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One problem with raising forage fish in a supplemental pond is that they lack much fear of predators. The BG have never seen, much less been chased by, a LMB. Upon release into the main BOW, they are such easy prey that survival rates are low.

So I read about a similar problem faced by fisheries managers in the tropics. They were raising fish for stocking, but discovered that few survived. Why not? Well, they had no fear of piranha, so were not long for this world when they encountered the toothy predator.

Their solution was to make a plastic piranha which they placed in the net every time they sampled the fish. Fish don't like being netted, and soon came to associate the piranha with bad experiences. Result, they tended to avoid the real piranha in the wild. Survival rates went up.

For those who seine or net forage fish repeatedly, a largemouth replica could work in this role. If not wholly waterproof, perhaps it could be wrapped in clear plastic.

But most of us don't repeatedly net our forage fish. How do we enhance survival?

Right now, the recommendation is to transfer forage fish to a sheltered part of the main BOW. But if there are few or no predators, this may not be entirely satisfactory.

So how about this: Introduce ONE (and only one!) LMB into the forage pond, maybe a few days or week prior to their transfer. Yes, the LMB will eat some of them, but that's the point: To teach them to fear bass. If more survive due to that lesson than end up inside the LMB belly, the strategy should work.

Thoughts?

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Originally Posted by anthropic
Thoughts?

Interesting concept for the study.

My thought is that the one bass in the forage pond is going to be very happy!

What is the highest relative weight measured for a LMB on Pond Boss?

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Just had another thought.

If your forage fish are strictly for consumption by predators (rather than for establishing a population in the big pond), you could use the lack of skills at avoiding predation to your advantage.

For example, instead of transferring all of your forage BG at once, you could transfer 10% every 2-3 weeks. The predators could gorge themselves on stupid/clueless forage. The remaining BG would continue to get larger in the forage pond. Rinse and repeat.

By the end of the season you would then be feeding larger BG to your larger predators. Win-win if you have a relatively easy way to transfer your forage fish.

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Christmas for that one lucky bass! I guess you could try to this on a particularly healthy young female bass to help fatten her up a bit. Two birds (fish) with one stone and all that.


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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Just had another thought.

If your forage fish are strictly for consumption by predators (rather than for establishing a population in the big pond), you could use the lack of skills at avoiding predation to your advantage.

For example, instead of transferring all of your forage BG at once, you could transfer 10% every 2-3 weeks. The predators could gorge themselves on stupid/clueless forage. The remaining BG would continue to get larger in the forage pond. Rinse and repeat.

By the end of the season you would then be feeding larger BG to your larger predators. Win-win if you have a relatively easy way to transfer your forage fish.

Interesting idea for those who can transfer groups of forage fish easily.

In my case the forage pond is relatively deep and drains directly into the main BOW, so it's more an all or nothing proposition. But fattening up the naïve CNBG prior to release should work well.

Last edited by anthropic; 05/14/22 10:14 PM.

7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS -116




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Hey James I thought the idea was for the forage fish was to be eaten by the bass so the lmb would gain weight from not having to work so hard ….. trust a thought

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Absolutely right, Pat. If immediate feeding the bass is the goal, then the more clueless the BG are the better.

But if increasing the long term population of BG is the goal, that's another matter. Fish must survive to reproduce! And Bob Lusk once remarked that forage pond raised fish increase the odds of getting some giant panfish, but again they can't get huge from inside a bass.

So we're back to that old favorite: It depends. grin

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Definitely agree if the outcome is to stock and have survival , but for cannon fodder a dumb fish is better

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Originally Posted by Pat Williamson
Definitely agree if the outcome is to stock and have survival , but for cannon fodder a dumb fish is better

Good point. So why are we often told of the need to acclimate the forage fish in sheltered habitat upon transfer to main BOW? Seems that the assumption is that we don't want quick bass food, cannon fodder in your apt words. Maybe that assumption needs to examined, as it is not always true.

