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#553883 12/01/22 09:25 AM
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Posting this for a friend who just completed construction on a 3 acre pond in southeast PA. It will be 12' deep when at full pond and has excellent structure and spawning habitat. The primary goal is trophy LB with possibly some HSB and CC if that doesn't interfere. Pond is filling now and fatheads were added a month or so ago. Feeders and aeration will be installed in the spring.

Looking for recommendations on stocking rates and timing moving forward. BG, GS, LB, HSB, and CC are what he's considering.

Thanks in advance for the input.

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30:1 to 60:1 ratio between Bluegill and Bass, stock 500 Redear Sunfish per acre too, on top of the Bluegill numbers. i.e 3,000 BLuegill, 500 Redear and 50 LMB per surface acre. Do not stock more than 50 LMB per surface acre. If it was my personal pond, I'd leave the CC out - once they reach around 3# they compete directly with the bass for food. Don't stock more than 50 LMB per surface acre and I'd fin clip the stockers. Then the year after the LMB pull off a spawn (which could be as soon as the Spring of the year after they are stocked) I'd start removing 60# of LMB per year from the pond. Use a ruler and scale to weigh/measure the fish and remove any that are under performing - i.e. under 90%-100% RW. Be ruthless about harvesting LMB, that is the only way to grow trophy bass.

Have the correct habitat for the BG and Golden Shiners to reproduce. Add 20 HSB per acre 12 months after the LMB are stocked. The LMB should be 12"-14" by then. As for the Golden Shiners, 20#-50#/acre will help the LMB grow but in the long term the BG will be the main food source for the LMB. If the Golden Shiners are able to achieve a self sustaining population in the pond then those will be the main food of the HSB in addition to the commercial fish food.

In ponds that have ample food for the LMB, and are fed a good commercial fish food. I've seen RW's (Relative Weights) of up to 165%. A 23" 7# LMB is what you'd find as a LARGE bass in the public lakes here. A LMB that length that is at 165% RW would weigh 11.5#.

4# and 5# LMB that were electroshocked in a customers pond in August. These fish are 3 or 4 years old.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

As for timing, stock the Golden Shiners asap, the BG/RES (at 2.5"-4") as early in the Spring as possible, and the LMB at 5" in late Spring , early Summer. You could wait until the Fall to stock the Bass too, but stock the bass at 5"-7" length to help ensure that you are getting the fast growing fish from that hatch vs. the left over runts. Stocking bass at that length will eliminate the BG from predating on the bass, which could happen if you stocked LMB that were only 2" long.

Last edited by esshup; 12/01/22 12:23 PM. Reason: stocking rates.

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Originally Posted by esshup
30:1 to 60:1 ratio between Bluegill and Bass, stock 500 Redear Sunfish per acre too, on top of the Bluegill numbers.

As for timing, stock the Golden Shiners asap, the BG/RES (at 2.5"-4") as early in the Spring as possible, and the LMB at 5" in late Spring , early Summer. You could wait until the Fall to stock the Bass too, but stock the bass at 5"-7" length to help ensure that you are getting the fast growing fish from that hatch vs. the left over runts. Stocking bass at that length will eliminate the BG from predating on the bass, which could happen if you stocked LMB that were only 2" long.

The 30/1 + numbers are based on stocking 2-3 inch fish BG and LMB. If you are going to stock 5"-6" LMB then reduce the numbers to 35 per acre max. I would go even less if you are going to stock HSB. The real key for LMB population mgt on newly stocked ponds is the number that survive to year 1(or 2 up north depending on stocking time) and reproduce. If you stock larger fish (6 in.) then they will have a higher survival rate to year 1. All the data on stocking #s are based on small stockers (2-4 in. fish).

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/01/22 07:33 PM. Reason: added "















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Originally Posted by ewest
Originally Posted by esshup
30:1 to 60:1 ratio between Bluegill and Bass, stock 500 Redear Sunfish per acre too, on top of the Bluegill numbers.

