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#561066 09/03/23 05:00 PM
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Thinking about trying smallmouth bass in 1/2 acre pond again. Tried several years ago, but for some reason they all disappeared after awhile ?

Pond had LMB in fair numbers at the time
Smallmouth were were from a river

Any thought on this ?


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I am NOT an expert, but there have been several posts on Pond Boss where people reported that SMB frequently struggle in small ponds that have a reproducing population of LMB.

However, there are also multiple threads where SMB have thrived in small ponds where the SMB are the top predator.

Another factor may have been the river to pond transfer. SMB can certainly thrive in ponds. However, there have been several reports on Pond Boss of fish (of several different species) being transferred from creeks and rivers having suboptimal survival rates when moved to a pond.

If you really want SMB, then one option would be grow up your LMB population as much as possible and then fish and seine them out and then drain and rotenone your pond and start with a blank slate.

I know that sounds like a bitter pill, but it may actually be much easier than fighting a multi-year battle with two kinds of bass and you not reaching your goals for either species.

Hopefully, some actual experts will give you some better advice. We certainly have fewer members west of the Rockies, but there are lots of members that do have SMB in their ponds and can relate their experience.

Good luck on your pond improvements!

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I think you should definitely be able to have some SMB in your small 1/2 ac pond providing you do some important things.

Firstly - be very careful that the captured SMB are not stressed when you catch, and hold them before traveling home. Make sure they have good aeration in the travel holding container AND do not over crowd them in the holding tank; fewer numbers are always much better than too many in the tank which causes undue stress that can kill them later after pond release. My rule of thumb is too much hauling water is always better than too little. Remember the pond life and habitat will be a lot different than the stream life conditions. This in itself is a stressor that reduces chances of survival when these SMbass grew up in stream conditions.

Secondly for each SMB that you plan to add to the pond remove at least 2 or three or better 4 LMB for each new SMB added. LMB are big BULLIES and will strongly compete for habitat spaces and the good foods against the newly added SMbass. You want to make sure that the new SMbass have plenty of foods in the new pond conditions; thus reduce their competition. LMB who are aggressively eating all the good available pond foods heavily contribute with the new bass who could be or would be starving. The smallies need to eat well to maintain body weight and compete well with the LMB bullies. Thus the new SMB need to eat well to adjust and survive pond life with more aggressive LMB present.

Thirdly - The more LMB that you later ANNUALLY remove while the SMB are in the pond, the better the smallies will survive in your 1/2 ac pond.

Fourthly - Every year or two as you diligently annually remove some LMB then try to add 2 - 3 more SMB from the stream. This keeps the SMB numbers in good density which I assume is your goal for the pond.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/03/23 08:24 PM.

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Thanks Bill -

Some great info.

In the 1/2 acre pond I have a half dozen 2-4 lb. bass that I have been feeding for two years and now trying to wean them off so they will eat the crazy amount of baby LMB and BG I have never had previously. Remainder of the pond is one - maybe two 12" LMB and two 6" LMB best I can tell (an otter got in the pond and ate the rest I presume). I was going to add 10 LMB to replenish the loss and thought maybe 3-4 SMB. Good idea or not ?

I also have a new 3/4 acre pond that just has BG, minnows, and crawdads in it so far - so maybe I should make that a SMB only pond and not mix in any LMB ?

I never realized that the LMB were bullies and would out compete the SMB for food - always presumed it was the other way around - but makes sense why I could never get the SMB to stick when I had 25-30 LMB in the 1/2 pond.


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Originally Posted by Pond Star
I also have a new 3/4 acre pond that just has BG, minnows, and crawdads in it so far - so maybe I should make that a SMB only pond and not mix in any LMB ?
We have a Winner!


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Bill is spot on! lmb are not a good mix.if you could start out by eliminating them right out of the gate would be best. I have tried to completely eliminate one of my ponds of lmb that has smb and perch as the main focus. I try to fish them out when i see them. (Pond is too big to net). For the most part i keep up on them but can not eliminate them completly. Over the years i have gotten on top of things only to have a lmb spawn and fight to remove the small ones. I personally like the smb / perch combo. Before when i had lmb /bg combo i ended up with a bunch of small lmb that got out of control and were thin. Mostly because my bg were hybreds and didnt provide enough spawn to keep the lmb fed.Dont seem to have that with the smb/perch combo. Both smb and perch are also good eating which was my main goals. Both are feed trained because i have large numbers of fish. Fatheads are hard to keep stocked but i also dug a pond for fatheads to raise. Smb up to around 5lbs and perch up to 13"
My vote is to put smb in the 3/4 acre pond with perch. Unless the bg are hybreds( mostly male) i would work on keeping those numbers down. Smb will eat the fatheads and perch and will leave the bg alone to over populate.im no expert by any means. Just what ive seen here in the last 24 yrs of messing around with my ponds.

