Started by AnthonyT -
Hey all! Been looking around on the site for awhile now and finally made an account. I bought a farm in south central KY about 10 years ago that had a fairy new quarter acre pond on it. Previous owner had just had it built a year or so before we bought the place. Pond is filled from a few spring seeps that flow down the bank into it and it has a simple overflow for an exit that flows down into a small creek. Previous owner had stocked it with the kitchen sink approach - hybrid bluegill, RES, LMB, SMB, BNC, and CC. I knew nothing about pond management (I am a wildlife biologist) so we just kind of let the pond ride. I knew the stocking was way off but didn't know how to fix it. Fishing was good for a few years and then we had a long hard freeze and a big fish kill. Otters helped wipe out any large survivors. Currently the pond has some RES in it that are from fingerlings to about 6" and a few small BNC. I am thinking I want to go more for a bluegill/RES pond - managing for bigger fish.
I am leaning heavily towards a trophy bluegill pond. I know it will take some heavy management but I am willing to do that.
I should add on here that although I have a BS in wildlife biology, and that is where I have mainly worked in my career, I have also worked in aquaculture (white shrimp brood stock production) and have had a graduate level fish genetics course that was taught by Dr. Boris Gomelsky at KY State. Managing a flow through pond is something totally new to me though - but I love to fish so I am ready for the new adventure!
At some point I would love to move the outflow as it was placed next to a power pole that it is slowly but surely making loose. I am sure I will have plenty of questions. Oh yes, I have a drainage that is downstream from my neighbors cattle pond that I would love to build another pond in the future. FishinRod says
- Bluegill are too fecund to have them at the top of the food chain. (Unless you want to try to manage a single-sex pond.)
You will need one top predator above them. Perhaps HSB would be a good option? They do not reproduce, so you could manage their numbers as needed.
Lots of people on the forum have managed a pond that is optimized for bluegill. There are many threads in the archives. Hopefully, some of those experts will also drop into your thread.
Good luck on managing your pond back into a good fishery! With your background, I hope you will enjoy that process.Anthropic says
-You could also stock a couple of female LMB, but you'd have to be sure they were female or they'd reproduce. Would keep panfish numbers in check so they could grow to good sizes, especially if you fed them.
Esshup says - Welcome to the forum. You know what you need to do about the otters. To keep BG numbers in check and to manage for big BG, you are pretty much forced to stock LMB unless you want to do a LOT of BG fishing and feeding the 'coons. Stock 30-40 LMB and once they start exceeding 14" in length, remove every one that is over 14". Remove the female BG and RES that you catch, and feed Optimal Bluegill food this year. Next year you could mix Optimal Bluegill/Bass food at a 50/50 ratio. You should have BG that exceed a pound within a year, maybe two years. If there are any Hybrid Bluegills left in there, manage those the same as the regular BG. Same for any SMB left, manage like LMB.
Remove any crappie and catfish that you catch too. You CAN fish all the Crappie out of the pond, I've done it. Don't release a CC that you catch, you will have a hard time catching it again and they will be predating on the BG too. Big CC can eat an 8" BG. You should install an aeration system to prevent the pond from freezing and wiping out all your hard work. A PondLyfe 2 system would work just fine, one diffuser in deep water, one in shallow water for the winter.
Dave Davidson says - Bottom line is that this stuff starts out with water quality. My first impression is that the previous owner had it overstocked for 1/4 acre, especially with crappie. It’s also about the symbiotic balance between predator and prey.
Without appropriate predation, an out of balance condition leads to an oxygen crash and messy fish kill.
Too much predation leads to skinny predators.Bill Cody says
- Welcome - Are you aware of our Common Q&A Archives section? Here is the detailed thread about growing big bluegill.https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=189988#Post189988
esshup also has good info as posted above. BNC might mean black nose crappie? Here they are called BNCP
One option not mentioned is to start over. You being a wildlife biologist you probably have a pesticide license or know an associate with a license to buy rotenone a piscicide - most common one is Prenfish. One gallon in 1/4 ac would eradicate all fish in your small pond so you could start over which would likely provide better results for having big BG. We can provide more advice if needed. A flow through pond would make rotenone use difficult during the wet season with outflow. Outflow year round???
