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Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
#521189 05/18/20 03:00 PM
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I just started the journey of managing a family owned pond that is one acre. It is loaded with very small stunted BG and small BH. I am planning on making traps to start removing the BH. My plan is to stock 100 fingerling LMB into the pond. The water has always been muddy which I believe is from the BH. I have placed three small LMB into the pond. Did not measure them but their mouths are large enough to start on the stunted BG. I want to start feeding with pellets but am afraid it will be a waist at this stage because it will just be BH food. Will fingerling LMB eventually solve this issue or should in stock adult LMB? I appreciate any input.

Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521197 05/18/20 04:11 PM
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Welcome to PB. How large is the pond?


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.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521199 05/18/20 04:13 PM
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1 acre

Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521206 05/18/20 08:06 PM
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B3nzy,

Fingerling bass will not do well in that pond. They will stunt also because they will be competing with the BG and BH that are their size and bigger. It is a waste of your money and they will probably be BH snacks. Now the larger LMB that you have transplanted, they stand a chance to use existing BG and BH as food. You want LMB that are 5 times the mean length of the stunted fish. If they are, they will grow faster than BG & BH can and they will be effective predators. If the LMB are less than 4 times the length of the existing BG & BH, the LMB are going the be hungry all the time and progress will be slow. Even with sufficient LMB of the correct sizes, it could take 3 years or longer to correct the stunted panfish. It depends on what your goal is (large bass or large BG & BH) what course you should take in terms of the number of LMB. Healthy, average RW LMB of the appropriate size that have never been fed pelleted feed will make the best predators.

Feed is a terrible waste of your money at this point in the game ... also it is very risky. They are low relative weight and to small to harvest. If you fed 75 RW stunted fish until they were 30% longer they would increase in weight by 3 times. The problem with that is that the fish are already at carrying capacity. Its asking for a kill. Given enough predation (including your own seining, fishing, trapping), the situation can be corrected. After they can grow to reasonable lengths and weights you will get more bang for your buck from the feed.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/18/20 08:14 PM.
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521208 05/18/20 09:35 PM
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Thank you for the advice! For the price of 100 fingerling LMB it looks like I could get 10 LMB over 12". This appears to be the better use of the money? Or I could save the money and build a live well and try to catch more bass to transplant. If I go the route of transplanting, how many would you recommend? I prefer to catch larger BG over LMB. From all my reading it appears that an overabundance of the right size of LMB can lead to large BG.

Last edited by b3nzy; 05/18/20 09:37 PM.
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521209 05/18/20 10:17 PM
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Dangit, you want large BG but your pond is primed for growing huge LMB. It will be a long road to get where you want go. The way to look at the number is this. You need 50 to 80 lbs/acre of LMB. If say the average length of your BG and BH is 4", you need a minimum of 16" LMB. A 16" LMB weighs about 2.25 lbs. So in this case you need 20 to 25 of them. 16" LMB could gain 2 lbs in a year in a bow filled to gills with forage of 4" in length. Problem with few large bass is that the BG reproduction will pile up in the 3" range as the LMB get larger.

You may be better served to drain the pond and kill it out. Then you could stock say 150 LMB/acre fingerlings and 600 BG/acre fingerlings. At this number of LMB, the growth of the LMB would begin to stall at about 10". At this length they are large enough to produce offspring. Just remove LMB > 12" and you will have large BG. Think about how long it will take to get from where you are now by first growing massive LMB and then trying to work that population of LMB to larger numbers of small LMB. You can have 3/4 lb BG in a year if you kill and start over but it will be many years and much effort before you can transform the pond in its present condition.

If you really want to do this without killing the pond first, I have some ideas. But first you need to have a good sense of how the lengths of your fish are distributed. It may be that LMB will have to be so large that they cannot be sourced readily.

Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521211 05/18/20 10:46 PM
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That is insane growth. I would actually like to take advantage of that. I plan on making a couple traps to take to the pond this weekend along with my cast net and fishing pole. I will bring a notebook and measuring tape to make a record. Should I only be removing the BH or should I be taking out the BG as well? I would assume not and leave for future bass forage. Thank you for your help, I would never have considered some of things you have mentioned.

Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521216 05/19/20 05:14 AM
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Only BG can spawn enough to feed bass and only bass can control BG spawning numbers.
Bass can and do over eat their food supply so, after a couple of years, start culling anything less than 10 to 12 inches. Bluegills don’t need to be culled. The bass, if stocked in appropriate numbers, will control them.

The bullheads are an undesirable variable to the above. I would cull them.


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.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521445 05/22/20 03:23 PM
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I built two cloverleaf traps in an attempt to catch and remove bullheads. The opening is 3"x1.5". I did not catch any bullheads with the traps. I baited with cheap dogfood. The following is a list of what was caught in the traps.

99 Bluegill - 2"-4"
16 Bluegill - 4.5" - 6.5"
2 Crappie - 4.5" - 5"
13 Bullfrog Tadpoles
76 Golden Shiners 4" - 6"


I had caught one very large golden shiner about eight years ago with a hook and line but never put much thought into it. I could not believe how many there were. What should I open the traps width and height to in order to start catching bullheads. I did catch 5 BH before leaving with hook and line and threw them on the bank. The largest was 8" the rest were 6" or less. So currently at 7 bullheads removed. It appears that I have gained a good understanding of what is in the pond even though it was somewhat unplanned. The measuring was planned thanks to jpsdad. The water is and always has been muddy. Collected some pond water in a clear water bottle and will see if it settles. We have a lot of red clay where I live, but I think it is caused by the BH. I recently learned the pond was created in the 80's and used for stocking CC and would be seined. I have not caught any CC and doubt they are still in the pond.

Last edited by b3nzy; 05/22/20 03:31 PM.
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521446 05/22/20 03:44 PM
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Your hole could be to big. On my trap I made 3 x 1 hole and I checked it and it was full of BH went home for a bucket and there were only 25 to 30 left in the trap when I came back 2 hours later.


61 acre water shed lake. bass, channel cat, black crappie, wiper, walleye, redear sunfish and bluegill. To many bullhead and common carp
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Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521470 05/23/20 04:35 AM
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OK, so the good news is that you should be able to add 12" to 14" LMB successfully. They will have plenty to eat. How many? depends on how big you want them to grow but I think you need about 12/acre to start and then after a couple of years, add two/acre and take 1/acre every year. The add stock should be LMB that are experienced at foraging. I would only use pellet trained LMB as a last resort. Its OK to stretch that 12/acre over 3 or 4 years and then after that go to add 2 take 1.

It is unlikely that at such high density of forage that the LMB could spawn. BG, BH, and GSH would relentlessly attack the nests. This is OK for a goal of growing large LMB. Be selective about the fish you add. Use the straw method to determine sex and try to add only females. They grow faster and have longer lifespans.

A fair warning. There will not be a lot of LMB and they will be well fed. Fishing for LMB will be slow compared to what you have been accustomed to. But soon you should have LMB exceeding 6 lbs if you follow this regimen. The proposed stocking with continued ladder stocking should foster a sustainable put & take and possibly catch and release Trophy LMB fishery. Your biggest threat is unwanted recruitment of LMB.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/23/20 04:56 AM.
Re: Bullhead / Stunted Bluegill
b3nzy #521487 05/23/20 12:33 PM
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It does sound like the openings are too large. Add something below and above the bait in the cloverleaf. I like using the top and bottom of plastic half gallon milk jugs. This keeps BH from a free meal. Keep plenty of bait in the traps. If they are not eating they will be trying to find a way out. I use old socks with holes just big enough to let some bait come out. 20-30 holes. Cheap dog food is greasy. I use the multi fish food from Tractor Supply. It is about .50/lb. Add bait every other day. When it smells rotten, dump the bait. Try setting the traps near each other about 5-6ft deep. You will catch fewer other fish. Check traps daily if possible.
In the last year I've removed 2000+ BH YOY via cloverleaf traps.


How are you going to know unless you try!

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900BG, 200RES, 200HBG, 100CC and 23# FHM...."Free" BH, GSF GSH, LMB & ??? 75LMB 3/2020
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