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Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
#524679 08/13/20 05:38 PM
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I'm currently in the process of getting quotes for a 1/2-3/4 acre pond. The apex predators for the pond will be Blue Catfish (BC) and Hybrid Striped Bass (HSB). I have a million ideas for forage, but I thought I'd get some opinions from you guys.


  • -Will TFS work in such a small pond? They are definitely a favorite food of both the BC and the HSB.
    -Do I NEED BG? Since I'm not adding LMB, I wasn't sure if BG would be necessary, as they aren't typically on the top of the list for BC/HSB forage.
    -How will Golden Shiners (GS) work? I've heard they are great for HSB but I've also heard that Catfish are too slow to catch them.
    -How would Black Crappie (BCP) work? I know they aren't recommended for small ponds because they can stunt and overpopulate, but I figured if that happened, a pond full of bite-size BCP would make the BC fat and happy.


Any ideas/opinions on a BC/HSB pond would be greatly appreciated

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524692 08/14/20 06:03 AM
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I have a 3-year old pond where I also hope to have blue catfish as the apex predator, and black crappie as a food source for the blue catfish as well as being a good eating fish (for my neighbor). I currently have FHM and lake chubsuckers in the pond which are increasing slowly due to the low fertility of the pond (waiting for it to increase as leaves and plant material wash and blow in and support aquatic plants. Have not added GSH as I am afraid they might be too aggressive before getting the crappie and catfish in. As you probably know, both the crappie and blue catfish are not recommended in a small pond, but I want to experiment. Good luck to you!

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524701 08/14/20 09:23 AM
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Yes, I do remember you saying that in another thread. Since I am also doing HSB, do you think shiners would still be ok? I know Crappies love shiners too, but I haven’t found any information on whether blue catfish can handle the speed of the shiners.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524702 08/14/20 10:41 AM
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How many blue cats do you want in 3/4 ac? One? Two?

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524703 08/14/20 11:02 AM
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Just a suggestion, but you may wanna look into hybrid blue cats if you can find any.


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Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
NEDOC #524708 08/14/20 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by NEDOC
Just a suggestion, but you may wanna look into hybrid blue cats if you can find any.

I have, but there aren't any hatcheries in NC that have them. We don't even have any that sell pure Blue Cats, which is why I'll have to start out by bucket stocking a few, and hope they can pull off a spawn.

Originally Posted by Bocomo
How many blue cats do you want in 3/4 ac? One? Two?

You can cut that sarcasm with a knife, lol. I know, I know, they can get big, but I'm ready to take on the challenge. Who knows, I might just elect to go with HSB as the main predator and only add a few BCs for a bonus fish. We'll see how it plays out. BC are my favorite fish, so I really want them. CCs aren't as exciting.

Forgot to mention, I'm seriously interested in the aquaculture of Blue Catfish, and wouldn't mind getting to a point where I can harvest eggs and hatch them. I've seen how it's done, and I've watched tons of videos on it, that must make me an expert, right? (And no, I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night)

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524710 08/14/20 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_
Originally Posted by NEDOC
Just a suggestion, but you may wanna look into hybrid blue cats if you can find any.

I have, but there aren't any hatcheries in NC that have them. We don't even have any that sell pure Blue Cats, which is why I'll have to start out by bucket stocking a few, and hope they can pull off a spawn.

Originally Posted by Bocomo
How many blue cats do you want in 3/4 ac? One? Two?

You can cut that sarcasm with a knife, lol. I know, I know, they can get big, but I'm ready to take on the challenge. Who knows, I might just elect to go with HSB as the main predator and only add a few BCs for a bonus fish. We'll see how it plays out. BC are my favorite fish, so I really want them. CCs aren't as exciting.

Forgot to mention, I'm seriously interested in the aquaculture of Blue Catfish, and wouldn't mind getting to a point where I can harvest eggs and hatch them. I've seen how it's done, and I've watched tons of videos on it, that must make me an expert, right? (And no, I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night)

No I was being serious! Go make your pond dreams come true!! You just might need a second pond to grow food for the first one. Which is about how it goes around here!

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Bocomo #524711 08/14/20 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Bocomo
No I was being serious! Go make your pond dreams come true!! You just might need a second pond to grow food for the first one. Which is about how it goes around here!

Haha, I know man, it's all good. I'm only planning on putting a handful in, just to try to get a spawn. BC don't spawn until they're around 5 pounds, so that's around the size I'd want to stock. Feeding them won't be a problem, I live 5 minutes away from the Yadkin River in NC. I'm actually excited at the idea of making "food runs" on the weekend to bring home some BGs, Shad, or whatever else I can feed them.

It sounds like you had a traumatizing experience with blue cats lol. They do gain weight faster than CCs, but I mean, it's still going to take 5-7 years to get a 5 lb BC to a 30 lb BC, and I definitely don't want them to get that big.. at least that's what I'm trying to tell myself :P I'd probably set a limit of 10-15 pounds and try to harvest them before they get any bigger.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524728 08/15/20 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve_
I'm currently in the process of getting quotes for a 1/2-3/4 acre pond. The apex predators for the pond will be Blue Catfish (BC) and Hybrid Striped Bass (HSB). I have a million ideas for forage, but I thought I'd get some opinions from you guys.