As for timing, stock the Golden Shiners asap, the BG/RES (at 2.5"-4") as early in the Spring as possible, and the LMB at 5" in late Spring , early Summer. You could wait until the Fall to stock the Bass too, but stock the bass at 5"-7" length to help ensure that you are getting the fast growing fish from that hatch vs. the left over runts. Stocking bass at that length will eliminate the BG from predating on the bass, which could happen if you stocked LMB that were only 2" long.

The 30/1 + numbers are based on stocking 2-3 inch fish BG and LMB. If you are going to stock 5-6 LMB then reduce the numbers to 35 per acre max. I would go even less if you are going to stock HSB. The real key for LMB population mgt on newly stocked ponds is the number that survive to year 1(or 2 up north depending on stocking time) and reproduce. If you stock larger fish (6 in.) then they will have a higher survival rate to year 1. All the data on stocking #s are based on small stockers (2-4 in. fish).

Correct.

Typically when you get a range of fish sizes from the supplier, the majority of the fish will be on the small side of the size range, that's just because how they are measured (by thickness not by length - there is a formula that determines how long a fish is in relationship to it's width). The reason why I said to stock that size LMB is because the fish are spawned in March to May. If you stock 2"-3" LMB in the Spring, most likely they are the runts that were from the previous year. The hatcheries that we deal with hatch bass in the early Spring and again in late Summer. (manipulating photoperiod and water temp to do so). You could stock 2"-3" LMB in the Fall, but then you'd really have to watch for predation from the BG if they grow the way they should if you are feeding them. By the late Summer, the 2.5"-4" BG would be 6"+.

If you stock 1"-2.5" BG in early Spring, then you could get away with stocking the 2"-3" LMB in mid Summer (That Springs crop), but I'd make sure you had a great population of Fatheads and Golden Shiners because that's what the LMB would be living on until the BG pulled off a spawn the next Spring. Those 150 LMB would eat 1,500# of minnows or more by the time the BG spawned the following Spring. I am more leery of stocking 2"-3" LMB in the late Summer or early Fall unless I know my fish supplier completely ran out of LMB fingerlings and this a new crop. I don't want to stock 2"-3" LMB in the Fall if they were hatched in the Spring - they should be 5"-7" by then if you want the faster growing fish which is the case in this instance.


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Show and or copy these PB Forum informations from professional pond managers to your friend wanting a trophy LMB Pond. Growing fingerling stocker fish by fish farms requires different methods than growing trophy fish. We are specialists in growing BIG fish.
Growing trophy bass requires a lot of continual work and effort. It is not just adding fish to a pond. Read on.

Firstly - listen carefully and follow 'esshup's' suggestions. He grows big fish. Every large CC takes the place of one bass. LEAVE CC OUT OF BIG BASS PONDS. If you want the best LMB pond for trophy or even big bass then OMIT the CC who eat lots of foods that bass will need to grow larger. Tell your friend CC are not bottom cleaners. Big channels are predators and eat fish not organic stuff and algae to clean the bottom. Do the homework.
State angler record for LMB in PA is 11lb3oz so this is your target goal as trophy PA bass. Thus regular trophy bass pond in PA will have as goals to be 7lb to 9lb bass. PA does not list a state record HSB however the OH record HSB is 18lb2oz.

To grow big bass fast you have to start the pond CORRECTLY with forage fish to produce a high density and overabundance of forage fish before adding any predators
Stocking Notes: Listen to this podcast for Old and New Concepts of Fish Stocking for best balanced high quality fishing. They tell how to get fingerling bass grown to 2-3lb in one year.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8...cking-for-ponds-and-lake-new-and-old?t=0

Trophy LMB ponds always have and need a constant and an almost over abundant amount of forage fish of the Right and Correct sizes to feed big bass that are growing quickly to bigger sizes. As bass grow they eat more and more larger foods and not by not eating little small fishes to get optimum bass growth and to keep them growing. 16” bass are best eating 3”-4” BG and 5”-6” long bass or big shiners. 18" LMB grow best eating 5"-6" BG and often 7”-8” long small bass / shiners or perch. Larger bass do best when eating even larger fish and foods.

