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Good afternoon gentleman ( and ladies ),

I know that there may be a few TL:DR responses to this post, but I have several questions, all of which require a little bit of explanation. For those who are interested, I'd really appreciate any help or advice that you can offer. I've been reading the forum for several weeks now, and thoroughly enjoy the knowledge it provides, but this is my first post.

For some background, I live in south Louisiana, about 20 miles outside of Baton Rouge. My pond is about 1/3 acre, and was originally dug in October 2016. It's kind of shaped like a figure 8, with a shallower area that runs across the pond in the middle, and is about 4'-6' feet deep on the far side, and it was originally 14'-16' deep on the large side. Unfortunately, i think it has become much more shallow, but it may not be as bad as I believe. Last summer, the water dropped pretty drastically, but this summer, it has remained full. I may try to confirm the depth in a couple of areas soon.

So, I had not stocked the pond until about 2 months ago, but in March and April of this year, I did notice several bream beds of about 50-75 bream each, ranging in size from 2" to 4". There was also a pretty sound breeding population of minnows and possibly a few shad in the pond before I stocked.

In early May, I stocked:

(60) 3"-5" LMB
(75) ~3" Coppernose BG
(50) ~ 2"-3"HBG
(35) ~ 4"-5" Channel catfish
3 lbs of Fathead minnows

The pond originally did not have any aquatic vegetation, but now there are several patches of narrow leaf pond weed in a few areas. Its not problematic yet, and even though it is giving the fish some shade and structure, I think it is something that I will have to address at some point.

I am currently feeding the TSC mixed floating/sinking feed, and it seems like it is having great results for the bream and catfish. They seem to be growing rapidly. I was fishing yesterday just to mess around, and caught several hybrid bream of some sort that would nearly be keepers if I was out on the lake. I was doubtful that they were fish that I stocked 2 months ago, but I feel like they must be. We don't really have green sunfish down here, and these fish had a huge, very un-bluegill-like, mouth, and were mostly green, with a black gill spot ( see attached pic )


So, for my questions:

#1 The bass will not eat the feed. Some of them will come up and look at it or bump it, but they won't eat it. So, is there a feed that the bass will eat? I caught some minnows in a drainage ditch on my property and the bass annihilated them, but no interest if its not alive. I have seen a few bass that have significantly grown over the past 2 months, and they should have plenty of forage, but I'm just wondering if there is anything else I could be doing.

#2 Black bullheads -- The first day I started feeding, I discovered a swarm of black bullheads fingerlings that is probably about 150-200 strong. I initially thought they were blues, because in the water they looked like they had a fork to their tail, but I netted some and they are definitely black bullheads. They are all currently about 2.5"-3" ( see pics )


My first instinct was to start culling them immediately, not because I don't like catfish and wouldn't enjoy catching and eating them when they get bigger, but because I don't want them to negatively affect the pond or the growth of the other fish. However, I've heard that bullheads grow very slowly, so I started thinking that maybe the Bass and Channel Cats will grow large enough, fast enough, to start feeding on the bullheads within the next 3-4 months. So, should I start netting or removing most, or all, of the bullheads, or do you think that they will provide forage for the other fish? I considered going fishing locally to catch some bass or larger channel or blue cats to bring back to release in the pond, but I'm worried that might do just as much harm to my bream and bass population.

#3 I intend to increase the size of my pond by adding two secondary 1/4 acre ponds on either side and then connecting them to the main pond. I also want to re-dig to increase the depth and length of the main pond sometime within the next year or so. Of course, this is assuming that I can actually afford to pay for someone to do this work, but if I can, is it possible to do this without killing or harming the currently stocked fish? I'm assuming that they will obviously avoid an excavator bucket coming into the water, but stirring up the sediment might make it difficult for them to get enough oxygen. Any advice?

#4 Lastly, I got my fish from Dunn's Fish Farm because they have a route that comes near my house. I was very happy with the fish that I got from them, and plan to continue to buy fatheads and forage bream from them ( if needed ), but their selection of fish was somewhat limited. Despite my love for them, I've been told not to stock black/white crappie, as they need at least an acre or more, and tend to take over small ponds and stunt other species, but I would love to stock some goggle-eye/rock bass, maybe a few blue catfish, even smallmouth bass ( if possible ), or a hybridized Magnolia/Blackstriped Crappie, or any other suggestions(?) but was wondering if anyone knew of fish farms where they might be ordered.

I have many more questions and I'm sure I will be on here frequently to ask for advice from those with much more experience and knowledge than I. Thanks for any help that you can offer. Have a great day!

