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I am contemplating adding some fish to my 1/4 acre pond as I believe it is shy of a good population balance. What I think I have....

40 HSB (20 to 30 around 3 to 4 pounds and 10 around 2 pounds),
20 to 50 HBG (all about 1/2 pound),
100 F2 and F3 HBG (2 to 4 inches long,
Zero to 50 Invisible RES (yes INVISIBLE - I have not seen one since stocking 90 of them 3 years ago),
And too many crawdads.

I think this due to horrible catch rates and poor attendance at feed time. AND, my guestimates are probably on the high side. Both the HSB and HBG showed a slowing of growth last year. They are in the neighborhood of 80% relative weight, where as the years before pushing 90 - 100%. The massive amounts of FHM have all but vanished. I think the loss in growth is mostly due to that. It seems a bit backwards that I think I have low populations of HBG and there is that loss in growth, but this is were I'm at with my theory. I think many of the original HBG and RES washed out the drain pipe the first year. I have added a 1/2" screen to the pipe to help keep the YOY in the pond.

My goals are to have much better attendance at feed time, a better forage base for the HSB, and better catch rates.

I am contemplating adding some 10" CC (10 total) for feeding time action and crawdad control, some more RES (20 at 4-5 inches), and some more HBG (50 to 100 at 4 to 5 inches).

I am open for discussions on the above mumbo-jumbo. Talk me into a different species, varying my numbers, hints on where to find the larger size fish, etc, etc...open discussion.

Heck, I have even thought about adding GSF and/or pure BG for getting the forage base up.


Fish on!,
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PM sent...

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How about some YP? If you could get some larger ones right away you might even get lucky and have them spawn.


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Bob, you're giving me the opportunity to express a concern I have... :-))
It is bad practice to move any species of fish as adults in pre-spawn mode..
I can't even guess how many calls I've had already this last month wanting to know if I can load up females and get them in a pond so they will spawn this year..
By doing this it is more likely that they will reabsorb eggs as opposed to completing a spawn. Pre-spawn is VERY focal for all species and is a terrible time to move them. period.
Not sure why this bothers me so, but it does.. I see a trend towards larger stockers, and I think that's a mistake in most situations where it's involving a new pond.. Existing pond, yes, I can see using larger sizes but it needs to be done at the "Least" stressful time of year for the "highest" survival.
Sorrry for the rant, I just see some things changing on thought process that I think still need to be held to a standard.

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Snipe,

I did not know that about the stress levels pre-spawn. Makes perfect sense though if the fish are utilizing their limited energy for something other than their own survival.

I generally LIKE it when guys post a rant on Pond Boss - it usually means they have seen someone learn a lesson the "hard way".

I have learned enough lessons in life the hard way. I am more than happy to avoid a painful error because someone takes the time to post their hard-won knowledge on PB!

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Originally Posted by Snipe
Bob, you're giving me the opportunity to express a concern I have... :-))
It is bad practice to move any species of fish as adults in pre-spawn mode..
I can't even guess how many calls I've had already this last month wanting to know if I can load up females and get them in a pond so they will spawn this year..
By doing this it is more likely that they will reabsorb eggs as opposed to completing a spawn. Pre-spawn is VERY focal for all species and is a terrible time to move them. period.
Not sure why this bothers me so, but it does.. I see a trend towards larger stockers, and I think that's a mistake in most situations where it's involving a new pond.. Existing pond, yes, I can see using larger sizes but it needs to be done at the "Least" stressful time of year for the "highest" survival.
Sorrry for the rant, I just see some things changing on thought process that I think still need to be held to a standard.
Thanks for setting me straight! I had no idea. I figured with him already having larger HSB in the pond he would probably need to stock a little larger fish and why not try to get some that would spawn right away.


