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Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
#528064 11/26/20 10:36 AM
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I have read lots of the excellent threads on pond carrying capacity.

For example, this a good one that addresses "Structure and Carrying Capacity".

https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=9167#Post9167

My tenuous conclusion is that sunlight controls both the basis for the food chain AND the generation of oxygen within the BOW.

Therefore, carrying capacity is always a function of the surface acreage of the pond. All of the management you perform to achieve the goals for your pond is ultimately constrained by the surface acres.

I have not been able to find a discussion of how the SIZE of the pond affects the carrying capacity (with all other factors being held constant).

Whenever we read of some guy money-whipping his ponds (because he wants trophy fish right now), we hear about building a beautiful 6-acre pond rather than building six 1-acre ponds!

I intend to build excavated ponds just above the floodplain on our farm in south-central Kansas. I have spent years trying to save enough money, but still have not started a single pond.

My question is basically: How do you get the most pond "carrying capacity" per yard of excavated dirt?

To simplify the problem, is it better to have a 2-acre pond or two 1-acre ponds?

I have generated some numbers purely for the sake of discussion. Assume perfectly square ponds with a uniform depth in the middle of 10 feet. The slope from the shoreline is 3:1 until reaching max depth.

A 2-acre pond would have a shoreline (perimeter) of 1180' and hold 16.2 acre-feet of water.

Two 1-acre ponds would have a total shoreline of 1672' and hold a combined 15.0 acre-feet of water.

For the exact same SURFACE ACREAGE, the two-pond solution has 42% more shoreline and 7% fewer yards of dirt excavated.

My uninformed intuition suggests that after surface acreage, it is the shallow water near the shoreline that is the second most important limiting factor. (All other things being equal.)

I don't hear of the "trophy" guys opting for more numerous smaller ponds. However, the most "productive" guys I read on the forum all seem to generate massive amounts of their target fish by utilizing tiny forage ponds and grow-out ponds to supplement their larger BOWs.

If you had a totally "blank slate" before you excavated your ponds, what would you do? I would love to hear what the experts think on this topic!

Thanks,
FishinRod

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528066 11/26/20 10:52 AM
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P.S.

Nature does have many processes that must overcome a "minimum threshold".

For example, if a perfect manager can achieve a "trophy" BG pond on 0.5 acres, then a less sophisticated manager might be able to get close in a 1-acre pond.

On the other hand, it may not be possible for a "perfect" manager to achieve a "trophy" bass under perfect conditions in Florida for a 0.25-acre pond. That pond has not reached the minimum threshold to achieve the management goal.

Therefore, if there are lots of "it depends" answers that are restricted by some minimums, then please add that to the discussion.

[If I do build multiple ponds, then I will have different goals for each pond. There may be remarks that define the lowest surface acre requirements for various sets of management goals. The required minimums for experienced pond managers may be quite different than those for unsophisticated managers - regardless of the goals. Put me in the "unsophisticated manager" group.]

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528072 11/26/20 02:59 PM
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One thing to remember is that carrying capacity is a weight number. Managing for carrying capacity is completely different than managing for a trophy fishery. You can reach carrying capacity with 2" BG a lot easier than you can with 2# BG.

Also, ponds aren't alike. You can have 2 ponds side by side, dug at the same time, same size/shape and have different growth characteristics in each pond even though you strive to keep them both identical. Why? I honestly don't know.


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Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
esshup #528074 11/26/20 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by esshup
Also, ponds aren't alike. You can have 2 ponds side by side, dug at the same time, same size/shape and have different growth characteristics in each pond even though you strive to keep them both identical. Why? I honestly don't know.

I agree with your observation. Which only increases my confusion at the lack of literature promoting "more small ponds" as the preferred alternative. If one pond goes bad, then you can fish the other pond while spending a few years to correctly rehabilitate the bad pond.

[I am examining the trade-offs where the topography of the land DOES NOT control your pond design. I understand that an embankment pond in a watershed with a significant drainage area must be sized for the expected water run-off volumes.]