  • -Will TFS work in such a small pond? They are definitely a favorite food of both the BC and the HSB.
    -Do I NEED BG? Since I'm not adding LMB, I wasn't sure if BG would be necessary, as they aren't typically on the top of the list for BC/HSB forage.
    -How will Golden Shiners (GS) work? I've heard they are great for HSB but I've also heard that Catfish are too slow to catch them.
    -How would Black Crappie (BCP) work? I know they aren't recommended for small ponds because they can stunt and overpopulate, but I figured if that happened, a pond full of bite-size BCP would make the BC fat and happy.


Any ideas/opinions on a BC/HSB pond would be greatly appreciated

This is a very interesting combination of predators Steve. I add some thoughts.

For both predators, I think it is a good strategy to manage around a range of standing weights with harvest. So maybe something like 60 lbs/Ac for the BC and 120 lbs/Ac for the HSB (as max weights). Consider a ladder stocking method that allow you to grow fish to a desired harvest length that keeps them under the maximum standing weight you have set. Both species will eat formulated feed and so this could supplement forage shortfall.

With regard to the blues, fish will be a primary source of food in the winter and less important in the summer when alternatives may be in good supply. Things that will be prime forage for them in summer will be local unionid mussels that are adapted to still water environments and crayfish. But in winter they are relatively active and consume a higher proportion of fish than in the summer. The growth of BC from fall to spring can be impressive largely in response to eating a good diet of weakened, dying, or dead fish.

I think TFS are a great idea for your combination, perhaps ideal, particularly if they thrive and winter survival can be depended on. If you can count on winter kill, and they are legal in your state, TP might also be a really good forage for your planned BOW. I don't see anything wrong with GS, but probably the TFS are a better choice if they meet the other conditions.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524736 08/15/20 06:00 PM
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I was thinking the same thing about the Shad. It’s literally the perfect bait for the main predators I’m contemplating. Shiners are more readily available and I can even get them shipped to my house which is awesome, I just don’t think the blue cats would utilize them as much as Shad. TP are legal here in North Carolina so that’s an option too.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524742 08/16/20 11:34 AM
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Seems like black crappie would feed the blue cats and be a source of good eating as well?

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
RAH #524744 08/16/20 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RAH
Seems like black crappie would feed the blue cats and be a source of good eating as well?

Yeah you’re right. I’m just trying to find the best combination for both the BC and the HSB. Obviously the stripers will eat pellets but I’d want them to eat natural forage too. BCP are great BC forage but the gape on a HSB can’t handle a BCP more than 3-4” I wouldn’t think. Decisions, decisions...

GSH are easy to obtain so I’m still thinking about them. They’d feed the BCP and the HSB pretty well, but have no idea if the BC can even catch them. Catfish aren’t super fast predators, which is why Shad are great because they’re slow. Are you doing HSB in your BC pond, Rah? Or just BC and BCP?

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524750 08/16/20 05:03 PM
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No HSB. I only stock fish that will spawn.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524763 08/16/20 08:25 PM
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Steve,

With regard to BG, I don't think I would use them as forage with BC and HSB. I think if you do, you will find it difficult to grow the BG to harvestable size with these predators. IMHO, the GSH would be great forage for HSB and possibly better than you may presently think for the blues.

One advantage of BCP is that they should probably be less prone to stunting than BG. I think the key is to add BCP after your predators are well established. Given your predators may not reproduce (well for sure the HSB wont), you need to have a handle on laddering them to so that you are not without predation. I think most ponds with dink crappie (less than 6") got that way due to fish kills that took the predators or in some cases may have been stocked alone (eg by bucket). They cannot attain standing weights anywhere close to what BG can and a typical standing weight is probably less than 100 lbs/acre. They way I see BCP is that they are a panfish. They are no problem to clean and eat at >7" and it only takes a modest amount of predation to get them to that size by the end of a crappie's second summer. In a 1/2 acre pond, a max standing weight of > 7" crappie can be easily managed by fishing. If you really like crappie, a 1/2 acre pond cannot grow as great a weight of them as you might like to have. I think the key to succeeding with crappie is harvesting fish less than 10" without feeling disappointed.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
jpsdad #524808 08/17/20 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Steve,

With regard to BG, I don't think I would use them as forage with BC and HSB. I think if you do, you will find it difficult to grow the BG to harvestable size with these predators. IMHO, the GSH would be great forage for HSB and possibly better than you may presently think for the blues.

I'm not necessarily looking to achieve harvestable size BG. Whatever forage I decide to go with, I want to be the best size to feed the BC and HSB. I would need a pretty big BC to handle a 6-8" BG. GSH are still on my radar, I'm just looking for data on how well the BC could utilize them. Crappie loves shiners, too.

