Bill's concepts on Trophy LMB and management.
Keep in mind this information was for a 1 acre pond owner in Kansas. Things can be different if you live in a region of the country where climate and conditions are different. There a numerous things and specific details that I did not discuss that are also important and involved for growing really big or trophy bass


SSJ - This is probably my lengthiest post on the PondBoss Forum. Bob Lusk wants around 2000 words for a Pond Boss magazine article. This post has close to 7,600 words. It is a lengthy one. I may return later to add a few brief clean-up edits.

Sunil no doubt assumed you stocked your BG sometime in spring or early summer which is why he was wondering why you had not been pellet feeding them. You and others are correct about reduced pellet feeding of BG & minnows during water temps less than 50F. Although one might see some occasional fish feeding at water 45-50F, on warm sunny days limited hand feeding can be used during these cold water periods to minimize waste and uneaten food.
Some of my commentary below is repeated. This IMO is a good thing. Teachers know repetition enhances learning.

As noted - Your 4"-6" bluegill stockers in 2022 will spawn at various times during 2023 as the youngest or smallest stocker individuals become mature as summer progesses. If you want to maximize food production for the new LMB then one option is do not stock the LMB until fall, thus the pond will be at optimum carrying capacity full with forage fish when the LMB are stocked. This will compensate for initially only stocking 250-300 BG. The BG 2023 offspring will be the right sizes as prey food for the Fall stocked 2023 year class of LMB. See later. Maximum growth of the stocker LMB or any new stocked predator fish will then occur.

You plan to aerate the pond. Excellent. A well mixed pond with bottom aeration will boost the carrying capacity by 2X-3X because it makes more of the entire pond volume productive due to full water circulation and overall oxygenation of the entire ecosystem. Depending on the size of pond and type of aeration used it does not always have to operate 24 hrs a day. Goal is to get one pond circulation per day to lift and remove the lowest water quality layer and move it to the pond’s surface where water quality is renewed. Aeration helps a lot to improve water quality - to a point based on water quality in the pond.

IMO if you want LMB to be Kansas grown big or near trophy 10 lb bass then I think you should be adding some golden shiners to further diversity the forage base. Bigger bass will be produced if you have a G.shiner population has 6"-9" individuals.

For the best LMB fishery - think forage diversity. Also consider adding some of your native Northern Crayfish technically called Orconectes virilis – although make sure the seller is selling Northern crays and not southern white river or red swamp crays. Initially and asap locate and stock 300-400 Northern crayfish per acre. Until predators reach 16” the stocked crayfish adults and most of their reproduction are safe from predation. As soon as the LMB recruitment reaches small adult size the crayfish population is in jeopardy of extinction without abundant habitat especially composed of large rocky / waste concrete pieces. The larger species of crayfish of the White River or Red Swamp can be good for pond stocking as bass forage if you live in areas of the country where these larger crayfish are localized.

Annually adding some tilapia each year for algae and small leaf submerged plant control also adds forage diversity plus algae control and some bonus large tilapia for Fall harvest & table use. All the tilapia offspring will die each Fall and as they struggle to die they will be aggressively eaten by whatever can slurp them up. Blue tilapia will be the ones to buy and stock. Numbers to stock will depend on the extent of the algae growth – plant problem. Sometimes in a smaller pond one to a few grass carp (GS) are needed to help tilapia reduce non algae plants as in submerged leafy more coarse types of vegetation.

I later discuss maybe adding yellow perch as forage panfish to enhance the fishery.

Make sure that you have ample or correct amount of habitat for various sport fish because without it your LMB will not reach their growth potential. Proper habitat in the form of “fish cities” boosts pond productivity and carrying capacity. Learn as much as you can about proper habitat. Proper habitat is not several or numerous isolated fish attractors. Know and learn the differences. See podcast referenced below.

KEEP IN MIND THIS COMENTARY IS FOR GROWING PRIMARILY THE BIGGEST BASS POSSIBLE AND THOSE OF TROPHY CLASS FOR YOUR REGION.

For growing big bass with a few or some being sub-trophy size category of 7 to 9 pound individuals, be sure to LEARN about the numerous proper management methods to make that happen. Remember growing trophy bass is not a cheap endeavor, it takes diligent effort, and it is not easy. It takes patience, diligence and continued careful attention to management details to achieve the goal of truly BIG BASS of 10 to 12 lbs. Plus it then takes consistent careful management to MAINTAIN that big fish fishery for the LONG TERM of having consistent year to year big bass present because ignoring the needed monitoring of the populations and the proper size structure numbers, the biggest fish will quickly decline in Relative Weight as the pond ages. (More about RW later). A big-fish fishery is a delicate balance that can easily develop an unbalanced condition if good monitoring of the fishes is not used.

Items to learn more about:
1. Correct and consistent water quality parameters. Bob Lusk’s “Happy Water”

2. Habitat - Habitat - Habitat for the entire fishery is paramount and is pretty important to be in place before the predators are added so the fishery develops at its best. Normally the BEST forms of habitat are needed for successfully growing really big bass. It all works together and in unison.