Wilks



Last edited by Paradigmends; 06/20/19 02:06 PM.
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You have nice looking specimens of green sunfish.
1. Bass basically have to be trained to eat pellets. Essentially you buy feed trained bass to have very many LMbass that eat pellets. Larger LMbass can be trained using the right methods to eat pellets but this takes lots of patience, effort, and time.
2. Remove all the BH you can. There will always be a male and female that remain to provide more than enough small BH each year.
3. Consider draining the main pond down to low pool where fish will survive okay while the excavation is done.
4. SMB will struggle to survive in your fishery combination; forget them. Rock bass could be a bonus fish. Few if any here know little about how well they will perform in a mixed fish small pond community. If you decide to add crappie use ONLY the hybrid crappie or you could easily have more fish problems than just GSF and bullheads (BH)!. I would use only channel catfish not blues. Blues in your pond will eat a whole lot of your other preferred fish than the bullheads. CC will grow to large sizes in a small pond.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 06/20/19 06:42 PM.

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OK, so it appears the problem has gotten worse.

In addition to the swarm of 3"-5" bullheads that I've got. It looks like a Mommy and Daddy got busy again. Yesterday when I was feeding was the first time I've seen these fry balls, but there's a bunch of them in it.

It also appears that some of my pre-stock bream have spawned, as there are many more 3/4"-1" Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, and RES that I've been seeing recently.

I will say that all of the fish seem to be growing very well at this time. A number of the bass have grown 1"-3" inches and many of the channel cats have gone from 4" to 7" in less than 2 months. The panfish are growing very fast, as well. I've started adding mealworms and soldier fly larva to my Sportsman's Choice Trophy Fish feed and the bass are now eating those, and some of the feed, and the bream and channel catfish love what they can get before the black clouds sweep in and eat everything.

I really don't want my pond to become overstocked and have any of the preferred fish become stunted because of these bullheads.

Any recommendations on what I should do? If they were big enough to catch with rod and reel, I'd be happy to catch as many as I could and have weekly fish frys. For bullheads, they do seem to be very clean, and when I've caught them in clean water in the past, they usually taste pretty good. I'm guessing that the small ones are too small to catch in any kind of net or trap, but I might be able to eliminate the larger ones that way. Can someone tell me what type of trap or net to use? The 2"-4" Bullheads will literally follow me around the side of the pond that I feed from, and they swarm over the food and eat every scrap that they can find, so I wonder if the bluegill and bass are getting enough. I've tried to catch some of the bullheads with a pole net, but they got savvy after the first few times.

Anyone been through this before? Any advice that you can give would be a huge help.

Fry Ball:



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I've caught literally thousands of BH over the years by throwing a cast net on top of the black ball.

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I'm in a very similar situation but have not seen the fry ball yet... Using 2 homemade cloverleaf traps daily and R&R. Removed 26 adults and 81fry so far.
Currently no large predators and curious if adding largish LMB would help.

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I would be in heaven if I had a bullhead problem like that. On a side note about excavation my neighbor dug his pond out deeper with the fish and water still in it and the vast majority of them survived. It turned a chocolate brown color but they somehow pulled through and now the pond is alot deeper and does not leak nearly as bad.

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SWMO 2 - Please explain how a BH problem can be good. My understanding is they eat the food chain from the bottom up then stunt themselves and many other species. I removed around 40 YOY tonight and need to understand how they can benefit a new pond.
I'm just looking for a silver lining.

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In a normal pond I doubt they would help.much besides being forage for bass. I just like them, they are fun to catch, are good eating and don't reach problematic sizes like the other catfishes. If present in large numbers they may make your pond quiet muddy though.

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I removed 43 YOY via cloverleaf trap today. Every day I hope that I've started to make a dent, then have a record day. Over 160 YOY removed not counting the .5in fry ball I hit w a shovel yesterday...
I would really like to know if I should just continue trapping or advance my stocking plan and stock bass big enough to eat the fry.

Last edited by ShortCut; 06/28/19 08:52 PM.

How are you going to know unless you try!

NW TX 2ac main pond fed from 1100ac watershed going through 2 2+ac sediment ponds. 1st filled 10/2018
900BG, 200RES, 200HBG, 100CC and 23# FHM...."Free" BH, GSF GSH, LMB & ??? 75LMB 3/2020
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4" bass put the smoke on those fry balls, problem is-what is left after that? Have you already stocked your target forage?
Edit: I re-read and see you have other species present.
You need a long handled, small mesh net. Sometimes you can take hundreds in 1 swing up.

Last edited by Snipe; 06/28/19 10:33 PM.

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