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Hello everyone, longtime lurker on this forum, first time poster. My family has had property in Michigan's northern lower peninsula for almost 25 years. A 50 acre lake sits in the center of the property, never been stocked (as long as it's been in our hands) Lake is crescent shaped, with a number of bays and points and steep drops offs around the entirety of the lake, the deepest spot is 27 feet, with an average 18 foot channel going through the center of the lake. My main focus in this lake are the largemouth bass. The lake also has a good number of northern pike.

Over the last 10 years or so I've noticed the catch rates are very high, with the numbers of trophy bass going way down. We've operated almost strictly catch and release as we mistakenly thought that was the only way to go to maintain big bass. I've started keeping track of weights over the last year and most of our bass are in the 80-90 percent relative weight range. I've heard advice saying keep everything under 14 inches, but looking at my charts, that would probably be an insignificant portion of the harvest, as the vast majority of the fish I catch are in the 16-17 inch range.

I'm trying to devise a management plan and my main focus is trophy bass, am I better off just taking everything that is under relative weight even in that 17 inch range? I'm also open to any other suggestions as to how to move forward, thank you.

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Congratulations on such a nice body of water. Truly, it's a lake and not a pond.

The larger size means more effort and planning to achieve desired results.

The presence of Northern Pike presents some challenges to achieving your goals as they will eat out certain sizes of fish that may be desirable for you towards your goals.

Any kind of fish you stock will have probably lower survival rates due to the presences of many different predator fish.

Here's some working thoughts:

1) Determine and implement a LMB culling program, whether it's a slot limit, or size limit, as you are already doing. I might stay with a slot limit, or Weight Relative limit.

2) Remove any and all Northern Pike caught.

3) Implement a feeding program to help bluegill and other forage fish survive.

4) Do some structure placement/enhancement in areas where you are planning to feed.

5) Use Electroshocking a few times a year as a diagnostic tool and a selective culling tool.

6) Try some trapping to see if that can be used also as a diagnostic tool and a culling tool. although you may not catch fish that you want to cull. If you had bullheads, I might cull those, but I think Northern Pike may keep bullhead populations down.


Again, these are just some thoughts for discussion.


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Welcome to posting. You are asking a difficult multifaceted question and we don't have a lot of info. Best advice is to write down everything you see and know and then talk to a fishery scientist with knowledge of northern ponds/lakes (call Bob Lusk at Pond Boss). Send them your notes and arrange for an electrofishing survey. In the meantime, learn to do a seine survey and write down and take pics of results. Do the same with catch results.

If the fish are skinny/underweight, then they need more food. This is a common problem. You can increase forage amounts or decrease the number of predators or a combination of both. Lots of small skinny NP and or LMB or both indicates to many predators for the forage base.
















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Mistickslinger,

I think you have identified the appropriate remedy. You didn't mention the age of the lake. For example, was it existing when your family acquired the property? Is it natural lake or man made? Was the lake 15 years of age 10 years ago?

You should consider the pike and LMB both predators. And both should be culled to free forage for remaining predators. You have so much acreage I probably would not feed. Especially if the lake is natural and old. For every pike or LMB harvested ... expect 300 to 800 additional forage fish to feed the remaining predators of similar size. It's just that you do have a lot of water to manage. IMHO it will be a challenge to harvest enough of them. Fertilizing or feeding will also increase recruitment of predator fish and so I think feeding would undermine your efforts to reduce predator numbers.

On the other hand, removing 1 pound of predator will free >5 lbs of forage. At a feed conversion rate of 1.3 ... harvesting 1 pound of predator has a minimum forage value of $12 where feed costs 1.50 a pound smile. So if you harvest 15 pounds per acre of predators annually ... this is will produce at least $9000 of feed equivalent forage each year.

I struggled with what to do about the pike. It wasn't clear to me whether you should try to eliminate them ... or perhaps to nurture some large ones. For the LMB, I think (removing) any fish smaller than 14" will promote your goal. The pike? If a few large ones are a benefit .... then maybe (remove) any fish smaller than 24" (something which may be all of them right now) Both species of predators will benefit from culling effort.