Medium 15”-17” bass eating minnows will not grow, as much as they could grow, because these bass expend too much energy and effort catching too small of fish that do not provide enough added nutrition for growth. Maintenance weight yes - Growth equals little or None. Example – A 2lb bass (15”) needs to eat 12 lbs of food to JUST maintain it’s 2lb weight AND then to grow 1 pound,,,, it needs to eat another 10 lbs of the right sized forage. So for just a 2 lber (15.5”) to grow to 3 lb (17.5”) it needs to eat 22 lbs of food that year! So 30 of these 2lb bass in 3 acres need to eat at least 660 lbs of forage fish! Do you see why you don’t want CC also in the pond eating forage fish?

As these 30 bass grow to 4lb, EACH ONE needs to eat 24lb of forage that year to maintain its weight and an added 10 lb of forage (34lb) to grow to 5 lb. 3ac then needs 1024 lb of CORRECT forage to get 30 4lb bass growing to 5 lb. Do the math for bass larger than 5 lbs. Lots and Lots of forage of correct sizes are needed to grow trophy bass. Actually lots and lots of forage is needed to grow any size of bass!

Your friend will not grow trophy bass unless the pond has lots of good habitat in the 3 acres. Again do your good diligent homework - see links at the bottom. The pond needs 'Fish Cities'.

To grow trophy or biggest bass, it takes lots of work and effort. You don’t just stock bass and expect trophies to grow. Your friend will need to do at least 2 of the several important things mentioned by esshup.
1. LMB are prolific spawners. Once the LMB start spawning and recruitment bass are 9"-12" usually year 3 from stocked fingerlings--- HARVEST, HARVEST, HARVEST of the smaller bass to maintain lots of uneaten food for bigger bass to keep growing, so at certain 16"-19" lengths, bass don't hit the 'growth wall' due to lack of PROPER food quantities.

Why, Which Ones and How Much Harvest of Bass
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/6...-it-is-almost-biblical-for-your-lake?t=0

https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8...redator-fish-why-do-you-harvest-bass?t=0

Remember - trophy bass ponds very rarely have lots of large trophy BG because numerous trophy bass are heavily cropping too many of the 5"-7" BG.

2. Always keep track of relative weights (RW) when anglers catch any bass including those smaller bass and those under weight that should be removed. See links.
RW = (weight of bass / standard weight of LMB) X 100.

If it was my pond I would be cutting tails off all the removed small bass and feeding them back into the pond to feed the largest bass rather than me eating or wasting or discarding the unwanted culled bass. As mentioned a RW of 95%+ indicates the bass is healthy and growing. Less than 90% the bass is not getting enough food for good growth. Remove thin bodied bass. You want most of the larger bass caught to have RW of 110%+ if you want them to keep growing.

3. To grow big bass the pond needs lots of healthy and high numbers of BG that have to be fed a high protein pellets to keep the BG panfish population growing and abundant enough to feed big growing bass. Standard fish feeders for this are 1 to maybe 2 feeders per acre that distribute 40% plus high quality protein fish food. If your friend does not do this, expect few if any trophy bass per acre. Medium 16"-19" bass yes, trophy bass few in any.

How and Why to Feed BG to Grow Big Bass.
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8180502-episode-44-how-to-feed-fish-and-feeder-fundamentals?t=0

3. For growing big and trophy bass the pond also needs Very Good Proper Amount and Type of Habitat in addition to constant abundant forage, feeding the BG, and proper bass harvest.
Listen to this professional advice.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/10010880-episode-66-structure-and-fish-habitat-for-lakes-and-ponds

Habitat to improve production, fish sizes, fish cities, sizes, numbers per acre and placement. Excellent habitat information from actual fish research.
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats

https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/9951429-episode-65-harvesting-fish-the-smart-way?t=0

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/06/22 09:33 AM.