3. Spring and Fall monitoring methods for evaluating the fishery size classes, their abundances and weights.

4. Proper Harvest for Achieving and Maintaining for the intended Goals When The Populations are Annually Reproducing.

5. Most Important IMO for growing trophies is GENETICS. Genetics is King for choosing and stocking initial and potential trophy fish. Example male LMB genetics never become trophies and only a low percentage of female genetics have true trophy potential. You have to start with the best premium sport fish to get premium results.

Sub-par fish and runts starting out do not grow into trophies. Big fish yes, trophies no. PICK YOR LMB SUPPLIER WISELY AND CAREFULLY AFTER GOOD STUDY AND REASEARCH OF THEIR BIG FISH HISTORIES AND PREVIOUS CUSTOMER’S TESTIMONIES. If there are no testimonies and good examples of past trophy production,,, I would chose another more reputable and proven fish farm. You have one chance at the beginning to do the stocking correctly – make it count.

Do you get Pond Boss magazine? Reading and learning from all of Dave Beasley's articles about growing trophy bass are VERY educational. He is very informative with good ideas including numerous original hands on experiences.

Have you read and studied all the pertinent big bass discussions in the PondBoss archives about growing big Bass? They too are educational. But always remember most all the articles deal with managing mixed sex reproducing fish. One can grow really big bass with using mixed sex reproducing LMbass.

Are you staying current on all the Pond Boss topics and discussions for growing BIG or trophy bass?

Bob Lusk has a new podcast about growing trophy bass. Listen to it several times. Make good notes. You will need to fully understand those concepts before adding any bass and then review them again as bass grow beyond the 5 lb and 6 lb marks.


Understand a relatively small 1 acre pond has numerous LIMITS for producing trophy fish due to the size of the pond as living space aka lebensraum. Smaller waters are more vulnerable to animal crowding which puts significant limits on reproducing populations. It all trends back to carrying capacity.

Always keep in mind that you have a small 1 acre pond and not 3 to 10 acres. Bigger ponds in the end are always more expensive to manage. In a small acreage this makes it a lot harder to grow several really big fish. IMO to get several to numerous trophy or near trophy fish in a smaller water body one has to think outside the “normal pond stocking box”. The smaller the pond is the more creative one has to be to produce big fish in a small pond.

I am helping a friend manage a 1 ac pond for producing large fish. 1 acre is not a lot of water space to grow high quality BIG bass. For this we are thinking “out of the box” for this special fishery.

If it was my pond and I wanted the most and biggest LMB possible in small 1 acre of pond, I would be doing a few additional things.

1. Do your very best to stock only female LMB. Stocking mixed gender LMB means 50% of them will be males who usually stay small around 3 to maybe 5 lbs. These male bass IMO are counterproductive for your goals for having several or numerous big bass especially in just 1 acre of water. These male bass will never achieve big bass status, plus they are always consuming your valuable forage fish that are needed by the biggest female bass – your ‘trophies’.

If you use only female bass then all the LMB in the pond will maximize their big size growth genetic potential with the most numbers practical big size bass in your small pond - IF and PROVIDING they get all the necessary food in terms of consumed numbers and proper food sizes that big fish need for optimum growth as they grow bigger. All females reduce the need for annually harvesting small LMB and reduces the need for the intense juggling of the forage base in terms of numbers, species densities, and sizes.
Having to occasionally add another female bass to the fishery is a minor expense compared to the total efforts involved in managing a mixed sex bass fishery.

Fewer total predators will require fewer total forage fish pounds needed in the pond. If you are able to locate and achieve all female LMB stockers,,,, then you could also effectively use yellow perch to help diversify the forage base and improve benefits for especially the younger anglers. More nice interesting fish for anglers to catch more often.

1. What you want to buy if using mixed gender LMB is get them in Fall that are sub-adult or yearling premium bass and insure in Sept or Oct they are 4 to 6 month old bass not last year’s bass. CHOSE YOUR FISH SUPPLIER CAREFULLY. They need to be trustworthy. YOU HAVE JUST ONE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THIS INITIAL STOCKING RIGHT TO OPTIMIZE SPACE AND OPTIMUM PRODUCTION OF PREDATORS THAT WILL DRIVE YOUR FISHERY FOR THE NEXT 10-15 YEARS. DO NOT MESS UP BY STOCKING SUBPAR BASS.

REMEMBER THIS INFORMATION IS SPECIFIC FOR GROWING TROPHY BASS. Very good quality bass and some big LM bass can be grown using “standard” bass mixed gender fingerlings that you can buy at the local fish farm.


2. Do not buy those 5 month old bass that are 2”-3” long fingerlings when you want to grow the biggest bass possible for your water.. Don’t do it. IMO 2”to 4” fingerlings are only valuable as TROPHY stocker sizes used in July –early August. High quality fast growing fingerlings should be a full 3 inches long or bigger in August; smaller than that they were over crowded and sub-par trophy potential. Real high quality genetic bass fingerlings should be growing close to 2mm per day when raised the best ways. May 20 to Aug 10 = 80 days X 1.25mm growth per day = 100mm(3.9”), 120 days (May,Jun,Jul.Aug) X 1.25mm/day = 150mm = 5.9”. Fingerling bass of 2”-3” in October thru April are the slower growing bass with less than exceptional genetics of that year class of bass. October yearling LMB should be a minimum of 5.3” and the “Jumpers” could be or should be 7”-9” long. Remember we want to grow not just big bass but grow trophy class bass. Choose your stockers wisely. See next.