Anyways, please keep in mind that the current situation is at least 10 years in the making and it will take some time to return the lake to its former glory. Good luck and keep us posted on management efforts and results.

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/04/22 01:23 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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To add some more information, to my knowledge the lake is about 120 years old. To add what I know about the fish population, I have identified LMB, pike, yellow perch(many of them but very stunted) mostly smaller bluegill, small numbers of very large crappie, common carp, redhorse suckers. I'm not sure what most of the forage fish are, I have caught shiners in the past but I can't say there's a huge population. Good news is zero catfish or bullheads(knock on wood)

In terms of pike management, I would love to catch less of them, just larger. Used to be very large pike in the lake. We used to catch a handful of 40+ inches every year, haven't caught one that size in at least 10 years. My largest bass was 7.5lbs almost 20 years ago. In the last year I've caught 3 pushing 5lbs, and all of them were underperforming weight wise. What's interesting is there's not a lot of in between, the mainly 1-2lb fish and those 5lbers.

This year I cut down about a dozen cedars and dragged them on the ice, I've noticed a couple of them have been a magnet for small pan fish already, I plan on expanding that along with creating my own fish structures.

I would love to have an electroshocking survey done, problem is I can't seem to locate someone in michigan who does it so i could even figure out a cost. It's very interesting that michigan doesn't seem to have much of a pond management culture, even though our state is chock full of fisherman

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That's much better info for us to speculate.


Interesting about the smaller yellow perch and bluegill, but not any larger yellow perch and bluegill.

I would replicate that structure effort by 10-20 fold to create places where you can really impact the system with feed. Feed the heck of of the 1 and 2 year old panfish gathered at that structure over multiple locations of the lake. Obviously, these locations will gather the predator fish too and you'll get to observe more of the population.

Regarding the LMB, just thinking here...maybe a 'remove any LMB below 15", and/or below 90-95% WR.' A LMB that's had a few years of minor growth has lost it's true growth potential relative to it's life span, but some of the bass will have been more aggressive and fed themselves better. Keep any size of those, and get rid of the rest.

No Smallmouth?

I'd remove all pike, as you'll never get all of them, and it's not a desired fish for you. You'll still end up with some trophy pike.


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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The age of your lake tells me that it can return to the condition that prevailed when your family acquired it.


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 think that's a good place to start. Believe it or not, no smallmouth, many of the lakes in the area are smallmouth lakes, but in all of our years we've never caught a single one. I always wondered if when I can get the predators under control adding smallmouth would be detrimental, or if I should just keep fishing lake st clair and focus on the largemouth

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I'd also remove any carp and redhorse suckers caught, as a general rule.

Regarding the Smallmouth, I'd try and get some into the lake mainly because that's my favorite fish. I'd also try and put in some HSB (Hybrid Striped Bass). The timing of that may be better done after you've taken more corrective measures, or not.

Regarding the Electroshocking, I'm surprised that there's not some local sources as you said. I think you could find a source through the Pond Boss Forum. You might also be able to get the State of MI to do some if you have any good contacts there.

All of the suggestions we're giving assume you can spend some money towards your goals, but if budget constraints are a concern, then you'll need to form up a team of people to help.


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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Awesome advice guys, would like to keep everyone updated on our progress. Just have to figure out how to add pictures on here.

Regarding habitat, should I focus on the shallow water areas or how deep would you recommend dropping structure, <12 feet? up to 20 feet plus?

Using the attachment manager as a test, picture included is a view of prespawn largemouth. Theres a series of small ponds attached by a small channel that the largemouth come into by the hundreds in the spring to spawn. Aptly named the spawning pools, I would say that largemouth recruitment is extremely successful.

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[Linked Image]

Great photo. I have never seen a communal nesting site for LMB. I've seen lot's of solo nests. Was a treat, thanks for posting.


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 would keep structure in "<12 feet" as you suggest. I wouldn't bother with anything deeper than that. I might even go to less than 8 or 10' depth; the panfish that should be targeted for feed, or protection will mostly be in the upper 5' of water with the structure.