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Wow, that's great. I have passed it along. Thanks guys for taking the time post such detailed information. Much appreciated!

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Originally Posted by esshup
Typically when you get a range of fish sizes from the supplier, the majority of the fish will be on the small side of the size range, that's just because how they are measured (by thickness not by length - there is a formula that determines how long a fish is in relationship to it's width).

Just to clarify for amateurs like me:

A 2-3" LMB from the supplier indicates that most of the bass delivered will be in the range of 2-3" IN LENGTH?

However, the fish suppliers actually size their fish based on width? (I assume this dimension is from the dorsal to the ventral?)

Do they size their fish based on width because they are separated into size classes using a screen? (Wherein, the ability to "pass" or "block" would be determined by the width of the fish?)

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by esshup
Typically when you get a range of fish sizes from the supplier, the majority of the fish will be on the small side of the size range, that's just because how they are measured (by thickness not by length - there is a formula that determines how long a fish is in relationship to it's width).

Do they size their fish based on width because they are separated into size classes using a screen? (Wherein, the ability to "pass" or "block" would be determined by the width of the fish?)

Correct.

https://www.fishfarmsupply.ca/products/floating-fish-grader?variant=31981211156562

You are on your own to find what width of what species equals a certain length. grin

THEN you take 100, 200, 500, 1,000 fish by hand, count and weigh them. That is what the guys like me buy - we buy the fish by weight. Say if I order 10,000 2.5-4" BG they weigh them and put them in the haul tank. A LOT quicker than counting them.

Last edited by esshup; 12/02/22 06:35 PM.

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Thanks for the "behind the scenes" information.

It helps us make sense of a process that is slightly opaque to outsiders.

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Postscript for wanting to grow trophy bass in a pond. Do you really want to do this and live with the results??? Be aware a TRUE trophy bass ponds almost always have low to very low bass catch rates for several reasons. Low catch bass rates is because this is a unique special balance fishery.
1. Not very many big bass can be raised per acre so they keep actively growing to maintain weight or become bigger trophies. The bigger the resident bass become the fewer of them that can be grown per acre due to CARRYING CAPACITY standards. So there are not very many of them per acre the bigger size they become.
Read about and understand Carrying Capacity.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92440#Post92440


2. As the pond ages to when trophies are present the oldest bass have been exposed to lots of fishing pressure. The most aggressive, lure vulnerable bass have been caught by anglers and removed or released. This leaves behind a higher percent a lure shy bass or lure caught bass. THE BIGGER THE BASS GET THE HARDER IT IS TO CATCH THEM. The biggest bass have been caught 1 -2 OR 3 three times and very often have learned MORE to avoid anglers lures especially often used same types of lures- hook smart bass. Every time an old bass has been caught, it learns more to avoid being caught which the "Jaw Jerking" was NOT pleasant nor fun for the bass. The more you catch the big older bass the harder they will be to catch the next time. Big bass are not dumb fish. Dumb small - medium bass fish were usually either eaten as food or removed from the system. This trend leaves behind "smarter" bass. THE SMALLER THE POND THE WORSE THIS PROBLEM BECOMES.
Read about lure shy and hook smart bass:
This is from or Common Pond Q&A archives
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=255372#Post255372

Largemouth Catchability - Hook Smart - Hook Shy
Fish behavior patterns do exist and IMO their behaviorj is fairly complex. They respond to external stimuli. But can they learn from past experience or from watching other bass/fish? Many think this is true.

