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Are bluegill better to use in a pond that you want to be self regulating for populations? I prefer to catch crappie rather than the gills, but I had a pond with gills LMB and crappie in and I had a big crappie spawn followed by a spring die off of fish, including the larger LMB, then within two years the pond was totally stunted with hundreds of BCP... I assume I could have increased my LMB numbers and that may have pulled my crappie numbers back to where they wouldn't starve to death, but I wasn't actively managing my pond to realize the bass were gone until it was too late... Drought has forced me to start over, so I'm wondering what would be the best mix for a small approximately .5 acre pond? I do like CC and SMB would either be good to add to the mix? Thanks J

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Originally Posted by SkunkedAgain
Are bluegill better to use in a pond that you want to be self regulating for populations? I prefer to catch crappie rather than the gills, but I had a pond with gills LMB and crappie in and I had a big crappie spawn followed by a spring die off of fish, including the larger LMB, then within two years the pond was totally stunted with hundreds of BCP... I assume I could have increased my LMB numbers and that may have pulled my crappie numbers back to where they wouldn't starve to death, but I wasn't actively managing my pond to realize the bass were gone until it was too late... Drought has forced me to start over, so I'm wondering what would be the best mix for a small approximately .5 acre pond? I do like CC and SMB would either be good to add to the mix? Thanks J

The thing about BCP is that they are unpredictable spawners. One year they might have a huge spawn, and the next year they may not spawn at all. If cold fronts keep coming in every time they go to spawn, they'll retreat to the depths and try again later. If they don't get a spawn off in that limited 3-4 week time frame, they'll just absorb their eggs. In a .5 acre pond, I know most people wouldn't recommend to have BCP. Hell, most people would probably not recommend to even have LMB in anything smaller than an acre or two, just because you can only have so many pounds of them before they get crowded and stunt.

You mention that you like CC, so maybe a CC/BCP combination would work (if you wouldn't mind dropping the bass). If you want to keep the bass, BG are a must.


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The die off was the disaster, otherwise the LMB may have kept up with them. This is going to sound odd ... but since you haven't stocked yet and you like crappie ... consider a surrogate since you are west of the continental divide. The sacramento perch may be an option. You may not even need a predator as it was the apex predator over much of its native range before the introduction of non-native centrarchid. They won't recruit well if you stock other centrarchids with them and may extirpate. They have been very difficult to establish where there are other centrarchids and most introductions have failed. But as standalone ... they may do very well. Worst case, stock other things and they will go away ... but if they recruit and grow well, you'd had a pond of crappie-like fish that are much less likely to over populate.


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Thank you guys for your recommendations, maybe the CC would be the best way to go. Anyone know where I could find stocking ratios for CC to BCP in small ponds? Thanks Jeff

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Channel Cats have to get pretty big to eat Black Crappie.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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Wondered about that and how well they could catch a crappie.... Seems like the cats are slow compared to crappie.... Maybe the BG and LMB is the best mix to find balance... My previous mix had some gills to start out and I think that die out got them as well. I never did see much for reproduction from the gills... But there were GSF in the pond in numbers and I think they might have helped push out the gill... I really enjoyed fly fishing for the BG, BCP and GSF. I live in trout country where fly fishing is the top dog, but I enjoyed the panfish bite over the trout, not only for numbers, but speed of the take... Topwater panfish is a total blast... I miss it this year with a dry pond... Thanks for your tips... Jeff

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I think BCP and CC would do well together. In a 1/2 acre pond, you can control population via angling, and if you have a year where there's little BCP recruitment, you can just stock some more to make up for it. The best thing about having catfish in a pond is you can cull other species, chop 'em up, and have free catfish food.


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So what would be a good stocking ratio and size ratio for cats to crappie? I assume cats would do well if you supplementally feed them during food shortages... Do you use the high or lower protein food for catfish? Do gills and crappie play well together or are the crappie too predatorial and wipe out the gill spawns? Thanks for your thoughts... J

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I can't answer the stocking ratio, but regarding the protein for catfish, they can do well on the lower protein food, as they are omnivorous. Will the higher protein food make them grow faster/bigger? Yes, but it depends on your budget and the difference isnt as noticeable in cats than it is for other species. And yes, Crappies spawn earlier than BG, so they get a head start on them, and when the first spawn of BG come off the nest, you're already going to have YoY Crappies big enough to eat them. The plus side, BG spawn multiple times a year. I was going to suggest to not do BG at all, but now that I think about it, you'll definitely want an insurance plan in case you get a year where the Crappies don't spawn at all, and your Cats won't have anything to eat, besides what's coming out of your wallet.