..


Please post some more pictures of the lake.

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"Theres a series of small ponds attached by a small channel that the largemouth come into by the hundreds in the spring to spawn."

I wonder if you could close that channel off once the LMB have gone into those smaller ponds to spawn as a method of culling LMB? There may also be some value in sealing those ponds off to use for growing vast amounts of forage fish.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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Have to be careful what I say here, but bass that all get along that good-isn't right. I don't have a measure to see what the size of fish actually is there. Fish of 3-6" like to "sun" together at times fairly commonly but when you start getting 8-10"+ Bass crowded like that, you don't see fish of any other size.
Edit: Not sure what I just said is useful in any way...

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Seems around here electroshocking is a big disappointment with the results in deeper water of some ponds or ponds that have a lot of weeds

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Mistickslinger,

There was one other thing I wanted to mention with regard to harvest. There is a lot water and you will be culling alot of predator fish. There will likely be much more culled than you care to eat and possibly more than you should depending on possible mercury. Seems like most folks up north are very aware of it but thought it worth mentioning. Possible alternatives to consuming all yourself are gifts or repurposing in your lake. Pike will eat cut baits and so maybe they will be consumed and add weight to the fish that eat them.


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Changing the community structure in an unbalanced multi-species fishery in 50 acres is a very daunting task. IMO experienced professional fishery managers are usually needed for best chances of good end results for a project of this size, and even then the fishes often do not co-operate as planned or hoped. Each fish species and each individual fish present has participated in one way or another in creating the current condition of the fishery. This is where management experience and knowledge with all the species involved becomes more important to have a better chance of achieving desired results.

Numerous management methods and 'tools' could be used to gradually guide this multi-species fish community toward a desired goal. In my experience the manager does not have to just manipulate the fish density but also he/she should be able to evaluate the amount and types of habitat, the standing crop, the recruitment success of each fish species, and the limnology of the whole ecosystem because everything in the entire lake is interconnected and functions together as a unit. The whole system functioning together has contributed to the current condition of the fishery. First knowing or evaluating the lake productivity, carrying capacity and standing crop of species present will be important IMO toward knowing how many and what specie of fish that should be removed annually. As I mentioned the larger the system and the more species that are present,,, the more complex the project becomes because all participants of all plant types, various water components, invertebrate populations and fish species and as individuals are ecologically interconnected one way or another that determines the food web of the lake. Change one integral part and it often has some sort of affect on the food web. Thus it helps a lot to know how these systems all function together to better anticipate, or evaluate the change and be prepared to deal with the changes that happen.

Again larger waters for good management efforts need larger amounts of reliable, experienced participants, and a regular amount of effort to get the desired major changes to happen. I expect achieving some of the desired goals will take time; conscious effort, and probably several or even numerous fish generations. Again IMO it will be a daunting task to achieve good results. The more species present and the larger the water body the more difficult the project becomes. Knowledge and experience with knowing the feeding levels of all involved species helps for better chances of creating the desired change. The larger a water body is,, the more complex it becomes as an ecological dynamic and constantly changing system. It involves many more involved parts than just one or two species of predator.

The larger the water body is the more man hour effort it will take to remove enough individuals to make noticeable and measurable population adjustments. Ideally IMO first knowing about the whole fishery involving all the species populations and how they interact should be determined, assessed, total numbers evaluated including carrying capacity and standing crop, and then what adjustments should be attempted toward the desired end goal. During the process as changes are made, one should be capable of evaluating how the entire fishery is responding to then better estimate if improvements are being effective. As an example, the size of this water body and project involved often requires several pro-DNR employees to get a project like this accomplished and even then sometimes their combined efforts are thwarted by Mother Nature.

At this time adding more fish species to the existing fishery I don't think is a good idea without first getting some professional advice from experience because a new fish specie complicates the interactions of all the fish present and makes achieving the desired goal more complex and difficult. Adding more species to a 0.5 to 1 ac pond has a lot fewer implications than adding more species to a 50 ac body of water.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 08/05/22 10:25 PM.

