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Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521531 05/24/20 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Phonzie
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.

Lot's of wisdom in what you wrote. Its a very productive pond anyway. The production of any mature pond without feed inputs is determined solely from mortality. What ever dies, allows other fish to grow. So removing 225 lbs of fish is worth at least 450 lbs of Optimal ... simple as that. It is likely that maximum standing weights occur in the fall and that winter determines the carrying capacity. So yes if you feed them to a greater fall standing weight ... it is possible ... even likely that the spring weights will be no higher and all the feed gains be lost. (that would stink). If one is going to feed, he needs to think about harvesting the gain the feed created or it may be completely lost.

I agree that feed as a solution to making BG bigger is short term. Feed will greatly benefit existing bass in that BG spawning will be stimulated but they will be under numbered for the task of controlling BG numbers. How do I know? Because they are under numbered to begin with. If so, then how could they possibly be strong enough in number to control BG when the production of BG is dramatically increased by feeding? Its like pushing on a string. Your approach to this problem is exemplary.

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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.

No it is isn't wrong. The existing BG and BCP are going to be eating fry. I guess the question is whether it will be enough to prevent a big crop of 4" BG 1 year olds next year.

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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.

It just depends on the balance you are looking for. I think you can grow BG to 9" while growing LMB to 3-4 lbs. To do that I think you need to harvest BG and BCP like you do now and keep the LMB in a progression of sizes. If you want BG to reliably get larger than that, then seek to have more LMB of smaller individual weights. If you want LMB to reliably attain weights > 4 lbs, then your BG are going to be limited to smaller lengths. So its just a matter of what is important to you.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/24/20 11:16 AM.
Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521533 05/24/20 12:09 PM
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If we would decide to feed the BG and BC and then remove some bigger fish in fall or winter ice fishing, does feeding fish affect how much fry they will eat during the months we are feeding them? I mean we need them to eat the fry to avoid a large population right ? So if we are feeding them will they feed as heavily on the offspring that is being created now ?

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521535 05/24/20 12:38 PM
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Keep in mind, once again, that the limiting factor on fry survival, fry recruitment, and fry advancement is availability of appropriately sized zooplankton and not the number of bluegill or crappie eating them. Only so many are going to make it regardless of the number of predators eating them. That however is only true up until the point that the young of the year quit eating zooplankton.

Last edited by brah; 05/24/20 12:59 PM.

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Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521539 05/24/20 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Phonzie
If we would decide to feed the BG and BC and then remove some bigger fish in fall or winter ice fishing, does feeding fish affect how much fry they will eat during the months we are feeding them? I mean we need them to eat the fry to avoid a large population right ? So if we are feeding them will they feed as heavily on the offspring that is being created now ?

I don't know of any particular research documenting this for BG, but I do know of research pertaining to LMB and the yes feed trained bass tend to rely on feed. We must keep in mind, however, that BG do not need to be trained and have already developed the skills required to survive in the absence of feed. But then there are other variables. If feeding intensifies the natural bloom it will provide alternatives to fry and also reduce the visibility providing some level of cover. Whether, more or less fry are consumed by BG & BCP is a tough call and I don't know the answer. Even so, I do think it is probable that feeding will allow more YOY to survive due to the enhancement of bloom and fertility.

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Keep in mind, once again, that the limiting factor on fry survival, fry recruitment, and fry advancement is availability of appropriately sized zooplankton and not the number of bluegill or crappie eating them. Only so many are going to make it regardless of the number of predators eating them. That however is only true up until the point that the young of the year quit eating zooplankton.

Just an anecdote but I have caught 2" BG on 1/2" Gams.

I would think that by the time BG reach 1" in size they are cannibalizing younger BG fry and other things bigger than typical zooplankton. Just keep in mind that millions upon millions of fry will swim up and there can be several peaks in spawning and BG can spawn more than once in a season. Feeding will help to boost zooplankton for the BG fry to feed on. A slaughter must take place and it does. Very few fry survive but this doesn't necessarily mean that BG are not able to over reproduce themselves. Buck & Thoits studied BG in monoculture and they attain individual counts into the 10s of thousands per acre without a predator like LMB. On their own, they cannot control their numbers except by mass mortality events where it may be said they were the cause of their own destruction.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/27/20 07:31 AM.
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Re: Fish holding capacity
jpsdad #521542 05/24/20 03:32 PM
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I am enjoying this thread immensely because it sort of pertains to my situation. Keep it going Phil.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521548 05/24/20 08:24 PM
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Bluegill absolutely love to eat small fish. I’ve watched 11 inch bluegill eating adult gams for hours.


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Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521672 05/26/20 06:49 PM
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Actually probably most of the crappies look thin. Will stunted fish grow to a reasonable size or is their potential limited due to their age ?

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521675 05/26/20 07:15 PM
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Highly limited. Lost growing seasons are never recovered fully. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be decent fish and fun to catch and eat.

Last edited by brah; 05/26/20 07:15 PM.

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Re: Fish holding capacity
jpsdad #521677 05/26/20 07:35 PM
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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.

These are excellent points that aren't emphasized enough. Your success/failure of your pond is only determined by the goals you set. In jpsdad's example, I'd call a pond that produces 3.5lb LMB a success while another person might not be happy until its producing 5 pounders.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521707 05/27/20 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Phonzie
Actually probably most of the crappies look thin. Will stunted fish grow to a reasonable size or is their potential limited due to their age ?