Fast growing best genetics bass at 5 months old (October) should be at least 5”-6” long and MUCH better if they are 7”-9” long IF they were ALWAYS well fed daily with plenty of forage. These bass are called “jumpers” aka "shooters". Some 6-12 month old “jumper bass can be 10” long. Those young bass with less size than those 5 month old 6”-8” lengths of bass, IMO when wanting trophy stockers are the “runts” and will never reach trophy status. They can be big bass but never achieve trophy status They had too little food, were too crowded, and will never become trophy bass. True trophy 10lb+ bass are unique aggressive eaters and fast growers and HAVE to be 9”-10” long at one year old.

Loss of body length for the first year of growth is NEVER regained. 2”-3” fingerling of mid-western bass by October COULD have been and should be at least 6” long if well fed. Those fingerling 2”-3” bass in Fall will always be 3 inches shorter that those bass with the head growth start of those 7”-9” sizes of the fast growing sizes that the ‘jumper’ bass have achieved.

A low percentage of “jumper” size bass are almost always present in each year class of bass hatchlings. “Jumper” bass are the most aggressive and are ones genetically programmed to be the fastest growers with biggest ultimate size. Size of the “jumper” bass depends on how well fed they were from the day they hatched. It is your job as trophy manager to CAREFULLY locate a fish farm that will hand pick out and sell you those aggressive fast growing ‘jumper’ LMbass. Fish farm managers who know anything about growing trophy fish know all about the category of ‘jumper’ bass.

Heck - I can grow a small percentage the lowly yellow perch panfish who are always well fed to become ‘jumpers’ as 6.5” to 8” long by October – same thing happens with bass. It is readily possible to do by good fish growers who know how to raise high quality fish.

3. Here is another option for your goal of producing big fish in a small 1 ac pond. I would replace some of the planned number of your stocked LMB with some 6”-8” hybrid striped bass - HSB. Once you experience what HSB can do and what they can be,,,,, then you will wonder why or doubt why you even like LMB. State record KS LMB is 11 lb 8oz and 28.5” long. Thus big LMbass of 6-9 lb can be raised in KS if everything is done properly from day one. However the KS record HSB is 25 lbs and 33.5” long! Thus you should be able to grow HSB to several pounds bigger in your small pond compared to top end sizes of LMB. HSB pull like fast moving passenger trains and inch for inch they make LMB appear as whippy fish.

Largemouth especially ‘jumper’ females can grow to more than 2 and even 3 pounds after their first year as premium stocked fingerlings under ideal Southern water conditions, but in nature in the Midwest,,,, bass weight of a full 1.0 pound increase per year is better than average. Listen to Sitting Dockside podcast #41 noted below.

Midwest and Indiana – a 5yr old LMB can be 4.3lb to 5 lb and sometimes at 5yrs old it can be 6 lbs -7 lbs if that fish was a very well fed “jumper”.

Growing trophy bass is a lot of continual work and effort. Read on. Most people do not want to deal with the high cost and lots of the continual effort needed from day one to have a true trophy bass fishery. Good mixed sex trophy maintenance usually involves electro-shocking surveys at least one or twice a year to properly monitor forage items and measure the representative bass weights to verify that the bass are gaining weight and not losing weight. Very important to know.
Thus most pond owners are very satisfied with producing numerous 4 lb to 6 lb bass.

Stocking Notes: Listen to this Sitting Dockside podcast for Fish Stocking for Old and New Ponds for a best balanced high quality fish stocking. They tell how some pond owners got fingerling bass to grow to 2-3lb in one year. Rayl and Goldsby are experienced BIG fish growing experts.

Listen to episode 41 Sitting Dockside by M.Rayl and T.Goldsby both well experienced pond - lake managers

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

Fish Stocking for Ponds and Lakes New and Old. They talk about some very good informative topics including good mixed fish gender(sex) information, stocking rates, bass early growth rates, catch rates, back end forage stocking, fish feeding and fish foods, conversion production rates, maximizing bass growth, trophy management, etc. Note Rayl uses Optimal fish food for high conversion & production rates. BE SURE TO TAKE GOOD NOTES DURING THIS INFORMATIVE PODCAST! Listen to it a least couple times.

Trophy LMB ponds always have and always need a CONSTANT and an almost over abundant amount of forage fish of the Right and Correct sizes to feed continually growing BIG bass. Trophies always need more food than bass weighing 5lbs to 7lbs. Often this means added stocking of bigger forage sizes than the normal small forage fish sizes to feed these big and fast growing bigger bass. Here we can be talking several thousands of dollars a year for additional bigger size forage stockings depending on size of the water and numbers of big bass.