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When I think of the OP's lake my greatest interest is how the prior owners managed (or not) a great northern MI trophy fishery in water more than 100 years of age. Whatever they were doing ... encouraged the growth and ultimate weight of the predators. So I do wonder why returning to similar harvest regime wouldn't return the water to its former condition?

Bill, I like your idea of determining standing weights. But I will add that if owned the property, I would be most interested in what the predator standing weights are. Whatever it is, it represents a biomass that is supported by a niche. IOWs the lake produces whatever it takes to support it as well as the growth required to replace natural mortality. So I wonder why this niche cannot be managed solely by manipulation of the number of predators exploiting the niche? The niche being fish prey of all of species reproducing to include prey sizes of the own kind. If I owned the lake, I would be very interested in whether the standing weight of the predators was acceptable to provide good fishing. I'd also like to know the proportion of predator weight to the total because I think that would help to guide whether the predator niche could be expanded.

Knowing that the predator niche could be expanded, I would give very deep consideration to whether I wanted to do that. The main reason I may abstain is that I think that forage numbers cannot be expanded without also recruiting at a higher level the predators that I know I am behind the curve in culling. I would fear that increasing production of forage fish would delay my goal of trophy predators. This concern would probably cause me to reject advice that I needed to expand prey production unless I was reasonably persuaded that the predator biomass was just to low to provide good fishing.

I've always considered the predator growth problem as forage per predator problem. If we make it prey problem, then how much can we increase the weight of predators? For example, if we double the production of prey what's the expectation for predator growth? It's probably similar reducing the predator population to 1/2 . Neither of these are minor adjustments but both can only increase an average predator length of 12" to 15". We all under appreciate just how restricted predator numbers must be to produce trophy predators. So to me the question of whether to increase production of prey depends solely on whether I want more predators. If I owned the lake, I would want to make decisions of whether I needed more predators after I had returned the water to trophy status by culling predator numbers so I could have an sense of how manipulating prey might affect my culling requirements. Surely more predators will need to culled if the lake can support a greater standing weight of predators.


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As I mentioned above adjusting an unbalanced multi-species fishery in 50 acres is a very daunting task. jpsdad is focusing on " if we double the production of prey what's the expectation for predator growth?"
Just doubling the amount of prey of which is the best specie or species to focus on would be a difficult task to determine and create good results without some study. IMO just doubling the amount of prey might not be the correct answer if the prey specie or species are not the correct size for optimizing the growth of the main target predator into producing larger predators of LMB and Pike. Increasing prey numbers and not appropriately and appreciably reducing numbers of predators is probably what is needed, but how does one do this in a private lake of this size and do it effectively to get good desired results??

What is going to determine how many of what size predator needs to be removed without knowing the entire forage basis that is or will be needed to create larger predators and keep full fishery recruitment active??? This complex multispecies fishery IMO has no doubt numerous feeding levels in the food web for the predators.

Which prey species do we focus on for increasing their numbers? And what is the species composition and what are the sizes available of ALL prey species for producing even larger predators? What part does the recruitment of carp and redhorse play as forage species in this lake??? This should be studied and determined really for each prey specie present including the small LMB as prey in this lake. This again IMO is where professional advice is needed. I think the food chain and food web in this old naturalized 50 ac lake is significantly more complex than most ponds commonly dwelt with here on this forum.

mistickslinger says "the vast majority of the fish I catch are in the 16-17 inch range."

These I think are very decent sized bass for northern MI waters.
What will it take to reduce these fish numbers and when the numbers are reduced, how many large bass numbers per acre will be the result? What are the implications of having to fish numerous more HOURS to catch those fewer wise old bass? Is this really what is needed for this lake that appears to be an average angler's sweet spot for frequently catching lots of 16"-17" fish? How do we know that some large bass are not already present? Is it just because they are not regularly caught? Big bass often become hook smart and it takes special fishing finesse to catch them. It could be that the medium size bass are numerous enough and hungry enough that they get to angler's regularly used bait before the biggest bass. I have had that happen with YP and walleye communities. Big bass do NOT get big by being dumb to angler's common methods.