[Also, discount my "trophy" pond analogies. That seems to have been the initial query that led to many of the carrying capacity threads, but that is not a management priority for me.]

I guess I can simplify my question even further. Is more shoreline as a percentage of your total surface acres, beneficial or detrimental? (That should really illicit some good "it depends" responses!) We generally try to slope the edges to deeper water as quickly as feasible to limit the weeds and initiation of FA. The nearshore area might therefore be both the most productive and the most troublesome.

The final conclusion might be a 2-acre pond in a ribbon shape (for more shoreline) with the long axis aligned with the prevailing wind direction for maximum oxygenation!

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528083 11/26/20 09:54 PM
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Something about carrying capacity that I don't see anyone talking about are DO requirements per fish species you have. Catfish require less oxygen than Hybrid Stripers, for example. So do the fish species you have affect your carrying capacity?

We don't have any hard science, that I'm aware of, that shows a fish's oxygen requirements. Would 500 lbs of CC use the same amount of oxygen as, let's say, 300 lbs of HSB? That would be some interesting data.

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Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528092 11/27/20 06:32 AM
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My first pond, many years ago. 1/4 acre with no fish. So, I started stocking with fatheads, bluegills, red ears, bass and catfish. For a couple of years everything went well. Big bass, big cats, Etc. Then the inevitable O2 crash occurred. I had no idea about carrying capacity. Then I ran into a young guy named Lusk who explained it to me. I started seining and dumped fish on the bank. Too late; it was polluted. Took quite a few years and the inevitable Texas drought to fix things.

Bob told me the most important consideration is water quality. He still says, “Take care of the water and the fish will be fine. A pond is like a garden. It has to be harvested.”

This stuff is really all about the environment(Lusk).

Last edited by Dave Davidson1; 11/27/20 06:34 AM.

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: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528097 11/27/20 07:33 AM
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It's really easy to grow more fish than a pond can carry. Carrying capacity is determined by the most limiting factors. In unfertilized waters, this is often food. If food is the limiting factor, then water quality will generally be good and conducive to long lived fish.

For a given natural fertility, most water is under-optimal for the production of food. A good mix of structure, plants, community players, and edge habitat increases food production naturally and sometimes (due to the influence of some community members) with an improvement of water quality parameters.

Quote
Bob told me the most important consideration is water quality. He still says, “Take care of the water and the fish will be fine. A pond is like a garden. It has to be harvested.”

This stuff is really all about the environment(Lusk).

Can't be said any better than above.

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
Dave Davidson1 #528100 11/27/20 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Davidson1
Then I ran into a young guy named Lusk who explained it to me. I started seining and dumped fish on the bank. Too late; it was polluted. Took quite a few years and the inevitable Texas drought to fix things.

Bob told me the most important consideration is water quality. He still says, “Take care of the water and the fish will be fine. A pond is like a garden. It has to be harvested.”

This stuff is really all about the environment(Lusk).

Dave, that is a better way to state the underlying premise of my question - "Take care of the water and the fish will be fine."

You have managed your ponds where things went well, or as in your example above - didn't go well.

Can you give your personal advice on whether you would have preferred a 4-acre pond or four 1-acre ponds - just in terms of taking care of the water? I do have a live stream on the property, so I will be able to add supplemental water as needed and release the buildup of bottom detritus and fish waste to some extent.

(Also consider the novice level of my pond management skills. I think I understand most of the "Pond Boss" knowledge - but that is only book learning until you are out in the real world performing actual pond management. If you choose to, answer the question for when you were starting out, not from where your management skill level is now.)

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528102 11/27/20 10:33 AM
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I'm not Dave but I can give you my experience with multiple ponds.

My main pond is 3 acres Link here . Then I have another one acre pond with mostly SMB and RES Link here (this year added a single male CNBG and a dozen HSB). Another one acre pond that is a very old but refurbished pond that I refer to it as my "trash" pond because of I have a fish that I really like but do not want it in the pond I caught it it goes here. But it is a pretty nice pond in its own right Link here . Then I have a 1/20th acre forage pond link here that dumps into my main pond and a 1/10th acre sediment pond that does likewise Link here.

