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Show us the water clarity measurement of the pond water and I will provide some more fishery information for your stocking and management ideas. Use a secchi disk or make one by using a white Cool Whip lid attached to a pole or cord. You can use just an all white disk for a basic measurement for our purposes.




Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/11/23 08:09 PM.

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Regarding the question about stocking crayfish, I generally believe that any fish that can fit a crawdad in it's mouth will eat one, but I have no true knowledge of the level of benefit for Yellow Perch.

Some folks may be able to discuss any potential negative effects of crawdads if they overpopulate and don't have a viable predator to keep them in check.

My initial thoughts are stock a bunch early in the process and then see how things go.

Regarding the Golden Shiners, I might wait a year before introducing them. Maybe 2 years. When you do want to introduce them, I would use the Anderson Fish Farms Golden Shiner Fry method. For a few hundred bucks, you get 250k of GS fry early in the given year, like April. Even with healthy existing fish populations, you'll still get heavy GS recruitment.


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"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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I've found 2.2" crayfish in stomach of 9" YP.


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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
I've found 2.2" crayfish in stomach of 9" YP.


There you have it!


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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From FishBase

Food items reported for Perca flavescens
n = 14
Food I Food II Food III Food name Country Predator Stage
zoobenthos benth. crust. amphipods unidentified amphipods Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified anisopteran nymphs Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified chironomid larvae Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified chironomid pupae Canada recruits/juv.
zooplankton plank. crust. cladocerans unidentified cladocerans Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos benth. crust. n.a./other benth. crustaceans unidentified crustaceans Canada juv./adults
zoobenthos benth. crust. n.a./other benth. crustaceans unidentified decapods Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified dipterans Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified ephemeropteran nymphs Canada recruits/juv.
nekton finfish bony fish unidentified fish Canada juv./adults
zoobenthos benth. crust. isopods unidentified isopods Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos mollusks n.a./other mollusks unidentified mollusks Canada juv./adults
zoobenthos benth. crust. ostracods unidentified ostracods Canada recruits/juv.
zoobenthos insects insects unidentified zygopteran nymphs Canada recruits/juv.
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Yes on crawfish and small BG. PB mag has article on crawfish as a problem for fish recruitment. IIRC there is a study indicating that craws can't do much harm to YP ribbons.

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 146:173–180, 2017
© American Fisheries Society 2017
ISSN: 0002-8487 print / 1548-8659 online

Predators Reject Yellow Perch Egg Skeins
L. Zoe Almeida
Samuel C. Guffey and Tyler A. Krieg
Tomas O. Höök

Abstract
Despite the high rate of egg mortality due to predation,
few teleost fishes utilize external casings for protecting their
eggs. The gelatinous egg matrix, or skein, produced by Yellow
Perch Perca flavescens may provide a variety of benefits
including deterring egg predators. This study explored the
chemical components of the skein in addition to testing the
preferences of two common egg predators, Round Goby
Neogobius melanostomus and calico crayfish Orconectes
immunis, when presented with three potential egg prey:
Yellow Perch eggs in the skein, Yellow Perch eggs without
the skein, and Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas eggs.
Preliminary analyses showed that the skein may contain a
variety of potentially noxious components, including piperideine
and the galactose-specific lectin, nattectin. In preference
trials, Yellow Perch eggs in the skein were often approached
first; however, both predators preferred Yellow Perch eggs
with the skein removed and Fathead Minnow eggs rather
than Yellow Perch eggs in the skein. Further experiments
demonstrated that crayfish spent less time attempting to consume
Yellow Perch eggs in the skein after prior exposure to
the skein (day 1: 11.0 min ± 1.3 [mean ± SE]; day 2: 7.6 min ±
1.4), reducing time spent damaging the eggs. These results
indicate that the skein may help protect eggs from predation

In the first experiment,
Round Gobies attempted to consume Yellow Perch eggs
in the skein, but they never succeeded because they rejected
the skein soon after it entered their mouths. After their first
attempt, individual Round Gobies never again put the Yellow
Perch eggs with the skein in their mouths.

The crayfish responses in both experiments indicate that structural
aspects of the skein may deter successful predation. Similar to the Round Goby, crayfish often initially approached and attempted
to consume the Yellow Perch eggs in the skein. Crayfish would
struggle with the skein, attempting to consume the eggs embedded
in the skein. They rarely succeeded, but they also did not have an
immediate rejection response like Round Goby. Because of this,
the Yellow Perch eggs were not consumed, but eggs were
damaged. Many eggs were burst but still embedded within the
skein matrix. After repeated attempts, crayfish reduced the time
spent manipulating the eggs, which may limit long-term losses of
damaged eggs.

Last edited by ewest; 01/13/23 10:42 AM.