As bass grow they always eat more and more of the larger expensive foods per year. For optimum annual growth, these big fish are NOT eating small minnow like fishes for optimum growth and the needed food amounts actually needed to keep them growing at the rate of at least 1 pound weight gain per year. 18" LMB grow best eating 5"-6" BG and often eating 7”-8” long small bass or perch if available. Then Larger bass eat even larger fish and foods. Smaller 16” bass are eating 3”-4” BG and 5”-6” long bass, perch or trout. If you have to buy these forage fish due food shortages things quickly get expensive.

As esshup above mentions - Medium 15”-17” bass eating minnows will not grow larger because these bass expend too much energy and effort catching enough too small of fish that do not provide enough needed nutrition for growth. Maintenance weight maybe - Growth: little or None. Example – A 2lb bass (15”) needs to eat 12 lbs of food PER year to JUST maintain it’s 2lb weight AND then to grow an additional 1 pound it needs to eat another 10 lbs of the right sized forage. So for just a 2 lber to grow to 3 lb (15” to 17.5”) it needs to eat a TOTAL of 22 lbs of food that year! So 30 of these 2lb bass in 1 acre need to eat at least 660 lbs of forage fish! Do you see why CONSTANT forage amounts are very important especially when lots of bass per acre are present?

I will use just 30 bass instead of your planned 50 bass stockers per acre.
If 30 bass get to 4lb, each one needs to eat 24lb of forage to maintain its weight and then an added 10 lb of forage for a total 34lb for each bass to grow to 5 lb. A 1 ac pond then needs 1024 POUNDS of CORRECT forage to get 30 4lb bass to grow to 5 lb. See the challenge? Example - for a 5 lb bass just to maintain a good, well fed high body weight with a high relative weight (RW) for more growth it needs to eat close to 30 lbs of fish per year AND then to grow from 5 lb to 6 lb it needs to eat another 10 lbs of food for a total of 40 lbs of fish eaten for just that year for just that one bass. That amounts to a lot of small fish for feeding 30 bigger bass.

NORMALY the bigger the bass are in a pond, the fewer of them that can co-exist, stay healthy, and get enough of the RIGHT food to maintain weight and grow due to pond carrying capacity and forage basis. This all has a lot to do with how much bass growing food's that can be raised and maintained per acre. Carrying Capacity.

Once people realize what it takes in dollars and proper management effort and time to grow a trophy 10lb bass,,, they are content with having more bass in the 4 to 7lb size range which is a much easier and manageable fishery compared to focusing on a few 10+ lb bass per acre. It is said a 10 lb bass is worth $150-$200 because of the amount of feed that it has eaten to get to 10 lbs. Actually the 10 lb bass has eaten much more than $200 worth of forage to grow to 10 lbs. IMO once a bass grows to 5 lbs its dollar value goes to at least $20 per pound. 5lb bass X 20 = $100. Actually for this bass to grow to 5 lbs it has eaten 3,300 average size 3” BG for a value of $2,970 of eaten BG at $0.90 each. When starting a pond using big stocker fish, you are buying time similar to buying landscaping trees; in both cases you are buying time for growth. Time has money value.

See information in these links for knowing about pond carrying capacity and LMbass management. Excellent information in both of these informative threads.

Carrying Capacity
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=92440#Post92440

LMbass Management
https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=255372#Post255372

Again do your good diligent homework – read through, study, and take notes from all links. The trophy pond needs 'Fish Cities' as good PRODUCTIVE habitat. See next.
Listen to these good Sitting Dockside pond management podcasts about growing big bass and the Importance of abundance of good habitat and needed amounts of good habitat as benefits.

Episode #1 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats?t=0

Episode #66
https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/1...and-fish-habitat-for-lakes-and-ponds?t=0

To grow trophy or BIG bass, it takes lots of work and diligent effort. You don’t just stock run-of-the- mill young bass and expect trophies to grow.

You will need to do at least 2 of several important additional things.
1. LMB are prolific spawners. Once the LMB start spawning and recruitment bass are 8"-12" --- HARVEST, HARVEST, HARVEST of the smaller bass to help maintain lots of uneaten food for the REMAINING bigger bass to keep growing, so at certain lengths, they don't hit the 'growth wall' due to bass crowded conditions and food shortages.

Why harvest? - Which Ones and How Much Harvest of Bass

Sitting Dockside Podcast Episode 34. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/6...-it-is-almost-biblical-for-your-lake?t=0

Podcast Episode 55. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/8...redator-fish-why-do-you-harvest-bass?t=0

Remember - trophy bass ponds very rarely have very many large trophy BG because the trophy bass are heavily cropping TOO many of the 5"-7" BG that would become big BG.

2. For mixed sex bass,,,, always keep track of relative weights (RW) for ALL caught bass by anglers including those smaller bass that should usually be removed when RW is low. See info and link later below.

If it was my mixed sex bass pond, I would be cutting tails off all the removed small bass and tossing them alive back into the pond to feed the largest bass rather than you eating or wasting or discarding small bass. Small LMB or small panfish can be frozen and then later thawed and hand fed to some of the “tossed meat trained bass”. Training them to do this is relatively easy.