In depth fish structure study may reveal that adding several larger predators such as Musky or tiger musky as tools to reduce bass and small pike numbers while creating a bonus predator could be a good benefit and help achieve the goal of larger bass for this lake? Again a good fishery community evaluation and study should be made before making a mixed species fishery even more complex.

Consider this - maybe the management effort should first focus on removing some of the correct habitat to make more prey available for predation??? We on this forum do not even know what types and amount of things that comprise the total habitat in this lake. As noted this is a complex habitat with many interacting species. There are a lot of ecological factors involved in manipulating the size structure of fishes involved in this medium size lake. Which ones are really the best ones and most productive ones / items to focus on????

If it were my lake I would be contacting some fishery professors at regional colleges and universities to see if they would make manipulating this lake's fishery, toward the owner's goal, a school fishery class or a MS and or PhD dissertation project. Whatever is done on the lake to change the size structure of the fishery, it will take lots of effort, time, money and knowledge. Instead of trying to self-manipulate this daunting project and after years of effort that likely will result in less than good success, why not save lots of time, effort and wasted money and put an appropriate amount of money toward a fishery class or student project guided by a trained fishery scientist? IMO your chances of success and the overall benefits would be a lot better using this approach.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 08/07/22 10:11 AM.

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Bill,

With regard to halving the LMB population or doubling the forage production, I was just wanting to describe two independent methods that lead to similar result in terms of individual LMB size. Although the LMB size limit expectation of either scenario would be roughly equal, the difference is the biomass of both LMB and the prey species. I saw two possible paths to increasing forage. One would be to add nutrients through feeding or fertilization the other would be to try to increase forage through manipulation of other fish species. I am very doubtful there would be any viable way to double forage fish production by manipulating numbers of other fish (e.g. carp or suckers). but where niches overlap between preferred prey species this may provide an additional boost of forage to support a larger standing weight of prey.

So one could push (feed and/or fertilize) or pull (remove predators and/or less desirable prey fish). Or combine the two methods. I did want to make the point that pushing will involve greater recruitment of all species ... where pulling will not greatly affect recruitment or total fish biomass.

You've already mentioned the complexity of food webs and so I do wonder how carp and suckers play into this. Most of the studies I have read peg estimates of these standing weights as small proportions of the total standing weights. BG usually rank highest at least in southern waters and in one Oklahoma study (where samples were taken by complete kill) the average of total rough fish (included carp, suckers, shiners, & shad) was small relative to average BG standing weights(about 1/3). But most of this standing weight in the average was from GZSHD. Carp, although they occurred in 26% of ponds only averaged 7% of the total standing weight compared with BG at 39%. Buck and Thoits found YP to yield a smaller but large proportion of BG standing weight in monocultures of the two species. Both prolifically reproduce and utilize broad food resources. But back to the rough fish. How would a reduction of clarity play into production of food for the YP and BG? Could an modest (not excessive) effect like this prevent deeper water weeds and shift primary production to phytoplankton? Benthic feeders are known to assist the recycling of nutrients oxygenating shallow sediment/detritus by foraging disturbance. So could they play a role in increasing food web production for species like YP and BG? One of the fascinating things about biological systems is that many propositions that are normally true also happen to be false ... depending on degree. So we can find circumstance where a proposition is just overdone and co-occurring effects destroy benefit. So perhaps one might seek to understand what a practical range that surrounds the sweet spot?

