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Good start on creating habitat for SMB. You have the right spawning habitat.


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Bill, with all that rock and concrete slabs won't that habitat be good spawning and growing areas for SFS and Bluntnose? You mentioned before about needing good weed cover for growing BN and SFS, will not all that rip rap serve the same purpose? By the way with winter probably extending into late May, you and the Corn King are welcome to another visit. If the ground is still frozen Jim won't have anything to do except keep you out of fist fights at Disney World.
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With reproducing SMB & YP I doubt there is enough riprap for maintaining BNM & SFS. It takes an extensive amount of habitat when reproducing SMB are present. SMB are eating machines when it comes to soft rayed minnows.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/02/14 04:36 PM.

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Thanks for confirmation Bill... I thought I may be on to something with those SMB beds. I've made several beds already around the pond using mixed sized gravel, but these lime stone areas just felt right and looked more natural. Also with all the big rock surrounding and underneath the limestone beds they may last more long term. With this in mind I'm really temped to add several more of the limestone type, but it takes a lot of time/money and don't want to do it if it's not necessary. I probably could build 6-8 of them now with the rock I have presently. Here's an example of the first SMB spawning beds I made. I've got the gravel in place for 25-30 of the beds similar to below pic. I just need to locate more cinder blocks or I may use rocks on some as well. How many spawning beds are needed for a 3 acre pond?





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Excellent rocky structure! I am jealous!


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"""How many spawning beds are needed for a 3 acre pond?""" Answer - one well designed spawning bed per acre if there is good habitat available near and in the vicinity of the nest site.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/05/14 10:19 AM. Reason: per acre

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Well lets hope I can get at least one right then...;)

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Nice Work JamieE!


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Thanks Huntmaster... Actually your thread is what really inspired me to go the route I have with stocking... When I fist read that you were stocking SMB and YP I thought you were a little crazy, but after reading your thread and doing a lot of research I'm going to give it a go as well. Hopefully well be able to share notes with each other as we go...

Last edited by JamieE; 03/11/14 09:11 AM.
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Hi Jaime - been following this post with interest as I'm a cool water species fishery fanatic myself. You're in great hands with Cody's vast experience on the stocking plan, and I love your strategy on the rock structure thus far.

While the water level is still low, consider creating at least a couple SMB beds elevated from the clay bottom. I've built SMB beds in several ways, and found those directly on the bottom routinely silt in or get covered in organic matter and become "buried" in a few seasons. It's difficult to retrieve the rock and excavate them from 6" of silt/clay/etc. Here's an example of my beds placed on the bottom of the pond after 4 seasons...this is typical of Eastern NE clay bottom ponds - your situation may be different.




I now use this design for my own SMB reproduction pond and for clients/friends and have great success. The beds allow for silt and organic matter to filter through the elevated pallet and plastic mesh below the rock bed. It would likely take 20 seasons before enough silt/organic matter built up to threaten the beds - at which time the pond would likely require renovation anyhow. Originally I was concerned with the elevation - however following 3 seasons the SMB don't seem to mind.

Beds are elevated on cinder blocks, pallet set, mesh applied.




Cinder blocks placed to create "horseshoe" spawning abode.



Rock added for the bed - I use 1-3" limestone.



This shot provides a view of the degree of elevation.



I add limestone and PVC around the bed to try and naturalize the appearance and provide SMB fry with some cover to escape cannibalism. I vary my bed depths from 2-6' and have not experienced that fish routinely favor one depth over another - seems to vary annually due to conditions beyond my grasp.




Looks like a great project, hope some of this helps you achieve your goals of SMB recruitment. I think you'll appreciate the condition of your raised beds compared to those designed on the bottom of the pond following a few seasons.


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Great pics. That ought to be worthy of the structure archives. Thanks

Wish now I would have put some liner under some of my rock/gravel I put in the bottom or better yet elevated it like you did.

I did put gravel piles on top of some pallet structures mostly to keep them from floating, but I can see where I would have liked more of it done that way.

Last edited by snrub; 03/11/14 10:46 AM.

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Thread was added to the Smallmouth Bass Topic in the Archives.


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I sure hope my large expensive YP made it through the winter. If not, I will not stock with such large YP again, but rather wait and stock the SMB later than originally planned.

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Great stuff TJ! Awesome pics and explanation. Thanks for sharing them. A lot of the SMB beds that I've built thus far are built on top of piles of limestone and are surrounded by rock. Not sure if this will completely protect them from silt or not, but I will definitely add some of the pallet type beds also.

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JE,

I stumbled on my stocking program on here as well. I'm just following Bill's lead and I'm sure it will work out well in the end.

I don't know if you saw my build thread or not, but I also followed TJ's lead on the SMB beds with a couple minor differences. I still have to add the stone in the bed area as I ran out of time before the pond filled.





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Originally Posted By: JamieE
Great stuff TJ! Awesome pics and explanation. Thanks for sharing them. A lot of the SMB beds that I've built thus far are built on top of piles of limestone and are surrounded by rock. Not sure if this will completely protect them from silt or not, but I will definitely add some of the pallet type beds also.



Jamie your pond situation could be entirely different than ours in E NE where clay ponds and siltation is a major issue. The raised beds likely aren't necessary for rock dominated BOWS, or sandpits. As the after photos demonstrate, for me it was a necessity.