Bass and other fish IMO and experience do have the ability to learn from their experiences and a percentage of every year class are what I will call dumb and smart. Some people will call this conditioning not learning. Some can be caught numerous times. Some can only be caught one time or a few times during their life span. Some people have claimed that a few bass from every spawn will never bite a hook. It was speculated in the study that these elusive bass "leared" or were conditioned by watching other fish get caught.

The "dumb" ones could be classed or called overly aggressive, fast growers and willing to bite most any lure put in front of them. Studies have shown that willingness of bass to bite lures is an inherited trait. Some may not be fast growers but they are still vulnerable to recapture and they are just slow to learn about lures and the negative experience of "jaw jerking" from anglers. Some bass/fish in heavily fish water are very hard to catch no matter what lure is used. When one repetedly uses the same lure in the same small pond it becomes hard and harder catch fish. Put on a new lure and something the fish have not seen the catch rate often increases. What does this say about those fish in the pond?

Hook Shy Topics:
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=89680&page=1

Overfishing And Hook Shy Bass with Angling Hints from Basslover
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=465502#Post465502

Over fishing vs over harvest
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=21209#Post21209

Too Much Fishing Pressure?
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=21676#Post21676

Improving LMB catachability
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=22189#Post22189

Catchability of F1 bass and other bass
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=58233&page=2

Northern Bass Inferior? Maybe not and Catchability of Both Strains.
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=487836&#Post487836

LMB Catchability article in PBoss Mag - Willis & Cody
http://www.sdstate.edu/nrm/outreach/pond...ar-Apr-2006.pdf

Several scientific studies have examined this topic. Below are links for more reading about this topic.

http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=306520#Post306520

Hook Shy Fish in Fee Fishing Operations
https://srac.tamu.edu/index.cfm/event/getFactSheet/whichfactsheet/129/

Prey Selection - Learning vs Conditioning by LMB
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=279559&page=1

Are Bass Smart? PBoss article by Ralph Manns
http://www.pondboss.com/free_articles.asp?id=28&p=2

Feeding Pellets, Angling & Catchability
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=291973&page=1

Pellet Fed and Hook Shy
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=150311

Reducing hook shy bass - Options
http://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=395378#Post395378

Basslover tells how he catches hook shy bass:
PBoss Member - Basslover says: In very clear water I'm landing bass on night crawlers and shiners the overwhelming majority of the time. I have some success with artificial lures, including; worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and poppers/plugs/jitterbugs. Hard to beat the real thing though.

I really look to see what is in the water and then use it, or find something that resembles it. I vary the speed and technique of my retrieval as well. I'm not the type that repeats the same cast to the same spot with same retrieval and technique. Slow, super slow, medium, fast. Steady, stop-n-go, jerk, pull. Etc. Aside from live bait topwater lures are my go to and that usually produces.

I haven't a problem yet with hook shy. My bass in my pond that is very clear water are hesitant at times. They can see the hook, sometimes they nudge the worm around and if they identify the hook no dice. If they see you it becomes much more difficult to induce a strike. So you become excellent at long casts, hiding, and patience. I also sometimes chum the water - I toss in worms or shiners and since they eat without consequence I then can entice a strike by tossing one in with a hook. I also chum the water at times for the bluegills. I find the feeding frenzy of the bluegills gets the bass active and they want in. So in the middle of this I will then target a bass and usually land one.
I'll throw in mealworms and small red wigglers to stir up the panfish. All that feeding gets my bass aggressive. Then I'll toss in a large nightcrawler on a hook and often land a bass. But I also throw in many non-hooked nightcrawlers (or shiners when fishing with them) so the bass eat without being hooked. And I also spend time in and around the pond without doing any fishing. END OF QUOTE.

3. There are some bass in EVERY population that will never bite lures as proven by several scientific studies. Plus some bass can learn to avoid lures by watching siblings get caught. In a trophy bass pond these are often your largest bass.

4. Scientific studies have shown that hook smart bass produce offspring that trend toward being a higher percentage of hook smart ability.