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Originally Posted by Rainman
Perhaps Setterguy can chime in on how many YP he harvests, at will, per year in a SMB pond I stocked for him several years ago. I stocked 1500 3-6" YP, 20# Fathead Minnow and 25# Golden Shiner. Later we added 100 4-6" SMB. He does use a feeder, throwing Optimal and/or Purina Aquamax, and harvests several 1 pound YP a year and catches smallies in excess of 4 pounds

Just found this. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner. I may not be the right guy to comment. I had great success with YP in the first few years after stocking. Caught maybe 50 nice sized YP every summer, and really enjoyed them.
The last few years, we have kept very few. I’m not sure what happened. There are just too many possible reasons for the decline in numbers. We stocked some HBG, they turned out to be a problem. I think we’ve reduced their numbers enough that “hopefully” they aren’t hurting the YP population. We have a lot of golden shiners. Schools of them. Hopefully the SMB are keeping them in check, but I’m not sure. Maybe they eat most of the YP fry. We have a GBH that practically lives on the edge of the pond. I originally didn’t think he was there that much, until I put out a game camera. Recently we’ve had cormorants and otters. They may have cleaned out more than I thought. Although both are no longer visiting.
I may not have enough cover for the YP fry. Although we now have American Pond Weed in abundance. We went from seeing 10-15 YP ribbons every spring to 2 or 3. However, pond levels are always fluctuating in the spring. I may have more ribbons than I see.
We do have lots of crayfish and lots of glass shrimp. Netting through the leaves along the bank catches quite a few. So, two years ago we restocked some YP.
Hopefully we will start catching YP again. They are our favorite fish to eat. (And clean)
I do run a feeder, but I don’t feed very heavy. Our pond has had issues with blue/green algae in the past.
I don’t aerate, that may be part of the problem. I also live 90 miles from my pond, I’m sure that contributes to the problem.
What it boils down to, is having a sustainable YP population, at least for me, is not easy, and it’s not simple. But when they are there in numbers, it’s worth it.
After all this, I know why the Missouri Dept of Conservative recommends LMB, BG, and Channel Catfish. Ha!
I need to win the lottery, and have a full time pond manager on site. Ha!


8 yr old pond, 1 ac, 15' deep.
RES, YP, GS, FHM (no longer), HBG (going away), SMB, and HSB (didn’t make it. 0 seen in 5 yrs) Restocked HSB (2020) I think we have survivors!
I think that's about all I should put in my little pond.
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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Show us the water clarity measurement of the pond water and I will provide some more fishery information for your stocking and management ideas. Use a secchi disk or make one by using a white Cool Whip lid attached to a pole or cord. You can use just an all white disk for a basic measurement for our purposes.

Thank you Bill! We are going through a nasty weather stretch, but when we have a nice sunny day I will get out and take a measurement. I have called a bunch of the hatcheries on my list, and most of them are shut down or don't answer. I think my list was old. If i am going to make a spring planting i need to get my order in.

Would a fresh water shrimp be a better forage option than crayfish? I don't want them to muddy up the water or compete with the forage base for the YP.

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Originally Posted by Sunil
Regarding the question about stocking crayfish, I generally believe that any fish that can fit a crawdad in it's mouth will eat one, but I have no true knowledge of the level of benefit for Yellow Perch.

Some folks may be able to discuss any potential negative effects of crawdads if they overpopulate and don't have a viable predator to keep them in check.

My initial thoughts are stock a bunch early in the process and then see how things go.

Regarding the Golden Shiners, I might wait a year before introducing them. Maybe 2 years. When you do want to introduce them, I would use the Anderson Fish Farms Golden Shiner Fry method. For a few hundred bucks, you get 250k of GS fry early in the given year, like April. Even with healthy existing fish populations, you'll still get heavy GS recruitment.

Thank you Suni! What reason do I want to wait to stock the GS? I am trying to get as much of a forage base for my YP as i can. Do the older bigger GS compete with the YP if they don't have a predator like the WE?

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Some other PB members, as well as myself, have had some experiences where Golden Shiners have perhaps 'overpopulated.'

I've started to doubt how much various predator fish can truly keep GS numbers in check.

Once the GS population is established, I'm starting to feel like they have a negative effect on the spawns of other desirable fish.

So, in your case, I think you want a lot of YP to survive to get to harvesting size, and I'm thinking the GS will reduce your numbers of newly hatched YP.

These are just my opinions.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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Originally Posted by Sunil
Some other PB members, as well as myself, have had some experiences where Golden Shiners have perhaps 'overpopulated.'

I've started to doubt how much various predator fish can truly keep GS numbers in check.

Once the GS population is established, I'm starting to feel like they have a negative effect on the spawns of other desirable fish.

So, in your case, I think you want a lot of YP to survive to get to harvesting size, and I'm thinking the GS will reduce your numbers of newly hatched YP.

These are just my opinions.

This is great info, thank you! What else would you recommend with the FHM? common shiners or a red shiner?

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I really don't know of another minnow species that would be good. My thoughts are to really make sure you have way more than enough spawning structure for fathead minnows, coupled with adjacent safe structure that newly born fatheads can survive in.

Our conventional wisdom here says that fatheads eventually get eradicated by predator species, but I just wonder if you could keep a decently sustaining fathead population by creating several safe spawning and growing areas for them.

