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Bill D. Offline OP
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Is a natural pond where big fish eat little fish becoming a thing of the past? Seems all the fish farms have jumped on the pellet fed fish train. A recent PBM article provides that pellet trained LMB will not thrive without pellets. PBF posts provide that non-pellet trained LMB are pretty much unavailable from fish farms. So many stocking recommendations on the forum start with the words, "stock pellet trained..." So what is the choice for a pondmeister that actually wants a pond that depends on natural forage? Bucket stock from wild waters?

Last edited by Bill D.; 01/21/17 11:02 PM.

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LMB fingerlings don't stay pellet trained unless fed pellets. Left without pellets, they will eat insects and smaller fishes.

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John,

I think you're right. It seems most folks feel that the smaller the fish stocked, the more likely they will revert to natural forage. Problem seems to come in where fingerlings are not a viable option, such as in an existing pond with predators, and larger stockers are required, or when a guy just wants to stock larger fish than fingerlings. Here is a recent thread discussing the subject.

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Main=35346&Number=462214#Post462214

Quote from Bob L in the Jan/Feb issue of PBM...

"..if you are adamant about doing things nature's way, then don't even think about using feed-trained fish in your stocking plan. They won't make the shift from feedlot to your underwater range."

He goes on to provide that if you stock feed trained fish anyway and don't feed them, then 60% will deteriorate or disappear. 20% will have flat performance and only 20% will thrive at some level.

Last edited by Bill D.; 01/22/17 09:35 AM. Reason: Clarification

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I think he was only referring to LMB. Other species may adapt better.

Last edited by John F; 01/22/17 10:12 AM.
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Originally Posted By: John F
I think he was only referring to LMB. Other species may adapt better.


Maybe, I couldn't tell for sure. The article is full of BG pictures.

My perception (right or wrong) is the overall tone of the recent article is to discourage folks from trying to establish natural forage fisheries and promote pellets and pellet fed fisheries.


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When I was young, my grandpa had a 1/3 acre farm pond we bucket stocked. We never heard of pellets back then. A very few LMB topped out at 5 lbs and a few CC about the same. The BG never reached what we called eating size. A neighbor had a one acre pond, and he had a few 7 to 9 pound bass and a few CC the same size. In my opinion, the larger waters fare much better without feeding.

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As soon as some of the original stockers spawn, I would think it would be an entirely new game. I doubt if feed trained is hereditary.

Last edited by snrub; 01/22/17 10:51 AM.

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Feed training CC is easy. A friend and I feed trained a school of CC at the local river park in the summer of 2014, using half dried bread. CC from 12 to 25 inches readily came to feed on it. Never saw anything else feeding on it, other than a few minnows.

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I've reached the point, whether it be good or bad, where I look at the information provided and then do what I think is best, even if it's contrary to what the professional advice states. And I don't mean that to sound disrespectful. It's just that for all the opinions, expert or otherwise, the truth is I have eyes and experience on my particular ponds and they don't. I'm here everyday, watching, observing, seeing how my efforts impact our ponds. And while I know there are established and proven procedures, I do not believe in absolutes.

In my opinion there are very few black and white problem/solution scenarios. Taking something, anything, as gospel or the final word, just doesn't work for me these days. Read, research, ask questions, and experiment.....then decide what works for my unique application. I have noticed that in my case at least, some of what produces great results flies directly in the face of what constitutes conventional or accepted practice.

I don't believe there is a "one size fits all" solution or suggestion.


"Forget pounds and ounces, I'm figuring displacement!"

If we accept that: MBG(+)FGSF(=)HBG(F1)
And we surmise that: BG(>)HBG(F1) while GSF(<)HBG(F1)
Would it hold true that: HBG(F1)(+)AM500(x)q.d.(=)1.5lbGRWT?
PB answer: It depends.
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I think that is what Pond Boss does. You are the boss of your pond!

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I agree RAH, and I think Bob Lusk would agree also....even to the point where advice he gave, or something he wrote, is often relative to a particular set of circumstances and should not be interpreted as an absolute, relevant to any and all situations. I think sometimes we lose focus in that regard.


