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Joined: Dec 2021
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I have a 1 acre spring fed pond that I have owned for about 6 months. My family and I have spent a substantial amount of time fishing it and caught no bluegill, catfish, crappie, sunfish etc. We would catch the occasional large mouth that were typically in the 10-13 inch range. When I say occasionally I mean..if you walk around the entire pond you might catch 3-4. If 5-6 people fish for a couple hours we wont catch 10 bass. This led me to believe that the bass population is not overpopulated so I stocked 100 fingerling catfish, 500 bluegill, 500 red ear sunfish, and 20 lbs of minnows thinking that not enough LMB were present to stop the forage fish from establishing. Now Im beginning to doubt that the more time I spend learning about stocking ponds. The size of the bass points to an overpopulation problem but the fishing experience says otherwise...to the point that we were laughing about the fact that almost no fish at all were in the pond. When the adults are fishing with bass baits we will catch a few but We have spent hours at a time sometimes with kids fishing with crickets, jigs, wax worms, etc and wont catch a single LMB. Even though those arent aimed at LMB we all know that bluegill fishing in ponds with a lot of bass you always catch some with those baits. My question is does it seem more likely that the bass are actually overpopulated even though we can never catch them or was there just such a huge lack of forage fish for years and they havent grown. Again all that time we have not pulled a single fish out of the pond that wasnt a 10-13 inch LMB and very few of those.

Last edited by bowhunter857; 12/07/21 12:00 PM.
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Welcome to the forum!

The short answer is potentially yes to both questions.

Now with the colder water temps angling is a lot tougher. You should have been able to catch more fish in late Sept/early Oct. If you are fishing with 3" long crank baits you should be catching a number of those small LMB.

What else do you know about the history of the pond? How deep is it, how much cover for the fish to hide in is there, could the pond have been fished out before you bought the place, etc.?

Typically with bass stunted ponds, the bass are small because there isn't enough forage fish to go around food wise.


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I know the owners before me had a few fish fries and at one point it had a good amount of big channel catfish that are not in it anymore. I said 6 months its actually closer to 8 months now that we have owned the place. We fished it from April-December. Im not certain on depth but the previous owner told me that it averages about 8 feet with some part closer to 10. I have started to add cover myself and plan to add more when the temps warm back up. We fished with every bass bait you could possibly imagine without ever having that much success. Again, you could catch 3,4,5 over an hour or so but thats the best. Typically in a pond this size thats overpopulated it seems like if you make a good cast, you get a bite, and this pond is not that way. I will also say we have geothermal heating and cooling so there are some closed loop hoses at the bottom of the pond, unsure if they could have any sort of an impact.

Last edited by bowhunter857; 12/07/21 12:54 PM.
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The Geothermal won't have an impact on the fish.

The only thing that I could say to do is schedule an electroshocking survey with a pond management company in your area for next Spring when the water temp is around the upper 60's, low 70's. Then the most fish will be in the shallower water scoping out spawning areas.


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bowhunter,

It is strange that you and the clan haven't caught BG even with live bait. Usually they are stocked with LMB. Is there any chance there are none? What about the previous owner? What did he say about BG?

Just to be sure ... how much flow do you get with your spring? What's the temp coming out? I know some springs in Southern Missouri flow at 52F. Do you have a strong enough spring to keep your water below say 68F? If so the water may not be suited for BG reproduction. Something, like GSH juiced every couple of years with Andersons fry may help.


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I really dont think there are any blue gill. Water clarity is pretty good and you can see the LMB sometimes and Ive never seen a bluegill. Previous owner didnt say anything about bluegill. Just that they pulled some of the catfish out. Water temps I am not sure yet. I have been in some deeper parts of the pond during the hot months and it didnt feel particularly cold to me. To the point I thought it was strange that a spring fed pond would be so warm. I have even considered the possibility of it being overpopulated up until recently and some sort of massive fish kill taking place where the only fish that survived were small bass. I know a lot of time the small bass point to an overpopulation issue but fishing in this pond certainly doesn't feel like there are too many fish.

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Though it may not be a trophy pond it isn't as stunted as a bass only pond could be. LMB growing to 1 lb isn't generally considered unbalanced ... usually this situation allows BG to grow to harvestable sizes with most of them harvestable. Anyways, this sounds like the previous owner regularly harvested LMB to me. FYI standing weight of LMB actually doesn't improve a lot by adding BG. Usually BG will help to prevent recruitment of LMB and this can allow fewer LMB to grow larger. My hunch is that the previous owner fished the pond hard before leaving and kept fish taking as many LMB and catfish as they could.

As to the spring ... does water continue to flow out of the pond even in dry spells? If so it qualifies to be called spring fed. That's my definition anyway, stable water levels with water exiting the pond even when the weather is dry. Doesn't have to be a lot of flow to meet that criteria. It just has to keep up with filtration and evaporation. You are in an area though where some springs have strong flows.

There probably hasn't been fish kill and I wouldn't worry too much about that. You seem to have almost a blank slate that you could improve. What's your vision?


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


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Are you close to a river/creek? While I haven't heard of a pond being completely cleaned out, Otters can do a number on the fish population, targeting the larger, slower fish first.

That's why I think a electroshock fish survey might be in order. You aren't that far from Herman Brothers Pond Management, if an e-shock survey would be something you'd be interested in getting done, call them and get is scheduled. Talk to Austin about that.


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The pond is definitely spring fed. Water levels constant during dry spells. It’s actually very strange looking because it sits higher than all the ground around it and is surrounded by levy’s on all sides. As far as my goals, I would like to have plenty catchable and eatable size bluegill with some good size bass and catfish to catch. I’m not trying to grow monster bass or bluegill if I’m being honest. Good enough fishing where my family can come have a good time. I have considered taking the few bass that are in it out and letting the bluegill I put in spawn and adding small bass in a year or so.I’ve just seen so much information saying that that size bass are due to overpopulation and I just fed them with all the bluegill I added , but I just can’t see how that’s possible with how few we catch.

Last edited by bowhunter857; 12/07/21 05:29 PM.
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I’ve considered otters too. Small creek behind us but I’ve never seen one and it’s a fairly residential area. Still could have been otters for sure. I never found any bones but might have been cleaned out prior to me moving in. There are 3-4 monster grass carp though that I would have thought would be easy targets for otters.

Last edited by bowhunter857; 12/07/21 05:41 PM.
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You said even the catfish are all gone. maybe run you a couple of trotlines across the pond and see what, if anything you catch with live bait or even just catfish bait of some kind. Just a thought.


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