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QA, dare I say I feel your pain.
I want to add a thought to something you said above about your RES.. A year and a half ago I had a high flow event that caused massive amounts of flow around my emergency spillway. Being fairly flat on the true plains of western KS, the area downstream of my pond is pasture, literally for miles. Within about 2 weeks the water had soaked and I made my way around most of the low spots of grass containing small pockets of water as they dried up. I found about 65 dead adult RES, 1 SMB of about 6" that was actually still alive in a very small pool and I moved that fish back to my pond. I found nothing else dead or alive other than a few minnows.
I've been taught/told for the last 30 years that most fish tend to hunker down and stay put.. I believe for the most part that is true, but last spring during a heavy snow melt with hard frozen ground, we had a big flow-through again. Not the gusher I had the year before but big water movement. Again in those same pasture areas I found mostly dead RES adults and did manage to move a few live ones back to pond. A very small number of other fish, mostly the RES.
In my fall 2020 net samples I did not get 1 big adult RES, nothing over 4".
I strongly believe RES want to go with the flow. THAT could be what happened to some number of your RES, maybe..
I know you've had turbidity issues for some time, I know you have a large Craw population.
You mention fish in the 80% WR range..Those will never achieve anything significant and should be removed.
I may have opposition here but I think when you see fish dropping below 95%, there's something that needs to change going forward.
20-30 HSB @ 3-4lbs and 10 2lb'ers in 1/4 ac are going to flat clean house which leaves no obvious overabundance of anything left. HBG, F1-F2, on.. leaves nothing with reproductive capacity to fill the needs of everything remaining-in my mind..you've got 100+lbs in HSB biomass tied up... in .25 acres.
This might be a good time to go into reset mode.
Think it through, search your goals again. It's easy to add more species to try and make up for what we wanted to work and didn't-I've been there.
You didn't really ask but I'd start removing fish by angling methods, targeting HSB. See what happens to your panfish population/size structure by next fall or the following spring then revisit your options.

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Originally Posted by Bobbss
Originally Posted by Snipe
Bob, you're giving me the opportunity to express a concern I have... :-))
It is bad practice to move any species of fish as adults in pre-spawn mode..
I can't even guess how many calls I've had already this last month wanting to know if I can load up females and get them in a pond so they will spawn this year..
By doing this it is more likely that they will reabsorb eggs as opposed to completing a spawn. Pre-spawn is VERY focal for all species and is a terrible time to move them. period.
Not sure why this bothers me so, but it does.. I see a trend towards larger stockers, and I think that's a mistake in most situations where it's involving a new pond.. Existing pond, yes, I can see using larger sizes but it needs to be done at the "Least" stressful time of year for the "highest" survival.
Sorrry for the rant, I just see some things changing on thought process that I think still need to be held to a standard.
Thanks for setting me straight! I had no idea. I figured with him already having larger HSB in the pond he would probably need to stock a little larger fish and why not try to get some that would spawn right away.
You're good Bob. Not really trying to set ya straight, :-) just noticing some posts recently that seem to be corner cutting strategies. Mother nature built in some really cool programing to these critters and how they react to some extent is still very much misunderstood.

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I think you're on to something with the RES wanting to travel.

My pond doesn't see the massive flow-through events that yours has, but it did spend a good deal of time last spring running over the spillway.

I picked up hundreds of <3" sunfish from the grass in the drain swale. 90% of them were RES.

This discussion has reminded me that I need to put a hardware cloth fence across the spillway before the next round of rains get here.

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Resetting (draining/nuking) the pond does not appeal to me at this point although it would make sense if I was in a hurry to achieve pond greatness.

My original goals of growing some nice size HBG and using HSB as population control has, well, tanked (I think). The fish have always been very difficult to catch, the HSB especially. The HSB are known for this trait and, I beleive, the HBG numbers have been low since the first good flow through. My pond gets washed out yearly...15" pipe full type of washed-out.

My current goal is to see more fish at feeding time and be able to take the pole to it and keep busy. I will certainly try to catch out some of the HSB. The dinner table is due anyhow.

I am being tempted (by an friend who shall remain un-named - lol) to just go willy-nilly (no offence Augie) and see what happens. This has some real appeal, I must admit. So, the question is...

Can I add enough panfish (HBG, BG, & GSF) to recover from a lack of forage, make feeding time more frenzy-like, & pump up catch rates over the next year or so (given a certain reduction in HSB in the pond)?

Last edited by Quarter Acre; 03/10/21 11:26 AM.

Fish on!,
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Originally Posted by Quarter Acre
Resetting (draining/nuking) the pond does not appeal to me at this point although it would make sense if I was in a hurry to achieve pond greatness.

So, the question is...

Can I Can add enough panfish (HBG, BG, & GSF) be added to recover from a lack of forage, make feeding time more frenzy-like, & pump up catch rates over the next year or so (given a certain reduction in HSB in the pond)?


Absolutely !
















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Everyone needs a purpose in life.

My purpose is to serve as a bad example.