I really like having multiple ponds. Every one of them has their own "personality" and none of them are anything alike. Different amounts of weeds/plants. Different water turbidity or clarity at different times. Rarely is the fish biting the same in all ponds. Often if I am having trouble with fishing being slow in one pond, another they will be biting.

So I like multiple ponds. If one turns to crap for a while (like a big FA or weed outbreak), the others are usually doing fine.

That said I do not think I would want all one acre ponds if you have room for a bigger one.

But a 2-4 acre main pond, another 1 acre and some form of small pond quarter acre of less I think would provide you with a lot of fun. The small pond is easy to do experiments with. If you don't like what it is or how it turned out, not hard to start over and change things.

If you look up an old thread of Highflyer's (Brian) he has multiple tiny ponds that he did a lot with. He was one of the early ones I got inspiration from to create my forage pond. Fireishot is another one that inspired me with his small forage/grow out pond.

Some interesting small ponds in this thread. Link here

Last edited by snrub; 11/27/20 10:44 AM.

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Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
jpsdad #528109 11/27/20 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
It's really easy to grow more fish than a pond can carry. Carrying capacity is determined by the most limiting factors. In unfertilized waters, this is often food. If food is the limiting factor, then water quality will generally be good and conducive to long lived fish.

Thanks for the response jpsdad. However, it was a little too nuanced for me, so I don't think I grasp your meaning.

"It's really easy to grow more fish than a pond can carry."

Does this refer to the people that heavily fertilize their ponds to get big productivity at the base of the food chain and ALSO use feeders with supplement food for the predators?

If so, then I can see how dissolved oxygen would easily become your most critical "limiting factor".

"Carrying capacity is determined by the most limiting factors. In unfertilized waters, this is often food. If food is the limiting factor, then water quality will generally be good and conducive to long lived fish."

I think this portion of your response refers to more "natural" ponds that ARE NOT intensively managed?

My ponds will be more of the natural style. I may lightly fertilize, or have a single feeder at the end of the dock dispensing a small amount of feed.

Therefore, I believe your statement that "food will be the limiting factor" will apply to my ponds. However, I can't decipher your meaning as to which would be better - a bigger pond, or more smaller ponds?

I am trying to start my pond management during the design phase. Smaller ponds have more shallow water and therefore more vegetation. Is this the most productive area of the pond for food generation? (For everything in the base of the food chain beyond the plankton stage?)

In that case, more shallow water and therefore more plants aids in the "food supply" of the pond. (As food for some of the organisms in the food chain, and as cover or habitat for many of the other organisms.)

Yet a plant (or FA) die off causing an oxygen crash seems to be the main reason for a massive fish kill. Further, in the pond building forums, they frequently talk about optimum sloping of the pond to reduce shallow water. I am so confused!

This brings me back to your statement,

"A good mix of structure, plants, community players, and edge habitat increases food production naturally and sometimes (due to the influence of some community members) with an improvement of water quality parameters."

In your experience, would you say that the good mix is easier to achieve with more shoreline per surface acre of pond, or less shoreline/acre?

P.S. Thanks again to everyone for all of the information and advice. Everybody should feel free to chime in with their two cents on the original questions, OR any of the questions I pose to the responders! I love reading the PB Forum when I am not swamped with work. (Unfortunately, I am usually swamped!)

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528117 11/27/20 03:20 PM
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It wouldn't necessarily only apply to ponds that are fertilized or fed. Some waters are hyper-eutrophic without feeding or fertilizing. Many species of fish are unable to persist in those waters while others thrive. Often, scientists monitoring nutrients in water consider them pollutants.

I think edge habitat is important. Examples of edges are terrestrial-littoral & littoral-pelagic. So food production can obviously be increased by having increased perimeter relative to surface area. On the other hand, there is risk the volume is too restricted when there is too much perimeter. I can't help you with what is optimal because I don't know. But if I had to guess, I would suspect that higher standing weights probably favor lots of edge but that carrying capacity favors lots of euphotic volume.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/27/20 03:22 PM.
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528120 11/27/20 04:06 PM
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See these 2 from the archives.

