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For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
#518602 03/30/20 07:28 PM
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OK. So don't know much about RES other than they show up from time to time in my creel. To be sure, they are welcome. I like the shape of their bodies and the ease of fileting them. Reminds me a lot of crappie in that regard. In the waters I fish, the RES seems to be far less dominant a species than BG. I say seems, in that I can't drain the ponds and quantify each. I suppose it could be there are more RES than BG by weight if I could just get my bait to them without the BG interfering. Much of the literature seems to imply that RES cannot attain as high a standing weight as can BG although I can't seem to find any controlled experiments verifying this.

To their credit many studies report that RES have a high proportion of harvestable fish in mature bows. This www.ojs.library.okstate.edu › osu › index.php › OAS › article › download found that 52% of redear sunfish were of harvestable size in 42 Oklahoma ponds that were drained to determine standing weights. Harvestable was defined by panfish that are a minimum of .1 lbs (> 5.5 " for redear). They found that where RES occurred ... their standing weight averaged 44 lbs/ac with a maximum of 160 lbs/ac. Big range. If you look at the table in the paper you will find that the pond that carried the 160 lb/ac of RES had a fish standing weight of 835 lbs/acre of which 533 lbs/ac were black bullhead. Only 7% of the fish in this bow were of harvestable size. I have to wonder if the harvest sized fish were dominated by RES. If it were so, it is made all the more remarkable in that LMB had a measley standing weight of 2 of the total 835 lbs leaving the BH and RES without any significant predation. All in all, these measurements reflect what I had already inferred from other sources. Specifically, that RES tend not to overpopulate, grow faster than other lepomis, and comprise a small percentage of the total standing weight (in the paper above that number was 12%).

Now fast forward. I came across this little gem of a web document co-authored by our late great Dave Willis. In it they mention Don Gabelhouse's masters thesis where he sampled 4 small bows ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 acres. I found Don's findings rather remarkable. In these bows, RES comprised the majority of the biomass. The redear co-existed with GSF in one bow and with BG in another but even in these two cases the redear dominated the biomass. Also of interest is the standing weights of the redear which ranged from 232 to 356 lbs/ac. Maybe I'm just exaggerating the significance of this but I find this quite remarkable. I do wonder how this situation may have happened but one idea that happened to occur to me is that all 4 ponds may have been owned by a single landowner who stocked them originally with only RES and LMB.

To be sure, Dave's article deals with RES in combination with SMB and I understand the reasoning and wisdom of this combination. Even so, when an average standing weight of LMB @ 58 lbs/ac and average standing weight of RES @ 298 lbs/ac is considered, I can't help but wonder what could possibly be wrong with that. Yes, the LMB were probably stunting and couldn't achieve large individual weights. But I have also seen that with BG and LMB ... particularly in aged ponds. For folks who like panfish, like myself, the large population of small bass is a means to the end of healthy harvestable panfish.

So what are your thoughts, are Don's observations in those 4 bows sustainable over the long run? Will LMB reproduce enough to hold the RES in check ... will the RES reproduce enough to replace themselves under harvest? If LMB are a no go could spotted bass be a substitute predator more like SMB?








Last edited by jpsdad; 03/31/20 05:47 AM.
Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518609 03/31/20 01:00 AM
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I manage several fisheries with RES and have never witnessed a population management issue - apex predators in these fisheries are either LMB or HSB/SMB/WE or any combination thereof. I recommend RES stocking to all my clients regardless of their goals - in my experience they've never had a negative impact on any fishery regardless of the species present. I have also witnessed robust RES populations vs BG in some interstate 80 lakes - these all feature LMB as the apex predator. I never arrived at a logical explanation for these Sunfish dynamics but recall vividly catching RES 5:1 vs BG in these fisheries and it left me puzzled.


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Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518612 03/31/20 06:45 AM
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Thank you TJ.

Expending a considerable amount of time yesterday searching for a web copy of Don's paper, I found that the web document Dave Willis co-authored had inspired a previous thread here at pond boss that was initiated by snrub. Like me, he also found Don's findings remarkable. That thread basically dealt with the question of whether snail forage significantly limited the biomass of RES and whether focusing on the production of RES was a doable project. In the end, there seemed agreement that RES prefer snails when available but will readily adapt to other available forage allowing them to achieve a respectable biomass. Implicit to this, RES can support a managed predator.

Swingle noted that RES reproduction was insufficient to support good growth of LMB. Many sources report that RES are age 2 at sexually maturity. This contrasts considerably with BG which have under ideal conditions been document to reach sexually maturity at age 0. So I 'think' I agree that LMB would grow slower and achieve lesser ultimate size in bows with RES only as opposed to bows with BG only.

