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Fish holding capacity
#521301 05/20/20 02:19 PM
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This ties into a previous post I had about a 1.3 acre pond ond overpopulated with crappie and bluegill. It now does have a few larger bass( one is 4 lbs), but I need to add more. We have been removing crappie and bluegill by angling. Several of us and our kids have worked hard at it and removed an estimated 800 BG and Crappie this spring so far. We have weighed a bucket full of these fish and estimated we have removed 200 lbs of fish. How do we know when enough is enough? I assume this weight will be replaced by something over the summer and fall? If I add 10, 12 to 15 inch bass, it should increase the bass size and the bluegill and crappie size? Or does it just get replaced by smaller fish? Or does it not have to get replaced?

My concern is we take every bluegill and crappie out that we can catch. At what point do we need to throw the slightly bigger bluegill and crappie back to get bigger bluegill and crappies? Or if only removing by angling is this not a concern because we could never catch them all?

Can we make a decent estimate of the population knowing what they weigh and using Iowa DNR guidelines for weight per acre of average farm ponds in our area? For example, can I assume if said pond's holding capacity of bluegill is 500 lbs, it will have roughly 500 lbs of 1 lb bluegill, or 2000 1/4 lb bluegills? Or if overpopulated and stunted, the weight of bluegills in the pond is actually higher and therefore hard to guess the total population?
Thanks for any advice

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521310 05/20/20 05:33 PM
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That's a lot of fish you've removed! I'm no expert, but from what I've read, crappie aren't ideal in that small of a BOW, so you might have constant balance issues to fight with. Also, the amount of fish a BOW can hold has many variables such as aeration, feeding and fertilizing. Without knowing more details, it'd be hard to give concrete advice. I read a quote on here that said something like, "if you're wondering whether you should remove or release a catch from your pond, err on the side of removing it," and of course I'm paraphrasing here. My uneducated guess would be to keep removing, but the experts should chime in shortly.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521311 05/20/20 06:19 PM
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It is aerated, we don't feed, and don't fertilize, but this is fertilie farm country. My biggest question is if you remove 200 lbs of fish, does it get replaced by something? Or is an overpopulated stunted pond exceeding its weight of fish capacity?
My goal is removing at least 300 lbs.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521315 05/20/20 08:20 PM
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Phonzie,

That 200 lbs will be replaced with something. That is certain. By fall you will have reached the carrying capacity once again. This is really about numbers. You want the BG and Crappie exceeding 4" to number something less than 1000. If you can get it there, they will achieve noticably more weight and length. Once there, you may find that you'll get a bumper crop of offspring. Should that happen, you will do what you've been doing again, so it will probably cycle, but as long as you have a good number of small bass, you will be able to keep up with them with harvest. If you happen to be harvesting more than you want ... supplement more bass.

Here is what I would recommend. For now, harvest only 25 lbs more. For this 25 lbs take measurements and weights. I will upload an excel file that you can store that record in. There are a number of options in how you record. Weight and #fish, individual fish by length, or length and weight by individual. The first will suffice for our purposes. This 25lbs will serve as a sample that we will estimate some numbers but most of these numbers will be computed this fall after your remaining fish have grown into the space you have made for them.

Attached Files
Fish Catch Records.xlsx (82.26 KB, 18 downloads)
SHA1: 93b1746f87ea30fc158471bc0d6287b0fed1acc5
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521337 05/21/20 04:35 AM
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I generally keep my mouth shut about water holes an fish in areas other than Texas. Too many regional differences. However, I have never seen a pond of less than 20 or so acres that was successful with crappie.

Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crappie and bluegill only pond. Are the crappie handling the bluegill spawns ?


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: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521342 05/21/20 05:18 AM
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It also has LMB. I just don't think enough and certainly not enough to control the bigger bluegill. There is at a few bass in the 15 to 16 inch range and at least one 20 inch bass. But bass of this size are not frequently caught.