My personal choice would be several of different sizes as that gives you more options.


https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=201295&page=1

https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92440#Post92440
















Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
ewest #528124 11/27/20 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ewest
My personal choice would be several of different sizes as that gives you more options.

Thanks for that advice based on all of your experience. That was exactly my initial plan. However, I wanted to make an "informed choice". The more I read on the Pond Boss forum, the more I reveal all of the different gaps in my knowledge. I still don't know the "right" pond sizes to pick.

I am going to get my plan on paper and then the NRCS guys are going to drill me some more soil samples at the proposed pond sites. (I think they can get down to 25'). Hopefully, I will only have to slightly modify my plans to compensate for what the actual dirt will allow.

Your first link is a classic and I have read it several times. The real experts got into some very deep discussions - which inevitably lead to several "it all depends" statements. I learn more from those discussions, because the advice has moved well beyond simple, generalized statements.

That thread also produced one of the most succinct definitions I have ever read on Pond Boss. Dave Davidson said, "Maximum carrying capacity, to me, is that number I reach right before the fish kill."

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
jpsdad #528128 11/27/20 06:45 PM
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jpsdad, thank you for really expanding on your previous comment.

Our location in Kansas is pretty darn windy, plus I will add aeration. Therefore, I think I can have fairly nutrient-rich ponds while avoiding a plant decomposition-induced oxygen crash.

Originally Posted by jpsdad
I think edge habitat is important. Examples of edges are terrestrial-littoral & littoral-pelagic. So food production can obviously be increased by having increased perimeter relative to surface area.

I really like the additional terms you have added to the discussion. I was only considering the perimeter as a single "edge".

Originally Posted by jpsdad
On the other hand, there is risk the volume is too restricted when there is too much perimeter. I can't help you with what is optimal because I don't know. But if I had to guess, I would suspect that higher standing weights probably favor lots of edge but that carrying capacity favors lots of euphotic volume.

I frequently go back and check the advice in good 'ol Agriculture Handbook 590 Ponds—Planning, Design, Construction. I don't think I have seen the experts in the forum dispute the basic advice in the handbook.

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs144p2_030362.pdf

Their advice on pond sizes for fish production is:

"Ponds that have a surface area of a quarter acre to several acres can be managed for good fish production. Ponds of less than 2 acres are popular because they are less difficult to manage than larger ones. A minimum depth of 8 feet over an area of approximately 1,000 square feet is needed for best management."

1,000 square feet is just over .02 acres. I am going to assume that .02 acres at 8 feet deep is probably the minimum euphotic volume to support a quarter acre pond. Therefore, I think your advice about edge habitat being the key to total pond productivity (all other things being equal) is probably true for ponds over a minimum threshold of 0.25 acres. [Experts, please correct me if that is an erroneous, or over-simplified, conclusion.]

I really don't think I have the pond management skills for highly-productive micro-ponds, nor for very large ponds. Based on all of the advice I have received, I think the "sweet spot" for my situation would be several ponds - ranging in size from 0.5 to 1.0 acres. (Or maybe slightly larger.)

This leads me to one additional question: If I excavated two 0.5 acre ponds that were nearly touching, and I could not manage them well enough to meet my goals. Could I come back in and breach the divider and make a 1.0 acre pond? How wide and deep would the connection have to be to turn the two-pond ecosystem into a true 1.0 acre ecosystem?

Assume aeration would be possible for each 0.5 acre lobe of the resulting larger pond.

Thanks,
FishinRod

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528132 11/27/20 09:55 PM
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In the end what you really "may be" after is good fishing. So there are number of ways to define what that means, good fishing, I mean. Ultimately you will decide what that is and then manage for that goal.