The paper on standing weights (broken link above) did provide some interesting data on the standing weights of LMB in the presence of other species. One might think that LMB standing weights would be a little higher in ponds where BG were present than in ponds where RES were present. I would have almost taken this for granted. But this was not the case in the aggregate of the 42 ponds surveyed. Where RES were present the standing weight of LMB averaged 57 lbs/ac and where BG were present the standing weight of LMB averaged 49 lbs/acre. Looking at their absence provides interesting data as well. When RES were absent, LMB standing weights were 34 lbs/ac. It would seem the presence of RES was associated with an additional 70% in standing weight of LMB. When BG were absent, LMB standing weights were 29 lbs per acre and so the presence of BG was associated with an additional 69% in standing weight of LMB. They seemed to provide roughly equivalent benefits to the standing weights but RES seemed to allow LMB to achieve greater standing weights by about 16%. The data seems to suggest that RES and BG are comparable with regard to the carrying capacity of LMB.

This doesn't mean that RES are better than BG or as good as BG for growing large bass. I have wonder whether in the presence of RES that LMB are greater in number and lesser in individual weight than when in the presence of BG. Perhaps invertebrates are larger percentage of LMB diets in the presence of RES making the LMB more panfish-like in terms of growth. TJ, perhaps you can shed some light on this from your experience.

All this brings us back to question of how when sharing a pond with BG can RES represent the lion's share of the biomass of panfish. I have already mentioned the possibility that the condition is reflective of the initial stocking omitting the introduction of BG. Even if so, if conditions prevailed that were more beneficial to BG, then BG presence should eventually squeeze back RES. It occurs to me that a food chain might benefit RES over BG particularly if the chain was concentrated in large benthic organisms or organisms that prefer low light levels. For example, shredders like crayfish, PK shrimp, and Hyallela Aztec. RES also have first crack at chiromids. So is there a invertebrate forage combination that will favor RES?

In the other PB Thread , Bill Cody mentioned that the BOWs were 24-28 years old and so it would seem that LMB and RES are a sustainable combination. He mentioned that the RES were 7" to 8.5 " at 7 years and that growth was slow. Even so, given the standing weights of RES, I can only infer two possibilities for the slow growth. The first possibility is that the RES were overly reproductive despite harvesting efforts OR the RES were under harvested. If the latter, it would seem that this is manageable and better growth can be expected when RES are subjected to cropping. Bill, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you may have on how cropping may increase growth and what may be a sustainable rate of cropping in terms of lbs/acre-year in terms of RES carrying capacity. Given a winter mortality of 30%, I wonder if 30% of standing weight isn't a good idea and might provide the benefit of greater winter survival.

Snrub, I am going to read through your thread on the SMB/RES again as well. Do you have any harvest records and can you comment on RES growth and reproduction in your SMB/RES bow?

Last edited by jpsdad; 03/31/20 07:08 AM.
Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518620 03/31/20 11:23 AM
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RES are very good at catching and eating small YOY fish that will fit in their mouth after the sun goes down.



Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518622 03/31/20 12:00 PM
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The only harvest I have had in my RES/SMB pond has been quite a lot of small SMB transfered to other ponds and a dozen or so RESxGSF hybrids that I caught and did not want them to be in the pond so transferred them to my old "trash" pond. Have caught a few RES but very few. I'm not a very good angler and it befuddles me why I like RES because of how hard they are to catch.

The bushy pondweed in that pond has made it a real pain to fish also.

Adding this to the RES thread that I maintain with links to other RES threads and articles.

RES info and links

Last edited by snrub; 03/31/20 12:06 PM.

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Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518626 03/31/20 12:54 PM
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Have not looked at the studies. Post the title and source.

Keep in mind that standing weight does not necessarily indicate good condition/RW nor species balance.

I have not encountered or heard of RES stunting/overpopulation.

I don't think RES can provided adequate forage for LMB to maintain condition over time. There could be exceptions.
















Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
ewest #518634 03/31/20 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ewest


I don't think RES can provided adequate forage for LMB to maintain condition over time. There could be exceptions.


That's been my belief and experience thus far - RES fecundity a fraction of BG [20,000 eggs annually vs up to 100,000 2-4x annually]. This disparity further confuses me when I see RES dominate BG in a fishery...I don't think it's common, but I have witnessed it a few times per my original post.

No one has requested this, but thought I'd share my experience: RES are great companion sunfish for SMB...if RES aren't an option due to N location, BRES hybrids are a great choice I've been using and maybe BPS would be an option as well. I haven't worked with BPS, but believe they would work, and I'll bet they'd be gorgeous fish albeit a tad smaller than BRES. 90%+ F2 BRES offspring are male which accounts for their population management ease - I believe the same would be true for BPS, making them a potential companion species. I would like to start working to hybridize PS in the near future. So many plans, not enough water!


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
ewest #518649 03/31/20 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ewest
Have not looked at the studies. Post the title and source.

