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#545168 03/12/22 04:17 PM
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What a great forum! Although I am a little overwhelmed with all that I need to learn.

I am new to managing a pond - just dug a 2.25 acre pond with clay bottom in NE Ohio. 2/3s max 10-12' depth, 1/3 max 14-15' depth with a clay divider about 9' tall between the two. Placed spawning beds along the entire sunny side about 2.5-3' deep. For this, I used fabric with 12" tall rock circles to hold 6-8"deep beds filled with pea-sized smooth river rock. For structure, we have 3 pyramid shaped boulder piers about 7' tall in the shallow side, the divider with 5-12" rock layer for fish to suspend on, (4) 4x8 concrete culverts, and we are in the process of sinking trees, lots of larger boulders random placed in shallows and large rip rap in multiple areas where we collect water to prevent all the silt running in.

No cover as of yet. Have plans to put a section of lillypads between two rock outcroppings. Need to buy plants! Have been reading and researching shore plants and submerged. The side opposite the spawning beds is very shaded, and the shallow side - the sides are steeper here so I am not sure what if anything will grow.

The goal is to have a beautiful healthy fishing pond - LMB (big ones) and catfish are my favorite to catch but would be nice to have panfish for dinner on occasion.
I like catching bigger fish so I am not sure what species I can stock together - its not that large of a pond. Perch would be nice, and any bass species is fun. I do not know what is realistic.

I was told we didnt have enough acreage to fill it, so I built a horseshoe-shaped bowl with all the dirt/clay we excavated about 30' tall to drain water to it. Its terraced so we have access but it appears to do the job. Its been 5 months and we have about 3' to go before its full. I would assume we have enough water to get started this year - thoughts? Water should be over the spawning beds by late spring the way its going.

I was able to find the stocking template, only its not for my area. Perhaps someone can direct me if there is such a thing?

I am looking for a step by step way to prepare the water for fish and keep it healthy. Was told I needed to add lyme and alfafa prior to adding fish from a local guy that stocks fish. His program seems the same for every pond, he did not ask me what the goal was so I am not sure this is a good formula. He adds minnows in spring, then bass in fall, and then BG, HBG a month after the bass.

I plan to feed the fish and hope to do this right so I dont get stunted fish - didnt know it was a thing until I found this site. I am the type that will try to train bass to come the edge for me to bring them supper. While anxious to fish my pond, I will do it right. I am OK paying extra for larger fish to expedite the process ( but read I may be getting stunted fish).

Any recommendations for the best quality fish suppliers, plant suppliers, etc would be extremely appreciated.

I was planning to aerate and now I worry I will turn the water and make it too warm. We get a lot of wind and there is often a water disturbance from it - what do you think? I would assume if we did aerate, we put it at the end where winds come in?

Hope my files come through, they are progress pics. Thanks for reading!

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NEOHIO #545170 03/12/22 04:31 PM
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Welcome, Loving what you've got going so far, there will be professionals along to answer some of your questions I hope, but that is a beautiful body of water you have going there.


All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
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Thanks! It’s a work in progress but a life long dream!

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NEOHIO #545175 03/12/22 07:38 PM
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Welcome to the forum! It looks beautiful.

Now before it fills, try to add a LOT more cover for the fish. Brush piles, trees that are somewhat supported off of the bottom of the pond, etc. You really want about 1/4 of the surface area of the pond in cover for the fish. If the fish are swimming a bathtub, two things will happen. 1) The LMB will be like marathon runners, constantly swimming to find food, and burning up a LOT of calories and 2) the small fish will have nowhere to hide and they will get absolutely hammered by the predators. You need the small fish to survive to grow to teenagers to be food for the bass, then after a few years to adulthood to keep reproducing in the pond.

I wouldn't add alfalfa, I would only add lime if your water test showed <40 for alkalinity and the pH was over 8 in the morning. I doubt that you will need lime but only a water test will tell for sure. You can get a cheap bottle of swimming pool or aquarium water test strips to do a "quick and dirty" test.

