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#489642 05/07/18 07:14 AM
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I built a new one-acre pond in Feb 2017 in southern VA. It's 11' deep at the pipe, and is fed by two creeks and multiple springs. It always stays full. You can see the pond in this video.

We stocked it last April (2017) with 10 lbs fathead minnows, 500 BG and 50 RedEar. I fed them all last summer and it was a lot of fun watching them devour the food.

I've seen lots of small (1" and less) fish in the past couple of months, so those are coming from "somewhere." And the pond is full of life, attracting wood ducks, geese and has about a billion tadpoles in it.

But I haven't seen any BG this year. The temps here were reached 90 twice last week and have been in the 80s for a couple of weeks. But when I toss food from the dock, no fish come.

I walk the shoreline daily and have seen no sign...none...of dead fish or anything to suggest the pond isn't vibrant and healthy, as you can see in the video.

So, where are my BG?

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With that amount of warm weather your bluegill are probably beginning their spawn! If you fed them all year last year even if they were just 2-3 inch fingerlings when stocked, with supplemental feedings all year last year they should def be large enough to start spawning. Bluegill begin spawning habits at 65 degrees. Some small ponds much further north than you have already reached 65 degrees depending on depth of pond etc. small ponds typically warm up much faster than larger BOW. If they havenít begun spawning they are feeding up for the prespawn and typically will still be taking pellets. They shouldnít stop accepting pellets until they start protecting their beds. Once on the beds they wonít go too far to find food like pellets unless it floats right over top of their bed.

I would begin considering what you are going to use to control your bluegill population. If half of those 500 bluegill spawn you are going to have thousands this year with no predation. If stock fingerling predators they should only be eating the offspring of the bluegill and the fat head minnows it is probably about the right time to add.

What are your goals for the pond and what apex predators are you considering to help manage your pond? LMB, SMB, Walleye, HSB?!?

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vafarmdog -

You know where those fish are - in yer pond! wink

What is your water temperature, not at the surface but two feet down?

Likely they are in deeper water still, near some cover and structure. Have you fished near any of the fish habitats you put in when you made your pond?

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Thanks guys!

@Aquatics - Yes, I was planning on getting 50 LMB this month to put in. I hadn't done it yet because I wanted to let the BGs get established.

Do you think 50 are enough? My main objective is for great BG fishing for us and our daughter. Of course, love catching large bass, but really want to manage for BG at this point.

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If you stock 50 LMB you are slightly under stocking your preditors which can end up being very advantageous especially if you like catching large bass! Those origionally stocked 50 should have outstanding growth rates and do a decent job of keeping the bluegill in check. Bc you undwrstocked the LMB the bluegill should maintain high numbers and be easy to catch. If you want grow trophy bluegill you should probably stock more LMB or consider another type of predator species. If you go that route it will be somewhat harder to catch bluegill in the pond but they will tend to be bigger nicer fish.

Thatís the best part itís your world and you get to create whatever environment you want!! The only thing you probably should def do is stock small LMB. If you stock fish that are in the 5-7 inch range or larger they could easily get big enough by end of season to start taking out your brood stock bluegill which you def donít want!

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If you are near a permanent stream, you may have had otters in the pond over the winter. They can devastate fish populations in the winter when fish are cold and slow. I know from experience.

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@John - There's no "maybe" about the otter, I saw it there. It was in there for a couple of weeks and I know it took some fish. I saw the scales in its excrement...as I said, I walk the pond daily.

I know an Otter can really damage a pond. But it's a one-acre pond and was well stocked. I still see lots of small fish and don't think it could have wiped out the BG population in the two weeks before I ran it off. But...

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I have no experience with managing a BOW with otters but it seems highly unlikely they could eliminate the entire bluegill population in a 1 acre pond in 2 weeks. I did have an issue with Snapping Turtles and removed 4 adult snapping turtles and about 15-20 eggs in each of the two nests we found just last spring they were all around 15-20 pounds each they were very large turtles. They didnít even put a noticeable dent in my fish population and were in there for years not two weeks.. but again no experience fighting otters so I canít say for sure.

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While otters may not eat all your fish (they won't) they can and often do destabilize the population balance.

Its May and BG are getting ready to have a major spawn (in many areas). Feeding can slow then.
















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@ewest - Interesting...so I shouldn't feed them now?

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Keep feeding and watching. Report results. Watch for spawning. When spawn is in full mode they often reduce feeding activity as males will be on beds.
















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Originally Posted By: ewest
While otters may not eat all your fish (they won't) they can and often do destabilize the population balance.

Its May and BG are getting ready to have a major spawn (in many areas). Feeding can slow then.


As far as I can tell, otters did eat ALL my CC, about 25 big ones (3-6 lbs) in one pond and about 50 just under two pounds in the adjacent pond.

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Otters will eat a lot of fish ,especially the mid to larger sizes. They usually eat those very hard and leave when mostly only small fish are left. This unbalances the fishery population and is difficult to deal with. However there are usually small fish left that will grow and in time reproduce. Trapping can be effective. Don't give up !




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I cannot trap or shoot. My ponds are in the city limits. I'm out of luck if I start over and they come back. The wife wants me to quit spending any money and much time on the ponds after our big fish loss. We were counting on eating those CC this spring and summer. For what it takes, I could probably just buy frozen CC fillets.

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I understand. Not a good situation. Keep an eye on things and let us know what happens. Hopefully the fish will rebound without spending any more money.
















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Ewest,
Are otters likely to remember the ponds and come back next winter or are their movements mostly random?