Keep in mind that standing weight does not necessarily indicate good condition/RW nor species balance.

I have not encountered or heard of RES stunting/overpopulation.



Eric this Google search will get you to it. It will be the first of the results.

Quote
I don't think RES can provided adequate forage for LMB to maintain condition over time. There could be exceptions.


I think if a person wanted to grow large LMB it would be a struggle. If the focus is harvest sized panfish, many small bass are a sustainable way to get there. The key would be managing them. An adequate harvest of both LMB and panfish should provide all the room for those remaining to make growth. Survivors will reproduce and grow when there is mortality. Its like pruning a tree.

Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518650 03/31/20 10:03 PM
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Interesting discussion. I wonder if RES could coexist better with feed trained LMB. RES don't take feed much, which would leave most of it for the bass.


8ac E Tx, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17. 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20




Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518685 04/01/20 10:36 AM
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Yeah, but even feed trained bass are opportunistic feeders of prey. I don’t see RES as a consistent prey for bass.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518690 04/01/20 12:25 PM
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I think I would prefer not to feed the LMB so they would do a better job as predators.

I would further add that I don't see RES, BG, or TP as consistent prey for Bass. The TP are going to all die and so cannot persist. The BG won't be consistent for the same reasons that the RES won't. Almost every unmanaged bow ends up in a condition with where there is a lot of small bass and large panfish. It is the natural course of events and can only be prevented by intervening with nature's natural course. This is the balance of small waters. In fact, the balance is so strong that once the balance is achieved it is exceedingly difficult to undo. Most managers will tell you to nuke and start over.

So you start over, for a time the LMB grow like on steroids. But is this balance? I propose that it is not. Sure, I get what people like about it. The LMB are getting a good start and for a few years the pond with reasonable management will grow some big bass. In fact everything grows well in the beginning to include the panfish. But LMB are going to reproduce in greater quantity than BG (or RES) can support. As time goes on, the reproduction of BG (or RES) fall below a level to fully support the needs of all of those bass and the bass will rarely grow beyond 12"-13". At this length they show the signs of being under-nourished. This is the natural course of events and it represents the balance most ponds eventually settle into ... indefinitely. The indefinite nature of this condition is evidence that the system is in a natural balance.

Some people say that balance is a knife edge or a temporary condition lasting a short time. Not so. The condition that they refer to is a the last fleeting glimpse of the pond being in the unbalanced condition of having a surplus of food for the fish within the pond. In fact, the pond is a long way from being balanced. It's in the condition where the population of fish exceeds what the pond can naturally carry and without introducing harvest mortality, or feeding/fertilizing, the growth of the population dramatically slows. In response, the pond begins its progress to a final system in balance where BG (or RES) don't support the growth of large bass.

If we rewind to the ponds that Don studied, they support LMB ranging from 27 to 118 lbs/ac. If not subjected to an appropriate annual harvest, it is NOT likely that the LMB in these ponds were in good condition (the same can be said of the RES). Even so, it cannot be argued that the ponds did not support the LMB or that the RES did not provide forage them. It is likely, just as it is in many aged LMB/BG bows that panfish forage provided insufficient nutrition and that the LMB competed with panfish for invertebrate prey. The LMB in this case prefer to eat RES but resort to eating invertebrates. In the end we have evidence there is enough food being produced annually to support LMB at the standing weights that were observed.

From my perspective, there is no moral obligation to support the LMB beyond what nature will. Particularly, there is no moral obligation to maintain the unbalanced condition that supports rapid LMB growth and large ultimate LMB size. This is especially true for pond owners that don't care about large bass but want large panfish. I don't feel sorry for LMB that are unable to grow to a large size due to environmental constraints. They adapt to the balance of the small pond environment, surviving, growing, and reproducing. It is enough to allow them to do that. That said, if one is of a mind to intervene by harvesting BG (or RES) and LMB in a sustainable way, the fish will respond to this intervention with favorable results. The panfish will grow and reproduce better and the LMB will grow better and replace themselves as well. Every year, they will grow to replace what is taken and they will do this indefinitely. What could be more balanced than that?

Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518694 04/01/20 12:43 PM
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good stuff jpsdad

Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518706 04/01/20 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
For folks who like panfish, like myself, the large population of small bass is a means to the end of healthy harvestable panfish.

Brother!


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Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518716 04/01/20 05:57 PM
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Good discussion, jpsdad. Walt Overton told me that he's seen literally hundreds of private ponds over the years, and that virtually every one that is not deliberately harvesting lots of undersize LMB ends up with loads of 12 - 13 inchers. That is the natural outcome ninety percent of the time.

Last edited by anthropic; 04/01/20 11:11 PM.