As mentioned a RW of 95%+ indicates the bass is healthy and growing. Less than 90% RW the bass is not getting enough food for the the optimum best growth. Remove thin bodied bass. Bass with above 90% are at least growing, but probably not growing optimally. At higher RW around 100% those bass are growing better and faster than the 90% RW bass.

3. To grow big bass the pond needs lots of healthy and high numbers of BG or other panfish type species that have been fed a high protein pellet to keep the BG / panfish population growing and abundant enough to feed those big, actively growing bass. Standard fish feeders for this are 1 to maybe 2 feeders per acre that distribute 40% plus high quality protein fish food. Fish can also be well fed if regular hand feeding of pellets is used. When one does not do this, expect fewer trophy bass per acre and overall smaller bass per acre from a mixed sex LMB population.

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

PRODUCING TROPHY BASS
Creating a trophy bass fishery takes a lot of effort and expense. Then having to maintain those trophies so they don’t lose weight and continue to grow and so they perpetuate the long term good size distribution of the biggest bass for their best body condition for the continued growth of all the biggest bass, requires probably more effort and expense than even initially creating them. This is because as the pond ages completion due to continued annual reproduction of bass CROWDS the fishery and lowers the growth potential of all resident fish. As already noted in examples above Trophy bass are NOT cheap for several reasons. There are some significant challenges, requirements, and allowances for maintaining a trophy fishery.

Firstly for big bass, let’s look at RELATIVE WEIGHT = RW. RW indicates how healthy and plump that a bass is compared to a measured and calculated “standard” bass. A big part of maintaining and managing trophy fish is: #1. Not having too many per acre and #2. to be able to maintain enough of the right sizes of food for these big fish to easily and regularly catch that big food and stay fat (RW) and then GROW BIGGER. RW is calculated by taking the standard weight of that fish individual and dividing it by its actual weight then multiplying the answer by 100 to get a %value called RW aka Relative Weight. Plump fish that are growing are above 90% RW and the best active growers are above 100% RW. RW = (weight of bass / standard weight of LMB) X 100.


Secondly what defines a trophy bass in your circle? Most anglers are well satisfied to catch 4-6 lb bass. Is it your goal to have top end bass in the 5-7lb class or are your trophy bass in the 8 to 10 pound class?

Each trophy bass is relative to the productivity and fish balance of each lake location. Trophies have a high value and each 10 lb bass trophy is probably really worth around at least $400 - $500 and probably more for each biggest bass because of the amount of food it has eaten over its life time to reach the trophy status. This does not even consider the TIME involved in getting bass to that size. Trophy fisheries are not for the average pond owner. True trophies are a big expense in both time and effort.

Number 3 is - a lake cannot maintain very many actual trophy size fish per acre. Their individual predator weight requirement equals that of several smaller predators. Thus the bigger the bass are - the fewer of them there will be per acre. NATURE’S LAW. Thus if an actively managed lake has 1 trophy, top size fish per acre - that is a lot. Many natural public lakes only have 1 trophy fish per 5 to 10 acres. Fish density and biomass weight regardless of fish size is based on water fertility and habitat. Clearer less fertile water means fewer fish per acre. The clarity of your lake determines the fishery production ability or its potential for growing fish poundage.

Number 4. Proper size and amount of habitat strongly affects the fishery production. Best habitat of the right density increases production. Correct types and placement of habitat has been proven in fishery science to increase fish production. Grouping of structures significantly benefits the fishery. Proven fact. See the associated Sitting Dockside podcasts noted below. More habitat may need to be added later to maintain the status of trophies long term in the lake. Depending. Learn about both. Bass do have normal natural life spans of around 16 to in best conditions 20 yrs, providing an angler does not miss handle that bass and kill that fish first.

Number 5. Realize that bass become hook shy and angler smart the longer they live and the more often they are exposed to lures. Proven fact is - the larger the average sized basses become, the harder they are for anglers to catch. The larger the average bass become in a lake - the FEWER bass that anglers will catch per hour of angling because there are very few present and these are usually angler – lure wise individuals. Some days angers will not even catch a really big bass. The opposite is true, the smaller the average bass are,,, the more of them there will be per acre and anglers will then catch more of these smaller bass per hour of fishing. Proven many times over. Most fishing groups prefer to catch more smaller sized bass of 2-4 lbs more frequently with the occasional 5 lb to 6 lb bass,,,,, compared to catching fewer bass of 4 to 6 pound bass sizes per trip and rarely ever catching that rare smart trophy bass of 8 to10 lbs. It is a matter of preference.
Trophy bass are NOT cheap and are not cheap to continually maintain long term as healthy growing individuals in a well managed fishery. Sometimes or often,,, these ‘hog’ trophy fish need to be regularly fed with annually added larger sized forages because they have ‘hogged out” most all the existing abundant and preferred size class of forage foods.

