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Can flathead cats control crappie?
#510192 08/12/19 11:31 PM
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Flatheads are unpopular among pondmeisters because they're voracious superpredators. Crappies are unpopular because they're excessively prolific and prone to stunting. It looks like their flaws cancel each other out. Would it be possible to manage a single-digit acre sized fishery based around these two species?

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510196 08/13/19 04:24 AM
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I would guess that crappie wouldn't be enough of a food source for flatheads. Maybe if you added gizzard shad into the mix?

Last edited by Freg; 08/13/19 06:20 AM.
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510199 08/13/19 05:13 AM
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I am getting FHM and LCS going in a half acre pond with a plan to add black crappie and then blue catfish. The idea is to have a small
batch of really big cats. The plant life is coming along very slowly due to the clay soil, so it may take me a while to build the forage base. I am not feeding. Thought about pumkinseed but have not found a source.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510201 08/13/19 07:37 AM
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I'm skeptical about crappie in anything less than 20 or so acres. They have early spawns and I doubt the capability of big cats to control them.


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Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510203 08/13/19 08:19 AM
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I also have a retired couple that fish my ponds:)

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
RAH #510206 08/13/19 08:44 AM
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So far no overpopulation of crappie after 5 years. Dont think they have pulled off a spawn since the first year......

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510211 08/13/19 09:35 AM
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If the crappie have not spawned for that long it is not because of the catfish.

It could be possible to manage the FHC and crappie if the numbers are right. Keep us posted as to results.
















Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
ewest #510214 08/13/19 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted By: ewest
If the crappie have not spawned for that long it is not because of the catfish.

It could be possible to manage the FHC and crappie if the numbers are right. Keep us posted as to results.


Eric I think the weather has been the deciding factor warm then cold till they give up on spawning. The catfish are CC and BC that are about 5#s . LMB are up to double digit size with a huge group of 2 year olds,

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
Freg #510219 08/13/19 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted By: Freg
I would guess that crappie wouldn't be enough of a food source for flatheads. Maybe if you added gizzard shad into the mix?

Originally Posted By: Dave Davidson1
I'm skeptical about crappie in anything less than 20 or so acres. They have early spawns and I doubt the capability of big cats to control them.

Getting mixed signals here, guys. grin cry

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510228 08/13/19 12:59 PM
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I have had crappie in my pond for years and they have never had a successful spawn as far as I know. I also had a few 20# channel cats and they eat ANYTHING, flatheads would be even worse as about all they will eat is live fish. I personally would never stock any catfish besides bullhead in a pond. I do know channel cats are popular and can be managed fairly easily. So if you really want to do it, go for it but I don't think your crappies could support the cats for long without sunfish or shad in the pond as well.


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Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510229 08/13/19 01:01 PM
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FHC won't bother chasing CP under 10" once they get up to 10# or so...what I envision is a pond full of small CP and underfed FHC. The key to forage for predators is to provide multiple sources each with it's own availability during the season.

If one had a fishery full of invasive species [Carp, Buffalo, Bullhead, Green Sunfish, etc.] due to periodic river flooding it's the only instance where I would recommend ultra predator species stocking like FHC. In sandpit fisheries in NE I manage we often face dense Gizzard Shad populations due to river flooding and HSB, TM, and BC perform well utilizing that forage base and providing new angling opportunities.

I understand your logic on the CP/FHC combo, but again I suspect the fishery would yield abundant small CP and underweight FHC.


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Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
teehjaeh57 #510239 08/13/19 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
underweight FHC.

Believe it or not, this is kind of something I was planning the pond around. To be more specific about the intended food web, I wanted to stock a large variety of small forage fish like Gambusia, banded killifish, non-golden shiners, non-fathead minnows, pumpkinseed, alongside the BCP and FHC.

I was hoping the flatheads would kind of struggle after they outgrew those foods. Their only food source beyond this would be the crappie themselves, I was hoping this would create a bottle neck where few flatheads achieved large size, and those that did could control the smaller ones through cannibalism. Meanwhile, the heavily predated, well-fed crappies could max out their size.

I'm a complete amateur though, so that might still be a path to both species ending up stunted. Just thought I would elaborate on the specifics I was imagining. Would being underweight ruin the quality of an FHC as a food fish?