But lets say you want nice sized LMB in your BOW. Unless you feed them directly, you will probably be limited to around 60 to 80 lbs of them. So a 1/4 acre pond can only support say 15 to 20 lbs. But there is no reason a 1/4 acre pond can't do that. But it is more difficult, I think, because small bass fill niches very similar to bluegill. The extra littoral (relative to size) is habitat for little bass and they can do a lot of damage even at sizes we are uninterested to harvest. 6" to 8" bass can starve trophies. The interesting thing about predators is that they most commonly eat prey that are near 1% of their weight. 2 standard deviations lie between 1/6 and 1/5 their length. What this means, however, is that a 8" LMB eats as many BG as does an 8lb LMB. Every BG the 8" LMB eats is a BG a bigger LMB cannot later eat. So lots of littoral and edge will produce more BG and more <8" LMB too. In this regard, a lot of edge may be too much of a good thing ... because extra edge favors smaller bass and is a powerful influence in small bodies of water.

You can circumvent this by not letting the LMB breed. If one controls what goes in (young females) and ladder sustainably the LMB in the 1/4 pond can grow large. For example, 2 LMB laddered every other year harvested after 6 years in the pond might average 3.5 lbs/individual and exceed 6 lbs in their 6th year. Under such a scenario, the 1/4 acre pond doesn't limit the size of LMB or prevent trophies from being grown. Those numbers are conservative I think especially on good soil.

By far the most effective way to feed LMB is to ensure appropriate sized BG are plentiful. This is made easier by having individuals (LMB) spread across different sizes and ages. This reduces bottlenecks of forage sizes because they are eating different sized prey. On the other side, having the right amount of YOY reaching these sizes can also be manipulated by making space for them by harvesting BG that have grown too large to eat and have attained biomass exceeding the optimum for reproduction.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/27/20 10:19 PM.
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528133 11/27/20 10:20 PM
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I have read on the forum about the guys that have an incredible mass of their desired target fish at the top of the food chain in their 1/4 acre pond!

I am definitely wise enough to know that, I am not THAT GUY. Maybe I could get closer after retiring to the farm and putting quite a few years of pond management under my belt.

You are also correct, that what I am really after is "good fishing".

My concern on pond management is applying my book/forum knowledge to applications in the real world.

I can imagine letting a single male LMB slip into my female-only pond. The experts post how easy it is to "sex" some of your fish. (I think both LMB and BG are on the "easy" list?) Yet one rookie mistake would set you back by several years!

Thanks for all of the advice and encouragement! If you think I have a shot at good management of ponds as small as a 1/4 acre, then that gives me confidence in handling a 0.5 or 1 acre pond with a little more room for error.

P.S. I don't ever recall reading a thread where the experts posted their worst rookie mistake in pond management. Do you think that one might generate some humorous and enlightening posts?

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528136 11/28/20 05:48 AM
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My experience has been it's been hard to figure pounds per acre of fish. One concern i would have with a one acre lmb fishing pond is the larger fish are more likely to become hard to catch because they learn not to bite artificial baits. It might also happen in a two acre pond but I would think it would take twice as long before they get lure smart. I think they would get lure smart pretty fast in the one acre pond. In my 3 acre pond the larger ones did get tougher to catch. Just not sure if it was due to fishing pressure or just because as they get larger the get smarter.

Last edited by TGW1; 11/28/20 05:51 AM.

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Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528140 11/28/20 07:49 AM
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Rod,

Tracy is spot on regarding difficulty in catching. As fishing hours accumulate if becomes increasingly difficult to catch LMB that have "been there" and "seen that".

A trophy bass is the investment of multiple years of growth. It is rather expensive and inefficient when you think of it in this way. Generally, when the structure of LMB is comprised of larger LMB, the size structure of BG produces larger quantities of BG so the ultimate sizes are not generally as large as when LMB are numerous in smaller sizes. With regard to good fishing, LMB that are concentrated in small sizes provide more action and can be harvested at greater rates. The BG can too. That was Swingle's definition of good fishing (LMB harvested around 1 lb) and those stocking rates are still common today.