All these challenges for growing trophy mixed gender bass are really only for the wealthy lake owner. Once these things are realized for the resultant final goals produced after all the expenses, are why very few succeed in producing a true trophy bass fishery without professional help. Always – the bigger the water the more it costs in time, effort, dedication, and MONEY. Most owners are willing to accept and be happy with a quality medium bass balanced community rather than the trophy class fishery. The two are definitely different.

Maximum size of true trophy bass will vary due to latitude, genetics and temperature growing degree days per year. Those big top end fish in the South will typically be bigger and weigh more compared to those trophy class bass in Northern and Central states such as Kansas and Indiana. NOTE: the Indiana State angler record of LMB was a whopping 14 lb 12 oz which was very likely a real old female with all the EXCEPTIONAL needed genetics and also carrying late stage egg development.

Genetics are King for all big trophy category fish. Not all basketball players are 7 feet tall. Why? Tall genes are unique to certain individuals. Same character applies to bass. Only a low percentage of bass have the trophy genetics. “Jumper” bass have unique big fish genetics. More later on “jumper” bass.

Amount of abundant food is also very important. Just as an example, new research and philosophy from Sitting Dockside via T.Goldsby indicate for a 2 pound bass to maintain its proper plump body weight (good RW), it needs to eat 12 lbs of food/fish per year AND then to gain one pound it needs to eat ANOTHER 10 lbs of fish/food. Total 22 lbs consumed per year for a well growing 2 lb bass.

Proper size best food for a big 6 to 7 lb bass are not small 2”-3” fish. Weight gaining foods for big bass are sunfish 5”-7” long or something with a similar size/wt for that big bass to get maximum nutrition with the least amount of wasted energy of the hunt and capture. Optimal Foraging Theory – see later. And these big bass need to eat a lot of those types of foods. This is why big bass transferred to new ponds usually struggle to maintain good body weight, they gradually lose weight (low RW), become unhealthy, gradually die on the bottom, and remain unseen by the owner. Transferring small adult bass is often much more successful compared to moving big bass.

Now for a 7 pound bass to maintain a 90% - 100% relative healthy, plump weight (high RW) it takes 42 pounds of the right size and amount of food. These big fish have to eat a lot to stay fat with good RW for the necessary body conditions for increased growth!. It is common sense and a natural fact of fish physiology that fish are cold blooded animals and grow differently than land warm blooded mammals. However then, for that one 7 lb bass to gain another one pound to reach 8 lbs it needs to eat an ADDITIONAL 10 pounds of the proper size foods for an annual total consumption of 52 pounds of food to be eaten by that just one bass that year. That is why there are not a lot of trophy fish per acre in normal natural ponds or lakes. Example. Forage size BG 5”-7” long cost $3.60 ea. It takes 295 of them to weight 52lbs for a cost of $875 to feed that one 10 lb bass for just one year.

If we use 317 trout as forage fish 7” long weighing 52 lbs cost is $871. See the value of fish needed for just that one 7 lb bass to gain one pound? Big bass are expensive to feed. Extrapolate all this info up to around 65-67 acres. 295 fish X one 7 lb bass per acre in 67ac = 19,675 BG 5+” long for a 7 pounder to get to 8 lbs..
Now an 8 lb bass lady now needs to go to 9 pounds by eating 58 lbs of food for moving toward a larger trophy status. See the challenge for growing several of these per acre?

As an example, those 7lb bass will want to eat 5.7”-6.8”($3.00ea ) BG or 6”-8” ($2.75ea) trout. Larger predators who swallow food whole need to eat bigger foods to efficiently and effectively gain weight. It is called Optimum Foraging Theory - Getting the most amount of food with the least amount of effort.

Trophy fish management or all bass management is NUMBERS management. Most importantly with reproducing predators,,, then it becomes PROPER numbers management to remove enough bass so the remaining medium-large bass and the trophies get plenty of easy catch foods for continued growth each day. “Every day a bass does not FILL it belly is a day it does not grow” – Bob Lusk. If large bass are competing with too many smaller bass, trophies will lose the fat weight (RW) and obviously not grow.

HOMEWORK
As big bass educational homework - learn from these topics:
Learn to use and encourage all anglers to use SmartFish App. found at Quality Lakes Inc.

Read & learn through the following articles for managing trophy fish and big bass management.

Pond Boss article: PB mag Jan-Feb 2023Vol 31 No4. CHOOSE TO DO HARD THINGS. Wade Bales. Discusses electrofishiing vs catch and release for improving LMB growth. Bales was also a guest on Sitting Dockside podcast Episode 65

PBoss article: Jan-Feb 2022. WHY LARGEMOUTH BASS GROW BIGGER IN THE SOUTH. Dave Beasley shares the basic pond characteristics needed to grow trophy bass..

PBoss article: Mar-Apr 2022. LARGEMOUTH BASS. CATCH RATES ON PRIVATE TROPHY FISHERIES. Beasley shares ideas for good data collection, improving angling strategy, concentrating bass numbers, and improving bass aggression..

PBoss article: Jul-Aug 2022. PUSHING THE SOUTHERN LIMIT FOR TIGER MUSKY. Beasley discusses how musky improved a bass fishery.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2022. A THRIVING FORAGE BASE. Beasley explains why trophy LMB fisheries are only temporary unless special management is used.