I am glad you mentioned the average LMB size mistickslinger is catching. I had overlooked this and was thinking they were smaller. I agree that's a decent size for LMB in unmanaged, un-harvested water. So that in and of itself is very promising. I'll start by saying that I think it means that a fair proportion of the LMB are being eaten as prey. How can I propose that? Well, because the OP isn't harvesting them and because they are 16-17 inches in length. This is where a frequency distribution would be helpful but if a 16.5" LMB represents the mean weight of LMB then at 80% RW the average individual weight is ~ 2 lbs. So we can make a rough estimate of number LMB by dividng the weight of the average fish by the LMB standing weight if we know it. It's unknown but I initially imagined a predator standing weight of 45 lbs and a gross standing weight of 300 lbs. So maybe this is a rough way to estimate numbers of harvest weight fish. Assuming 1 std-dev of a frequency distribution is limited to 15" to 18" LMB then we can make a rough estimate of the population for this size class is around 15 fish/acre ... or for the whole lake .... 750 LMB. So to me, If the lake supports 15% of its biomass in LMB the situation doesn't seem all that daunting. The OP mentions that catch rates are high and so I wonder if he could employ a slot between 15" and 18" harvesting 1/3 that number in the first year? This would reflect roughly 22% of the standing weight in the first year but might allow this size group (the first standard deviation) to grow from an average of 2 lbs to ~ 3 lbs"

The effect could possibly be better if the LMB could grow into adult prey fish that are presently just beyond their normally consumed sizes. IOWs there may be a reservoir of food that is currently unavailable that they could grow into. To be sure, all production of prey is determined by the annual mortality and if a broader proportion of the adult prey population is consumed ... this frees space for YOY and should actually increase the production of consumable prey.

IMHO, the enactment of such a slot would probably still require harvest of some of the then larger mean weight of LMB in the near term future years. IMHO a slot should be flexible and reflect the average weight ... they make sense where there is bottleneck greatly skewing frequency maximums at a less than desired size. I am not expert but I can definitely see the fish in the current prominent weights outgrowing the slot and still stunting there. So I do think that a slot, though it really makes sense currently must evolve where the goal is limited recruitment into the 16" class each year. If this can be achieved then the fishery can be catch and release for any tagged/fin clipped fish in this size class or larger and still allow for trophy collection near the ultimate anticipated size (eg > 7 lbs). Where the selected fish are caught by artificial bait, this can increase the likelihood that recruits will be susceptible to fishing and perhaps the cull can be focused on untagged/unfinclipped LMB that are caught with the assistance of live bait. Under such a regime, I see any unmarked fish as harvestable up to some goal proportion of the LMB carrying capacity. I am not sure what proportion is appropriate but I do know that production (weight gain) is proportional to mortality and that production/mortality can be as high as 30% of the standing weight and be sustainably replaced each year. Under a trophy path selection regime, the harvest of fish < 16" would become more prevalent than the harvest of >16" fish but one should not be shy to harvest unmarked > 16" fish if large LMB are desired. For such a regime, I like 1 fish per year for a carrying capacity of 45 lbs per acre. This translates to 0.0222 fish per total LMB carrying capacity and so would be 50 marked for trophy path each year in a 50 acre lake that could support 45 lbs/acre of LMB.

With regard to musky, I do recall the OP mentioning that pike once grew to 40" in the lake and fish this size wouldn't be shy to take LMB up to 12" and possibly larger. So the effect you mentioned may have on a smaller scale already been occurring. A harvest regime that allows Pike to reach 40" probably also allows 7 lb LMB. I don't really see 40" Pike competing with 7 lb LMB. My sense is that the prey that outgrows the 7lb LMB is readily available to a 15 lb pike. So it makes sense that if one can't grow 7lb LMB then he can't grow 15lb pike either. The pike must also be harvested and I think it possible that Sunil's idea of taking anything caught might limit the Pike to achieve this size. The pike should be a low percentage of the lake's standing weight possibly as low as 5 to 10 lbs per acre. That said, I think I would preserve fish over 34" in order to have fish in the lake that would cull LMB without competing heavily with LMB near the lake's ultimate weight.

Last edited by jpsdad; 08/07/22 09:48 PM.

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jpsdad - IMO I do not think your term of "pushing" the fishery in a northern 50 ac michigan lake is a good idea mainly because accelerates the eutrophication of this apparent clear water body. A water body this size even one in low nutrients (mesotrophic) is with good wise management well capable of producing several fishery scenarios that includes large predators. However fish and habitat management is a key item for desired results.