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Originally Posted By: Huntmaster
JE,

I stumbled on my stocking program on here as well. I'm just following Bill's lead and I'm sure it will work out well in the end.

I don't know if you saw my build thread or not, but I also followed TJ's lead on the SMB beds with a couple minor differences. I still have to add the stone in the bed area as I ran out of time before the pond filled.





Looking good, Hunt - well done! Think 1-3" rock for the beds. Rock allows for more egg oxygenation and reduces risk of siltation or other material smothering the eggs vs gravel or sand. Also, it stays put and allows particulate to filter through your mesh and the pallet slats.


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TJ, I will likely have some of the same issues with silting as my pond is clay also. I'm hoping that all the large rock I have under some the SMB beds will filter the silt through similar to your setup. My beds are elevated 6"-18" above the clay in most instances. I've read in an article by Bill Cody that the male SMB can remove silt from rocks to reshape his bed from the previous year. So Im hoping to at least limit the amount of silt by surrounding the beds with rock to avoid silt from sliding in from the banks above.

Here's some more examples of what I'm creating.

http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/image-5.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/image-8.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/image-10.jpg

I've added a total of 15 of the long rock piles that are 18"-3' tall and 20' wide. They extend out into deep water (6-12')and are 50'-75' long. The piles are a minimum of 12 tons and 4 of them are 25+ tons each. Looks like that may be it for rock hauling, as the surrounding ground is saturated with water and by the time it dries out again the pond will be full. I feel pretty good about the amount of rock in the pond. My goal was to get SMB structure, spawning beds and crayfish habitat out of the rocks I put in the pond. I spaced them approximately 40-100' apart. Standing on the bank it looks like a pretty significant amount.

http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/e25fc947c57adaff7532412a6182e682.jpg
http://i1065.photobucket.com/albums/u392/JamieE38/2384be37a8c8640647615894a98e73f0.jpg

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IMO the spawn bed for SMB that TJ showed above (11-03-14 post)was probably never used which does occur in ponds were numerous spawn bed sites are built. The male bass for some reason does not "like" the nest site. It has been shown that not all male SMB will build a nest each year. I sometimes see where a male starts cleaning a nest and then the unfinished nest is abandoned for some reason. Maybe it was due to competition and crowding?

A small 0.3ac study pond with SMB as the dominant predator near me will usually have only one to a maximum of 3 active spawn beds each spring; often one or two. Often it is the same spawn site that is favored by the dominant male bass each year despite other apparently good locations are available. From just this pond experience, I would not expect more than 3 to 6 active SMB spawn beds per acre. You are lucky to get two active nests per acre IMO for non-production ponds. Thus in a smallie pond with numerous spawn bed sites several may never be used. This may be one reason why fingerling SMB at fish farms are scarce and why many fish farms do not raise SMB, thus the scarcity and premium price for SMB fingerlings.

I think only one or two successful SMB nests per acre are needed with proper fry nursery areas to provide plenty of SMB recruitment. Actually Dr. Dave Willis (SDSU fisheries professor) in his dealings with SMB in ponds frequently saw too much recruitment from the SMB and they often became stunted and needed to be thinned out to get growth from the bass. He generally concluded the smallies tended to over populate in favorable conditions.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/13/14 09:33 AM.

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I am not sure I would would be wanting my SMB to spawn successfully, or least overly successfully. It doesn't take but a few YOY to make it each year or every other year to keep the numbers you need. Especially if one's goals are simply to grow quality SMB. Now if you want over populated stunted SMB to control other fish species, that is something different.

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I agree that too much recruitment will not be the best thing for the pond, but not sure how that can be controlled. My thoughts are to supply the correct spawning habitat along with rocky cover near the nest to protect the fry and hope for the best... I guess it's a good thing that a minimum amount of spawning will occur per acre.

The question is will the numbers of SMB recruitment be able be kept in check by fishing and removing several 10-12" size fish? I love to fish and also really enjoy eating fish...

My number 1 goal is trophy Smallies... You guys suggest I do something different?

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If my goal was trophy smallies, I wouldn't build any spawning habitat for them. They'll find a way to spawn a little bit in all likelihood and that is all you'll need...

I am far from a smallie expert though.

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You shouldn't have a problem removing smaller bass whenever they become common in 3 acres. SMB are not as prolific as LMB.

Keep in mind that a cleaned active nest tended by a male bass will stay silt free during his watch unless the water contains an overabundance of suspended sediment/clay.

Various types of nest and fry predators can cause havoc on the black vulnerable fry and result in poor recruitment even if quite a few eggs are laid and/or hatch.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/14/14 07:48 PM.

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The fact that SMB aren't as prolific as LMB and don't tend to decimate the forage in a pond like LMB is the main reason I've decided to stock them.

I don't think I'm going to worry too much about silt unless I see it getting to be a problem... If needed I could always add new rock on top of a few of the beds that seem to be preferred by the male bass.

Going back to stocking rates... I'm thinking very strongly of stocking SMB at a very low rate. I had planned to stock 120 this fall but am considering dropping this number to 50-60 fish. My thinking here is these fish should grow really fast and this would help keep less pressure on the forage base. Also, this would save some money that I could spend on forage fish and Crayfish. Any downside to doing this?? I could always stock more SMB the following fall...

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Stocking fewer predators is a good way to allow them to grow their best. Greg Grimes uses this method with LMB to grow 3 to 5 lb bass in 12 top 16 months in southern waters.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/15/14 07:25 PM.

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