PBoss article Jan Feb 2021. CONSIDERATIONS WHEN CREATING AN ENTERTAINING FISHERY. Beasley. Setting possible realistic goals.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2021. 10 ACRE CAROLINA TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS FISHERY. Beasley. A fishery profile of 10 years to 10 lb bass.

PBoss article. Jul-Aug 2021. LEGENDARY FISH FOR A LEGENDARY RANCH. Beasley explains how to do it in 2 yrs for 3.7-5.2lb bass and in 4 yrs one bass was 14.2 lbs in a new 33 ac TX lake. IMO that fish was a “jumper”

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2021. A SUCCESSFUL FISHERY: ITS IMPACT ON A CLOSE KNIT FAMILY. Beasley describes a 31 acre lake for growing bass bigger than 10 pounds and what the management keys that were needed.

PBoss article. May-June 2020. MISTAKES MADE MANAGING FOR TROPHY LARGEMOUTH BASS. Beasley – Numerous do’s and don’ts.

PBoss article. May-Jun 2019. UNDERSTANDING WHEN TO PRIORITIZE ELECTROFISHING. Beasley values and benefits of using it for proactive fish management.

PBoss article. Nov-Dec 2019. FALL MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES & STRATEGIES. Beasley tells the things of why, how & what to do in Fall for improving and maintaining trophy bass fisheries. Why Fall harvest is very important.

Listen to these good Sitting Dockside pond management podcasts about growing big bass.
Importance of abundance of good habitat and amount of good habitat.

Episode 1 https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/3322504-episode-001-fish-habitats?t=0

https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/1...and-fish-habitat-for-lakes-and-ponds?t=0

Proper bass harvest improves a mixed bass fishery. Guest - Wade Bales
Sitting Dockside Episode 65. https://www.buzzsprout.com/976324/9951429-episode-65-harvesting-fish-the-smart-way?t=0

Why bass harvest is important – It is almost biblical
Sitting Dockside poscast #35.

OPTIONAL STOCKING PLANS See my plans next.

Where to buy all female bass???? This is a very difficult task to find them and it may take lots of research and money, plus maybe lots of time and effort to get them. Dedication to the plan is paramount to not lose your focus of the plan.

The all female bass option would be very worthwhile, however it could be very, very difficult to locate and to buy just female bass that are 1-2 year old farm raised female bass to amount to your 50 bass per acre stocking goal will IMO require some LUCK and big expense. LMB need to be at least 1yr old to determine male & female gender. Only the EXCEPTIONAL fish farm will be willing and able to do this for you. The all female LMB are SPECIALITY items produced I think by only one or two places in the entire US. For starters - If you can locate some all female bass possibly via Bob Lusk now partnered with American Sportfish you will be a very Lucky pond owner. Start your search for all female bass with Bob Lusk and or contact Dave Beasley director of fisheries at Solitude Lake management.com. He has brought all female bass as far west as TX.

Here is my optional stocking idea for growing some really big fish in your 1 ac pond. Instead of using just mixed gender LMB as the main predator,,,,,, consider this alternative stocking plan and modify your plan to using mainly HSB as potential big fish predators with annually stocking a few to several female LMbass. See more later.

Why Hybrid Striped Bass - HSB

HSB can thrive to big sizes using pellets as the main food or some pellets as supplemental, large size, hand throw 1” nuggeted pelleted foods from Optimal or Purina brands. Then with the HSB, you gradually each year add a few ‘angler caught’, hand-picked female LMB from local ponds. Then harvest an appropriate number of the HSB in your pond based on how many female LMB that were newly added. For harvest of HSB, maybe select the slower growing HSB who are better dinner guests than the biggest HSB. As the HSB grow,, you may decide you prefer HSB to LMB. Then you may decide that adding female LMB each year might become less of a needed spring task.

This HSB-Female LMB plan puts you in VERY good control, actually excellent control, of the predator populations in your pond. HSB are not reproducing, they are providing angler excitement, and fast growing, big action packed fish. With these two predator species and before the larger female LMB are introduced, you can NOW stock some pellet trained yellow perch (4”-6”) as supplemental panfish who can thrive and grow to big 13” to 15” sizes and annually produce more good forage fish numbers. A 15” plump YP weighs 2 lbs and more when containing a full complement of eggs. Anglers will like catching big YP who thrive and grow fast eating pellets with the non-reproducing female LMB and HSB. However mixed gender LMB do not allow YP to perpetuate long term because the high numbers of smaller LMB will be cropping all the slender bodied small perch before they reach the larger harvestable sizes of 8”-9”+.

For your female bass portion of the fishery.
IMO annually adding a few Small adult female bass caught from a local pond is a decent alternative plan. These LMB show aggressive feeding genetics compared to existing shy bite bass in the same pond. This is why I think annually adding a few pre-spawn females each Spring from a pond can be a good method for producing potentially big LMbass in your small pond WHEN one cannot locate any farm that raises all female LMB. A really good fish farm might be able to select and sell you a couple gravid 12”-14” LMB each spring!.