Your management examples above are primarily IMO southern fertile water based and may not be very appropriate or accurate for this particular water body in what I think is its current northern trophic status - clear water mesotrophic. Also your carrying capacity and standing crop estimates are likely elevated and based on southern fertile waters composed of a primarily the bluegill bass community structure. I think this water body does not fit well into a southern fishery biomass. IMO until a good study of the fish community species structure is performed, fish management speculation is just that - speculation - best guesses based on the evaluator's hands on knowledge and fish management experiences. Fisheries often do not read and follow the research studies because every water body has its own unique ecological characteristics. Be careful when applying general concepts to all water bodies assuming them to all be very similar.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 08/07/22 09:14 PM.

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Fascinating discussion going on here. I'm all in.

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Bill,

I think you may have misunderstood my point. I am most certainly not proposing the water should be pushed whatsoever. I very much prefer the pull method which involve working with native fertility ... especially with this lake because it will be frozen for an extended period each year. But also because increasing carrying capacity only makes controlling numbers that much harder in what is a substantial body of water.

As for speculating about standing weights and predator proportions, yes, just hypothetical and I don't mean to argue the standing weights are accurate. I think the community structure study is a good idea and that it will allow for better planning with regard to population management. I guess my main focus with it was to show there is a path. Even if the food limited LMB carrying capacity is less than or more than that the numbers that need to be culled appear manageable. This is something that is corroborated by the prior owners who very successfully managed a trophy fishery whether they possessed (or not) an intimate knowledge of community structure, standing weights, and a detailed harvest plan. It is certainly possible that having this knowledge would have changed how they harvested and this could have substantially improved the trophy opportunities. That said, the OP should probably expect to exceed that achieved by prior owners with this help and knowledge.


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I really love the information I'm getting right now from this thread. Unfortunately I'm only able to speculate how the lake was managed previously. Even my own data up until last year was all anecdotal, though I'm sure you can hardly call anything I'm doing now scientific. After a few weeks without rain in the midsummer, the lake is very clear, I get 15 feet on a secchi disk.

The previous owners was made up of a group of families. If I were to guess I'd say they kept and ate a lot of fish.

One thing that has changed has been the explosion of weed growth on the north end of the lake. There is a large bay of about 15 acres that gets about 60 percent weeded out by mid summer. Weeds all the way to the top that will often find themselves wrapped around our boat prop. We've theorized everything from agricultural run off to the 200+ canada geese that roost on the lake every evening by late summer.

The idea of LMB that are more adept at avoiding angling is something I could definitely see. Fork to my nose I would say I believe there is at least one 7lb largemouth cruising that lake, my girlfriend hooked into a big one last summer that we lost at the boat that I think would've pushed 7. Of course I have guests all the time that swear up and down there's double digits swimming around, I take those reports with a grain of salt.

Fertilization is something I've read about but really haven't considered much, because like I pointed out above we believed ag runoff was already doing that. One thing that I'm reading now which has intrigued me is fertilization leading to an algae bloom that could potentially suppress our weed issue on our north side, or is there a potential that that issue gets exacerbated? Also one thing I didn't add is that the lake does have an inlet and outlet, 2 inlets actually and one outlet, all small streams. The large weed bloom is in the bay where the main inlet comes in.

I will update with pictures as I can take them, I wasn't around the lake this weekend so I'll see if i can pull some from the archives and update them this coming weekend

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I suggest you get professional help. It is extremely hard to give good advice on a big water with lots of species absent sound data. My guess is those LMB pictured are not spawning but are hunting the warming shallows.

Lots of PB posters will try to help but only you can make the decision. IMO you should not make any major choice without pro help on a water like this. Everything I have read so far sounds like you have a predator heavy lake that has low productivity. If so, you can make changes based on goals (every goal is not sound for every lake) but the goal should be determined after you have good info and a reasonable list of goals that are lake appropriate. IMO that requires an eyes on examination buy a pro with experience with lakes like yours.

All the rest is just guys like us (all posters above) with limited info shooting in the dark to try and help you out.
















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