Quote
One advantage of BCP is that they should probably be less prone to stunting than BG. I think the key is to add BCP after your predators are well established. Given your predators may not reproduce (well for sure the HSB wont), you need to have a handle on laddering them to so that you are not without predation. I think most ponds with dink crappie (less than 6") got that way due to fish kills that took the predators or in some cases may have been stocked alone (eg by bucket). They cannot attain standing weights anywhere close to what BG can and a typical standing weight is probably less than 100 lbs/acre. They way I see BCP is that they are a panfish. They are no problem to clean and eat at >7" and it only takes a modest amount of predation to get them to that size by the end of a crappie's second summer. In a 1/2 acre pond, a max standing weight of > 7" crappie can be easily managed by fishing. If you really like crappie, a 1/2 acre pond cannot grow as great a weight of them as you might like to have. I think the key to succeeding with crappie is harvesting fish less than 10" without feeling disappointed.

I agree with you about the BCP. The only reason I'm even contemplating them is because in either scenario, I see it as a win for me. If they stunt, then they will be the perfect size for the BC to eat, and if they don't stunt, then I'll get some harvestable fish for the table. I'm not a HUGE fish eater. The main point of the BCP would be for BC forage. If they get to eating size, I'd let friends and family take them home to eat. And like you said, a half acre BoW can be managed fairly well via angling, which is also a plus for me.

If I don't add any BG, I'm assuming I should still add some RES for snail/parasite control?

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524813 08/17/20 02:47 PM
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Also pondering adding RES because it seems like they would not do any harm. Probably will add 10 crappie and 10 RES next Spring if the plants keep spreading.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
RAH #524822 08/17/20 06:50 PM
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I'm thinking along the same lines. I wish I knew how to get a hold of some mussels...

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524827 08/17/20 08:54 PM
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There are only a few freshwater mussel species that will live or really thrive in a pond. Best way to get some of them started is collect the individuals from a lake that has mussels. Most all of those that inhabit rivers donot thrive in ponds.


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Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Bill Cody #524836 08/18/20 06:00 AM
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Are these typically mussels or clams.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
RAH #524865 08/18/20 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by RAH
Are these typically mussels or clams.

Pretty sure they're mussels. I caught a 7-pound Blue this spring from one of the bigger lakes around here, and I decided to keep it (had never ate blue cat before). Inside its stomach was a black mussel, about 3" long, 1.5" wide, and was jet black in color. It had an elongated, almost rectangular shape to it, but for the life of me, I can't find it on google. It could've been black due to the digestive juices doing their work, which is making it hard to identify. The biggest hurdle to getting them for pond stocking is that they are illegal to even possess in North Carolina, largely in part due to more than half of the mussel species in the state are endangered or close to being endangered. Definitely a favorite food for BC, but it's not looking like I can get some here.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524880 08/18/20 05:34 PM
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I seem to have similar mussels in my LMB/BG pond that came in with some water lilies that were given to me years ago from another local pond owner. I have not moved any to the future blue catfish pond, but maybe I should? The raccoons eat a lot of them.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
RAH #524881 08/18/20 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RAH
I seem to have similar mussels in my LMB/BG pond that came in with some water lilies that were given to me years ago from another local pond owner. I have not moved any to the future blue catfish pond, but maybe I should? The raccoons eat a lot of them.

I definitely would. Not only do they help with water clarity, the blue cats will love them.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524882 08/18/20 08:17 PM
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I now remember hearing that big cats like mussels. I will try and transfer some.

Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
Steve_ #524887 08/18/20 09:28 PM
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Swingle did some tests with Lampsilis claibornensis. This is a common mussel in the south though not sure if it is found in Atlantic drainages. It is edible and his interest in the mussel was for a co-crop. In his trials, he grew more fish (LMB and BG) with mussels than without them. His thoughts were that mussels improved water quality. He cropped the production ponds of mussels each year and there were over 1100 lbs/acre of them still remaining at end of the 5 year study. The standing weight of mussel meat was over 350 lbs/acre. He thought studies surrounding the effects of mussels on fish production was worth pursuing though I am not aware of any additional research conducted by him.

In Oklahoma, there is a unionid that frequently finds its way into ponds and the same mussel is common also in creeks with intermittent flow. Coons love them as do Big Blues.

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/18/20 09:35 PM.
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Re: Best Forage for a BC/HSB Pond
jpsdad #524918 08/19/20 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Swingle did some tests with Lampsilis claibornensis. This is a common mussel in the south though not sure if it is found in Atlantic drainages. It is edible and his interest in the mussel was for a co-crop. In his trials, he grew more fish (LMB and BG) with mussels than without them. His thoughts were that mussels improved water quality. He cropped the production ponds of mussels each year and there were over 1100 lbs/acre of them still remaining at end of the 5 year study. The standing weight of mussel meat was over 350 lbs/acre. He thought studies surrounding the effects of mussels on fish production was worth pursuing though I am not aware of any additional research conducted by him.

In Oklahoma, there is a unionid that frequently finds its way into ponds and the same mussel is common also in creeks with intermittent flow. Coons love them as do Big Blues.

It's time to start a mussel movement. Let's make adding mussels to your pond as mainstream as adding FHM. wink

On a serious note, I Googled the research on Lampsilis Claibornensis and it's some interesting stuff. Even if you don't have fish that will eat the mussels (like LMB), it sounds like they'd be beneficial, by providing better water clarity and quality.

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