"Forget pounds and ounces, I'm figuring displacement!"

If we accept that: MBG(+)FGSF(=)HBG(F1)
And we surmise that: BG(>)HBG(F1) while GSF(<)HBG(F1)
Would it hold true that: HBG(F1)(+)AM500(x)q.d.(=)1.5lbGRWT?
PB answer: It depends.
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Originally Posted By: sprkplug
I've reached the point, whether it be good or bad, where I look at the information provided and then do what I think is best, even if it's contrary to what the professional advice states. I'm here everyday, watching, observing, seeing how my efforts impact our ponds. And while I know there are established and proven procedures, I do not believe in absolutes. Taking something, anything, as gospel or the final word, just doesn't work for me these days. Read, research, ask questions, and experiment, then decide what works for my unique application. I don't believe there is a "one size fits all" solution or suggestion.


sparky....I believe that just might be the best post you've ever written.


Fishing has never been about the fish....

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Guys there are lots of opinions and science to address this topic. A recent PB Cutting Edge article addressed some of them as to stocking feed trained LMB into waters with other adult LMB and predators. Some studies address the stocking of feed trained fish into waters where they will compete with non feed trained fish. They don't do very well in that situation. Keep in mind most of this is about the carrying capacity of the water instead of just the fish. If you overstock all natural fish they will do poorly. The most often encountered problem in most fisheries studied and reported on on by scientists is the lack of adequate food for the fish. These are natural waters being studied. The most common result of low food resources is out of balance populations. Keeping fish populations balanced with adequate food for health and growth is like trying to balance on the edge of a knife blade - very hard. Doing so is the exception not the norm.

The most important thing is to have your facts ,goals , water and management plans work together. There is no one correct answer to each situation - everyone is different.

Last edited by ewest; 01/22/17 02:17 PM.















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ewest provides a good tempering to this topic. My 2cents:
Maintain a good observation on seeing the forest not just individual trees as is well noted in ewest's Jan-Feb 2107 PBoss Science and Cutting Edge article - The Real Problem is .....?.
1. Higher and higher numbers of each successive generation of pellet trained fish resort 'back' to eating natural foods or die due to inter and intraspecific competition; it is instinct.
"Intraspecific competition is the conflict over resources between members of the same species. Individuals may compete over mates, water, sunlight, territory or food energy sources. Intraspecific competition is an important factor limiting the population size of many species." Interspecific is competition among different species.

2. Many fish farms either buy their pellet trained fingerlings or attempt to train their in-house raised fish. Encouragement to do this is financial gain. They can grow more fish and grow them faster if the majority are eating pellets. More and bigger results in more profits! Second year pelleting fish and more of them can be more easily raised in less acreage using pellet trained fish. Try growing high numbers of 2 yr old bass using fish as food. Few do it. The fish farms about profits, profits. With pellets the fish farm and you can increase your pond carrying capacity in terms of numbers or sizes or both if the "extra" added fish are eating fish pellets rather than natural foods. Limiting factors of natural foods becomes less of a factor when using pellets for enhancing the fishery.

3. There are still many fish farms that do not retail pellet trained fish. One just has to do some homework and be willing for some inconvenience of added travel to get fish if the goal of naturally raised fish is really desired.

4. Back the #1 again. It is my experience that many, if not most of the 2nd and 3 generation of pellet trained fish will instinctively grow up eating natural foods. This becomes even more true if natural foods are abundant where these fish are developing. Developing an abundance of natural foods is quite difficult or next to impossible when the pond is at or above its natural carrying capacity due to having too many fish that are over eating the 'resource'. Reduce your numbers of heterotrophic fish ('hogs at the trough') and the natural food base increases.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/22/17 03:06 PM.

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As a scientist, I sometimes enjoy trying something different, even when the evidence suggests something different from what I am trying is better. This is just having some fun and seeing how things work out. Very rarely, what you try works out better and the science changes. Just don't fool yourself justifying your decision when things don't turn out better.

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I hear you RAH, and I wasn't necessarily implying that science be proven wrong. Actually, I think science may lie at the core of my forum perceptions as of late.