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Frank, so I think your thoughts could be graduated from a notion to an idea. It is a testable hypothesis. It would qualify as knowledge if tested against a control experiment where the effect could be quantified in terms of percent survival. I think you could just do it anyway perhaps fattening a fin clipped female F1 for release into your pond each cycle.

Fish are pretty good at learning from their fallen comrades.

Last year, I re-established a population of GAMs in a small pond with abundant LMB. The pond had once harbored GAMs but the introduction of LMB did a number on them and I was unable to observe any around the margins of the pond.

So a pond nearby hosted GAMs in profuse numbers. No LMB in that pond but many BG, GSF, and CC. Once the GAMs got to 1.5" they seemed to have little fear of the existing predators and they swam wherever they pleased ... with impunity. Not so of the small GAMs which are very skittish jumping clear of the water as one would walk around the ponds edge. So it would seem that a fish can also learn when it is safe as well. Now big GAMs aren't entirely without fear. They don't like to have anything out of water above them and they would keep a distance from me that seemed to be appropriate to evade GBH. They preferred water too deep for GBH to wade and so I would have to net them around two concrete structures that afforded water that was more than 6 feet deep.

In netting the GAMs I found they quickly connected my actions with predation and with each swipe of my net they became much more difficult to capture. Soon whey would keep a distance that was just enough to be out of reach of my handle. They retained this behavior even on my next outing. So I took an old broom stick and I extended the reach. Now this worked very well, but soon thereafter they adopted behavior that kept them just greater than my reach with the then extended net. I recall wondering if they knew the must keep more distance when I was with the net than without it. Anyways, I was impressed with how fast they learned to evade me.

When this GAMs were released (June & July), their existing behaviors were in full play and true to form the big pregnant GAMs swam to water too deep for GBH. But .... they were met with LMB for the very first time ... who promptly stalked and ate them. But they were not dumb GAMs, they recognized the threat and tried to evade LMB leaping from the water. Still many succumbed. So I wonder if would make a difference. I only stocked maybe 400 GAMs many of which were consumed same day but they reproduced and there were thousands by Fall. This spring, my impression was that no more than 200 or 300 survived winter. Somehow enough survived to contribute to food chain. This year, I have already noticed that the first hatch of GAMs is around 3/8 to 1/2 inches long in the middle of May. For posterity I think I might stock 300 or 400 adult females this year and see if it makes a difference this Fall with an additional cohort of young earlier in the season.

Other approaches to increase survival is to time culling prior to releases and to design the forage pond to accommodate 24 hours of loss. There is a limit to the quantity of prey an LMB can eat. It is some proportion of their weight. So if they could eat 12% of the their weight and the standing weight of LMB is 80 lbs/acre then that transferred that exceeds 10 lbs/acre should learn to fear LMB


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Originally Posted by anthropic
Originally Posted by Pat Williamson
Definitely agree if the outcome is to stock and have survival , but for cannon fodder a dumb fish is better

Good point. So why are we often told of the need to acclimate the forage fish in sheltered habitat upon transfer to main BOW? Seems that the assumption is that we don't want quick bass food, cannon fodder in your apt words. Maybe that assumption needs to examined, as it is not always true.

I guess the answer aught to be stock more than they can eat….. lol

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+1 to what Pat said. There should be a reasonable expectation of predation especially after supplementing the forage. Supplement enough and it won't matter. Besides, even forage with fear gets eaten and until they outgrow gape ... they are on the menu.


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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Interesting experience with the GAMs. Even small fish with tiny brains can and do learn by observing others. Our finny friends deserve more respect than we normally give them!

In my bass crowded pond, I don't believe it's possible to raise enough BG to overwhelm the appetites of all my LMB...and HSB. At least, not unless I had about ten times as many forage ponds. Those guys EAT!

But that raises another point: What if we raised forage fish exclusively for the best LMB we can catch? Get a big BG population going, then transfer two or three large female LMB into the forage pond for a few weeks. The BG wouldn't feed all the bass in the main BOW, skinny, fat, male, or female, but only the best. Then transfer the LMB back.

