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Help with forage base!
#536010 06/03/21 11:10 AM
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My dam was just finished this week on a new pond in northern Kentucky. I’m hopeful that it holds water and I’m excited to start creating a food chain. The pond is 1/2 acre and 18 feet deep in one tiny little spot right at the base of the dam. The goal is to make it a RES and SMB pond. As soon as it has water, my plan WAS to stock FHM and give them the summer to proliferate. In addition, I was planning to transplant a bunch of rusty crayfish from the creek at the bottom of the property into the pond. I know rusty crayfish are the devil, but they are the native species here so I don’t see any harm in expediting the inevitable.

The problem is this: No local hatcheries have any FHM.

I was considering gambusia instead and then ordering a double dose of FHM to stock in the fall with RES/SMB? Does this seem reasonable? Am I missing a better solution? Does anyone have a secret source of FHM reasonably close to the Cincinnati area?

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536018 06/03/21 01:28 PM
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Bait shop

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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536020 06/03/21 01:43 PM
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If nothing else, a few dozen from the bait shop will make many more so long as you have the structures in the pond for them to lay eggs on. Just ID them very well before putting them in.

As far as crawdads go...don't put them in until you have the game fish established. I put too many craws in my pond at the same time as the FHM's and gave them a year to do there thing. It worked great for the FHM's, but the craws multiplied ALOT and grew out in front of my stocked fish. They got so numerous and large that nothing could control them. I now have a muddy pond filled with craws. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy trapping them, eating them, and giving them away, but I wish I waited until the game fish were stocked and grew large enough to feed on them. All it takes to seed a pond with craws is a dozen or two that are berried (carrying eggs) put in during the spring and some rocky patches for cover.


Fish on!,
Noel
Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536023 06/03/21 01:57 PM
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Ohriverrat,
Here you go!

https://andersonminnows.com/shop/

Re: Help with forage base!
Heppy #536027 06/03/21 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Heppy
Ohriverrat,
Here you go!

https://andersonminnows.com/shop/

I ordered the GS fry from Anderson's and put them in a few weeks ago. Pretty cool.

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536077 06/04/21 04:23 PM
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Thanks all! Really good insight here. I found a place with some fathead minnows. And in true beginner fashion, I already have more questions!

Quarter Acre - Do you know what species your crawfish were? Rusty’s aren’t really known for burrowing, so I wonder if they would make my pond muddy? I definitely don’t want to make that mistake!

At what point should I add FHM? Half full? All the way? After the mud settles? I’m going to go read the thread on posing photos and get a picture posted so you can see what I’m working with so far. I have a large mud puddle at this point. I’m guessing 4 feet deep, 30 feet wide, and 40 feet long.

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536081 06/04/21 05:10 PM
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The first picture is looking down from the top of the valley down to the dam.

The second is from the south shore looking down into the main bowl.

The last is from the top of the dam looking up the valley. For scale, the root ball next to the mud puddle is 6 feet tall.

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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536083 06/04/21 05:17 PM
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Not sure if it will ever hold water at those angles smile


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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536086 06/04/21 05:29 PM
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Ha ha. I am terrible at uploading pictures.

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536101 06/04/21 11:38 PM
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Throw the fatheads in now. If you want to get some underwater plants established in the pond, I would wait on stocking the crayfish.


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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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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536108 06/05/21 08:35 AM
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The craws in my pond are the Northern Virile, but they don't burrow. I'm not entirely clear on how they got the reputation for making a pond muddy, but they do. I suspect an over populated stand of them causes them to work the bottom excessively for food. That, and I have aeration which aids in keeping the mud suspended. Wait on them until you have some fish that will keep them in check. On the positive side of too many craws... I'm boiling 200 of them later today.

Add your fhm's now with some floating pallets for them to lay their eggs on.. I would add some foam board to each pallet to keep them floating while your pond fills. Pallets will sink after they saturate. Heck, just some foam board anchored here and there might work by itself.


Fish on!,
Noel
Re: Help with forage base!
Quarter Acre #536111 06/05/21 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Quarter Acre
... On the positive side of too many craws... I'm boiling 200 of them later today ...

Glad to read this QA. Are your doing this for a friend or have you taken a liking to them? I prefer craws to lobster if I am cooking them. Its easy to get to the meat and the taste is very similar. Every time I cook lobsters, I find it a royal PITA to do the final readying of the lobster to access the meat. Even my kids make short work of crawfish with no assistance at all.


