be present to help control the first full YP spawn.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/20/14 09:13 PM.

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Thank you esshup for the SMB source. Funny thing is I was calling around and Herman Bros. in Illinois told me to contact you for the SMB source...At least they told me to call hoosier pond pros.

Bill-Great information! I've been thinking and I want to shoot another scenario at you just to appease my curiosity. If I could locate feed trained SMB to stock with the larger feed trained YP why would it not be a good situation to stock them together early spring? In this scenario I would stock a large number of GSH brooders that are in the 4-5" range. Between the GSH spawn and the spawn of the YP their would be plenty of forage, especially since the fish are on feed. Cray fish may not be able to establish? I realize the FHM would probably get wiped out early, but they will in the end anyway... Is this a correct way of thinking or no?

Thanks again for the help!

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I'll be getting more SMB this year if you need some, but going to Dan could also possibly get you some different genttics for your feed trained YP too. Maybe Bill would know for sure.

Last year (Fall) I sold the last of my feed trained SMB, and have to re-stock. They were 10"-12+" at time of sale.


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Sent you a pm esshup, Thanks!

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Comments:
1. "other scenario" - Stocking SMB in spring with YP is doable. As with everything you do in or to your pond, it always has pros and cons. The big 'trick' is to know all the pros and cons which there are usually several to numerous. To be aware of them all,,,, requires extensive ecological and biological knowledge and experience. Very few pond management "professionals" have a good ecologically based background and they basically have enough information to mainly sell fish and/or manage with one primary goal.

Here are just a few implications of your 'other scenario': A. the smaller the stocker SMB are the less likely they will remain pellet eating esp if there is lots of natural food in the pond. Spring stocked SMB will be last years fish that have eaten pellets longer - maybe a good thing. Larger pellet trained fish tend to resume eating pellets quicker than small fish. B. Spring SMB tend to be harder to locate and cost more than fall SMB - supply & demand. C. Previous number of years of domestication of brood stock affects how well fish and their offspring learn to eat pellets and stay on pellets in new surroundings. D. Changing a fish's habitat and those in "item c" can have a big influence on how well a fish resumes eating pellets or readily learns to eat pellets. E. Adding extra forage fish could be counter productive in that it provides more forage and fish could be 'tempted' to eat live food vs pellets.
F. I would stock YP after they have spawned to minimize problems, unless YP are not available after mid to late April. IMO you want the first spawn of YP to coincide with a prior spawn of SMB resulting in small bass present to aggressively eat hatchling YP and not eat pellets or other forage species; maybe an unreasonable desire or wish. This can be 'tricky' with SMB as the primary predator. Thus you should be prepared to manually adjust fish numbers. Ultimately you may need some HSB to help control YP if SMB are not recruiting or if they and their offspring are strong pellet eaters. Everything will appear good to great in the first few years. To achieve a great long term fishery you will need to closely monitor & adjust the balance of all fishes in the pond. G. Establishment and long term survival of crayfish in ponds in a new science and little is known about species of predator, species of crayfish, best type and amount of habitat, and other variables. H. Presence or lack of plants will also be a big variable as to the balance of fishes.

A pond fishery, especially one that is more naturally based, is a very complex interactive, ever changing food web functioning in a complex watery soup where both are strongly influenced by numerous external forces such as climate and day length.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/21/14 08:57 PM. Reason: seveal edits

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Sorry for the delay getting back to the thread. I had an issue staying logged in long enough to post, but hopefully got it fixed. Anyway I would like to get back to the discussion of stocking.

Bill, your response to my 'other scenario' really opened my eyes to a lot of variables that I hadn't considered in the grand scheme of stocking the pond. I think I will definitely wait until fall on the SMB stocking.

How big of SMB do I need to stock to have a realistic hope of seeing a spawn in the spring of 2015? I like the idea of the first YP spawn coinciding with the first SMB spawn. Seems that would be a great kick start for the young SMB. I've read a lot of the articles and earlier threads about building spawning beds and have constructed quite a few and plan to add more before the water rises enough to stop me. Also I am adding rock piles near the beds to provide refuge for the fry. I'll try to add some photos of the work I've accomplished thus far.

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Quote:
How big of SMB do I need to stock to have a realistic hope of seeing a spawn in the spring of 2015?


This thread might provide some insight.

Size that smallmouth start spawning?



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For some additional information about smallies, the fish in the 1st picture of my Pond Boss - Bass Resource article were mature spawner size bass from a pond that had only SMB in the pond. Caption for the picture, stated the bass were juvenile bass, which was technically incorrect.
http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/smallmouth-spawning.html
Thus smallies do not have to be very large to spawn.

Those in the picture were the size of practically all SMB in this pond. I renovated that pond last year because previous owners added green sunfish which ruined the single fish concept. No recovered bass were bigger than 10". The 0.25 ac pond is being restocked with only female yellow perch, minnows and each year 7-10 tilapia. It is a pond primarily used for swimming.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/28/14 10:02 AM.

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Shorty, thanks for the link... So, how much more did your smallies grow by the end of fall 2012? How about 2013? Great to hear from someone who has gotten off to a great start in the early stages of establishing SMB in a pond.

Bill, great article! Thanks for writing it and also sharing it with me...

The fish I stock this fall will be in the 5-7" range minimum and at least a few of these should spawn next season, especially if I get feed trained fish and continue to feed them.

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I wanted to share some pics of the work I've accomplished so far in order to get some feed back on the way I'm going about adding rock to the pond. I've added several rip rap/boulder fingers that extend from the bank to deep water. Many of these lead to large concrete chunk piles that were dumped in 8' of water. In some of the pics the large concrete chunks are still visible above the ice and in some they're not. These large piles in the 8' depths are 15-20 tons each. I've made adding as much rock to the pond as possible a top priority. I'm hopeful that I'll be successful in supplying the right type of habitat for SMB and their prey to not only survive,but flourish. I estimate that in the neighborhood of 250 ton of concrete and rip/rap/boulders have been added thus far...
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/768a6b95388a4b1c032cb6cc684704f3.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/8bfd565e433b1fba88cfffd821996fb1.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/193760f9ab174072181daf2cdc13f428.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/7d39b7826e6976703d97ad4cea0195fc.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/70ffeda225611677474ab5242324be58.jpg

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The next few pics I'm sharing show a couple spots that more rock was dumped down the banks then was intended... So I created a couple of under water rock peninsulas. These peninsulas are 15-18' wide and extend to deep water. As I shaped these with the tractor I noticed the tops were covered with a lot of finer gravel and rock so I decided to make some bowel shaded SMB nests on them...

These are the two piles I'm referring to in the middle and upper left hand of the pic. This is before pushing them out with the tractor...

http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/b34b8f7cc4ce1a1301d76bb97c5c3a18.jpg


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