Most angers want to regularly catch fish which is why they are fishing. Smaller kids get bored with fishing quickly if not catching fish every few minutes. Fishing and rarely catching something is not the best fun. A general fishing pond with lots of medium small and medium bass, an occasional large 4-5 lb bass is a lot more fun and exciting for most ALL anglers. So creating a TRUE trophy bass pond and not being able to catch very many bass per hour or none that day and rarely if ever catching the biggest bass may not really be a good goal for most pond owners!

Last edited by Bill Cody; 12/05/22 11:08 AM.

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Agree with Bill's comments !!!!

I would never suggest to a new pond owner that trophy LMB is the right goal for them. You need to be an experienced angler/pond manager to make that choice based on lots of data. It is not the best choice for the vast majority of pond owners. As an aside in my personal opinion, you need at least a 10-acre pond to have that goal as a realistic choice. There are many downsides to trophy LMB ponds including, location, poor catch rates, poor ability to control population imbalances, time periods required and difficulty determining progress. Having said that - everyone is entitled to manage their pond as they choose - we are here to try and help.
















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Bill and ewest are obviously correct.

However, based on my reading of many Pond Boss posts and conversations with many fisherman, the term "trophy" can have a very wide range of meanings. (I think Bill alludes to it by saying a "TRUE trophy".)

In my (limited) experience, I think "trophy" probably means a little smaller fish for a private pond newbie than it does for the pond professionals on the site.

A guy from Minnesota with a previous LMB personal best of 5#, might think catching a 6-7# LMB in a Texas buddy's pond would be landing a trophy. Likewise, a 9# LMB would break the Minnesota state record, but would not even be considered a big bass, much less a trophy, in some Texas private waters.

I believe I have seen the best responses and repeated engagement from new posters, when the experts have explained what is required to reach a trophy in the poster's geographic area AND also make some concrete comments about carrying capacity. Only then can the OP realize some of the trade-offs involved for "big fish" versus true "trophy" fish.

It took me a lot of reading on Pond Boss (and the books and the magazines) before I was even knowledgeable enough to ask the proper questions for my topic of interest.

For example, I now understand that everything in ewest's post is true. However, I still don't know how to dial back the expected top bass size for a 3-acre pond in SE PA, to something that would be achievable by an active, but non-professional pond manager - presumably on a budget with reasonable limits.

I do love the discussions on Pond Boss that draw a lot of comments about improvements and trade-offs on the margins that help determine the long-term outcomes of a managed pond.

A big thanks to all of the Pond Boss experts for their continuous help and advice!

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This thread could/should be in a college textbook.

I’ve been doing/watching/ experiencing this stuff for a LONG time and never seen a more complete set of explanations.


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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Originally Posted by FishinRod
For example, I now understand that everything in ewest's post is true. However, I still don't know how to dial back the expected top bass size for a 3-acre pond in SE PA, to something that would be achievable by an active, but non-professional pond manager - presumably on a budget with reasonable limits.

Good points FishinRod !

As to the one quoted above my answer is you don't try to do that. In small (< 4 acres) balanced LMB ponds (managed for healthy LMB of all sizes) there will be a couple of LMB that jump the food-based size constraints and keep growing to max size. Those fish are part of the balancing function as they eat small LMB and BG. Those are your trophy fish for that pond. For a trophy LMB pond (managed for low #s and large size LMB) there is a purposefully unbalanced LMB population.

What to harvest and when -- https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=484155&page=1

This is what is suggested by Dick Anderson - the Prof who wrote the book on PSD.

Keep taking <12 in bass until the number 8-12 equals number 12-15. Ideal pond structure is 40% 8-12, 40% 12-15 and 20% 15+

This assumes good fish condition.

Another suggestion is take out all the fish in poor condition in all size groups. Note the size group that is stunted (over crowded) will have a much higher % of fish in poor condition.

Last edited by ewest; 12/06/22 11:04 AM.















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