PondBoss is fortunate to have the membership it does. Among our diversified ranks we count engineers and architects, physicians and attorneys, scientists and educators. All far more intelligent than myself, and time spent heeding their advice is time well spent indeed.

I wonder however, and this is strictly personal conjecture, if that same rugged discipline that allowed these folks to achieve their goals, might temper their vision to any small degree? I don't believe that ponds can be fit into a box. Or an equation for that matter. But my perception is there are those who wish to do just that. Maybe I'm imagining things, or maybe I'm recognizing scenery from a dead end road I've traveled myself? Whatever the case, I don't think there is an algorithm that allows for perfect pond and/or fish management.

In this instance I don't see at as failed science, or science proven wrong, but a case of not accounting for all the variables. No two ponds are the same, and I think we could all agree on that. By extrapolation then, no single pond or fish answer can be correct all the time....whether it be in print, or passed along word of mouth.

As I wrote earlier, I realize there are standard practices and principles. Guidelines that are, more or less, agreed to be fundamental. I get that. But I believe there are just too many variables to be able to reduce the whole pond/fish universe into a universal constant. I would venture to say that there may exist wildcard variables in all of our ponds, unaccounted for as of right now. In other words, what worked last year, or is working right now, might not produce the same results next week. Recognizing and identifying those key variables is, in my opinion, where we sometimes fall short. I know I do.

Our science is all we have...we depend on it, look to it for answers, consult learned people from the past regarding its interpretation. But I do not consider what we know today, the endgame.

It's merely the best we have today. Tomorrow may be another story.


"Forget pounds and ounces, I'm figuring displacement!"

If we accept that: MBG(+)FGSF(=)HBG(F1)
And we surmise that: BG(>)HBG(F1) while GSF(<)HBG(F1)
Would it hold true that: HBG(F1)(+)AM500(x)q.d.(=)1.5lbGRWT?
PB answer: It depends.
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Wildlife management of water and land is a big part science and a certain amount 'art' which comes more into play or important when variables are present that Sprkplug mentions. Recognizing and knowing how to adjust for the variables and the ultimate consequences of the actions makes for best management and separates the novice from the experienced professional.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/22/17 07:08 PM.

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Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions guys. It is truly appreciated and has definitely given me new perspective, especially when considering info presented without pertinent backup data with specifics on the circumstances under which the info was obtained. It seems the only absolute in pond management is the statement "IT DEPENDS!"

Last edited by Bill D.; 01/22/17 10:48 PM. Reason: Clarification

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Originally Posted By: Bill D.
Is a natural pond where big fish eat little fish becoming a thing of the past? Seems all the fish farms have jumped on the pellet fed fish train. A recent PBM article provides that pellet trained LMB will not thrive without pellets. PBF posts provide that non-pellet trained LMB are pretty much unavailable from fish farms. So many stocking recommendations on the forum start with the words, "stock pellet trained..." So what is the choice for a pondmeister that actually wants a pond that depends on natural forage? Bucket stock from wild waters?


Bill -

Nah. Sure there are ponds with folks who have feeders configured to feed, but there are just as many ponds without any feeders in place. It makes sense from a pure financial motive for fish farms to pellet train and feed, but there are sources for non-pellet fish.

We decided not to install feeders at our pond. Sure, it was tempting because bigger panfish may mean bigger largemouth bass, and certainly may translate into more fun as larger CNBGs are being caught. But I kept coming back to "what is one day comes where the feeder stops, what will happen then?" Be it a mechanical failure, a theft, no more feed available, etc. What then? I felt for us that artificial feeding on a regular basis wasn't right. It would likely lead to an unnatural and unsustainable balance within the pond.

Now, we do enjoy hand tossing pellets (and insects!) from time to time. But our goal was a balanced pond that didn't require human intervention to maintain.

