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#547286 05/02/22 04:29 AM
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I have been feeding both Aquamax and Optimal regularly now for 2 full seasons. I’m located in southern Maryland and my bluegill that I’m feeding are probably 90% northerns and 10% CNBG. One thing I started noticing this year through hand feeding, is how much better the bluegill will feed(actual consumption) when the pellet is good and hydrated. Specifically, I have watched bluegill consistently spit non hydrated pellets regularly, some will spit and move on, others spit it and grab it again, sometimes multiple times before consuming it and some will just eat a dry pellet no problem. This is with AM 400,500,600 and anything in between that mvp has in it as well. Also, with Optimal regular bluegill and bluegill jr. feed.

I know this may not be possible for everyone but I have at least once a day, usually in the evenings, that I’m able to hand feed, the other 2 feedings are usually done earlier with my Texas hunter. When I hand feed I really watch the behaviors of feeding. Here is what I have found in my personal experience.

1. Hydrated feed is consumed much better than non
2. If not hydrated, smaller pellets get consumed better (spit less and swallowed more readily)
3. Optimal breaks up less than Aquamax once fully hydrated
4. Sinking feed pellets get destroyed (fully and aggressively eaten) usually within a foot depth of the water column with a handful of hydrated feed when they’re good and hungry
5. Some of my biggest bluegill rarely take feed off the top water. The largest one I saw would hang deep and dart up to around 12” below the surface and get the lowest sinking feed, but would never come take the few that still floated on the top water. So this is a plug for feeding at least a partial sinking feed
6. Bluegill, like people, have their own preferences and when it comes to feeding, they are not all exactly the same
7.Feeding bluegills is fun

For me, based on what I am seeing, I’m going to start filling my Texas Hunter with AM 400 and Optimal BG jr only. And then use the regular Optimal bluegill feed in my big feeding in the evening where I spin the feeder for a few seconds but then also have a large bowl of already hydrated Optimal regular bluegill ready to go.

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I was just having a conversation with one of our longer-term experts on feed regarding floating vs. non-floating feed, and the hydrating of feed.

He says that on a one-to-one bases, floating feed is less 'healthy' than non-floating feed due to the ingredient (carbs) put into floating feed to make it feed.

He also considered the fish's individual preference of texture and feel of the feed in relation to getting that fish onto feed, and keeping that fish on feed. His point here is that a mushy, hydrated pellet is much more akin to what fish are used to eating.

He felt that, in general, most any fish is more prone to hit a sinking feed than a floating feed. He used a ratio of about 6 or 7 out of 10 bluegill will come to surface floating feed while the remaining 3-4 will NOT ever get on floating feed.

I've always used floating feed, and at one time for Aquamax Largemouth or Optimal Hand Throw, I used to soak those pellets before feeding, which was his advice. Over time, I stopped doing that, and noted that eventually the majority of my bigger largemouth lost interest. Certainly, that could be due to many factors, but I'm going back to soaking them now.


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Originally Posted by Billy Bates
5. Some of my biggest bluegill rarely take feed off the top water. The largest one I saw would hang deep and dart up to around 12” below the surface and get the lowest sinking feed, but would never come take the few that still floated on the top water.

I've observed this also and the same for large catfish that have been caught and released a few times.


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Early on in my pond life I would get some sinking catfish pellets to feed what at that time was my small CC. I found they were really skittish at taking food off the surface. So for a couple of years I would mix in some sinking catfish food pellets when I was feeding mostly floating pellets. I know feeding sinking pellets a person can not tell if all of it is getting eaten. But where I was feeding maybe a fourth sinking and by the action of the fish I never figured any of it went to waste on the bottom of the pond.

The BG would go after the pellets and it seemed to me they preferred to eat off the bottom in shallow water rather than off the surface.

I haven't fed any sinking for a few years as the CC got larger and have no problem coming running when they figure out it is feeding time. I do still see a few though that will frantically search the bottom wanting to eat but for some reason will not surface.

If I was wanting to grow more pounds of fish I probably would get a small percentage of sinking food for the CC. But as it stands, I will be lucky to harvest enough fish from my ponds now, so growing more pounds is not a big goal. I also like medium sized fish and fast action. I usually fish for BG (wife is the CC angler) and catch a little bit of everything. But pan fish size and quick action is my preference. I leave the giant LMB for friends that like such stuff. Too much work for me to catch big fish! ;-)


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I had a super long, detailed reply written out expanding on my anecdotal observations but some how I lost it just before I finished it. In lieu of that, I’ll shorten up my response with less explanation for now. My factors are as follows…

1. Hydrated ? If I can hydrate the feed I can get it fully consumed 99% of the time
2. Sinking? I’d like a factor of 3-1 in favor of sinking personally, based on my observations, but hydrated or not affects sinking rate and consumption rate here, as well.,
3. Size. If I can’t hydrate then I’d prefer a smaller pellet. This is the reason I put Aquamax 400 and Optimal bg jr in my THF. And then hydrate the full sized Optimal bg feed to hand feed. This seems to work for me.