Last edited by saint_abyssal; 08/13/19 02:58 PM.
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510242 08/13/19 03:39 PM
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Catfish have issues spawning in a pond, if you put in the correct habitat thay can but if it is not preasent odds are they will not.


bucket stock......anything
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510243 08/13/19 03:40 PM
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My experience is that the knowledgeable folks recommend against large catfish (flatheads and blue) and crappie in smaller ponds. I already have two ponds with more conventional species, so I am curious about experimenting with something different in this 3rd pond. If I am unhappy in future years, I'll dump in a bunch of lime and start over.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510254 08/14/19 06:12 AM
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Pat, after four yrs of reading about your pond, it seems to me you wound up with a pretty nice lmb pond with a few nice cp in it. I know from your post here your goal was for a good crappie fishing pond. Have you considered adding more cp to the pond. I was thinking one nice winter fishing trip at Rayburn you could have more than enough cp to restock the pond with some 12"+- cp. Even you and I could put that trip together. smile I have pretty much everything we would need to do that trip. Just a thought!!


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Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
TGW1 #510266 08/14/19 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted By: TGW1
Pat, after four yrs of reading about your pond, it seems to me you wound up with a pretty nice lmb pond with a few nice cp in it. I know from your post here your goal was for a good crappie fishing pond. Have you considered adding more cp to the pond. I was thinking one nice winter fishing trip at Rayburn you could have more than enough cp to restock the pond with some 12"+- cp. Even you and I could put that trip together. smile I have pretty much everything we would need to do that trip. Just a thought!!


That sounds like a plan Tracy.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510267 08/14/19 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted By: saint_abyssal
Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
underweight FHC.

Believe it or not, this is kind of something I was planning the pond around. To be more specific about the intended food web, I wanted to stock a large variety of small forage fish like Gambusia, banded killifish, non-golden shiners, non-fathead minnows, pumpkinseed, alongside the BCP and FHC.

I was hoping the flatheads would kind of struggle after they outgrew those foods. Their only food source beyond this would be the crappie themselves, I was hoping this would create a bottle neck where few flatheads achieved large size, and those that did could control the smaller ones through cannibalism. Meanwhile, the heavily predated, well-fed crappies could max out their size.

I'm a complete amateur though, so that might still be a path to both species ending up stunted. Just thought I would elaborate on the specifics I was imagining. Would being underweight ruin the quality of an FHC as a food fish?









Probably best to state your ultimate goals for the fishery and work from that perspective. It's not clear to me what you're trying to achieve.


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Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510274 08/14/19 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted By: saint_abyssal
Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
underweight FHC.

Believe it or not, this is kind of something I was planning the pond around. To be more specific about the intended food web, I wanted to stock a large variety of small forage fish like Gambusia, banded killifish, non-golden shiners, non-fathead minnows, pumpkinseed, alongside the BCP and FHC.

I was hoping the flatheads would kind of struggle after they outgrew those foods. Their only food source beyond this would be the crappie themselves, I was hoping this would create a bottle neck where few flatheads achieved large size, and those that did could control the smaller ones through cannibalism. Meanwhile, the heavily predated, well-fed crappies could max out their size.

I'm a complete amateur though, so that might still be a path to both species ending up stunted. Just thought I would elaborate on the specifics I was imagining. Would being underweight ruin the quality of an FHC as a food fish?


Saint,

Flatheads can control crappie, however, the result probably won't be what you desire above. Flatheads are rather aggressive and sometimes kill each other. Seems to me it would be exceedingly difficult to manage the appropriate sizes and numbers to get the desired result.

Pat's having good success so look into what he is doing.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
teehjaeh57 #510279 08/14/19 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
Probably best to state your ultimate goals for the fishery and work from that perspective. It's not clear to me what you're trying to achieve.

Lots of crappie and flathead of good eating size.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510339 08/15/19 08:23 PM
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This link has information that may help.

Flathead catfish can reproduce at 18 in. For it to work, you should make every attempt to harvest them once they reach this size and provide only 3 to 4 spawning receptacles per acre. You want thirty 2 lb flatheads per acre not two 30 lb flathead per acre. Gizzard shad aren't really the natural prey of flat head but it might work in a shallow BOW. Tilapia would also probably be great for forage, particularly mossambica. Feeding some behind a net might introduce a lot of forage. I would complete forgo the crappie altogether. It's not clear, even without bluegill, bass, and crappie whether Flathead would recruit at the rate of 30 fish/acre per year. If they can, then this may be doable.

**Bump**

GSH would also be good prey, they require no nest tending to reproduce. Their mouths are also to small to eat fingerling flathead. Ideally, the only predators of the young should be other flatheads.

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/15/19 08:41 PM.
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510520 08/19/19 04:30 PM
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OK, Here is a study on 3 Michigan lakes where flathe... in Sand Lake).