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If the goal is smallmouth do not put in LMB, as the LMB in pond habitats always out compete the smallies to where the SMB are not able to reproduce. As Ron noted If you put SMB in with BG, the SMB struggle to control the BG population. The SMB will need your help each year removing the prolific bluegill.


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If the SMB will eat the BG, why will they struggle to control the population ? (As compared to what LMB would do I presume ?)

Last edited by Pond Star; 09/04/23 04:02 PM.

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Originally Posted by Pond Star
If the SMB will eat the BG, why will they struggle to control the population ? (As compared to what LMB would do I presume ?)

Several reasons.

BG are very prolific and can spawn multiple times from the spring through the fall. You need to have bass in almost every size class to continuously soak up the numbers of BG that are being created in every size class. If even one BG size class makes it through to maturity in huge numbers, then they will be the brood stock that spawns LOTS of BG fry in your pond at every opportunity. Somehow, the growth rates and variance in LMB seem to create a wider size-range of bass than a pond of the same starting point with SMB.

Also, the SMB just do not grow as rapidly as LMB, or spawn as prolifically - to create more BG eating machines. Further, the mouth gape of the SMB is smaller than that of a LMB of equivalent age. BG can get disk-shaped quickly enough to become unconsumable by any but your biggest SMB.

Finally, if you don't like your pond balance, IMO it is far easier to add more BG later, than it is to try and remove thousands of BG.


*** Bill Cody is an expert on this topic. I am not. If he gives advice different than my advice, or that modifies my advice, then I would definitely follow HIS recommendations!

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FishinRod's has very good comments about having SMB with BG. SMB are naturally adapted to eating more narrow bodied prey items such as yellow perch, green sunfish, minnows, crayfish and invertebrates that are commonly found in stream habitats. . Whereas largemouth are most adapted to living with bluegill type sunfishes common to lake/ pond habitats. Instinctively SMB are "out of place" and not well adapted living with wide bodied prey items of BG, thus SMB "struggle' if the dominant prey are BG. It is a matter matching the behavior and adaptations of predator and prey for best success. .

Last edited by Bill Cody; 09/04/23 07:48 PM.

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I seriously believe SMB would almost rather starve than eat BG. I removed all but a few adult BG from a grow out I'm stocking 8-12" SMB in for breeders next year and although the pond is full of small BG, the SMB were starting to look a bit thin so I dumped 45lbs of 2.5-3.5" GSH in. I've been trapping BG by the hundreds from 1" to 2.5" and am now seeing the occasional SMB and they are fat, but it isn't the BG adding that weight, I've seen way too many GSH tails in their throat.

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In my neighbor's pond, the first SMB caught was on a live BG. SMB was about 7" and the BG was maybe 1.5" long.

Totally anecdotal. The SMB wasn't really plump. It should have been gorging on fatheads and feed for anywhere from a year plus 9-10 months.

YP in this pond also but no evidence of a YP spawn from what I can see.


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Originally Posted by Snipe
I seriously believe SMB would almost rather starve than eat BG. I removed all but a few adult BG from a grow out I'm stocking 8-12" SMB in for breeders next year and although the pond is full of small BG, the SMB were starting to look a bit thin so I dumped 45lbs of 2.5-3.5" GSH in. I've been trapping BG by the hundreds from 1" to 2.5" and am now seeing the occasional SMB and they are fat, but it isn't the BG adding that weight, I've seen way too many GSH tails in their throat.

That is a very interesting data point!

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So, especially now that Snipe has chimed in, could a slight overstocking of larger Saugeye be used to help try to eradicate (more likely just greatly thin) the BG in the BG/FHM pond in preparation for transition to a SMB/YP pond? Once BG thinned, thin out some of the Saugeye, then begin the minnow/YP/SMB/possibly RES stocking, keeping maybe 1 saugeye to help control any remaining BG. As Bill has advised me in other situations, think of certain fish as tools, in this case, Saugeye being a tool to help fix the BG "problem."