Adding a few female bass per year to your pond maintains a good various size structured bass population that you have very good control of the total numbers of bass predators. Good control of numbers is PARAMONT in having or producing high quality fisheries and the same concept applies to managing any prospering wildlife community. Good control of numbers.

Female pre spawn bass caught from a balanced pond, as small adults as a recognizable gravid female bass 12” to 14” will likely have good aggressive angler friendly genetics which is why adding some female bass from a pond can be a good idea and a method for later producing a few really big bass in a small pond. Note - Few of these bass will have “jumper” genetics.

Firstly you need to know how to recognize and choose which bass is a good female stocker. This is a big learning curve involving good homework and careful attention to detail. Ideally, I think you need to learn about how to use catheter tubes for sampling eggs from a prespawn bass in Spring. This tube egg sampling method verifies 100% the fish was a female. Using just visual observation methods of a prespawn or spawn season bass for choosing a FEMALE stocker often results in 98% to someimes100% success. One male bass MISTAKE will ruin this plan and they will quickly produce the mixed gender bass population with all its disadvantages in a small pond for a goal of trophy bass.

Your current plan has 50 stocker LMB per acre. Remember half of those will be males. In your small 1 ac pond you would not initially need nor want 50 stocker FEMALE bass. 20 to 30 HSB or fewer and a total of 5-10 female bass over a few years of stocking esch spring would I think be a good number of predators in one acre to eventually easily produce all or most bass with true trophy size status using minimal cost and effort. I think the fewer number of both species that you stock the quicker they will become trophy size. Ideally 15 – 20 HSB and 5-10 female bass would be the best number of non-reproducing predators for 1 acre. If you use the 25-30 HSB initial stockers,, plan on harvesting some of them when they reach the 15”-24” sizes. 8”-9” HSB stockers can grow to 17” in one full growing season IF they are very well fed. It is Fast growth for them when they have all the food they can eat.

Why use all female bass together with hybrid striped bass?.?

1. Both predators do not reproduce and cause problems with over population

2. It eliminates the all the problems associated with bass crowded

3. It reduces, but does not eliminate, the need for always locating, buying and adding proper size/s of forage fish.

4. It reduces the numerous added costs of producing a mixed gender of trophy bass

5. It reduces the need for frequent expensive electroshock surveys to get premium results

6. It increases the number per acre available of large predators

7. It makes growing or producing a trophy fishery easier to obtain

8. It allows easier regulation of panfish populations

9. It allows more big panfish to be present to make anglers happier

10. It allows an annual harvest of big multi species of panfish as dinner guests.

11. HSB live and co-exist well with LMB.

12. HSB will pull harder and fight longer than LMB.

13. HSB and LMB together diversifies the catch possibilities for angler anticipation and excitement.

14. Non-reproducing predators make it easier to produce a multispecies fishery of big panfish because lots of small bass are not always present who over eat the recruitment from the panfish population/s.

15. Non-reproducing HSB predators can easily be added later as needed.

16. HSB can easily be added or replaced as needed depending on needs of the fishery balance. Too many predators remove some; too few predators add some.

17. HSB have a small mouth compared to largemouth. This forces them to eat smaller fish compared LMB when both are the same body length. Smaller panfish need to be cropped harder compared to larger panfish mainly because there are more smaller sizes compared to larger sizes.

18. You get two very differently behaving species of action packed predators that can more easily be grown to trophy sizes in a one acre or in even a smaller pond.

19. Best Bonus - If in years later you are dissatisfied with the quality of the non-reproducing trophy fishery, all you have to do is add some mixed gender bass and the fishery is then converted to your current original stocking plan – one with mixed gender LMbass. Reproducing LMB will then soon take over as the most abundant predator.

This from esshup on the PB Forum as printed below. Good fish lessons are worth repeating.
Great write up Bill! Another IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle is learning to correctly handle the large LMB once caught. You don't want to grow them large, then injure or even kill them by handling them incorrectly once they are caught. 1) Use a rubberized net, don't grab them by the lower jaw. 2) Use two hands to support the fish to take it out of the net. One hand on the lower jaw, one hand supporting the back 1/3 of the fish. 3) Don't let it flop around on shore or in the bottom of the boat - that removes the slime coat and opens the fish up to infection. Doing that is basically a later death sentence for that big fish even if it appears okay as it swims away. Body infection with fungus growth on a fish takes a week to 10 days to take its toll on a big fish.

A customer in Texas that has a 35 acre trophy LMB lake has a few rules. Break the rules, and you cannot fish in the pond.
1) Barbless hooks.
2) Support the fish with 2 hands.
3) Net the fish, keep the fish in the net in the water while you figure out what you are going to do next. This is important because of the next step.
4) The fish can only be out of the water for 30 seconds max. If you want to weigh the fish, leave the fish in the net, weigh everything and then weigh the net after the fish is released, don't hang the fish by it's jaw or worse, the gills.

Texas Share Lunker program has had LMB come in with broken lower jaws because of poor handling, and the fish never recover.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 04/13/23 07:58 PM. Reason: Apr 13 Several edits and enhancements