It is possible to grow trophy bass even in a pond like that ... only it can't be done the old fashioned way. So one could have cake and then maybe eat some of it ... within reason. So lets say you want to grow a 10 LB LMB every 6 years or so AND have very large BG and numerous small bass. You would have to separate the trophy recruits from dependence on the food chain and supplement their feed. 20 lbs of high quality feed annually (lumps to prevent BG from eating)would be sufficient to support 15 lbs of LMB and grow them a little. So you could have a 1 lb recruit (current year), a 5 lb recruit (stocked 3 yrs prior), and a 10 lb recruit (stocked 6 years prior). This isn't a heavy load of feed and if supplemented with BG chunks or injured BG > 3" but less than 25% their length ... hey you are growing some BIG fish in pond that would otherwise not support them. You need to be able to stock 1 feed trained Female once every 3 years to accomplish this. Instead of fishing for them, you would have them as pets and every 3 years you would open the season on the largest until you caught the monster smile. This is sustainable and introduces only a small amount of nutrients that very effectively and efficiently support the LMB on trophy track.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/28/20 08:00 AM.
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528144 11/28/20 08:40 AM
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Quote
I can imagine letting a single male LMB slip into my female-only pond. The experts post how easy it is to "sex" some of your fish. (I think both LMB and BG are on the "easy" list?) Yet one rookie mistake would set you back by several years!

This isn't really true but is a widely held superstition. I can demonstrate this isn't true simply by comparing it to ponds where dual sex and LMB reproduction is intended for the selection of trophy recruits. These ponds can still grow trophies despite having males in the population. Why? Well for one thing the population of LMB in a trophy pond is skewed towards females because males are routinely culled. Having a size structure concentrated in large females is self fulfilling in some respects. In other words, the conditions prevail that there are few LMB and very few LMB nests. Also, conditions prevail that small BG are numerous making LMB YOY survival low and nesting success is diminished too. So this condition favors Female bass but still can support a small number of males.

So if a trophy pond with both sexes has more male LMB than you might introduce on a plan of female only ... how could the female only pond with a single mistake be ruined? One of the more difficult things to growing trophies is getting the pond sufficiently culled of males. If this can be accomplished, one can grow big bass. So trying to establish a female only pond isn't doomed to failure as it pertains to growing trophies. It facilitates establishing the desired population structure making it easier to achieve and maintain.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/28/20 08:42 AM.
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528146 11/28/20 09:15 AM
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Rod, like everything else, it all depends.

Would each have adequate runoff?

Would each be stocked with the same fish?

My very personal opinion is to go for one pond. It’s kinda like having 4 girl friends with similar but different personalities. I would go nuts trying to manage 4 ponds. And also go broke.

But, if your goal includes 4 different environments with different fish, go for it.

I personally think having a forage pond to raise groceries for other fish makes sense. Alan Hall has that.

I personally have 2. One is 1 acre and the other is 1/4 acre. But, they are 1 mile apart. So, they really don’t compliment each other.


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: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528148 11/28/20 09:47 AM
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For me, each of my 4 ponds (one under construction) was as large as practical for each site. My first is a traditional BG/LMB pond. My second is a YP/SMB pond, and my 3rd will hopefully be a crappie/blue-catfish pond. My 4th pond may be shallower than I would like depending on how the water infiltration is next year when I hope to finish it. Not sure what I will stock since my top preference (chain pickerel and pumpkinseed) seems very hard to source. Ideas for something novel are welcome, but only interested in species that will spawn in a pond under 1 acre.

Last edited by RAH; 11/28/20 09:47 AM. Reason: typo
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
RAH #528151 11/28/20 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by RAH
.... Not sure what I will stock since my top preference (chain pickerel and pumpkinseed) seems very hard to source. Ideas for something novel are welcome, but only interested in species that will spawn in a pond under 1 acre.

Well that's not an easy task. The pickerel and pumpkinseed are an interesting combination. While some thoughts come to mind the difficulty in sourcing would remain, besides I like the pickerel combination you mention.