As for fish, here's what I recommend for growing big bass. Now this plan will require you to harvest bass from the pond after they spawn at the rate of 20# per surface acre per year, and you will want to target the offspring, not the stocked fish. You HAVE TO remove that amount of bass starting year 3 or they will stunt. Since you will not be stocking a lot of bass, I would recommend fin clipping each stocked bass so you know which ones they are when they are caught down the road. I recommend removing one of the ventricle or pelvic fish with a pair of kitchen shears when they are stocked. Remove the same fin on all the bass, that way you know what "group" of bass they are, in case you do some supplemental stocking at a later date. You can re-trim the fin at a later date if you see it growing back.

Stock Fatheads and golden shiners now, asap. In May, stock 3,000 Bluegill per surface acre and 200-300 Redear Sunfish per surface acre. In Sept stock 50 Largemouth per acre, or wait until the Spring of 2023 to stock the bass. I bet that the bass will spawn the following year after stocking if they are stocked in the Spring, or the Spring of the 2nd year if stocked in the Fall. Your bass will grow faster if you can stock feed trained bass. I know you are on the opposite side of the state, but Shelby Fish Farm in Anna, OH sells feed trained Largemouth Bass. (I delivered 30,000 to him in January).

You don't "have to" stock any other fish. You could stock crayfish if you wanted to, but I'd wait until you have underwater plants established in the pond.

I would purchase a Texas Hunter feeder and get 2 bags of Optimal Bluegill Jr. Food to start. Start feeding the Bluegills 2-4 days after stocking, initially only throw feed for a second 2x day starting around an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. Throw the feed over water that is 3-5 feet deep or over a 2'-3' water depth and let the prevailing winds carry it over deeper water. Only feed as much as they can consume in 15 minutes, no more. You can order Optimal Feed directly from them on the internet and they will ship directly to you. Typically they will get it to you in a week give or take.

Year 2, switch to Optimal Bluegill and Optimal Bass food at a 50/50 mix. Again, let the fish and your pocketbook determine how much they want to eat. I feed the fish 2x day in my personal pond, and have the Texas Hunter Feeder set at 12-15 seconds per feed event. But I will adjust that depending on how well or poorly they are feeding.

By following that plan you can have bluegill that are pushing 10" and a pound within 3 years and bass that are a pound the Fall after stocking them, and maybe bigger. I've had LMB (feed trained) grow to be 18.5" and 6# in my pond.


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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).
NEOHIO #545176 03/12/22 07:41 PM
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www.hoosierpondpros.com


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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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NEOHIO #545178 03/12/22 08:02 PM
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Welcome, and those pics look great!!

Looks like you've done some good planning for contour and structure.


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."

esshup #545180 03/12/22 08:43 PM
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I appreciate the detailed response and time it took to respond! Thank you!! I will look to get the water tested and find a source for minnows and shiners. Will keep you posted.

NEOHIO #545182 03/12/22 09:41 PM
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Note esshup emphasized you buy only feed trained bass. I absolutely agree. Feed trained bass in OH will grow faster if pellet fed. I would get LMB in the fall 2022 when they are 6"-8", verify pellet trained. Fingerling 2"-4" LMB are poorly trained to pellets and at that 2"-4" size many of them do not stay eating pellets after stocked. Get those 6"-8" pellet trained LMB and you will see big bass quick. As an option you can stock 40LMB/ac and in spring of 2023 add 10-16 hybrid striped bass(HSB) per acre. You will IMO like the HSB far better as a big fish compared to LMB. With lots of food expect the HSB to easily grow to 10lbs in Ohio and pull like a high speed freight train. HSB are very difficult to find at all Ohio fish farms in fall. If you can find them in fall 2022 stock them.

