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Just sharing some observed growth rates of SMB I'm collecting for next spring's brood stock.
Beings I was so far behind the curve last fall due to delayed building construction, I have started collecting breeders for winter tank stays.. we started collecting smb for breeders by angling methods and have been completely surprised by growth rates.
I've been using a suggested rate chart posted by Cody a few years back in Bass Resource. I'm also using the estimates for ave egg counts in that article for planning purposes.
In 2 hrs of absolute fun, we collected 11 fish from 2lbs to a surprising 6lbs 2 oz.
I had not "fished' this year targeting large SMB so they have really seen no pressure this year.
I had pit-tagged 14 fish last year of which we have collected 3 so far.
Here's my question to those who may have input: Why have about 40% of my fish exceeded the maximum suggested "fast" growth rate in NW KS at 3650' elevation at less than optimal growing temps or extended growth season length?
I've discussed some of this with my regional bio, his reaction is "wow"...
Of the fin-clipped fish I've been able to track for 3 years, I have slow, medium and fast rates represented, which I think I understand the reasons for some of this-I think I have a grasp anyway.
One condition present since last july that is different is my water clarity is much better and resulted in aquatic vegetation growth that has been REALLY hard to get started.
Water clarity had been an average of 14" and since my Alum treatment last July, I've averaged 29" checking twice a week and recording starting 4 days after that treatment.
Forage: BNM, GSH, RSH have increased substantially this summer, Craws have slowly been thinned down but still see a few.
I fish "nearly" every night for BG with worms, bugs and bust out the flyrod a few times a week. I'm trapping BG in Z traps (4) running twice a day realizing the BG was a mistake, I've made every effort I can to remove them. I'm getting about 1 RES for every 45-50 BG.
I'm using WAE in small numbers to help with BG and have caught 1 15" YP since mid May but I witnessed the massive number of egg ribbons so I know a lot of YP are being eaten.
This is the first year I've noticed large numbers of bullfrog tadpoles in the shallows but part of that may be better clarity is allowing visual confirmation.
Something is allowing/resulting in fast growth rates for the SMB and I have no complaints, but really noticed a big jump this year.
One of the largest SMB caught during this first effort regurgitated an 7.25" GSH that landed inches from the shore during a jump and it was very fresh so easily measured and confirmed.
Again, trying to understand and document changes occurring and why and I haven't been able to pin down the "why" yet.
Bottom line is I'm ending yr 4 but have yr 5 growth rates present with the lowest WR of the 11 fish collected so far being 107%, the highest at 121%, these fish are well above average.
I have not been able to find solid data on SMB growth rates within our State research that comes anywhere close to what I'm seeing but that's all large impoundment data.
Last summer I notice very abundant numbers of 6-10" SMB so I pulled 68 out. This year I have removed maybe 20 of the same size while fishing for BG.
Looking for suggestive input for the reason (and it sounds dumb) of pin-pointing the elements I'm managing correctly that are helping this along. I feel like I'm missing something like a "perfect storm a brewing".

Last edited by Snipe; 09/14/22 01:30 AM.
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Quote
Here's my question to those who may have input: Why have about 40% of my fish exceeded the maximum suggested "fast" growth rate in NW KS at 3650' elevation at less than optimal growing temps or extended growth season length?

I feel like this question is rhetorical because after asking it you answered it smile. The only part you left out was your initial stocking rate and any, if any, harvest of the originals. I'm of a bent that growth depends primarily on individual consumption of prey. Growth is correlated to this and this only. Even fish with the genetic predisposition to grow larger have to consume the appropriate proportion of prey to sustain growth. It may even be that the propensity to consume is the genetic trait that should be selected. IOWs fish that grow faster and grow larger may very well be the fish which possess the genetic trait of greater appetite.

With regard to reservoirs ... none are managed like your pond. For example, you removed 68 adolescent SMB last year and another 20 this year ... on a per acre basis that would be well over 100/Acre. This couldn't be done in a reservoir where they have to be over 15". Reservoirs also have other predators that compete. Anyways, IMHO, you could help anyone replicate your results. As long as there isn't too many predators for the prey production, growth rates will be exceptional. You've put a lot of effort in and this is the reward of all you have done.


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 stocked 60 2" fish, 1/2 ac. Have had a few morts show up over the few yrs but not more than 1-2 per winter. I have not culled any originals, only reproduction from those.
My point of adding/listing the forage was yes it's there but that's only a piece we understand. I have put a SMB in a tank and it will eat everything I throw in the tank, put 50 shiners in the tank and it won't eat but a very minimum. Why? some other part controls growth. I can only assume so much and then I'm going to ask.. not bragging by any means because it's more important to me to understand what may have happened to cause what I'm seeing. Might only be speculation but my neck of the woods is not known to be "Fish growing country".. Central and SE KS is where things seem to be best.
Maybe I over simplified the question but I don't think the reason is..