How big they grow from here will depend on their age. You should expect that most of the energy is going to go into filling them out ... but they will also grow in length to. Because of this combination of effects they may not quite reach standard weight before they die or are harvested. I am eager to learn how they respond to your harvest. They have less competition and there should be very good BG fry production that will provide them the 3/4" to 1" fish they need to make the step to 10" crappie.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #521967 05/31/20 08:49 PM
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Update. So far we have removed 1300 BC and BG this spring. And added 12 bass. The bass were 13.5", 2 14", 5 15 ", 2 16", 17" and 18".
My hope is that some the weight removed from the crappie and BG (around 225 lbs) will be put on the bass added to the pond by them eating 3 to 5 inch fish. Hopefully this leaves more room and forage for the remaining 8" BC and 6" BG that are left. Hopefully this allows them to reach a decent harvesting size. We shall see. We are looking at adding a few more bass yet.

The 18 inch bass added weighed 2lbs 7 oz. This seemed a little light? But it is early post spawn yet.

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #522210 06/07/20 02:43 PM
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Would think having lots of BG would be good for pond with BC and LMB. Are the BG being stunted?

Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #522216 06/07/20 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Phonzie
Update. So far we have removed 1300 BC and BG this spring. And added 12 bass. The bass were 13.5", 2 14", 5 15 ", 2 16", 17" and 18".
My hope is that some the weight removed from the crappie and BG (around 225 lbs) will be put on the bass added to the pond by them eating 3 to 5 inch fish. Hopefully this leaves more room and forage for the remaining 8" BC and 6" BG that are left. Hopefully this allows them to reach a decent harvesting size. We shall see. We are looking at adding a few more bass yet.

The 18 inch bass added weighed 2lbs 7 oz. This seemed a little light? But it is early post spawn yet.

The 18" LMB was probably standard weight pre-spawn.

OK. So based on these numbers and those that you posted in the other thread we have the beginnings of a fall forecast. Lets work the assumption that the weight harvested with be replaced through growth of the existing population. Truth be told, it should be greater than that and it is very likely that last fall's standing weight was greater than this spring's. Even so, there will be recruitment and so with a little luck the existing fish get the harvest gain and the recruits get the fall minus spring gain.

Lets convert the harvest to acres (where the gross acreage = 1.3)

225 lbs / 1.3 = 173 lbs per acre

60% BG = 103 lbs BG/acre

40% BC = 69 lbs BC/acre

Given you are in fertile farm country lets assume 500 lbs/acre for carrying capacity. This could be high or low but it is reasonable for an older bow in northern MO or southern IA. To be sure, the standing weight for LMB will probably sustainably max at 100 lbs/acre but the standing weight may be much smaller as a legacy of the fish kill earlier experienced. The 8" crappie are helping with the BG predation and so many of your BG are big enough to harvest(though smaller than you would like to have to harvest them). You should keep this in mind because at this point harvesting BC without increasing the LMB could remove some much needed BG predation.

So I think it is useful to attempt to gain a sense of what percentage of weight you harvest from each species. In the case of BC, I think you harvested a remarkable percentage of your existing fish. BC standing weights are typically less than 100 lbs but they can be as high as 170 lbs. I have never seen anything documenting standing weights greater than this though I suppose it is possible albeit unlikely. We will make an estimate and use this as a base line for forecast. Now we are going to be wrong but it is worthwhile anyway. The reason it is worthwhile is because the growth this fall will help us to estimate how much we were wrong smile and that will guide us to better numbers. I am going to assume a spring standing weight of 140 lbs BC/acre. If so, you removed half of the crappie! Well done!

Now this leaves 70 lbs of growing space and your remaining BC have the potential to double in weight. To double in weight will take them from 8" to approximately 10". Maybe a little less because they will be filling out too OR maybe a little more because the harvest will help secondary trophic organisms to be more numerous. But 10" is a good base line to look for this fall for your BC. If they exceed, then maybe the carrying capacity is less than I estimated, if they fail to achieve the 10", then maybe the carrying capacity is greater.

Now to the BG. If we assume 500 total weight/acre and that the BOW carried 50 lbs LMB and 140 lbs BC going into spring then the BG carrying capacity is 310 lbs/acre (with BC also present otherwise would be greater). So it looks like you may have harvested 1/3 of the spring standing weight of BG. Again ... Well done! Assuming your present standing weight averages 6" in length you can expect a 50% gain in individual weight and an increase to an average length of 7". What is clear is that there is much more room for you to harvest BG. And so I think you can grow the BG to an average length > than 7" (this year) if you continue harvesting through the summer. I think you could harvest an additional 100 lbs of ~ 6" most of which (weight) will be replaced anyways by Fall. Clearly, in your particular pond, the BC or more easily managed and require less harvest than the BG.

Now this takes us to Fall. Guess what? The harvest isn't over. You could harvest potentially another 90 lbs of BC still having 90 lbs to grow into impressive specimens and another 130 lbs of BG. This would take your pond into winter with 273 lbs BG, 90 lbs BC, and 65 lbs LMB(assumes 50 lbsLMB/acre) . So you would be going into winter with 329 lbs/acre in a pond that can carry 500 lbs/acre. There should be better survival and even some growth through winter under these conditions. Next year, your harvest should be easier to implement and the fish much larger than they have been.

Last edited by jpsdad; 06/07/20 06:43 PM.
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Re: Fish holding capacity
Phonzie #522639 06/16/20 08:59 PM
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I would keep harvesting every crappie that you catch. With their larger mouth (gape) size, they can eat a LOT of smaller bass that would escape predation if there were only BG in the pond just doe to their gape size vs. BG. By removing a lot of crappie, you are helping the bass population and you might not even have to buy larger bass. Crappie spawn before the bass do, so they are able to eat the smaller newly hatched bass if they can get past Dad who guards the fry for a week or so after hatching.


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