Last edited by Phonzie; 05/21/20 05:19 AM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521343 05/21/20 06:20 AM
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Given you think the LMB numbers are insufficient for the BG, right now is a good time to focus on getting that number up. With your harvest, spawning will likely be the result and you want very few of the YOY to make it to 3".

One thing I would like to add is that your management of the pond along with the cooperative effort of your family is an very good example of how a pond needs to be managed generally. The single most important factor to a quality fishery is population structure and it requires commitment to harvest at times when the size of harvested fish are at weights less than desired. I think you will succeed with this because there is no lack of commitment. Keep us posted.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Dave Davidson1 #521348 05/21/20 07:45 AM
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Quote
...However, I have never seen a pond of less than 20 or so acres that was successful with crappie.

Quote
... from what I've read, crappie aren't ideal in that small of a BOW, so you might have constant balance issues to fight with.

Based on the experience of members with crappie, I have come to the conclusion that success is determined by willingness to harvest and pond owner perspectives. Crappie, IMHO, generally can't be left alone to do their thing in a small pond or the results will be a great disappointment. But the crappie in Phonzie's pond are a harvestable size and they are providing both priceless diversion from everyday cares and food for the table. If he were throwing those fish back to grow up, he couldn't help but be disappointed and both the pond ecosystem and his fish would suffer. Based on providing fishing enjoyment and food, I say the pond is successful right now as it is.

To say a crappie pond that produces 8" crappie is a failure... when you think about it ... is just exactly like saying an LMB pond that produces 3 1/2 lb LMB is a failure. I would like to think that the range of "acceptable, enjoyable, and worthwhile" is much broader than that. Any pond producing 8" crappie is manageable via culling harvest and practically any size pond with sufficient predators can do that. On the other hand, very few ponds less than 20 acres can sustainably produce >10" crappie unless considerable harvest of the smaller sizes is practiced. I think the key to satisfaction is wanting to harvest 8" crappie and enjoying that task. If that piece is there, crappie can be grown successfully in small ponds.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/21/20 07:46 AM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521400 05/21/20 09:37 PM
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So we harvested some more fish tonight. Roughly 25.75 lbs total. The crappies were 7 to 8 inches long and weighed 11 lbs 6 ounces total. So they averaged 3.6 ounces (.225 lbs) per fish. We also took 100 BG 4.5 to 6.5 inches weighing 6 lbs 6 ounces. They averaged 2.32 ounces (.145 lbs). Not close to where we want to be, but feel we are in the right direction..? We probably need to add bass right away. So I think we are around 1000 fish removed this spring. Probably 60% BG and 40% crappie removed.

Last edited by Phonzie; 05/21/20 09:57 PM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521490 05/23/20 02:57 PM
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The correct direction indeed. You have a good baseline from which to compare average weights from your creel going forward.

Yes, I would supplement the LMB as soon as possible. See if you can add 8 or 10 LMB/acre at lengths of around 8 to 10 inches ... So 10 to 13 of them. Whether you have sufficient number of LMB could be determined from their growth and the abundance of BG YOY in the Fall. If your are interested in tracking the growth of individual LMB, you can devise a fin clip scheme that allows you to recognize individuals (kind of like they do whales by fin scars). The scheme could visually provide you with the year of clipping and the id number of the fish in that year.

Just a quick question. You mentioned harvesting 25.75 lbs but the total of BCP and BG was 17.75 lbs. Did you harvest another species also?

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/23/20 02:58 PM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521491 05/23/20 04:02 PM
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No I posted the wrong number of bluegills weighed. 44 BG weighed 6 lb 6 oz. The kids kept fishing after I weighed those and they also had some in another bucket I didn't weigh.. It was 100 total BG but I used the average weight of the 44 BG to come up with a total estimated BG weight of 14.5 lbs not 6 lbs 6 oz.

Shouldn't I be trying to get bigger bass than 10-13 inches? That way they can eat 3 and 4 inch crappie and BG ? Or is a smaller bass size better right now ?