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Look at bioenergetics sources. Energy in minus energy expended = growth (or loss if more expended than consumed). Lots of variables on both sides. Many good discussions and info through this concept as it is based on trying to id and measure all the factors. All the formulas are less than perfect but an understanding of what they are attempting to measure is invaluable.

Generally large waters never equal privately managed waters in productive capacity. A few do but not many. Supp feeding makes a huge difference all the way up the food chain. Carlanders texts are a good base source on fisheries but it under weights private waters. Carlanders + 25% is my guess at privately managed small waters.

Genetics make a huge difference in well fed ponds as food is not then the limiting factor. Included in this is aggressiveness (fast growth is often tied to this trait). Properly adapted fish are also important (not fish from 1000 miles away and a different environment). Many everyday type traits in fish have been shown to be heritable - catchability, aggressiveness, size, and more.

One study in Fla on LMB growth (SMB in concept would be similar) measured LMB growth across multiple waters trying to determine why some growth was huge and others not so much.

What you are describing is very common in new well managed ponds and more pronounced in newly stocked ponds (original predator stockers have huge growth rates).

GREAT work BTW !!

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Snipe - You are doing some cutting edge work with smallmouth bass. EXCELLENT. jpsdad and ewest have provided some helpful suggestions and / or possible reasons for the fast growth rates you are experiencing for your adventure of growing smallies. Great work documenting your results. You are showing what can accomplished for producing trophy size SMB for what optimal foods, optimal habitat, and an optimal amount of competition can produce. Keep up this very good practical research for increasing our knowledge about growing smallmouth bass in the private sector ponds.


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Bioenergenics is an important part of the story, but you're right that it isn't the whole story. I recall an article in this month's PBoss recounting how an artificial current was set up to maximize bluegill growth, even though this obviously means the fish must expend more energy fighting the current.

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Originally Posted by anthropic
Bioenergenics is an important part of the story, but you're right that it isn't the whole story. I recall an article in this month's PBoss recounting how an artificial current was set up to maximize bluegill growth, even though this obviously means the fish must expend more energy.

I haven't read that article yet.

Sure would be nice to get 6# BG in our little creek! grin

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Originally Posted by Snipe
I stocked 60 2" fish, 1/2 ac. Have had a few morts show up over the few yrs but not more than 1-2 per winter. I have not culled any originals, only reproduction from those.
My point of adding/listing the forage was yes it's there but that's only a piece we understand. I have put a SMB in a tank and it will eat everything I throw in the tank, put 50 shiners in the tank and it won't eat but a very minimum. Why? some other part controls growth. I can only assume so much and then I'm going to ask.. not bragging by any means because it's more important to me to understand what may have happened to cause what I'm seeing. Might only be speculation but my neck of the woods is not known to be "Fish growing country".. Central and SE KS is where things seem to be best.
Maybe I over simplified the question but I don't think the reason is..

There are a lot of factors that contribute to consumption. If region or climate plays a role they probably are important for comparison when population structure are similar. Probably your fish are performing near maximum for your location. It stands to reason that they could easily outperform SMB in other more favorable locale but that are not achieving potential. I think that is key. Specifically, that your fish individually had more to eat than the fish in the more favorable locations that you Referenced.

Between culling recruits and your unique forage base in combination with feeding you have set up very favorable conditions for growth thus far. I think your forage base is very special as well. I have mentioned that many times.


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Here is my question. Why is the range of weights so divergent for the original stockers? One is 3 times weight of others. Is this a sex difference mostly? >6 lb SMB is very remarkable. 😀


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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Originally Posted by Snipe
I stocked 60 2" fish, 1/2 ac. Have had a few morts show up over the few yrs but not more than 1-2 per winter. I have not culled any originals, only reproduction from those.
My point of adding/listing the forage was yes it's there but that's only a piece we understand. I have put a SMB in a tank and it will eat everything I throw in the tank, put 50 shiners in the tank and it won't eat but a very minimum. Why? some other part controls growth.

This tends to back my amateurish theory that LMB aggression is greatly influenced by the availability of forage. If there's plenty to eat, no big rush to feed. If not, better get it while you can.

That tendency would also help explain why Florida strain bass are less aggressive than Northern strain, as FLMB have 12 months to eat but NLMB don't.

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Here is my question. Why is the range of weights so divergent for the original stockers? One is 3 times weight of others. Is this a sex difference mostly? >6 lb SMB is very remarkable. 😀
There is the shooter theory (some fish are just prone (food, genetics, aggression, sex, competition, timing, whatever) to grow faster than others. It is not uncommon among sibling predator fish for some to vastly outgrow their brothers and sisters early in life. Yes, a 6 lb. SMB is very large. I was under the impression that the SMB were from more than one source (spawning group). That could easily make a difference.


Originally Posted by anthropic
This tends to back my amateurish theory that LMB aggression is greatly influenced by the availability of forage. If there's plenty to eat, no big rush to feed. If not, better get it while you can.