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Augie, yer a trip, man!! :-)

I agree with ewest, you can absolutely add numbers of sunfish but I believe I'd be working the numbers of HSB down as you go.

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Dilemma: I want to take some HSB out, but they don't want to come out. I will try some more fishing this weekend, but past experience tells me that they don't become susceptible to taking a hook until much later in the summer (and then, it can be far and few in between). I will have to try some extreme measures...maybe trot lines, and just expect some of the larger HBG to suffer from this. I have heard that they like chicken livers. I have not tried this, but will....

Now to the dilemma, I need to add fish soon if I'm going to do it. To stock or not to stock is the dilemma.

Originally Posted by Snipe
QA, dare I say I feel your pain....You didn't really ask but I'd start removing fish by angling methods, targeting HSB. See what happens to your panfish population/size structure by next fall or the following spring then revisit your options.

Snipe is suggesting patience. This I can truly appreciate and may just have to take to heart. Part of me wants to throw in some panfish (4 to 6 inchers), maybe 100 or so as a forage booster shot and also 10 CC (10 inchers) to get them growing...If a have a DO crash, I would think the HSB would be the first to succumb hence resolving the HSB abundance issue. Am I just rationalizing my impatience?


Fish on!,
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Did you try good old fashioned mail invite? Maybe they just need to be romanced, ya know? Flowers n such


Im going to ask a lot of questions, but only because I'm clueless


5-20 Acres in Florida. Bass/Tilapia/Bowfin/Gator
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I've tried a variety of tied flies, spinning lures, floating broke back lures, diving lures, popping top waters, rubber worms, real worms, corn, grass hoppers, small live panfish, stubby Steve's, jigs (with and without heads), Gulp baits, and (as silly as it seems) Elmers gluing feed pellets to a hook, BUT NOT flowers and such. grin lol. Do you know where I can find a toroidal on this method? Romance is not my strong suit, even with humans. cry

The best results I have had is using a 1/2" piece of night crawler during feeding time. Throw it out and let it sink hoping a gill does not get to it first. This only works, for the most part, if the HSB are noticeably active during feed time. I can see them for about week or two in the late summer just going nuts below the surface (1-2 foot down) with the occasional top water hits. I think they are hitting the pellets as they sink, and/or going after the smaller feeding HBG. They are very aggressive in their actions, but very hard to get on the hook. They are the smartest fish I have ever tried to cull!


Fish on!,
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HSB like pretty much any kind of meat, and they don't seem to care much whether it's alive or dead.
A 3"-4" shiner a foot under a cork would be a good thing to try. They like nightcrawlers, but so does everything else that swims.
I've heard chicken livers are good, but I don't ever use those so can't speak from experience.
Cut shad/asian carp/bluegill works well on the Osage. 3" tail-snipped bluegill might be good.

Or, if you have an old-fashioned hand crank Ma Bell stashed away somewhere...

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QA,

So just a few thoughts ...

1. If we take there to be 25 HSB averaging 3.5 lbs and 10 HSB averaging 2 lbs we're talking around 108 lbs of HSB. This translates to 432 lbs/acre of HSB. IIRC you've been feeding in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 lbs annually. So one thing comes to mind, there is no way the feed is fully supporting that weight of HSB let alone growing them to those sizes. So we must know that the pond is producing a fair amount of forage for those HSB. I have a sense, even with supplemental feed, that its taking between 2 to 3 lbs of forage annually to sustain the growth and maintenance of your HSB. That's somewhere between 800 and 1200 lbs per acre forage production.

2. Given your estimate of HBG numbers (both F1s and F2s), perhaps a minor proportion of that forage is prey fish production. I know that 400 lbs of LMB probably couldn't be sustained buy such low estimate of prey fish. Usually balanced populations (using Swingle's definition) are obtained when the Weight of BG is roughly 3 times the weight of LMB. That said, given that the numbers are low, there would probably be very good survival of swim up fry as they'd have lots to eat with little competition. The question is how successfully the panfish are reproducing. If they are successfully reproducing, then indeed the HSB must have been very successfully limiting their recruitment to adult sizes. But to conclude the latter, one must also accept the former premise. Which brings me to next thought.

3. Could the crayfish be inhibiting the successful recruitment of swim up fry? Is it possible that the crayfish interfere with panfish nesting to the point that they don't get a lot of swim up?