Another option might be to forgo a big predator use a much smaller one with various minnow species that are colorful. So minnows like blackstripe topminnows and such. A predator you might research for this would be Lepomis Gulosis. Without a bigger predator they might only top out in the 7" to 8" range but then might grow larger with some fishing pressure. They are interesting fish and look cool too. They are the only fish I am aware of that will eat bullfrog tadpoles. PK shrimp would also be great forage for them. Without a bigger predator, may be there would be too many bull frog adults and snakes though? It might also pair well with pickerel though I just don't know. They like weedy water and can stand low DO better than any other lepomis. They are not reproductively strong, are self limiting, and will not establish high standing weights (probably limited to around 150 lbs/acre. They will not persist in large numbers in the presence of other lepomis or equivalent competitors .... (though in combination with RES might be an acceptable combination but this would be an experiment ... Jim Wetzel mentioned establishing them as top predator with RES and pigmy sunfish). Once reaching 8" their diet is generally dominated by fish and then crayfish. Jim mentioned he had specimens near the state record when BG were introduced by someone. BG destroyed the balance he had achieved.

They are kind of backwater fish that doesn't like the company of other fish. Anyways, something to consider that is an interesting fish.

Last edited by jpsdad; 11/28/20 03:30 PM.
Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
jpsdad #528160 11/28/20 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TGW1
One concern i would have with a one acre lmb fishing pond is the larger fish are more likely to become hard to catch because they learn not to bite artificial baits. It might also happen in a two acre pond but I would think it would take twice as long before they get lure smart.


Originally Posted by jpsdad
One of the more difficult things to growing trophies is getting the pond sufficiently culled of males. If this can be accomplished, one can grow big bass.

The solution is obvious - we just need to invent a lure that is only attractive to male LMB. laugh

Cull the males as needed and feed your family and friends. Wait until the females are trophies, and THEN start using all of the other baits in your tackle box.

Surely the collective wisdom of all of the experts could design such a lure!

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528163 11/28/20 09:43 PM
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In all seriousness, thanks to everyone that is contributing to this thread and giving me such a good education!

TGW1,

Thanks for making the case for larger ponds. I knew there had to be good arguments in that direction also - or everyone in Texas would just have rows of small "tanks" full of trophy bass.

In your experience, do you think an "artificial lure only" rule would work while growing a few trophies? Let the wise ones get bigger and more hook shy to artificial baits. When the few trophy fish are ready for some harvesting, let the kids fish the pond with live bait.

Has live bait worked in your ponds when the big ones would no longer strike the favored artificial baits that had been used to cull their dumber siblings?

Re: Carrying Capacity versus Pond Size
FishinRod #528165 11/28/20 10:34 PM
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jpsdad,

Thanks for coming back to keep answering all of the additional questions I ask after digesting your previous answers.

I feel like a 12" LMB that keeps trying to swallow a 9" BG. I have no chance of swallowing that BG now, but one of these days I will be large enough to swallow him whole.

I really appreciate the math and step-by-step descriptions you are giving of how to get a pond to achieve the management goals that are being pursued.

Today I added to my knowledge base from another direction. I took a field trip to help snrub transfer HSB and RES out of his forage mini pond.

Snipe was there for expertise and manpower. RStringer supplied manpower and girlpower (his daughter was a big help). Mrs. Snrub was the chief videographer.

Read snrub's thread for the details:

https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=370619#Post370619

The experience really put jpsdad's numbers into perspective for me. The pond is only 0.1 acres. Snrub drained it down 5-6 feet, revealing barren clay banks. No weeds on the banks or bottom, and essentially no cover or structure.

Yet every time the seine went through the pond, it came out with chunky HSB, healthy adult RES, and a myriad of 1-3" RES. We also removed at least a dozen mature FHM.

Literally, the only things the pond had were quality water and supplemental feedings. I had to see it with my own eyes to believe how many healthy fish were removed. (I didn't see a single stunted fish among all of the ones I handled.)

I now see the hardiness of healthy fish in a well-managed pond. That does reinforce to me that a rookie pond person can make some mistakes, but still develop a "good fishing" pond! There is so much knowledge and experience on this forum, that any pond trending in a "bad" direction will at least get several strong pushes in the right direction!

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