I only feed Optimal and Aquamax but would be willing to try skreeting or Triton if they were available, unfortunately they’re not easy to come by for me. I may, just for experimental purposes, buy a 25 lb bag of sportsman choice from tractor supply, hydrate it and see what it’s consumption is like. I know it’s not anywhere near as nutritional, but I’d like to just see how it’s consumed for a small comparison vs the higher quality feeds.

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I have tried Sportsman Choice and was not impressed. Good for CC though.
















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I had the same opinion on the sportsman feed - they wouldn’t hardly eat it and lost body conditioning. I use triton 4512 and they eat it before it’s even wet

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I will post some pics . Just have to figure out how but I am on it

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Originally Posted by Pat Williamson
I had the same opinion on the sportsman feed - they wouldn’t hardly eat it and lost body conditioning. I use triton 4512 and they eat it before it’s even wet

Pat, where do you get the Triton feed?


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Overtons in buffalo has it . Since I live only 20 miles from them it’s the closest place to get good feed. None of the feed stores carry anything decent so…… the bg really go ape for it . Funny thing is no catfish come to feed since they were stocked in 2014…. Guess in 6 acres they don’t need it….

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Thanks!


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Frank, Pat's correct about BG going after Triton, and my feed trained LMB are doing the same. It leaves a fish oil circle on top of the water and draws fish to it. If Cargill had distribution like Purina, Triton would jump right up there with Optimal and Purina. We're lucky to have it available down here.


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Yeah I have tried it too, but never since I have started feeding a regular hydrated hand feeding regimen once per day. I was more just interested in how it would get consumed and how it would hydrate compared to the AM and Optimal, when also hydrated. No plans to use it regularly at this point, anyway. I do know when I used it once before (non hydrated) it wasn’t consumed as fast as the AM 500, or the Optimal BG jr, that I was also feeding at the time.

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Originally Posted by FireIsHot
Frank, Pat's correct about BG going after Triton, and my feed trained LMB are doing the same. It leaves a fish oil circle on top of the water and draws fish to it. If Cargill had distribution like Purina, Triton would jump right up there with Optimal and Purina. We're lucky to have it available down here.

Thanks, Al. Maybe the next time I see Overton's folks for electro survey I can ask them to bring a few bags. Doesn't seem to be available around my locale.


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Originally Posted by Billy Bates
Yeah I have tried it too, but never since I have started feeding a regular hydrated hand feeding regimen once per day. I was more just interested in how it would get consumed and how it would hydrate compared to the AM and Optimal, when also hydrated. No plans to use it regularly at this point, anyway. I do know when I used it once before (non hydrated) it wasn’t consumed as fast as the AM 500, or the Optimal BG jr, that I was also feeding at the time.

Given so much of the Optimal sinks I've always wondered how much makes it to the bottom before being eaten. I think one answer to that question is how much feed is put on the water at once. One advantage of hand feeding could be the slower rate of feed application which gives fish more time to consume feed as it descends. I agree that sinking feeds are better at getting feed to skittish fish which do not like to go near the surface.

I have noticed that hydrating feed, at least the ones I have tried, tends to cause some to sink. I figure this must be because hydration displaces some air pockets required to maintain the positive buoyancy. I have also notices that squeezing a handful of well hydrated feed will cause a higher proportion to sink. Hydrating feed is good also for a sinking feed because in increases the size of the pellet with neutrally buoyant water slowing the sinking rate of the feed.

How fast a feed is eaten is less important to me than how well it converts and when the feed is sinking it can be difficult to measure the rate of consumption accurately.


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Originally Posted by FireIsHot
Frank, Pat's correct about BG going after Triton, and my feed trained LMB are doing the same. It leaves a fish oil circle on top of the water and draws fish to it. If Cargill had distribution like Purina, Triton would jump right up there with Optimal and Purina. We're lucky to have it available down here.

Al I recall you mentioned the price you were obtaining Cargill feed delivered. At the time, I thought "That there is the best value in feed". Your cost per pound of protein was only marginally more expensive on that basis than vegetable based protein feeds intended for TP and CC. Well worth the difference and a very good value IMHO.

The protein profile of meat based feed is important to conversion in predator fishes. Feeding BG directly, I would prefer a feed like this.