Common sense is not so common - Voltaire

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536122 06/05/21 11:22 AM
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Ohriverrat,

Congrats on your new pond. I love the "pond in the forest" look!

Good luck on your project.

Re: Help with forage base!
esshup #536247 06/08/21 10:08 AM
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I second this. I threw flatheads fatheads in this spring and want them to run wild…I wish I would have thrown them in last fall when there was some 3-4 foot of water.

Right now my flatheads fatheads are competing with the million bullfrog tadpoles but I want a army for when I put the RES, YP and SMB in.

I also have read to now throw the crayfish in until you get the pond going….you’ll want some riprap or concrete pieces in there for the crayfish to survive.

Last edited by esshup; 06/08/21 11:26 AM. Reason: There IS a difference!
Re: Help with forage base!
jpsdad #536249 06/08/21 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Originally Posted by Quarter Acre
... On the positive side of too many craws... I'm boiling 200 of them later today ...

Glad to read this QA. Are your doing this for a friend or have you taken a liking to them?...

Just the neighbors, the wife and I. We put the hammer on them! Some like them boiled with "stuff" and spiced while others like them boiled, peeled, egg & battered, then fried. It's all good with me until they make smoke come out your ears or fiery breath.


Fish on!,
Noel
Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536348 06/09/21 10:06 PM
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Thanks for the info! I definitely would have made a mistake. The rock piles will go in a couple weeks from now. This rain pattern has the place too wet to get equipment there to push the rocks in. I’ll hold off on the crayfish for now and add FHMs. Did the bullfrogs show up on their own, or did you stock them?

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536351 06/09/21 11:00 PM
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As mentioned above, and strongly seconded from experience, do NOT add craws until Bass are at least 10" average, maybe even a bit larger.. 5-6 doz FHM will fill a void you can't believe until you witness it.
I haven't heard any numbers of stocking so I'll add my 2 cents.. If you have 4' of water and increasing volume I'd be inclined to stock 50 RES of 3-5" size. Next spring stock 150 more.
If you are 75% full come fall (or greater) start with 20-25 6-8" smb if available, they will likely pull off a spawn next year.
Next fall add another 20-25 smb of the same size. Dropping the number of SMB stocking will increase growth rates and give the forage base a chance at holding a high enough volume to allow the second stocking of SMB to grow rapidly. This should provide a diverse size range of SMB with all having better than average growth rates-depending on how suitable the structure and habitat are.

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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536357 06/10/21 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ohriverrat
....Did the bullfrogs show up on their own, or did you stock them?

Bull frogs, leopard frogs, spring peepers, and toads all showed up at my pond on there own. It was not a surprise as there is wet-weather creek about 100 yards away that teams with life.


Fish on!,
Noel
Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536358 06/10/21 10:51 AM
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For smb stocking you may have to resort to stocking 2"-4" which are the commonly available size and usually only available in fall Sept-Oct in your region. Jones commonly has smb but all fish are pricey from Jones in Cincy. Your stocking plans sounds a little weak for the amount of forage for the smallies unless you buy pellet trained smb. If the basic prey-pan fish you are using is the RES be sure you have a strong population of them before adding the smb. RES will struggle to maintain decent numbers with numerous reproducing SMB. In addition consider adding golden shiners (GSH) or YP and even more broken waste concrete for crayfish habitat. SMB will prey heavily on the crays so they need lots of cover/habitat as in at least 2 or more shallow water (0-4ft deep) entire shoreline sides lined with rock - concrete rubble.

Why do you think it is that you have rusty crayfish in the creek???. Rusty crays are common in OH & KY but so are numerous other crayfish species. Do you have some decent close up, in good focus, dorsal and side view pics of what you think are rusty crays? Then we can verify your ID of the crays. Rusty crays are a relatively aggressive species and it takes larger smallies to eat the larger more defensive rusties.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 06/10/21 10:56 AM.

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Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536370 06/10/21 01:08 PM
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I'm mixing up threads here Bill... I misread this as he had already stocked GSH fry-that was another thread-good catch and yes, I agree the RES will not "really" support numbers of SMB, something else needs to be present as well.

Re: Help with forage base!
Ohriverrat #536373 06/10/21 02:18 PM
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SMB in one customers pond has about eaten all the RES and YP in the pond - not enough cover for the fish to hide in. The GSH and FHM were gone within the first 2 years of stocking the SMB, and only 50 were stocked in a 1 ac pond. Habitat is key to keeping a forage base in addition to stocking the correct number of fish in the first place.


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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).
Re: Help with forage base!
JChanse #536754 4 hours ago
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Thank you.


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