8ac E Tx, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17. 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20




Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
Theo Gallus #518721 04/01/20 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
Originally Posted by jpsdad
For folks who like panfish, like myself, the large population of small bass is a means to the end of healthy harvestable panfish.

Brother!


Well I'm not sure if that is admiration or disgust smile but even if the latter, I will allow Theo the freedom. To be sure, he hasn't followed the path I described above and is a good example what kind of alternatives can be taken to that approach. Theo's path is a higher one than I would or even could take from the location where I live. It is worth everyone's while read how he grows BG/RES hybrids to between 2 and 3 lbs in a 1/2 acre pond without intentionally managing to sacrifice the ultimate size of his predator fish.

I would just ask that I not be judged harshly. This management method I describe above is commonly practiced and also recommended at this forum. From this thread one will learn the #1 thing conducive to growing big bluegills is this ...

"1. The pond should be bass heavy with the population dominated by 6"-12" bass. The pond can or will have some 14"-16" bass but not lots of them. At most only a few per acre and whenever you catch one of them remove it. This means harvesting primarily the largest bass caught in the 14"+ range. Harvesting one 16"+ LMB makes room for 3-6 smaller bass ..."

We've all seen ponds that have been completely neglected of harvest where bass of the largest sizes are starving. Let me assure everyone that this is not what growing big bluegill is about. Bass denied the fish forage required to grow fast still grow. They grow slower and supplement their diet with same things that the panfish eat. Even in waters that produce trophy bass it can take 4 years (or even longer) for an LMB to reach 15". And so the conditions prevail where one can manage a bass heavy population that grows until harvest size and that can reproduce before the harvest size is reached.

We should be tolerant and helpful with regard to what people want from their ponds. If a person says he wants large bluegill and bass to a pound or so, why would any one recommend a stocking plan that is used to grow large LMB? Wouldn't it be better advice to stock the pond so that condition (in blue above) is met by the end of the second year? Just saying ... we should support the goal ... not make it more difficult or make recommendations that do not support the goal at all but some other goal.


Last edited by jpsdad; 04/01/20 09:10 PM.
Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518728 04/01/20 11:26 PM
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You know, there's room for another smaller pond at my place, maybe 2 or 3 acres. All this talk about different goals makes me wonder if someday I might construct another BOW with different goals than I have now.

Now I want some big bass and, as much as possible, big BG. So I try to harvest smaller LMB and supplement CNBG raised in my little forage pond when I can. TP to take some pressure off CNBG, a few HSB for fun, and I feed.

But what if I used the 2-3 acre "someday" place as a giant forage pond? Just put in some limited numbers of HSB, and let CNBG breed like crazy? Maybe I could seine out large numbers of CNBG and transplant to large BOW, helping with forage and maybe even discouraging bass spawning.

Kinda crazy, I know. Or I could focus on growing giant CNBG, or even giant F1 or F LMB. Gizzard shad wouldn't be so scary in just one pond. But it would be fun to do something different.

Last edited by anthropic; 04/02/20 12:54 AM.

8ac E Tx, full 3/16. CNBG, RES, FHM 10/15; TP 5/16; FLMB 6/16. 100 12" NLMB & 1k GSH 10/17. 150# TP & 70 HSB 5/18. 1k PK 11/18. 100# TP 4/19, 200# RBT 12/19, 10k TFS 3/20, 100#TP 5/20




Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518729 04/02/20 05:15 AM
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I think it is good to expand your thinking around supporting existing and alternative goals.


I have digressed into what I think balance is in ponds with LMB as the apex predator and in so doing have diverted the focus of this thread. Over 70 years ago, the ponds that Don studied may have been inspired by such a crazy dream of wanting something different. When I started the thread I had a lot of unanswered questions. Particularly, I wondered how old the ponds were to get an idea of whether co-existence of the two species is sustainable over time and whether the existing standing crops were reflective of a recent stocking. My request for feedback on Don's observations centered around this, is such a system sustainable and capable of supporting the observed standing weights of LMB and RES over time.

Thanks to Bill Cody's comments in the thread snrub started I found many of the answers I was seeking. It took searches on Don's full name to find that thread but once found, I discovered that the ponds were 24 to 28 years old at the time. I also discovered that only one of the ponds was regularly cropped and that winter mortality was estimated to be 30%. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they can coexist with each other over time at the reported standing weights but this is something I didn't want to take for granted. In the end, I learned some things I did not know about RES in combination with LMB.

Re: For southern ponds, why not RES & LMB?
jpsdad #518754 04/02/20 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Originally Posted by Theo Gallus
Originally Posted by jpsdad
For folks who like panfish, like myself, the large population of small bass is a means to the end of healthy harvestable panfish.

Brother!


Well I'm not sure if that is admiration or disgust smile but even if the latter, I will allow Theo the freedom.

Admiration and empathy, I assure you.


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