Swingle determined that Flatheads heavily target 4" to 6" panfish. I guess this tends to persist even as they grow very large. The fish in the study above were much larger than I recommended. It would be better to match their stocking rates and fish sizes as it clearly worked. Flatheads live a long time, so they wouldn't need to reproduce if allowed to grow large

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/19/19 04:56 PM.
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510522 08/19/19 07:33 PM
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jpsdad, thanks for posting that link! You learn something new every day!

My wife's grandmother (96 yo) still has a cottage on Sand Lake and after years of not having a chance to go there, we were there for an evening of fishing a few weeks ago.

The lake association still is killing the weeds with chemicals every June, but another thing they did the last few years is they put in a LAKE WIDE aeration system. At least I assume the association is footing the bill... I've never heard of the DNR doing this..

But there are about 14 large air stations all around the lake and they run day and night in the summer. The water clarity and the removal of muck in the shallows is amazing. The water out to about 4' deep is back to pure sand (like it was in the good old days). I'm not sure if the natural springs have opened back up yet or not but I have to believe they are cutting down on muck in the deeper water too. It is an all around shallow lake with very few places deeper than 12' deep.

The locals say the bluegill fishing has dried up almost completely. Even hard to catch bass bigger than 14". I see from the PDF that they did plant catfish (that was a rumor I had heard before) but the report suggests no natural reproduction in their sampling.

Rarely someone catches a NP so they must not naturally reproduce so well either.

The graphs show very few pumpkinseed even. I'm wondering if the lake had gone through possibly some bad winterkills since it is so shallow.

But the evidence even in this tiny lake with a challenging environment for predator and prey shows that the hungry flatheads were cleaning up on small fish in the desired size range (less than 6")

Very fascinating read. Thanks!

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510524 08/19/19 10:01 PM
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You are most welcome canyoncreek.

This topic piqued my interest. Flatheads are favorite of mine to eat. But when I catch one I tend to release it. I like them between 18 and 24 in. When they are bigger, I worry about mercury. Were it possible to set up a self sustaining population in 1 acre BOW where they are harvested at <4 lbs, I would be very, very, tempted to do that when I finally get around to owning my own BOW. One could probably grow some monster BG or WM in a BOW like that also. If there were some examples of it working with TP, GSH, BH, and/or red shiner, I would probably only stock a few male panfish a year as catch and release fishery and rely on TP and BH to feed the catfish.

Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
jpsdad #510526 08/19/19 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted By: jpsdad
Were it possible to set up a self sustaining population in 1 acre BOW where they are harvested at <4 lbs, I would be very, very, tempted to do that when I finally get around to owning my own BOW.

Thanks for the PDF, I found it really informative and encouraging. Why wouldn't you be able to set up a self-sustaining flatty population? Do they not spawn in small BOWs? I thought their spawning was similar to channels'.

Last edited by saint_abyssal; 08/19/19 10:33 PM.
Re: Can flathead cats control crappie?
saint_abyssal #510527 08/19/19 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted By: saint_abyssal
Originally Posted By: jpsdad
Were it possible to set up a self sustaining population in 1 acre BOW where they are harvested at <4 lbs, I would be very, very, tempted to do that when I finally get around to owning my own BOW.

Thanks for the PDF, I found it really informative and encouraging. Why wouldn't you be able to set up a self-sustaining flatty population? Do they not spawn in small BOWs? I thought their spawning was similar to channels'.


It is and there is no doubt they will spawn, it deals with their survival after hatching ... the same is true of CC. If I were to do it, my goal would be harvest between 60 and 110 lbs of flatheads annually where none of them exceed 5 lbs and most are harvested at 2-3 lbs. There is no end to how big one can grow and if they resist harvest ... this scenario would fall apart over time where fewer fish of larger size dominate.

Flathead are really a stream and river fish and these generally don't build large panfish populations. Shad, carp, and other catfish are an important forage in these systems. There is also more habitat typically in those environments that protect young flathead. Even in these favorable conditions there isn't a lot of recruitment as these fish grow large and defend a territory. They can and do kill each other just defending a territory. Its a battle of attrition to reach 30+ lbs. They need room. In the paper above, the wildlife managers worked with these natural tendencies stocking at around 1.2 flathead per acre averaging ~10 lbs per fish. It was interesting that it still took three years to get the full effect. By then, they would have averaged almost twice the original average weight.

My suggestions were geared towards circumventing these tendencies where a larger number of sub-adult fish can co-habit the BOW. Harvesting most just as they reach sexual maturity ... before the territorial instincts really kick in. Was thinking some would still be able to spawn and if the forage didn't go about eating the fry they might reproduce as a self sustaining population where all fish are harvested before reaching 5 lbs. I can point to no examples that this is possible.

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/19/19 11:32 PM.
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