My hunch is that most of that 800 to 1200 lbs/acre of forage production is crayfish production. Otherwise, the HBG are supporting way more HSB standing weight than could ever have supported LMB standing weight (HBG reproductive potential much more limited than BG). The crayfish are probably very resistant to predation once reaching 3.5" to 4" and a predator that could take them at those lengths without a second thought might be a big help. So I do like your idea of adding some CC to your pond as well.

One last hunch. I would bet a Lincoln to your donut that the best bait to catch HSB in your pond is the thing they eat most. My hunch is that this would be crayfish. Try removing the claws on one of the 3.5" crays and fish it 3' below a bobber. It may not take very long to catch one.

On the catfish, it might be good to get some adult females 5 lbs or larger that are still fairly young. So a catfish producer usually wants broodfish between 5 and 8 lbs. Since 8 lb fish might be younger than 4 or 5 years of age at a hatchery ... these would be optimal. They usually wont grow that fast in wild. So you reach out and see if a nearby producer might have larger female brooders available in June after they have recovered seed. The females will be much less prone to burrowing and at this size ... just as soon as their appetite returns ... they'll be munching the larger craws which is the gap you need filled. They could provide meaningful crayfish control for many years before needing replacement. I would probably stock at 60 to 80 lbs/acre and then ladder in 4 or 5 years. We are only talking 4 5lbers or maybe 3 8 lbers in your pond.

Last edited by jpsdad; 03/22/21 03:29 PM.

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Originally Posted by Quarter Acre
Dilemma: I want to take some HSB out, but they don't want to come out. I will try some more fishing this weekend, but past experience tells me that they don't become susceptible to taking a hook until much later in the summer (and then, it can be far and few in between).

I made 2 casts in the pond this evening by the feeder. I have not yet turned it on this year but it was about the time that it would be throwing feed if it was on. First cast was a 3# HSB, 2nd cast was this 6.75# one that I invited back to the house for dinner.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

1/4 ounce gold blade/chartreuse body chatter bait.

Maybe you just haven't found out what they like yet?


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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Originally Posted by esshup
...Maybe you just haven't found out what they like yet?

No, I have NOT. Next on the list is a live crawdad. Surely I have tried this seeing how I have so many, but I don't recall. I will try again.

That HSB looks too good to be true...nice-n-fat!

Augie - do YOU have a hand crank Ma Bell Stashed away somewhere...lol!


Fish on!,
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Good body condition esp coming out of Winter, Scott.

QA - If your HSB are feeding actively, the pellet fly is automatic - try wrapping pellet in panty hose, cut, tie off top with some thread with a couple overhand knots, hook the top of the tie off section and cast. I do this frequently with the Optimal hand throw LMB pellets, if I use a smaller pellet, go to the fly rod as they're tough to present otherwise.

I also find nose hooked BG or GSH kept struggling at the surface is also reliable and a really fun way to fish for HSB. Explosive strikes - it's a hoot.

My struggles managing high density cray populations is well documented. I've tried many solutions: Trapping, seining, stocking adult SMB, and the only thing that REALLY worked was draining, seining, draining remaining water, and over wintering the dry pond. Crays either froze, were preyed upon by coons, or migrated elsewhere. It took me 4 seasons of battling to finally resort to this extreme tactic. I'm not stating that's the only solution, but in my case it was. I suspect a few single sex LMB or CC might have had an impact with some patience, but I was absolutely done with a perpetually turbid pond devoid of macrophytes, although the complete absence of FA was nice.

I think RES relish YOY crays, but they quickly outgrow gape capability of RES after a few months, but another stocking of some RES might be a good play.

If you're not regularly catching your HBG I suspect your assessment is correct that the population is thin. You can cast net or seine and get a good idea on population density especially during feeding, but if you verify HBG population is low, stocking additional fish is a wise investment.

I'd continue trapping all the crays you can in the meanwhile and consider LMB angling in the Spring when sex is easily verified if a few single sex LMB appeals to you. A case can be made for stocking either male or female LMB, but be dang sure you're committed to verifying before stocking or the fishery will never be reclaimed with LMB reproduction. If you tire of the LMB or find their predation on your lepomis too high you can remove them once the cray population is managed. Just an option for you.


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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I don't have one. You'd be welcome to borrow it if I did.

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Augie - do YOU have a hand crank Ma Bell Stashed away somewhere...lol![/quote]


I do, havent tried it tho, dont know if it works.


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Pro tip - have a buddy hold the wire for you during the test...

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Remind me never to become his buddy.


7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS -116




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