Even if you had a way to block off or net off a small area of the pond where there would be no predator fish, you could net out hundreds and hundreds of fatheads and release them into the rest of the pond several times a week.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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BCR Pond, search on google using Pondboss and spotfin shiners as search terms There are several good threads about SFS in this forum.

I think they would provide some distinct advantages to GSH in most cases. They do not have some of the downsides and have some additional survival advantages.

I'm not sure if they are found in North Carolina. But there probably are other native shiners of different species in your area that would add diversity and survival advantage.

Once I came across a webpage where you could search by species and then there were pictures of folks who found this species in their area and posted pictures. It was a map of the US searchable by species and location. It was quite helpful but I can't find the link anymore. LIke a 'fish database' but it was hosted by a outdoor society or nature/biology enthusiast page.

IF found in you area, you often can use artificial spawning devices (read about these, they have specific design requirements) and soak them in rivers, streams or backwater that might natively have SFS already and then when eggs are laid on the spawning device transfer into your pond. In your state they probably are laying eggs a month earlier than in SW Michigan.

In the upper midwest many streams have them and you can seine for them. They have very distinct coloring in May and June as they get into spawning colors.

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This might be the link that canyoncreek mentioned. I have found it fairly accurate to match what I know for the few creeks and rivers near me.

FishMap

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Fabulous! Yes that is exactly the database. It is very powerful in searching by water shed or zip code and showing very good pictures from dozens of observers in multiple areas.

You start with zip code or water shed and then you get a list of species. You click on the species which opens multiple pages with links to location and user pictures.

For example this link shows many pictures of SFS in many different environments.

Spotfin shiners in many locations with images

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Originally Posted by Bill Cody
Show us the water clarity measurement of the pond water and I will provide some more fishery information for your stocking and management ideas. Use a secchi disk or make one by using a white Cool Whip lid attached to a pole or cord. You can use just an all white disk for a basic measurement for our purposes.

Bill,
I was able to get out today and measure. The disk disappears around 52".

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I'm working on a response for this proposed NC pond stocking. It may take a few days for creating a lengthy answer.


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It took me several days to work on this lengthy answer about yellow perch in your new pond. Hopefully you can achieve your goals for growing some nice YP in North Carolina.

Your first BIG problem as you now surmise will be locating YP in North Carolina for pond stocking. The 3 places you list may not have YP as indicated to me by the available web search information and your attempt to contact any of them does not seem promising at this point. Onley The Best Fingerlings website says they have YP, however saying is one thing and having them is another matter. Good dependable fisheries even in winter should still respond to phone calls and emails. You most importantly may not be able to even buy fingerling YP without them being shipped to you. Zetts fish farm in neighboring WA (Inwood) has YP although these fish very likely will be 1”-3” sizes best for shipment unless you drive to pick larger ones up, if they have larger ones.

Be very leery of buying 2”-3” YP in spring before June because these are graded small ones and they are mostly the slower growing runt males. By Jun-Jul new crop YP should be close to 2” long unless overcrowded. During late May or early June 1”-2” YP size would be okay to buy. I don’t advise stocking 2”-3”ers as 1 yr old fish unless you are looking for mostly males. 1 yr old females should be at least 4”-6” and sometimes well fed ones can be 6”,7”, 8” long at one yr old. Those are the ones I prefer for initial stocking. You want to start the pond population with good best growing genetics, not runt mostly 2”-3” one yr old male fish. Be cautious and sure of what you are buying. Some fish farms are not always truthful. Their profit is moving and selling fish regardless of size. They crowd fish in growing ponds to maximize numbers and not body growth. Another option is sometimes you can arrange to meet the fish delivery truck when they are making deliveries within 1-2 hours of your location.

Second Task is to get some FHM stocked as soon as you can find some available in Feb to Apr. (See Added Forage below). I think your planned amount of FHM and GSH stocker minnows is a little too high. IMO 15 total pounds is plenty of each specie (FHM – GSH 8-10lb ea/ac). Plenty to get a large amount of recruitment minnows to get the pond started as the best it can be. You will be amazed how many minnows 10lb/ac can produce by fall. If you stock them in Spring and allow them to spawn all summer it can become by late Fall several hundred of pounds of FHM.

Then you can spend all spring and summer trying to find the nearest source for some YP for a Fall stocking of YP. Even 2”-3” YP in fall are very questionable sizes for me to be stocking despite what the fish farms says about how good 2” YP in Fall or early Spring are. Growth lost the 1st year is never regained. Farms are in the business to sell as many fish as possible despite the size. By Fall the 4”-6” are the better growing individuals. I very much doubt you will find nearby 6”-8” YP as 1 yr old fish unless this is a speciality perch grow-out farm. If you locate some at least add some of these. The larger the YP that are available and stocked the better and sooner they will produce offspring and create at least a few early harvestable YP.