That tendency would also help explain why Florida strain bass are less aggressive than Northern strain, as FLMB have 12 months to eat but NLMB don't.

Not so sure about that. Several TX studies have shown through large scale electroshocking programs that many of the largest LMB in mixed populations are high % Fla/North crosses with the non-aggressive tendency reduced/eliminated by a low % of northern genes. The pure Flas were not as large or prevalent.
















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Originally Posted by jpsdad
Here is my question. Why is the range of weights so divergent for the original stockers? One is 3 times weight of others. Is this a sex difference mostly? >6 lb SMB is very remarkable. 😀
Here's what I've found sexing.. to 4 to 5-ish lb range, my fish have remained near the same weight, M or F. When I sex in Feb I'll better be able to answer that question as This will be my first chance to sex a 6+lb SMB.
As for the wide range, these are not all the same yr class, as my pit-tagging increases my data should be more accurate and reliable but I am certain on the fin clipped fish. Several of those clipped fish were pit-tagged last Feb so 3 yrs of good data that will now be quick to ID with the scanner. Here's the kicker.... I still have 5 months to go before the measurements will be taken at a full year to be consistent. It is possible that I may see another .5" and a few ounces more on weight.
In the back of my mind, I know at some point I will need to cull-permanently- a few of the originals, and I may decide to keep some of those mature fish for tank spawning only, just pair them with different males on a 3 year cycle, but... I believe if the fish is still at or above 100% WR (some say RW-I use Weight ratio) there is no reason to pull those as they are still consuming sufficient forage to grow.
I appreciate every single one of you that responded-that's the discussing I was looking for.
2 yrs ago I was seeing some issues with YP at around 10-10.5". Initially I thought it would be good to thin those YP a bit. Cody suggested I remove a few intermediate SMB instead of the YP. The results of that were 3-fold.. #1, the next year I seen a trend towards a higher WR on YP with good growth continuing through that size range. Obviously, #2, the forage had some pressure reduction and numbers increased, and #3, as a side effect, I noted better growth of similar sized SMB.
Excited to see how far I can take them.

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When checking RW the time of taking can make as much as 30-40% difference. Spawning causes that as do some time of year and location factors. Post spawn fish can easily be 25% lighter.
















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WOW. But are you certain you haven't had more mortality than just two a year? For example, do you think maybe you had some mortality that wasn't evidenced when the crayfish were crawling onto the ice? Just thinking. If the originals are 4 lbs or larger ... then if 50 were to remain that would be > 400 lbs/acre of just survivors of the original SMB. Add the recruitment, the YP, RES, SGE, and BG and there is some more standing weight on top of that. What are your thoughts regarding what your standing weight might be now?


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Originally Posted by jpsdad
What are your thoughts regarding what your standing weight might be now?

That is a question every pond owner had best be asking themselves often as over doing carrying capacity is one of the fastest ways to have a major problem !!!!!
















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Originally Posted by ewest
Originally Posted by jpsdad
What are your thoughts regarding what your standing weight might be now?

That is a question every pond owner had best be asking themselves often as over doing carrying capacity is one of the fastest ways to have a major problem !!!!!

It sure would be a good deal if Snipe had created a business venture such that he could sell extremely healthy SMB to pond owners in the region.

Oh wait, he did do that!

(If anyone is interested, then Snipe has the link at the bottom of his posts.)

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
WOW. But are you certain you haven't had more mortality than just two a year? For example, do you think maybe you had some mortality that wasn't evidenced when the crayfish were crawling onto the ice? Just thinking. If the originals are 4 lbs or larger ... then if 50 were to remain that would be > 400 lbs/acre of just survivors of the original SMB. Add the recruitment, the YP, RES, SGE, and BG and there is some more standing weight on top of that. What are your thoughts regarding what your standing weight might be now?
I know I've had some morts that are never seen, possibly under the ice, angling morts, etc..
For the purpose of data I have only counted those visual morts as something I can document.
The factor I can't write on paper is how many fish went through emergency spillway late'19 and again in early may of '20. I suspect some went so my original numbers-fish that stayed put- are unknown and may explain why I'm not seeing as many clips from those 2 years. I have some, but not in big numbers.
I rebuilt the inlets upstream (run-off) into berms with a channel cut around pond. (eliminated my nutrient problem for sure)
Last Feb when my wife nailed the YP record, between the 2 of us, we caught 71 SMB from 6" to almost 17". "Most" fell in the 9-12" range, 20 of those fish 9 to 11" have been removed from May through August.
I have culled 101 fish to date-alive-but total with morts that I know of, I can't say 100%..
EDIT: to be clear, there are only 8 locations to clip a fish (Bass) safely without injury, so with that method in mind, 8 fish a year class is all that can be done.

Last edited by Snipe; 09/16/22 05:49 PM.
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Disregarding carrying capacity, Snipe is producing some state of the art growth rate studies for smallmouth bass.


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