Very focused weight gain for those seeking trophies. Obviously not the best strategy for overall bass weight, but fewer BG "wasted" on LMB that we don't want anyhow.

Last edited by anthropic; 05/15/22 04:48 PM.

7ac 2015 CNBG RES FHM 2016 TP FLMB 2017 NLMB GSH L 2018 TP & 70 HSB PK 2019 TP RBT 2020 TFS TP 25 HSB & 250 F1,L,RBT -206 2021 TFS TP GSH L,-312 2022 GSH TP CR TFS -116




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Originally Posted by anthropic
But that raises another point: What if we raised forage fish exclusively for the best LMB we can catch? Get a big BG population going, then transfer two or three large female LMB into the forage pond for a few weeks. The BG wouldn't feed all the bass in the main BOW, skinny, fat, male, or female, but only the best. Then transfer the LMB back.

Very focused weight gain for those seeking trophies. Obviously not the best strategy for overall bass weight, but fewer BG "wasted" on LMB that we don't want anyhow.

Frank, Al has a similar project going but it will be his neighbor's trophy pond. A goldilocks quantity of big brooding BG that will flood the pond with 1" to 3" BG for limited number of Female BG. I'm excited to see where this takes the LMB. A forage pond is kind of small and this will limit one when it comes to producing as many large fish as you might otherwise be able to grow. But I get the theme which I think has merit, separate food availability so that rations are not limiting for the few LMB on trophy path. So I will just throw a few things out.

Instead of the forage pond, what if you trained trophy path to eat fish that are too big for them to eat. So this would involve a decent sized cage for training that would be at the dock. It would also involve large Z-Traps that are constructed of pvc and seine mesh (I am talking 4' x 4' x 2.5' size). What you would do is throw a few LMB into the cage and you would train them to eat 6" to 9" BG that are cut into chunks. Kind of like lump pellets. And you could train them on those too. Your forage pond could supply replacement in the 1-3 in lengths. So everyday twice a day go out clank a pipe (clank clank) and then proceed to train/feed. If some of the LMB don't learn, kill them and use them for chuck food. Tag and release the rest and now train more. When you clank clank, the release fish will come to and so you might want to feed them first and clank clank again before training the captives. Use LMB culls and BG that the Large LMB may be having trouble capturing. The advantage is that you are providing high quality rations to a limited number of fish. If you are short on fish to chunk in this way, some feed lumps would give the LMB some supplement food.

You need around 48 or so in your impoundment and so imagine 6 fish per acre averaging 36 lbs/acre (6 lbs per fish) for a total weight of 288 lbs in your 8 acre impoundment. The total maintenance for such a population is ~1500 lbs (wet weight) a year. If provided over 150 days you would need 10 lbs of fish chunks per day. If you split it half fish have feed lumps ... then you would need 4 bags of lumps and 5 lbs of fish chunks per day (on average). It would take a little more to factor growth but with a starting weight of 48 lbs (assuming 1lb LMB for training) growing to 288 lbs over three years we are talking 80 lbs gain/year which would require ~ 800 lbs of Forage or 160 lbs of lump. Ideally, in year 3 you would cull at 1 per acre/year and add one per acre year. Since we are just exercising our imaginations of what is possible.

For fish you eat, you may be surprised to know the carcass dry weight probably is some where in the neighborhood of 35% protein. Mixed with whole fish on an equal weight basis this renders 53.5 % protein feed. Now there is a remarkable amount of phosphorus and calcium in such a homemade feed but this came from the pond so it won't hurt your pond as long you are controlling the addition of other nutrient inputs. Seems to me like a way to assist a ponds nutrient cycling while gaining weight on the largest predators which usually have a tougher time of finding appropriately sized prey. You probably wouldn't want to get as deep in the woods as making your own feed from fish carcasses and fresh fish but I think a binding agent like corn starch at 5% dry weight or less might be sufficient binding to form hydrated lumps (though I am probably wrong about that ... its just I am imagining you doing it successfully. I might try a hand at it next year and share how bad or good it works out)

Last edited by jpsdad; 05/15/22 06:51 PM.

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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