Do not negate starting the pond with the best available genetics from fast growing YP. YP at 4”-6” or 7” stocked in Fall will spawn the next spring and these stockers should be 8”-10” at 1 full year in your pond (2yr fish). Buying 4”-6” YP be sure to ask if they are the current year class rather than last year’s fish which would be slower growing individuals. I highly suggest using “the best available genetics from fast growing YP” as the initial genetic stock of your pond. Why stock slow growing perch to start the pond?

Third Topic. Your no desire for pellet feeding the fish will make it more of a challenge to quickly grow lots of large YP. You can grow nice perch using all natural foods, although you will just need to pay closer attention to the balance, fish densities, and size classes of the YP population as the pond ages. I have learned that pellet feeding ‘smoothes out’ the problems of fish balance, crowding, and size classes. Feeding them pellets keeps a high percentage of them growing well when even natural foods are limiting. Lack of growth is never regained despite if later those fish get adequate food to get growing again. Fish need ample food to maintain good body weight and then excess food to gain their growth potential.

In clear water fish can grow fast and can get a lot to eat, IF those fish do not have a lot of siblings also present who want to eat the same foods. Low fish density with or using natural foods equals faster growing and plumper fish. You can get a good idea of body well fed plumpness by using relative weight (RW) calculations on some of the perch. More on RW is seen below. Fewer fish eating a limited amount of food can grow pretty fast PROVIDING each one fills its belly each and every day to produce growth. Excess food = growth. The amount of excess food determines the amount of growth.

The fish who eat all natural foods I think will live longer and can ultimately still grow to large sizes same as pellet fed fish. Pellet foods contain too many carbohydrates that IMO shorten life spans for fish and people. Pellet foods are designed for fast growth not necessarily long life spans. For example - look at the big fish that grow in very clear Michigan and Canada lakes. However there are not a lot of these big fish per acre, sometimes less than 1 per acre of water. It is said that 90% of the fish live in 10% of the lake, especially for clear types of lakes. There is not many fish out in the middle of the lake’s open, off shore water. Fish orient to habitat for numerous reasons.

Thus your success when using all natural forage based foods will depend on how well you monitor and manage the numbers in the population of each species. Keeping perch from being too many will be your biggest challenge. Generally the fewer fish that are present per acre the larger they will become due to always having excess food. Always having excess food available is paramount in growing fish. A fish will grow as long as it lives as long as it daily has food to excess. Food shortages due to too many fish lead to slow growing and stunted fish.

YP have the potential to be prolific. If you let nature control the densities you may not like the results. Your goals will depend on how well you maintain / manage the balance of predator and prey numbers. See more about Management in the Fish Harvest section below.

A couple PB Forum members mentioned walleye(WE) for the pond. They are a very good management tool with YP however WHERE are you going to buy WE in NC???? Very doubtful IMO. With no WE you will probably have to resort to using HSB as the predator for YP. My second choice would be smallmouth bass that often has limited reproduction. SMB are available from Zetts and usually only in Fall if you are lucky. My experience is that HSB will work very well for controlling YP because you have full control of the number of predators. SMB can reproduce well in a pond similar to yours and quickly result in too many predators eating and competing with YP. Young SMB thrive on eating invertebrate foods needed by 3”-7” YP.

The main drawback to HSB is they will grow to big sizes and thus these bigger 26”-30” HSB will I think be focused on eating larger YP (4”-6”) and detracting from your harvest of larger YP by eating too many pre 8” perch. If numbers of 8”+ YP are low because large HSB are eating primarily 4”-6” YP, you can easily manage around this situation. Harvest all HSB larger than 16”-20” caught by anglers and periodically stock fingerling HSB to replace the large harvested HSB. HSB replacements should be 20% more numbers than the adults that were harvested. This accounts for survival loss of the young stocked HSB. Young HSB at times can be tricky to get a high survival percentage after stocking. This same HSB management also holds true for WE.

BG were mentioned in an above post. IMO - and by all means,, AVOID bluegill if you want primarily a YP fishery. RES as a low fecundity fish, a snail-parasite controller and IMO can serve as a bonus benign panfish with YP. To get good predator control of prolific BG, LMB are the best ones to use. Other predator species are marginal at best for controlling BG. Caution – if you stock RES do your best in the purchase to avoid ALL contamination by BG, HBG, green sunfish. All will cause long term havoc with a YP fishery. You can’t get these problem fish out once introduced.

WATER CLARITY
Water clarity of 52” indicates relatively low pond productivity. As the pond ages the water could become even more clear towards 5ft-7ft. I do not consider 4ft3” very clear water. Very clear for me is 10+ft; see later. I help with management of some ponds and reservoirs where the Secchi disk water clarity is 12-16ft. Keep monitoring water clarity with the secchi disk every 2 -4 weeks all summer. This will help guide you about the relative density of the plankton and give a rough idea of fish density and productivity. For judging fish food abundance and fish body condition & plumpness see Fish Harvest section.