As noted stock your minnow/shiners anytime now or before May15. In May or June stock your BG-RES. OMIT the HBG. HBG grow quickly to 8" but then will not get as big as pure strain BG when both eat pellets. ALSO HBG will spawn very little to provide basically no forage fish to grow LMB. HBG are useless to grow big bass. You want & need lots of forage fish to feed big 3lb-6lb LMB bass and BG do that. RES are a bonus big panfish that keeps the fish flesh parasites out of the pond by eating snails.

As an option which is my preference you can stock BG of 3"-5" at 1500-2000/ac with BG-RES combo instead of fingerling 1"-2"BG at 3000/ac. The larger 3"-5" BG will spawn in June or July 2022 to provide lots more small BG early for the bass stocking in fall 2022 or Spring 2023. As our YFI - who suggested "add lime and alfalfa"??? . In Ohio even NE OH I doubt you will need to add lime. All our soils are limestone based so your total hardness should be close to 180 and alkalinity easily above 80. That chemistry grows plankton well. The Optimal BG food is a proven winner for growing BG fast and big. If you live at the pond you can hand feed the BG instead of using an auto feeder if you add feed daily in 2 or 3 locations.

As an early panfish option you can blend in 20%-30% yellow perch with BG,,, IF they are pellet trained. Stock them in spring 2022 or fall 2023 as 4"-6" size. (1500BG & 500YP/ac). Your lilies and other submerged plants as habitat on the shallow flat areas should provide good habitat for some long term perch populations in the fishery even with LMB present. Expect your perch if feed trained to grow to 12"-14". Use the Optimal food as the best fish grower.

You have the start of a great pond, keep us advised of how things are progress in the future. We are here to help you grow big fish for your goals. We are not here with biased information to sell fish.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/12/22 10:10 PM.

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I am so thankful to have found this site! Im sure it’s a lot to keep up with on your end, I’m going to print this off and get going! It’s clear you share the same passion, only I’m certain your a better angler! I will drive to get quality fish if needed. I will have more questions soon. Love the detailed suggestions, and adding yellow perch.

Can anyone recommend where I can get healthy shiners and minnows?

Best plant sources for the spiral eel grass?

Endless thanks to all who have helped. I feel more confident I can do this now!

NEOHIO #545184 03/12/22 11:07 PM
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Spiral Eel grass or straight eel grass I don't think it will matter. Your pond will limit the depth the plants can grow by the light penetration which will be limited by the amount of phytoplankton in the pond.

Bill should be able to give some advice on where to get the bait fish, he's located in Malinta, Ohio. If you don't know he's an Algal & InvertebrateTaxonomist, Aquatic Ecologist/Biologist


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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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NEOHIO #545255 03/15/22 10:07 AM
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I have been on the phone and researching fish farms - thanks for all the help thus far. I hope I am not asking too much. Can you chime in to make sure I understand my stocking plan correct and add light to some of the questions?

Before May 15th - 30lbs per acre FHM
- 30lbs per acre GS
Any specific size I need to request or not get?

May/June - 3" - 5" BG 90%, RES 10% @ 2000 fish lbs per acre
- If I can find feed trained YP.... Reduce BG+RES to 1500 fish lbs per acre and add 500 fish lb per acre YP

Fall 2022 - 6" - 8" Feed Trained LMB @40 fish lbs per acre

Fall 2023 - 6" - 8" HSB @ 10 fish lbs per acre

Questions:

- Since I am stocking larger bass, do I increase the bass harvest or start harvesting sooner to prevent stunting?
- What month do I stock the bass in NE OHIO, or is it indicated by temps below x or something?
- Can I stock the HSB and LMB same time in fall 2022 or is it correct above?
- How do I know if the 6"-8" LMB are not just stunted?
- Do you have trusted fish farms I should look into or avoid?

Calling around, everyone has a different stocking method. I trust you guys since you are not selling me anything.