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521493 05/23/20 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Phonzie
Shouldn't I be trying to get bigger bass than 10-13 inches? That way they can eat 3 and 4 inch crappie and BG ? Or is a smaller bass size better right now ?

I don't think 10" to 13" are too large but you can add more of the smaller ones and have more predator encounters. You have cleared 225 lbs of space in your pond. Two things will happen, the fish still in the pond will grow ... and ... the BG will reproduce. Consequently, in order for the fish still in the pond to grow at their maximum rates, most of their offspring must be cropped by LMB when they are a smaller size. (ideally when less than 2").

To be reliable predators of 3" to 4" BG the LMB need to be 20" long. If the LMB biomass is concentrated in fish of 20", they will not keep up with BG YOY and BG (and BCP) growth will be slow. By concentrating the LMB in smaller fish you can have many more of them that must focus on the YOY. For example, for every 20" LMB you can have 8 10" LMB --- they weigh roughly the same in aggregate. So what you are trying to do by have many 10" LMB is to prevent having so many 3"-4" BCP and BG.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/23/20 05:08 PM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521494 05/23/20 05:22 PM
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A simple trick to improve your entire fishery would be to put maximum harvest pressure on the female bluegill. Take out every single one that you can. Be relentless. This way you can never harvest over 50% of the adult fish. There will be enough males left to occupy all of the key spawning grounds which means that the smaller males will continue to add weight in order to compete next year. In a pond that is over an acre, if you keep every crappie that is under 10 inches you’ll eventually establish a small population of larger fish. I’m sure catching an 11 incher every once in a while would be a treat. Two years from now would you prefer to be catching high numbers of small bass or small numbers of big bass?


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
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Re: Fish holding capacity
brah #521496 05/23/20 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by brah
... Two years from now would you prefer to be catching high numbers of small bass or small numbers of big bass?

This question includes the question, "Two years from now would you prefer to be catching high numbers of small BG or small numbers of big BG?"

Re: Fish holding capacity
jpsdad #521497 05/23/20 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
This question includes the question, "Two years from now would you prefer to be catching high numbers of small BG or small numbers of big BG?"
Excellent point. But I think this is an easy fix. Big bluegill in a 1 acre pond that receives harvest is easy. Especially if there is some artificial feeding.


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521498 05/23/20 05:49 PM
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Female only harvest is a proven method. Easy to accomplish and easy to teach the kids.


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521500 05/23/20 06:16 PM
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I will concur that harvest concentrated in female BG will diminish BG fry swim up and probably help reduce recruitment. It's something I practice in the ponds I am trying increase BG size. Even so, I can find nothing that reliably quantifies the effect. I have never seen this practiced in a vacuum, that is, without other very important management actions. Most importantly, without also managing a population of small LMB. Harvesting female BG reduces competition for food leaving the faster growing and larger males to grow larger. Still there must be sufficient predation of YOY or they can accumulate and intercept the natural foods slowing the growth of larger BG.

There is a natural inverse relationship between the relative size potential of predator and prey. Though not a physical law per se, it is at least descriptive of the nature of ecosystems with predator and prey interaction. Artificial feeding cannot undo it though I would agree that it can benefit the pellet hogs with greater weight and growth along with the unwelcome consequence of shorter life. IMHO, no matter what one does to grow bigger BG, they always benefit from a population of LMB concentrated in lengths < 12".

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/23/20 09:01 PM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521501 05/23/20 06:25 PM
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Actually, in a 1 acre pond you will have no loss of recruitment with maximum harvest of female bluegill. The number of female bluegill is not the limiting factor. The actual limiting factor is numbers of appropriately sized zooplankton available for the fry.. And I have practiced it in a vacuum many times. It works 100% of the time. Or at least has so far....
If you assume having a remaining 400-600 adult fish after harvest, you would never have to replace more than 100 fish via recruitment to maintain a fishable population. Just a couple of dozen surviving females will produce hundreds of thousands of young fish to fill that void. So harvest away. There are several good threads on this forum regarding sexual ID of adult bluegill. The nice thing is you can be wrong every once in a while and still be OK.