Determine the water alkalinity. Alkalinity indicates the ability of plankton to grow and the resulting fish production potential of the water. Good alkalinity is above 40mg/L (ppm) and IMO if closer to 80-100mg/L is best. This will help guide you as to how many YP the pond has the ability or has the capacity to grow. It is similar to measuring soil fertility for crops. The clearer the water is the lower the overall fertility and less crop that will be grown or produced.

Water clarity due mostly to plankton, and not due to suspended silt - muck, is a pretty good indicator of pond fertility. Good alkalinity allows good plankton to grow. Another very good method is to have the water tested by a soil test laboratory for basic chemistry and nutrients. Results will provide an indication of the productive potential of the pond that is known as trophic status. Main things to test for are: alkalinity (bicarbonate), total hardness, total phosphorus, dissolved phosphorus, and nitrate are explained in this good info link. If you want to know just alkalinity - nitrate, you can self-test it with user friendly aquarium test kits.
https://fisheries.tamu.edu/files/2013/09/Understanding-Your-Fish-Pond-Water-Analysis-Report.pdf

With a water clarity of 4-5ft, I consider this pond productivity in the mesotrophic condition or range. Mesotrophic is midway between nutrient enriched (eutrophic) and nutrient poor oligotrophic. Natural fish poundage, as total carrying capacity for panfish, of oligotrophic (12+ft clarity) is around 40-50 total forage/ panfish pounds/ac. Opposite end is eutrophic (1.5-3ft clarity) that can have around 300 lbs +/-50lb/ac of forage & panfish. Mesotrophic (5-10ft clarity) has around 80 to maybe 200 panfish lbs/ac . This type of pond/lake often has perch, walleye, smallmouth as the main fishery. I estimate your Mesotrophic total panfish pounds could be around 100-160 lbs/ac.

WATER RETENTION TIME
A lake’s size, and water inflow – outflow rate determine the average length of time that water remains in a lake; aka the retention time. This is also known as residence time, flow through time, or flushing rate which means how long a drop of water moves from inlet to outlet. Another definition is how long normal inflowing water takes to fill the lake.

The longer that suspended solids and nutrients remain in the lake, the longer the nutrients can contribute to growing the plankton and fish. Generally the shorter the retention time the less fertile the pond tends to be and the fewer fish pounds that will be present or raised. If water gets flushed out before it can grow a large food chain base, this leads to lower overall productivity and fewer fish.

You mention your pond has an outflow of spring water of 170K per day from a pond volume of about 3.8 million gallons. Outflow affects the retention time of the pond. I calculate the pond water of 3.8 million gallons has a residence time of around 22 days. This is a relatively short time and it contributes to the pond having an overall lower productivity of mesotrophic status.

Due to average trophic ratio factors, the natural PREDATOR mesotrophic poundage will be around 10 to maybe 14 pounds per acre. This weight could be distributed to 12 one pound fish or two 6 pound fish / acre. Thus water clarity, trophic status, and pond residence time all have big influences on total natural pond fish production.

HARVEST AND PRODUCTIVITY
You say your homework of “the estimate of 100-150lbs of YP harvest was only based on what i have read on pond yields in other articles”.
The amount of pond fish produced and amount of harvestable fish is very similar to a harvestable crop in a garden or field. Both are based on fertility of the soil or water. For a 100-150 lb fish harvest,, my question is, what was the water clarity retention time, and fertility of those ponds having 100-150 lbs of fish harvest in the articles??? Water clarity, as a result of bottom of the food chain productivity (plankton), has a big influence on how many pounds of fish a pond is able to grow and the probable amount of edible size fish for an annual harvest. Those 100-150 harvest rates were likely from eutrophic fertile ponds with water clarity of less than 28”. Water clarity usually determines productivity.

FISH HARVEST - Over harvest can happen. Since YP larger than 9”-10” grow rather slowly in many of the US waters, excessive harvest of the largest individuals can easily result in the population getting overly skewed toward the next smaller size class 6”-7” perch. 7” YP with ample food should in the next year be 9”-10” long. Sometimes that 7” perch stays 7” and maybe only 8” long for the rest of its life. Ponds properly managed need to or should have the fish crop harvested to prevent over crowed fish mostly all at 7” long, eating too much of the available good foods. In a good balanced YP community,, one should be catching 10% - 20” of the perch as larger than 10” and some 12”-13”. If not,,,,,, there are too many perch stacked up at the 6”-7” size class. Limited amount of foods limit fish growth rates. If the crop is not harvested properly then the fish age, stay shorter, and naturally die. Improper over abundant fish density can result in stunted fish dying of old age. Improper harvest is more likely to cause poor balance of fishes and then the size class distribution is more likely to result in fewer harvestable fish. The most frequent pond occurrence is too many small fish that are not growing well.