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It is my understanding of BCP that yoy go out in middle of pond to feed on tiny zooplankton til they are bigger, then go after fish when they are bigger. Also my understanding that the young don’t hide in structure till later..... correct me if I’m wrong

Last edited by Pat Williamson; 08/07/21 03:01 PM.
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That's my understanding too Pat.

I would think most anything that is appropriately sized is one the menu throughout their life. So this would include fish fry for even the smaller BCP. But fish fry are not very abundant relative to other organisms they eat so smaller BCP eat invertebrates primarily. By the time BCP reach 8" in length, it takes a fish or large invertebrate to meet the definition of appropriately sized ... so above this size we see fish dominating their gut contents.

BCP are fish that like to school. Because of this they are concentrated and it can be difficult to find them. They are not always in brush ... same goes for WCP. It is not uncommon to find crappie cruising open water or suspended. My experience with crappie is that they seem to always be ready to eat if you can find them. In Summer and Fall months I would troll for them. This worked to find where they were and I would try to circle through them. My favorite lure for them is a small sassy shad during this time. During the winter and pre-spawn I liked to fish for them in brush (off my dock). I also like to fish around the drain tower (used to source water to water treatment plant) right through January and February. Winter caught fish are the best IHMO to eat. Brush attracts a school of BCP for rest and morsels. But they are so concentrated in a school ... I think they get most of the sustenance cruising around ... many times in open water. So open water hold more crappie ... even adult crappie ... than we realize. Crappie will use these open spaces to feed on forage that prefer the same habitat (stuff like TFS, RSH, GSH, and small GSHD).

I think the key to good crappie fishing is eliminating their competition. Primarily most lepomis but especially BG should NOT be present. They do not mix well with LMB-BG combination unless they are bonus fish that is large and is uncommon in the catch. My thoughts on BCP are that they should be paired with a robust large gape predator that is large in size and combine to make about 1/5 to 1/4 the standing weight. Predators that are a minimum of 18" in length that are capable of keeping up with the 3" to 6" crappie. So if we imagine a standing weight of 120 lbs of BCP ... we might also imagine a standing weight of 30 lbs of large predators like Female Only LMB, or even single sex FH. The key I think is a predator base that is not very competitive with small prey and small prey that won't compete heavily with the BCP for food or even for predation. Really good fishing requires, I think, no BG, large non-reproducing predators, lots of small forage like PK shrimp, GAMs, possibly crayfish, RSH or equivalent member of the satinfin shiner family. Ladder stocking of the predator would probably be required ... something consistent with the life span or possibly growth. Predators adapt to limited supplies of food and grow slowly ... the key is the size of the predators and their standing weight. The predators must be large enough to consume BCP in their second year (>4") and not so many that they eat too many of them.


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


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I'm of the same opinion as Pat W and jpsdad, BCP spend a lot of time in open water other then during the spawn, even then mostly the males will be in the brush creating the spawn area and fertilizing the eggs that the females just come in for a short period of time to lay their eggs. like jpsdad says, I have filled many a livewell with BCP and WCP by trolling, you seldom see people trolling for them but I am one of them. I use a Charlie Brewers slider jig on a 3/32 to 1/8 oz jig head. in warmer water I use a 1/8 oz and slow down a little to allow the bait to run deeper in the water.


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Agreed
My BCP have really suffered due to large and abundant LMB and thousands of BG! If I had it to do over there would be no BG and same sex LMB...... hard to make lemonade out of bitter lemons..... but we will try to remove some of the offenders.....

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I know that CC are considered to be higher end predators, but my limited experience with CC is that their mouth-gape seem to be on the smaller side compared relatively to the overall fish size. Theos did a long study on it maybe a decade or more ago...'cause he's older.

Further, when I observe many CC taking feed, they just seem be highly inefficient and slow moving. Now, I have seen a few with the "Hoover" technique, as in vacuum cleaner; those ones are highly efficient but still slower.

I think there's no reason not to try if it's what you want to do.