5 F Fish in Leetonia, OH (found on OHDW licensed fisheries w/ 30+yr experience) is recommending I skip FHM, GS and go with his GS, PS, HBG, BG (keeps them all together) and they will provide enough food for the Bass stocked in the fall. I was not going for this, however he has pellet trained 6-8" LMB, HSB (from Arkansas) and YP that he claims get 16" with excellent genetics. Can I trust his LMB, SHB and YP given his recommendations for forage?

Thank you for helping me get started!

Last edited by esshup; 03/15/22 01:04 PM. Reason: clarified some things
NEOHIO #545256 03/15/22 10:35 AM
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"Before May 15th - 30lbs per acre FHM
- 30lbs per acre GS
Any specific size I need to request or not get?

May/June - 3" - 5" BG 90%, RES 10% @ 2000lbs per acre
- If I can find feed trained YP.... Reduce BG+RES to 1500 fish lbs per acre and add 500lb per acre YP"



-Just a few comments on the starting point. You mostly want all these forage species of fish to spawn as much as possible BEFORE you add the predator fish. Whether or not you get a bluegill spawn or not this Spring '22 is a question that exists; if you get 4-5"+ bluegill in the first stocking, or at least some of them in that larger size, I think you may get a spawn in June or early July. Note that when given a size range of fish by a hatchery, the fish will usually be on the smaller size of the range.

As you want bluegill spawns before you get bass in the pond, the role of the Golden Shiners should be thought through. They are nest raiders, and my guess is they will be of sufficient size to impair your bluegill reproduction during this spring and summer.


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NEOHIO #545267 03/15/22 01:24 PM
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Sunil does bring up a point about the GSH being nest raiders, but I don't know if they will be a big enough nest raider to be an issue. If you think that will be a problem, you could always stock them at the same time that you stock the LMB in the Fall. Many fish hatcheries have a minimum delivery, so stocking them later might help you make the minimum order size in the Fall if the LMB/HSB order doesn't meet it by themselves.

GSH will spawn once a year in the Spring, starting when they are about 4" long.

Since your goals are to grow large bass, I'd keep the BG numbers up closer to the 2,000 fish/ac and cut back on the YP numbers from 500/ac to 200/ac. The YP will be food for the LMB but not until the 2nd or 3rd year. If the YP pull off a spawn next Spring, then the hatched YP can be eaten by the LMB in the pond, but since YP only spawn once a year they cannot provide the food for the LMB that the BG can.

The FHM will feed the bass up until they get to about 9"-10" in length. The GSH if stocked at a size that will breed, will be too big for the stocked LMB to eat. The FHM will only last about a year or less in the pond, just to give the stocked LMB a food source until they are large enough to start utilizing the BG as forage.

If your goal would be to grow big bass, I'd skip the GS, PS, HBG, BG mix JUST BECAUSE he keeps them together and cannot tell you how many of each species you would be getting. It won't do you any good if you got 90% HBG and PS in the mix instead of 90% BG.

Bill Cody should be weighing in on the YP genetics from them, I think that there are really only a few suppliers of YP in Ohio and most of the genetics are shared. I get my YP from 2 different suppliers in Ohio, and I will be trying to get some YP from a supplier out West that supposedly has grown YP bigger than 16". Time will tell on that.....

Questions:

- Since I am stocking larger bass, do I increase the bass harvest or start harvesting sooner to prevent stunting? You will harvest the same weight of bass per year once they start spawning. You want to remove the fish that were born in the pond, not the stocked fish. The only reason that I'd remove some of the stocked LMB is if they are showing signs of poor growth - you will want to remove those genetics. So, if the bass spawn a year sooner due to stocking bigger fish, then you just start harvesting a year sooner, that's all.
- What month do I stock the bass in NE OHIO, or is it indicated by temps below x or something? Sept/Oct/Nov. Basically when the water temps are between 75°F and 50°F
- Can I stock the HSB and LMB same time in fall 2022 or is it correct above? You can stock them at the same time in the Fall.
- How do I know if the 6"-8" LMB are not just stunted? Their eyes will look exceptionally large for their body size.
- Do you have trusted fish farms I should look into or avoid?


www.hoosierpondpros.com


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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).
esshup #545276 03/15/22 03:09 PM
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Many thanks to all that commented and are very patient with my lack of knowledge. So glad I posted - otherwise I would be ordering by the pound!