For my thinking, the mesotrophic status puts the TOTAL forage fish and panfish at or should be around 90-110/lbs per ac. For balanced fishery management, literature and experience suggests that the harvest be around 20-30% of the available adult sized fish. For new ponds I lean more for the 15%-20% initial harvest of the total poundage to watch how the fishery responds after the first two years of harvesting. If we use 20%, this is hopefully around 20 to 32 pounds of panfish/ac (30-48lbs in 1.5ac). I think initially it is better to remove too few fish compared to too many especially if the pond is not fertilized nor pellet fed. Removing fewer allows more spawner adults to survive and create more new fish recruitment to replenish those harvested fish. As time passes and if fish monitoring occurs regularly, this should give a good indication of sizes and numbers available in the fishery. I would rather have fewer numbers of larger fish compared to too many small fish. Too many small fish can be reduced by adding more predators and manual thinning of small with with seines. and traps - see later.

Based on water conditions and relative number of YP larger than 8” - more or less can be harvested. This is where keeping good records is important for those sizes harvested and released that are caught by angling. As years pass looking at older catch & harvest records will tell the status and progress of the fishery. You can harvest more if you are seeing strong numbers of 6”-7” YP that can or should replace those harvested. Harvest fewer if fishing does not have about a 50% catch rate of at least 6”-7” YP. Good monitoring of the fishery will involve sampling by catching and measuring representatives of the perch. Notice the plumpness of the perch. After you catch several perch you will get a good idea of plump and skinny and obviously slender perch. Plump perch indicate good balance and the abundance of foods being eaten; skinny almost sunken belly perch indicate too many fish for the amount of available food. Thinning of fish numbers is then needed. Often this can be the small 3”-5” individuals by using the larger size fish traps. Last Spring caught 90 small prespawn YP overnight in one home-made trap similar to the large cylinder ktrap.
https://ktraps.com/collections/all

Learn about calculating RW and usefulness from our Archives Common Q&A section.

https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=22&page=1
Performing RW of representative sizes of perch will give you a better visual idea of plump and skinny perch.

When ponds are influenced by factors that cause lower productivity, this is why pond owners often resort to fertilizing the water and or feeding pelleted foods that boost fish production to as much as four times. Other common things that could be done to naturally increase the pond’s productivity would be to increase the water retention time, add organic materials that eventually contribute to basic nutrient fertility, and increase amount of habitat. Reducing the number of “hogs (fish) feeding at the trough” always allows remaining fish to get more food.

HABITAT
Amount of habitat by itself to a point has been proven to increase fish productivity. The optimum amount of habitat is said to be close to 20% to 25% of the surface area. However too much habitat, such as over abundant vegetation, protects too many small fish that overwhelm the balance and small ones then stunt and adults, if present, grow SLOWER from too many mouths eating limited amounts of foods. Your river rock and some boulders depending on density are a good beginning of added habitat. More IMO is usually better. Other habitat items to increase habitat can be more large rocks - boulders in shallow 2-4ft depths, various types of woody cover, and all types of artificial structures both purchased and home-made. See Structure topic in our QA Archives. Lots of invertebrate foods live on and among the habitat structures and vegetation.

Submerged vegetation could become a big problem for your organic farm management philosophy. Clearer water in the Mesotrophic condition will tend to promote over time too much submerged plant growth in shallow and deeper water. I assume you are anti-chemical for weed control. Manual removal of plants requires lots of time and lots of work especially in water area over ½ ac. Be prepared. There are special tools for best efficient plant removal. You can use grass carp (GC) to help with plant trimming or thinning,,, but do not add enough GC to eliminate the submerged plants. Always start slow or gradually with these fish. Give them ample time to achieve their ability. You always want some submerged plants as good habitat and for submerged plants to use nutrients to compete with filamentous algae. GC do not like eating filamentous algae(FA). IMO do not resort to using koi nor Israeli (a Zetts promotional) to control FA. They do not eat any or very little FA. They are the same specie as common carp and reduce FA by making the water turbid – muddy - so FA does not get enough light for good growth. If you want murky turbid water caused by suspended silt & bottom muck use koi & Israeli. I use koi to create turbidity for water that is too clear. However tilapia absolutely love eating FA that allows tilapia to grow fast.

ADDED FORAGE
I would stock beneficial invertebrates when you stock the minnows or very soon after. Examples below. You want these inverts to reproduce and provide lots of abundant foods with the initial spawning minnows / shiners.

Crayfish especially those young of the year, are a very good invertebrate food or YP fisheries. 100-300 would be a good initial ‘seeding’ to get them established before or with the panfish. Crayfish at common density also help clean filamentous algae off submerged habitats. The only crayfish that I find best for pond use is the papershell crayfish (Orconectes immunis) because they stay in the pond and do not crawl out and create digging & dirt mounds. Smith Creek Fish Farm, Bliss NY have papershell for shipment. Papershell are not listed as occurring in NC however they occur in neighboring states of TN and WVA. Papershells are probably already in western NC. Northern crayfish (Orconectes virilis) is listed for NC. This crayfish grows larger than the papershell which make the northern cray a slightly lower benefit to a perch fishery. Rusty crayfish Orconectes rusticus, is considered an “invasive” aggressive species and is listed to occur in NC. I would avoid using rusty crayfish. It is best to know your crayfish basics before adding them.