The otters didn't come around as far as I know the first winter I had CC, and some of the CC were already three pounds plus.

That first winter the ponds didn't freeze. This past winter we had up to 3/4 inch ice a couple of times for a day or three. The otters would go under the ice when they found a thin spot to break through. At first I thought it was deer breaking the ice.

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They move around looking for places with food. Once they eat out a place they leave for a while. Sooner or later one will come back to check for food sources.
















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Originally Posted By: ewest
They move around looking for places with food. Once they eat out a place they leave for a while. Sooner or later one will come back to check for food sources.


Then I might as well quit feeding my BG that are left and just let the ponds be as they will.

The otters went across an open field and climbed a small hill to get my neighbor's catfish. I saw one flathead carcass by her pond that must have been 20 pounds live weight.

I have not heard of otters causing problems in this area before last winter.

Last edited by John Fitzgerald; 05/08/18 06:49 PM.
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Can you seine your pond to see what fish you have left? Can you seine the pond and move the fish to a smaller area you might be able to manage?

There are otter repellents you can purchase and place around your property line. Are you able to light off fireworks? Roman candles and bottle rockets move many animals along.

Some folks report success with fencing. I would light that fence up nice so a sharp zap would be enjoyed by all who touch it.

A couple of well placed trail cameras might show you how many and where you need to concentrate your efforts.

Oh, and most cities if they forbid trapping allow landowners to hire a trapper who has permits to trap the pests. This could be an option for you, too.

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Originally Posted By: basslover
Can you seine your pond to see what fish you have left? Can you seine the pond and move the fish to a smaller area you might be able to manage?

The ponds are only 1/4 acre, but too deep and too much structure to seine.

There are otter repellents you can purchase and place around your property line. Are you able to light off fireworks? Roman candles and bottle rockets move many animals along.

Fireworks not allowed except around fourth of July.

Some folks report success with fencing. I would light that fence up nice so a sharp zap would be enjoyed by all who touch it.

Liability issue.

A couple of well placed trail cameras might show you how many and where you need to concentrate your efforts.

I haven't seen any otter sign since late winter.


Oh, and most cities if they forbid trapping allow landowners to hire a trapper who has permits to trap the pests. This could be an option for you, too.

Liability issue.



Ponds are 600 and 800 feet from our house.
I can't keep kids and their dogs away without constructing fences big enough to keep people and animals out that would cost more than the ponds cost to build. I don't want someone's friendly Labrador Retriever caught in a trap. Plus, fences would make it hard to mow and maintain around the ponds. So, for practical purposes, I am out of options unless otters do not return.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Last edited by John Fitzgerald; 05/08/18 08:40 PM.
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John, we did not have very many otters here in E.Texas until the Texas Parks and Wildlife transplanted them here a few years back. Ck on your Ark wildlife and fisheries for recent transplanting.

Last edited by TGW1; 05/09/18 06:11 AM.

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I'm pretty convinced virtually all the BG are gone. It's been about 90 degrees here and lots of pond activity. Tadpoles everywhere, frogs...even little fish (can't tell what they are).

The BG did spawn last summer even though I only put them in in April. There were spawn nests all around the pond. So far this year, nothing. I've been tossing feed in from the dock where I fed them last year and haven't seen one.

The only explanation (given how healthy the pond is) I can think of is the otter. But taking out all 500 BG...plus the ones they spawned? Don't seem possible to me.

Anyway, I bought 50 LMB and introduced them to the pond today. I'm thinking I should get some more BG next month and start over with that.

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I also have something very odd going on in one pond.

Early this year in my old refurbished pond the BG came to feed really well. In the last month we have been chasing cormorants off for about a three week period. At one point when they just started showing up there was a flock of a dozen on my old pond. They might have been there before I knew it. When they started showing up at my main pond I started checking the old pond too and found them several times.

The cormorants eventually were discouraged and moved on (I assume to their breeding ground???). My main pond, forage pond and sediment pond the fish are feeding like gangbusters. The only thing I can get to come to feed now in the old pond are a few bullheads, a couple pretty big CC and a couple large grass carp. The rare BG or GSF can be seen but it is like the pond is deserted.

Is it possible for a flock of a dozen cormorants over a few days to nearly clean out a pond? I had lots of BG feeding earlier in the year.

Pond is about one acre. If cormorants did this to this old pond, my RES/SMB pond is right next to it. So far I see nothing but FHM in it but I do not really expect to see a lot of other feeding activity. I would hate to have lost my RES/SMB. The old pond is not so high on my priority list. It is kind of my trash pond.

Last edited by snrub; 05/10/18 08:34 PM.

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Snrub,

Not saying you didn't lose the fish to the freaking cormorants but....maybe when cormorants show up the fish get stressed and skittish? Maybe takes them a while to settle down? Just a hopeful thought.....I will be interested to hear your progress reports on this. frown

Last edited by Bill D.; 05/10/18 08:44 PM.

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a dozen Cormorants will herd the fish to where they can feast on them. I have seen it happen!! And if a dozen were to remain on a one acre pond for a week I could see where only a few fish would survive. I look at it from what I saw at a boat and sport show here in Shreveport a few yrs back. Pictured Cormorant had stomach contents removed and had a couple of two pound bass were removed. So say 4lbs of fish per day. 4lbs times 12 birds would be 48lbs of fish per day eaten. So 48lbs eaten time 7 days is 336 lbs of fish. That is a lot of 1/2 lb BG.


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Tracy
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