I did learn something new yesterday. Sportsman's Choice CC feed is manufactured by Cargill. While its not going to directly convert nearly as well for BG, in a pond where the pond boss is growing CC large enough to dominate the feeding, this seems to be an acceptable choice where the feed being consumed is targeted for the species consuming it. The manuring effect should also make contributions to the forage BG need as well. Now if the BG are consuming it instead beating the CC to it? Probably not so. But something tells me that CC feed is more attractive to CC than it is to BG. It could I suppose be the same vice-versa where Triton is more attractive to BG than CC. But I would bet that CC that are reluctant to go to the surface may still stalk below the frenzy picking up the sinkers.

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/05/22 07:31 AM.

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The first couple years I fed quite a bit of Sportsman's Choice, and like you say, it says right on the bag Cargill Mfg. At the time Tractor Supply Co (where I got my feed at the time except for the sinking CC feed which my local COOP hndled) would be a toss up which one or which store had either the Sportsman Choice or the Purina Game Fish Chow. Another farm store also had the Sportsman Choice.

So I think general pond owners that don't know much about feeding fish and just go to their local farm store for some feed, are likely to end up with one of those two or else some catfish feed which is usually also available. You have to go to a professional feed store in our area to get anything else. And it used to be we had to order anything advanced. Now I have one dealer who stocks a few of the Purina products, mostly due to me ordering it, but also now I think has a couple other customers that use some of it.

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Originally Posted by FireIsHot
Frank, Pat's correct about BG going after Triton, and my feed trained LMB are doing the same. It leaves a fish oil circle on top of the water and draws fish to it. If Cargill had distribution like Purina, Triton would jump right up there with Optimal and Purina. We're lucky to have it available down here.

Al I recall you mentioned the price you were obtaining Cargill feed delivered. At the time, I thought "That there is the best value in feed". Your cost per pound of protein was only marginally more expensive on that basis than vegetable based protein feeds intended for TP and CC. Well worth the difference and a very good value IMHO.

The protein profile of meat based feed is important to conversion in predator fishes. Feeding BG directly, I would prefer a feed like this.

I did learn something new yesterday. Sportsman's Choice CC feed is manufactured by Cargill. While its not going to directly convert nearly as well for BG, in a pond where the pond boss is growing CC large enough to dominate the feeding, this seems to be an acceptable choice where the feed being consumed is targeted for the species consuming it. The manuring effect should also make contributions to the forage BG need as well. Now if the BG are consuming it instead beating the CC to it? Probably not so. But something tells me that CC feed is more attractive to CC than it is to BG. It could I suppose be the same vice-versa where Triton is more attractive to BG than CC. But I would bet that CC that are reluctant to go to the surface may still stalk below the frenzy picking up the sinkers.

I have very few CC. I have a few carp that show up to the feeder now and again. And slider turtles, with the sinking feed the BG seem to get 99% of it. When it floats they get …I don’t know maybe 85%. Since the bg are my targeted feeding species, I’m really liking the sinking feed more and more. Since I have sampled the sinking feed in many areas I’m not worried it’s not getting consumed in the areas I toss it. I find it pretty interesting that I can count on the same bg to feed in like a 15 ft radius every evening. Then in another area the same bg feed over and over, night after night in their own area. Based on these observations, at least if the bg are well fed, they don’t move very far to eat, at least in my pond.

I do worry about over feeding, but I am watching good aggressive consumption. When it seems to slow a bit, I stop feeding. I still am trying to hone in on the amounts to feed. I obviously don’t want to under feed, but maybe more importantly, I don’t want to over feed, since I know that can have catastrophic consequences. As always, trying to find the right balance when it comes to pond management seems to be the biggest challenge.

Also, at least with the optimal and it’s tubular shape, I have noticed breaking them in half can help them sink at a higher rate.

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Billy, do you have issues with birds eating the feed or maybe your fish at feeding time? I've had geese doing the former and herons doing the latter.

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Originally Posted by anthropic
Billy, do you have issues with birds eating the feed or maybe your fish at feeding time? I've had geese doing the former and herons doing the latter.
Never, frequently both birds are in the pond at times and no birds interfere with my feedings. Two nesting ospreys thought they were gonna come pick off feeding bluegills recently, but I banged around and clapped at them enough to make them head to the other side of the pond. It’s 5 acres so…

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I had some success banging & clapping against the cormorants, but none whatsoever against the geese. They LOVE fish food!

Herons can be scared, but in my experience only temporarily.


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Bald Eagle decoy on a 6' post does amazing things for me. I've been told to use 2 Heron decoys, one at each end and the Herons won't land... Not sure if I will bite on that but the bald eagle gets respect.

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