Since your pond has spring fed water consider using scuds (Gammarus), and freshwater shrimp aka ghost shrimp (Palomonetes). Submerged plants are almost always required for shrimp and scuds to prosper.
Most of the larger types of beneficial scuds prefer slightly cooler water than the FW shrimp. This from the internet.: “Freshwater grass (ghost) shrimp Palaemonetes paludosus are in nearly every stream, swamp and pond in northeast NC. Just scoop through aquatic plant beds and algae with a small-mesh dipnet. You won’t find them on open sandy bottoms - they need plants or submerged leaf & branch piles. Most tributaries of the Roanoke, Chowan, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pamlico should have them. In the brackish estuaries you'll get different species (P. vulgaris and P. pugio) that won’t live long-term in freshwater.”
https://goliadfarms.com/shop/gammarus-scuds/

The invertebrates noted above need at least some submerged vegetation to thrive so do NOT eliminate your underwater plants – just trim them when or as needed. Vegetation would probably be most beneficial primarily in the upper inlet area where the stream enters.

If you deal with Zetts consider stocking some of their Bull Minnows. They are a ‘top water surface oriented small fish and can add diversity to the forage fish base in a perch pond. They live longer than FHM and can grow to 5” long. 100-300 fish, if shipped, would be a good seed stocking number for this species.
http://agrilife.org/fisheries2/file....-1200-Growing-Bull-Minnows-for-Bait.pdf

There are two other very good forage minnows that I suggest for an all natural forage base: satinfin shiner and bluntnose minnow. Both occur commonly in NC and they survive well and for long term periods in ponds with YP. However you cannot purchase these two species from fish farms. You have to go collect individuals from local sites, mostly streams. Any number of each species would act as starter species. Bluntnose minnows will spawn like FHM putting eggs on the underside of rocks, and any bottom oriented flat structures. They tend to survive longer in YP ponds than FHM, especially if good refuge type of habitat is present. Abundant habitat and structure also allows FHM once well established to thrive longer term in YP based ponds.
North Carolina Minnow IDs
https://ncfishes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/NC-Minnows-and-Identification-Key.pdf
Locations of collections - maps
By clicking on the county on the map it provides stream names where they were collected. Counties have colors that indicate were most individuals were collected.
https://auth1.dpr.ncparks.gov/fish/fish_list.php

Your success when using all natural forage bases will depend on how well you monitor and manage the all the fishes present. Active management always produces better fish size class distributions, and more harvestable sizes of fish compared to letting nature determine the fish densities. If you let nature control the densities you may not like the results. Your goals will depend on the correct balance of predator and prey densities and your ability to help the pond maintain lots of natural fish foods to keep fish growing well without needing pellets.

There is no charge for all this professional knowledge and experience of perch raising information. My only request is that you periodically return to this same thread and up-date us on the progress of your pond’s fishery. I am interested to see how close I come to estimating how the perch will perform in your natural forage based pond. We need to learn even more about raising yellow perch in ponds.

https://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1300&context=sfcproceedings

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/29/23 07:56 PM.

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Wow!!!


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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If I were you, I'd print out Bill's post above and keep it so you can re-read it every few months. What he posted would cost you about what a top of the line fish feeder would cost in consulting fees. As an addendum to Bill's post, purchase your RES as large as possible, at least 3" long and educate yourself on what the difference between a RES, a BG, a HBG and a GSF is. Without that knowledge, you are literally playing with fire. IF you get a pair of BG in the pond, you will now be fighting a bluegill issue and without an intensive BG harvest plan, you will not be able to achieve your YP goals. It would be better to Rotenone the pond and start over.

If you stock SMB, you WILL have to harvest them, and I would recommend harvesting any that get larger than 12"-14". If left unharvested they can consume all the offspring and will overpopulate the pond - I have a customer that is not good at harvesting the SMB and he has stunted SMB and VERY FEW YP/RES in the pond now. He also doesn't have the proper amount of spawning habitat in the pond for the YP, and does not feed the fish.

I would strongly recommend you to rethink your stance on not feeding the fish - the advantages in my mind greatly outweighs the disadvantages. Better condition fish will lay more eggs. If you cannot sustain a minnow population in the pond and don't feed the fish, you will have to either really cut back on the amount of fish in the pond, then spend probably over $1K/year adding minnows to get the remaining fish in the pond to grow or cut back tremendously on the amount of fish in the pond and start a feeding program. You don't realize just how many fish get eaten per year in the pond unless you experience it first hand.

The only other thing I would do is wait to get the underwater plants established before adding the crayfish. It seems that once crayfish are stocked and established in a pond, getting underwater weeds established is difficult.


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3/4 to 1 1/4 ac pond LMB, SMB, PS, BG, RES, CC, YP, Bardello BG, (RBT & Blue Tilapia - seasonal).
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esshup has wise advice from experience.
1. purchase RES 3"+ long so you can reasonably tell if they are truly RES. A pair of other sunfish commonly MIXED in by mistake by some fish farms will raise havoc in a standard YP pond. The smaller the fish are the easier it is to get other unrecognizable sunfish mixed into an order. It is better to not have any RES than to have a pair of other sunfish species in a YP based pond. Other panfish are eating foods needed by the perch and detracting from your YP harvest. .