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521504 05/23/20 06:54 PM
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OK, so if it is zooplankton limiting recruitment, how will harvesting females only limit the fry survival to fingerling size ... say 2"? If the 20" LMB in the pond favor 3 1/2" BG for food, then what is going to eat the BG that are between 2" and 3 1/2"? Wouldn't BG of this size be abundant well beyond the 100 fish we need from recruitment? What happens when the big LMB grow from 20" to 24" and then prefer >4" BG? Won't there be a great number of 3" to 4" BG that neither phonzie nor the big bass prefer to eat? At this length, won't the females be reproductive and won't it be difficult to tell whether they are male or females? I am just saying, large numbers of small LMB are for people who like for their ponds to produce harvestable panfish with the least management effort.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/23/20 06:56 PM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521506 05/23/20 07:05 PM
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All of your points are extremely well taken.
Sometimes a person however can over-analyze the situation. If you can harvest as much as 40% of the adult population of any one species in any one year, you are almost always going to increase the growth rates of the remaining individuals. But with bluegill you get the added benefit of socially encouraging the younger males to compete for nesting grounds the following year. They will consequently spend much less time working nests and more time foraging. Not to mention the fact that male bluegill probably have a higher top end anyway as far as size. So it’s much simpler to at least momentarily disregard how the young of the year fish are doing in the equation. Good water quality and supplemental feeding will assure that this year‘s hatch gets off to a good start. Now you have the bluegill problem solved. Crappie are trickier. The easiest thing to do with them is harvest everything under an arbitrary length. Just my dad and I have made a significant effect on 1 acre ponds through harvest of crappie. This just leaves us with bass. That’s why I was curious what the ultimate goal is of the bass. Also, perhaps I haven’t read close enough but are we feeding pellets?

Last edited by brah; 05/23/20 07:08 PM.

"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
brah #521507 05/23/20 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by brah
A simple trick to improve your entire fishery would be to put maximum harvest pressure on the female bluegill. Take out every single one that you can. Be relentless. This way you can never harvest over 50% of the adult fish. There will be enough males left to occupy all of the key spawning grounds which means that the smaller males will continue to add weight in order to compete next year....
I used to pick up one our departed members, and we would head to his pond to flyfish for CNBG. I was directed to remove every female caught, with only one exception. If I was in eye sight of Mrs. G., smile and throw them back. He said female CNBG at the feeder were taking calories away from the big bulls that he was targeting. Much easier than trying to sex LMB in July. I miss that old fart.


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Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521508 05/23/20 07:23 PM
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So do I.


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521520 05/24/20 06:58 AM
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We have never fed and currently do not. It has been discussed, but the fear is that its a short term expensive bandaid. Because what happens from December through March when the pond is frozen? Also would be a little concerned going into winter with a fish population that has been fed and grown to over capacity. Not sure if that would be a problem or not since we aerate.
My theory on the Bass was that I think we have plenty mouths to eat the YOY with the crappie and even the BG. Or is my theory wrong and they don't eat much of each other's fry? We do catch some 8 to 12 inch bass occasionally. They certainly are not plentiful but they are there.

I would like to end up with larger size population of all species of course. But maybe that's not possible. I think hole we have in food chain is bass to harvest bluegill and crappie we can't catch. So I am rethinking this a little now and maybe I will add 2 sizes of bass. Some 14 to 16 inches, and some 10 to 12 inches. If I can get 1 or 2 larger than 16, I will add that also.
So far we have added a 15, 16, and 3 from 13.5 to 14.5.

Last edited by Phonzie; 05/24/20 07:00 AM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521521 05/24/20 07:13 AM
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When you catch a smaller bass does it look healthy?


"Daddy, why is that fish sleeping?"
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521523 05/24/20 08:11 AM
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Yes. In general the bass and BG look healthy. 50 % of the crappies look thin.

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