SMB - IMO it is very doubtful that the pond still has smallies in it. After about 4-6yrs the LMB usually crowd out all the SMB when the last SMB died of old age. No SMB recruitment will occur with LMB and SMB together in a small pond. LMB always overpower the smallies.
Here is a consideration. Consider using specklebelly sunfish (SBS) in this pond. In the right conditions you can grow these hybrid sunfish to 3 pounds at 15"-16" long and sometimes more weight when pampered properly. What part of KY are you located? Jones Fish Hatchery who sells SBS has a branch in KY. Jones Fish - Greater Louisville Division, 500 N. English Station Rd., Suite 106, Louisville, KY 40223. AnthonyT says
- Bill - the pond has constant out flow. I am in an area of KY with karst geology so lots of underground streams and springs. There are at least two springs that flow into the pond and they flow all year. I haven't done a flow test yet but it is a decent amount of water. The spillway on the pond was done poorly and it is eroding badly (and taking a power pole with it, yikes) and I would like to move it to an area that has less slope and was part of the old creek channel before the the creek was moved to the base of the hill back in the 1930s-ish. Would love to let the out flow go into a series of wet meadow, marsh type wetlands before it makes its way back to the creek. I'm not sure rotenone is an option as the outflow goes right into a small creek - that is full of small darters and dace I would rather not take the chance of killing. Right now there are some RES and BNCP in the pond, but not very many. All of the original LMB, SMB, CC, and HS are gone.
The SBS sound interesting. Could I have them with a few LMB or would it be best to just have the SBS? I read a bit about them and they are suppose to be 95%+ males so there shouldn't be any reproduction. I guess I just answered my own question about the LMB - there wouldn't be anything for them to eat! Any idea what species they cross to get the SBS?
I posted a little about my pond in the intro section, but am now ready to start asking some more detailed questions. The pond was on the property when we bought it, but had been dug a year or so before. Pond was dug in a wet area of a pasture and from old arial photos appears to have been part of the old creek channel (creek was channelized and moved to the base of a hill sometime in the 1930s). Pond is spring fed from several spring seeps on the uphill side of the pond and there is a basic low spot outflow with rip rap (the out flow is terribly constructed and I would actually like to move it in the future to a better location, more on that in a future thread) that flows into the creek. Flow is year round and a decent amount. Max depth is 12' (according to the previous owner) and sides slope quickly. There are shallower areas at the inflow and outflow ends. There is zero cover in the pond except for one old cedar tree. Pond is in South Central KY, Mammoth Cave area.
Pond was originally stocked with:
LMB, SMB, RES, HBG, CC, BNCP - basically they threw the kitchen sink into a tiny pond. Through fish being eaten by otters, herons, some big LMB (20"+), flowing over the spillway, and hard prolonged freeze (not normal here) that caused a fish kill, and I am sure some other things there are only some smaller RES and a very reduced population of BNCP left in the pond.
I was thinking of doing a trophy BG pond, but after reading some suggestions on my intro post I am now thinking a SBS pond with some HSB might be the way to go. If I don't like it I can always change it later and it won't be as tough to do with the hybrid fish in there. If the SBS do breed with the few redear in the pond it won't be the end of the world and the HSB could help with that as well as help me wipe out the remaining crappie. I don't want to try and kill out the pond as it has constant flow and the creek it goes into has some fairly cool fish in it. I would also remove any crappie I caught while fishing.
How many SBS should I stock in a 1/4 acre pond? I think I would rather be too few than too many. Same with the HSB.
I do plan to feed a good quality pellet and also add some cover to the pond. I have tons of cedar trees that need to die for upland habitat improvement so I should have plenty of material for the pond.
What time of year would be best to stock these fish? I'd like to get going on fixing the pond as it is currently not too fun to fish - can catch them, but they are mostly tiny. Thanks!