2. The advice is very good about the SMB in a YP based pond. Remove all larger SMB because these larger SMB will eat larger 4"-6" YP and suppress recruitment of YP which can also be a benefit. It all depends. It is all about predator control. Very similar to raising chickens; control of numbers is important. Having something eating all the chickens is not so good.

3. ""You don't realize just how many fish get eaten per year in the pond unless you experience it first hand." The numbers in normal conditions can be a whole lot more than expected. Then these over abundant fish run out of natural foods. If the pond becomes "weedy", this protects too many small fish and promotes over population of fish that are not useful for table use. It pays to closely monitor the density of each species.

4. Agree. "The only other thing I would do is wait to get the underwater plants established before adding the crayfish." Especially true if not using SMB as a predator. A strong population of adult YP can eat quite a few relatively small crayfish. Rusty and Northern crayfish are not IMO very good food for YP. SMB yes, YP not so much.

5. Organic farming of not pellet feeding can work for pond fish. However the numbers have to be significantly lower for all fish get plenty to eat so they not only live but grow which takes more food than just living.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/30/23 01:42 PM.

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Bill,
Thank you for the very thoughtful and thorough response. I will be happy to update this thread through my journey. Yes you are correct, i have had issues locating good local sources of YP. I did locate a source for Spotfin Shiners, FHM, and Blunt Nose Shiners, and am waiting for a quote now. When i am ready to plant the YP, i think i will take the time to drive north and pick them up myself. I will also be very careful when it is time to do the RES. I can't afford to get a pair of BG in here. Based on your suggestions and other threads, this will be my stocking plan.

March 2023- 10lbs FHM, 10lbs Spotfin Shiner, 10bls blunt nose shiners
Aug 2023 600 papershell crayfish
Aug 2023 1,000 grass shrimp
Fall 2024 100 7"+ YP, 300 3-5" YP, 300 RES
Fall 25 or 26 ( depending on the YP) 10 WE.


I am going to let the pond be a bait pond for a full year to really establish before i introduce the YP. This summer i am going to drop in a lot of fish structures using logs, boulders and rock piles. I also want to make some pallet habitats for the FHM to spawn in. I have seen some really nice ideas on this forum for making those. I am looking into planting vegetation now. I am looking at cork screw eel grass, as i can buy that and have it shipped here this spring. I am hesitant to add to much vegetation, but i think i will do a few hundred feet of the south shoreline with that.

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If you are going to use Vallisneria you should read the good info in this link.
https://www.tfhmagazine.com/articles/aquatic-plants/vallisneria

Also consider Vallisneria americana var.natans also called Vallisneria natans as noted in this thread.
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=555234#Post555234

When planting I would plant some also in some shallow tubs to get it started; use just pond bottom sediment or garden dirt. Those in tubs are also easier to protect new plants from all herbivores. Once established in pans or tubs the dense growth can be transplanted to desired areas.


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Where is your source for spotfin and bluntnose? Very doubtful they will have even 1 lb let alone 10 lbs.

Note spotfin are not reported for NC although satinfin and spotfin are very close to the same appearance. Very few can tell them apart. If you are concerned about species introductions use satinfin not spotfin.
FYI Bluntnose are minnows are similar or close to FHM and are not shiners. Shiners belong to the big group called shiners such as golden, emerald, common, etc. Although the golden shiner is unique and belongs to a different genus than most of the other shiners. Fishey people are changing the technical scientific names around all the time. The crevice spawning group that includes spotfins and satinfins has been moved from Notropis to Cypinella.

A full year for the pond to be a bait pond is an EXCELLENT idea and plan. This will be a big help to produce YP.

If you are purchasing shorter narrow leaf submerged plants to colonize the pond another very good one to use is
Dwarf Sagittaria (Sagittaria sublata). A taller variety is Narrow leaf Sagittaria (see below) . It stays short and forms a carpet on the bottom.
https://aquariumbreeder.com/dwarf-sagittaria-care-guide-planting-growing-and-propagation/

If you can get lots of them growing I will buy them from you!.
Dwarf sagittaria spreads through runners, and can form the much sought after carpet effect. Dwarf variety should be planted to where it can grow in water deeper than 1 foot since they can grow up to 6 inches (30.5 cm) tall whereas Narrow Leaf Sagittaria grows 12" tall. . Occasionally, if kept in excellent conditions, it may send small white flowers to the surface of the water.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/30/23 03:41 PM.

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Hello.

Mr.Cody, it is always a pleasure to read you, Thank you.
A+

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When you get the minnows, ask them if they are wild caught fish or if they are farm raised. Wild caught minnows have a MUCH better chance of having a few fish that you don't want in the pond vs. farm raised minnows. Baby bullheads, baby common carp, etc., etc. can be had with wild caught fish.


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