I was not planning to use mix of hybrid/species because you dont know what you are getting and I feel my advice from the forum is more strategic and knowledge based. I am just unsure if I should trust purchasing his "pellet trained" bass and perch. Guess I have some time to decide on that.

Now to find a fishery that stocks BG by themselves. So far, nobody near me delivers. The local guy that said to add lyme and alfalfa is the main source for fish and his BG are kept with the HBG, and other sunfish.

Looking forward to searching the site for more good info! - till next time.

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Have you looked at Fenders fish farm? They’ve been recommended to me a few times on the forum and they may be close to your area.

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I plan to use Fender’s, Tylerd. Thank you for the suggestion. They are much more reasonable than the others.

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I PERSONALLY like to wait a year before stocking bass or any larger predator. That gives the forage enough time to go through several spawns without predation of the original stockers. You only get one chance to do this.


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
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While I agree with you Dave, I will say that in my case my BG got ahead of my LMB and prevented them from spawning/recruiting. And I just stocked my BG in the spring (though a lot of them were 3") and my LMB in the fall.

I had to eventually supplemental stock LMB and harvest the heck out of BG to get it turned around and start catching recruits LMB.

Where I am mostly more interested in pan fishing (though friends that come mostly want to bass fish) it worked out ok though as we had a good fishery for what we wanted.

So there are potential problems either way as I see it, depending on what a persons ultimate goals are.


John

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BG are both predator AND prey.

Therefore, getting them stocked in the perfect size and numbers is tricky.

One of the (many) things I have learned at Pond Boss is that no pond can stay in balance for an extended period of time. I thought you could just follow the expert advice and create your pond and fishery like a well-constructed house.

I had to read a lot of posts to realize that even our experts are constantly tinkering with their ponds in an effort to just improve the balance of the fish population.

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Dave, Did you see I am stocking the larger 4-5" bluegill? Not sure if this changes your answer.

Most of the hatcheries are recommending 400 BG per acre - are my numbers correct at 2000?

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I recommend that you get your stocking numbers from someone who does not sell fish.

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Every hatchery is trying to sell me way LESS fish than being recommended here. They also say to stock everything at the same time.

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NEOHIO,

It would be a really bad idea to stock 2000 adult BG. WAY to many but 3000 2" BG stocked with 50 LMB could be a recipe to grow some larger LMB. IMHO even this arrangement needs a good minnow species like FHM. I personally like 80 to 400 adult BG per acre as a starting place even with 50 LMB to the acre. It depends how important BG are to you for fishing. If not at all then go 80/acre which will make your pond like a hatchery pond producing many thousands of small BG. I think I would stock 3 lbs/acre FHM right now. When LMB are available in May stock 50 if you want to grow big ones (and aren't concerned with BG as a fishery) or 100 if you want grow decent ones and are interest in growing large BG. Fertilize to get the FHM off to good start. Around the first of July, after the LMB are acclimated and growing well on FHM and too large for 6" BG to be effective predators. Stock 80 adult BG then if you want to grow very large bass or stock 400 adults if you like fishing for BG. So you see it really depends on goals. With a small number of breeding adults and a smaller number of LMB there will be very rapid growth of LMB and many small BG which will inhibit LMB recruitment in the early going, perhaps as long as 3 or 4 years.