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To be clear, I am a scientist but often choose to do things that are not optimal for numbers or size of fish. My fun comes from simulating a natural pond by tweaking things just a bit. My greatest enjoyment comes from taking a break and sitting on the dock looking at the landscape and wildlife, or watching kids catching fish while their parent runs back and forth getting BG off their lines. I did not even fish last year, but I may wet a line this year to see if any big LMB are lurking under the water lilies. If I build a barn this year near the pond (planned right now), then it will have electric and I will run an air line down to help keep ice open if snow-covered ice seems probable, and I only feed a small amount to watch the fish. I take my deer hunting far more seriously!

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Originally Posted By: basslover
But I kept coming back to "what is one day comes where the feeder stops, what will happen then?" Be it a mechanical failure, a theft, no more feed available, etc. What then? I felt for us that artificial feeding on a regular basis wasn't right. It would likely lead to an unnatural and unsustainable balance within the pond.

Now, we do enjoy hand tossing pellets (and insects!) from time to time. But our goal was a balanced pond that didn't require human intervention to maintain.


Many people get the idea that feeding fish is an all or nothing plan. They seem to forget or rather not realize that you can supplementally feed the fish. That means to throw some food every day, but not enough that the fish live strictly on the feed and not any natural food. That way the fish will grow faster in the pond, but still will rely on the natural forage in the pond. Feeding a little every day, at the same time, in the same place will benefit the fish in the pond, but not to the point where you create couch potato fish. It also can be used as a tool to visually see fish that you normally wouldn't see.

A while ago Bob wrote about stocking a pond with adult bass that (I believe) were not feed trained, and the fish declined in weight. The fish were conditioned to knowing where the best place in their "home" pond was to catch food and couldn't learn it in the new pond.


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Comment was: "But our goal was a balanced pond that didn't require human intervention to maintain."

If after stocking fish into a pond,, anyone thinks or believes it is truly balanced, they only believe this because they cannot see the imbalance or lack of balance of the ever changing populations that comprise the entire food web within the unknown, murky waters of the pond.

I am not sure it is possible to continually have a "BALANCED" pond on a long term(10-30yrs) or even a short term (3-5yr) basis. This is like saying we are going to stock some animal into an confined or even open area. For an example,,,, let's use mice and cats in a large garage, barn, or outdoor pen. We will use a contained area because the pond is a contained area. Let's put 6 cats (boys& girls) and 50 mixed mice into our pen. With reproduction from both, how long do you think it will take for this initial stocking combination or numbers to get out of balance? What will our animals eat with out some supplimental feeding? Will the 6 cats be able to control the mice to maintain the original balance? What happens if cats get a disease or matted eyes and don't hunt well? What happens when the mice overeat the grain and forage that grows in the pen and the mice don't produce well. Will the cats have enough to eat? What happens after 6-8 years will we still have our original balance?

When just about all animals including fish and even bacteria are placed into a contained area for some sort or type of goal they NEED to be monitored and watched to maintain a "balance". A true initial balanced combination or community that has been 'stocked' by man, will almost always due to reproduction and nature's quirks eventually go out of balance. One in the current in the news out of balance example, are the moose and wolf populations on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. There are many other examples.

Very RARELY are public lakes balanced without the DNR monitoring, checking, fixing, or modifying numbers of forage and predator after seeing sampling results. Thus, this is the reason for angler catch or harvest limits or regulations. Setting harvest limits is even done for the individual Great Lakes and now attempts are being made to manage the Oceans which have been greedily over harvested.

In Summary - ONE ALWAYS NEEDS TO SAMPLE THE FISH TO DETERMINE THE CURRENT EVER CHANGING BALANCE WITHIN THE POND, LAKE, OR OCEAN. It is our job here to help you interpret the sampling results from your pond to achieve your goals.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/09/17 12:39 PM.

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Bill C., I agree completely. I believe a pond is never, NEVER really truly balanced except for VERY brief moments in it's life. Just like a teeter-totter is never balanced for long. Anything that is done to a pond affects it's balance, be it take out one fish, add/remove habitat, etc.


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Yes esshup, balanced condition is very similar to normal. Normal compared to what? Normal can mean numerous things compared what they are being compared to.


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The "balance of nature" involves a lot of population cycling with rises and crashes. "Balance" in this case does not mean a static system. The static nature concept comes from Disney movies.

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