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Thank you all for the great suggestions, this really helps as you have discussed your thoughts over my question. I appreciate all of your experience and reasoning... Still not sure which direction I'll go, but I do think I like the BCP better than the gills except for the overpopulating issue. But I realize if I'd do a better job with predators that shouldn't be as much of an issue... With the thoughts about CC being slow and not as efficient of predators, would a mix of LMB and CC as predators work? If so dumb question, but how do you determine the LMB sex? On CC's it's easy, but guess I haven't paid attention on the bass...

Is it wise to let the BCP establish for a year before you add larger predators to the pond? So there is YOY spawn already available when the predators arrive? When I originally started my pond I had FHM's that were the first fish to show up in the pond and when the minnows were so numerous that they were swimming upstream and out the overflow, then the predators must have followed them back to my pond... The first thing I caught was GSF that were way bigger than anything I'd ever seen in the wild, then a year later I caught 13-14" crappie, which are really big for this area... Then the crappie spawned and the minnows disappeared and my pond went downhill...

Which brings up another question, I have a water feed supply through a 6" PVC pipe from my irrigation canal and storm run off, it is also connected sort of, to a local lake from the overflow drain. I had carp come into my pond at the end and they really ruined the pond, stirring up a ton of mud and generally making a mess. I don't want carp to get back into my pond again. How is the best way to filter out the fish, without blocking the flow of water and stuff that comes down stream with water flow... I'm afraid if I just put a screen on the pipe it will have problems during snow melt or other storm events where water drains through my swale... I need to filter fish without effecting water flow... Any ideas of a good way to do this? Thanks Jeff

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I stocked BCP at the same time as BG. Did not stock LMB ( someone bucket stocked I guess) . Second year had a BCP spawn but since then the numbers of LMB and BG rose to the point to where the BCP were consumed by the LMB and the spawns never made it I guess due to BG overwhelming them. So who knows what will happen. BCP have been in since 2014 and have not stunted or out performed anything......same with all the neighbors around me

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I am almost regretting stocking CNBG, they are out of control! Seems like all they do is spawn, they have been on beds since May, there is another group bedding now.I didn't want LMB, so I stocked 50 HSB(1/4 acre pond), They are not making a dent at all in the BG population, not that I can tell. Maybe they ate the 50 BCP I put in:( The HSB were stocked at 5-7" and are now approaching 21".
Maybe bass have to be in the mix.

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Tony K,
I have unwanted BG and am removing them with trapping and hook/line. At night I noticed that they didn’t swim off when we shined a light on them. The next time down there I’m going to try to shine a light on them and net them out of the pond. My father Inlaw has a pond with lots of BG that hammer the food when tossed out. If I had that same situation I would throw out a handful of food and throw a cast net to remove them. Hopefully this gives you some ideas before adding green fish. Does anyone know if WE, NP or TM would help?

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HSB mouths are also relatively small compared to their overall body size. I think this is why they don't do such a great job at keeping bluegill numbers in check.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Originally Posted by Tony K
I am almost regretting stocking CNBG, they are out of control! Seems like all they do is spawn, they have been on beds since May, there is another group bedding now.I didn't want LMB, so I stocked 50 HSB(1/4 acre pond), They are not making a dent at all in the BG population, not that I can tell. Maybe they ate the 50 BCP I put in:( The HSB were stocked at 5-7" and are now approaching 21".
Maybe bass have to be in the mix.

I know some people have had success with bucket-stocking a few same-sex LMB to control their BG populations. The best time to ID them is in the spring though. Other than that, you'd have to find some that are over 2 pounds to ensure they are all the same sex (females). Just a thought.

Last edited by Steve_; 08/10/21 04:15 PM.

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Steve, I have been thinking about doing that this spring, read several threads here about it. Another option I am trying in another pond(.10 acre) that has too many BG is blue cat. I will start another thread when I see how it goes.

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Originally Posted by Tony K
Steve, I have been thinking about doing that this spring, read several threads here about it. Another option I am trying in another pond(.10 acre) that has too many BG is blue cat. I will start another thread when I see how it goes.

I will be stocking blue cats in my ~0.2-0.3 acre pond as soon as it fills up! BC should definitely be able to control BG.


"In the age of information, ignorance is a choice." - Donny Miller

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