Now you could simultaneously stock 400 2" bluegill at the time of the LMB stocking, BUT, you should expect they won't spawn until late in the season. There will be good survival of these initial BG because they will outgrow the gape of LMB as they also grow. There won't probably be a good winter population of BG forage for the LMB and there may actually be growth of BG over winter. The LMB may recruit heavily the following year. Usually with simultaneous stocking at 50 to 100 LMB and 400 BG the goal is a fishery with 8" BG and 1 to 2 lb LMB. Balanced sufficiently to produce fishable predators and prey. I guess my point is it depends more on what you want less about how many or what it costs. If you get what you want, its priceless, but if start with the deck loaded against you then the investment is lost and will cost you in other ways (eg harvest management efforts). When the initial stocking is loaded one direction or another (big bass or big BG) its going to take time and effort to reverse the skewing. So make sure you know what you want before you begin.


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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NEOHIO #545491 03/21/22 09:42 PM
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NEOHIO - I THINK all your local hatcheries are using the standard BG (forage) stocking recommendations for Ohio, IN, PA climate. These stocking densities were/are strongly promoted by DNR & University Extension Services and adopted by most northern fish farms.

jpsdad has good alternate stocking options. As he says stock to produce what goals YOU want to happen in the first several years. After that the resulting fishery is how you manage it.

The current higher stocking numbers suggested here of 2000-3000 BG/ac were developed in more southern pond waters to grow double digit LMB or fast growing trophy predators. NOTE the associated predator stocking densities were also reduced from traditional 100/ac to around 50/ac. This high panfish: lower predator stocking ratio densities philosophy or concept does make sense to me if one wants to grow bigger predators FASTER.

Also I think these high stocking panfish densities are based on using highly productive ponds where fertilization and/or ample pellet feeding occurs. Something has to feed these high fish densities. If biggest predators faster are not your goal then stock the lower standard DNR / Univ densities. The more forage fish available the faster and bigger your predators will grow before their growth rate "hits the wall" due to a forage fish shortage.

Note IMO when the higher BG numbers are used, then I question if the pond is also or will it be producing trophy class panfish. Normally with real high densities of panfishes are present,,,, they tend to be too dense to produce really large panfish types.

The other important factor in all trophy fish production is proper fish management, monitoring, adjustment and harvest. Producing a high quality fishery for the long term takes lots of wise fishery management effort. Producing big fish from the original stocking I believe is relatively easy. The really hard thing to do is maintain the high quality big fish populations for the long term of 8-20 years.

The older stocking numbers of BG for southern waters was around 1000/ac. The relatively recent higher stocking densities of panfish was found to produce faster growing bigger predators in southern climate. I personally have not read, heard about or witnessed how well this stocking philosophy performs in north central USA.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 03/21/22 09:54 PM.

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NEOHIO #545502 03/22/22 11:35 AM
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Lots of theories, generalities, personal experiences, common sense, locations/climate, etc.

My personal ones from my place. About 5 miles South of Bowie, Texas. I don’t live there.

I prefer to stock too many smaller size bluegills and throw the feed to them. Oh yeah, add in too many fathead minnows. When I later stock predators, (bass, Cats, HSB, etc) I want them to go to sleep with their mouth open and wake up with a full belly.

Regarding balanced numbers of predator/prey, I think that happens for about 15 minutes in the life of the pond.

Correct Alkalinity, ph, etc can drive you nuts and financially embarrassed.

It took the water turkeys(cormorants) 20 to 30 years to find my ponds and almost clean them out. They appear to have hit me again while I was recovering, about 6 months, from some pretty nasty surgery and couldn’t adjust the cords over my pond that I call cormorant excluders. Oh well, I expect to mostly start over again next Spring.

Regarding location: pick one where it rains. I didn’t. When I first met Lusk, a long time ago, and told him where my land and new pond were, he said that he had been watching radar for years and wondered why the rain clouds always split when they hit that location. That hasn’t changed. We either get frog strangling rain or extended drought. Right now, I’m 4 to 5 ft low on both ponds. Tornado hit the town yesterday and I got 1/10 inch of rain.

Oh yeah, don’t lie to the wife about costs of the pond. You’re gonna get caught every time.


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
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