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Originally Posted by DrewSh
So, especially now that Snipe has chimed in, could a slight overstocking of larger Saugeye be used to help try to eradicate (more likely just greatly thin) the BG in the BG/FHM pond in preparation for transition to a SMB/YP pond? Once BG thinned, thin out some of the Saugeye, then begin the minnow/YP/SMB/possibly RES stocking, keeping maybe 1 saugeye to help control any remaining BG. As Bill has advised me in other situations, think of certain fish as tools, in this case, Saugeye being a tool to help fix the BG "problem."

There are no "perfect tools" in our tool boxes. However, the use of Saugeye does sound like an excellent new tool to add to our choices.

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For SMB ponds that have an excess panfish population, the Saugeye are almost a perfect of a tool as we can find.

Rod, care to mention a more perfect tool for the job at hand?


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Originally Posted by esshup
For SMB ponds that have an excess panfish population, the Saugeye are almost a perfect of a tool as we can find.

Rod, care to mention a more perfect tool for the job at hand?

A fairy godmother with a magic wand, that reads Pond Boss Magazine every month? grin

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IIRC Pondstar, you can fill the ponds with diversion/irrigation water from a cold water river? One option to consider, especially considering it is only 1/2 acre, is to drain and start over without BG and without LMB. Design the forage around what is allowed in Oregon (if RES are allowed this could serve as something like BG that play much nicer with SMB).


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Originally Posted by Pond Star
If the SMB will eat the BG, why will they struggle to control the population ? (As compared to what LMB would do I presume ?)

IIRC, ewest mentioned that the most appropriate size for feed is a diameter that is 1/4 the gape of the LMB. A similar relationship applies to fish prey. Predators tend to consume prey that is much less than what can fit the gape. Because the gape is much smaller on an SMB of the same length as an LMB .... the prey that "same length SMB" tends to consume is also much smaller. This means that the time prey is exposed to high risk predation is much less with SMB than with LMB of the same length. If the SMB grow slower, then the problem is compounded.

Also without control of BG, SMB will find it difficult to recruit and possibly may not be able to at all when the BG numbers get really out of whack. This would spell the end of SMB in a pond like that because there would be no upcoming replacements.

Last edited by jpsdad; 09/07/23 05:41 AM.

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Originally Posted by jpsdad
IIRC Pondstar, you can fill the ponds with diversion/irrigation water from a cold water river? One option to consider, especially considering it is only 1/2 acre, is to drain and start over without BG and without LMB. Design the forage around what is allowed in Oregon (if RES are allowed this could serve as something like BG that play much nicer with SMB).

If you consider jpsdad's suggestion, there are several old threads on Pond Boss about successful SMB/RES ponds.

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More great stuff- thanks very much for all of the insight.

Draining and refilling doesn't make my bucket list - would have to pump all the water out and attempt to save LMB, BG, crawdads and 5 grass carp the size of small submarines.

Built the pond with steep sides to discourage weed growth - so getting down in the muck trying to rescue fish, etc. is not going to happen. I do have another 3/4 pond I am bringing on line that only has BG in it and could be a SMB only pond - although I see now that BG is not the best option. No RES or YP in the area and no fish farms to buy from - so would be stuck with a BG/SMB combo as pretty much my only option.


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Originally Posted by Pond Star
No RES or YP in the area and no fish farms to buy from - so would be stuck with a BG/SMB combo as pretty much my only option.

Sometimes you just have to dance with the one that brought you.

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I soon as I hit post, I just thought of another option - since you have two ponds.

You could start the new pond as a BG/SMB pond. If it works out well, then you can keep managing that fun combination.

If it does NOT work out well and you get too many BG, maybe you could add female-only LMB?

If you caught or netted some LMB in the old pond during the spawn you could move a few females over to the new pond every year. If you correctly sexed your LMB, then the LMB would not be competing with your SMB in the reproductive area. Instead, the female LMB should grow very rapidly and then mostly feed on your large BG that create lots of offspring. The SMB would then have the smaller BG for their forage.

I will let the experts further discuss that possible compromise solution.

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Never underestimate the urge to reproduce. LMB and SMB cross yeilding meanmouth bass.

With your situation I suggest this article as an intro.

https://mossyoakgamekeeper.com/wild...outh-bass-are-they-suited-for-your-pond/
















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Do you know the fertility of Meanmouths? Any chance of Fx generations?


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