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Hi Pond Boss members! Yesterday I put 850 coppernose bluegill and 150 redear Shellcrackers in a 2 acre pond that I've been working on for about 2 years. The pond will average about 10' when full but currently 2'7". I'm filling it with 2 wells and we're starting to get a little rain.

3 main questions.

1) will these 1-3" bluegill spawn this young? I had planned on adding the Florida large mouth bass in June.
2) the water temperature is 66 degrees. I bought a bag of very small high protein feed from the fish hatchery. Should I be feeding them? They've only been in the new pond for 24 hours.
3) since there isn't any predator fish yet in the pond would I be wise to get some larger Coppernose and let them heavily spawn now, before the bass are added in June? That would give me 4 full moons before the bass for them to spawn.

I have 4 young sons. So my goal with this pond is trophy bluegill and mediocre bass.

Thank you all for what I've already learned reading your posts! 🙏

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Welcome to Pond Boss!

I believe BG as small as 3" can sometimes spawn. Further, the lack of larger BG may make it more likely that your small BG will spawn.

Regardless, they should grow rapidly and spawn later in the year if your pond is fertile. Are the BG already feed trained? If not, then they need to rely mostly on your natural food chain for rapid growth.

I am definitely NOT an expert, but in a 2-acre pond I don't see any obvious down side to adding a stocking of larger BG this spring. How big will your Florida LMB bass be in June? They are not going to eat this year's BG fry, they are probably going to eat your 1-3" stockers.

Can you add some larger BG in the size range that will not be capable of being eaten by your size range of bass?

Hopefully some of our management experts will be along to give you better advice!

Good luck, and have fun with your new pond!

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Thank you FishnRod! That makes sense! I'll work on finding some larger BG to start spawning! Thank you!

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Originally Posted by MarkTaylorFL
Thank you FishnRod! That makes sense! I'll work on finding some larger BG to start spawning! Thank you!

Mark,

It is very unwise to stock adult BG with 2"-3" LMB when your goal is big BG. They will over recruit and if you stock now, most of first cohort (hatching in March or April) will be as large as your LMB stockers in June. IOWs this first cohort will never be controlled and could number in the thousands stalling in the 3" to 4" range. It would be a very big mistake.

Don't worry about the LMB. They will subsist just fine on invertebrates until the BG are spawning. The longer you can delay BG spawning, the better off you will be. Ideally, your LMB should be around 8" before the BG are spawning. Otherwise the BG YOY will grow right past their gape.

Stock minnows if you want to help the LMB grow faster. Just keep in mind that if you have a strong minnow population when the BG are spawning, the LMB will ignore the BG and take the minnows until they are gone. This could lead to more recruitment of BG than desired. But please, whatever you do, do not stock brooding BG at this time.

Last edited by jpsdad; 01/26/24 07:27 AM.

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It doesn't take very long for Bluegill to start taking feed, so I would get started feeding your new fish now. Try and feed at the same spot(s) and same times to get the most fish on feed.

If you do start feeding now, I think you will get a spawn late spring/early summer/all summer long with just the fish you already have.

Adding larger CNBG now (and later) probably does not hurt your plan for having large Bluegill as you're going to get a Bluegill spawn regardless.

As such, you'll probably need a predator fish this summer to start eating on all the 2024-born bluegill that you're going to have.

If your LMB stockers for June are in the 2-3" range, they won't have a huge impact on cropping down the bluegill spawn for 2024. You should be able to find some larger LMB, or even bucket-stock some. As you're not really looking for trophy LMB, the actual quality if the LMB you stock is less important (may not matter if you stock some stunted LMB).

You may also want to consider some Hybrid Striped Bass. Be aware that the larger the predators are that you stock in 2024, the more at-risk are your original Bluegill stockers; however, if you get them on feed now, even the 1" Bluegill should be over 4" by late May '24.


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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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jpsdad and others,

Will the natural food chain of invertebrates be established enough by June for the bass to thrive? This is a new pond being filled with well water. Will there be enough forage for the BG stockers to thrive, since those are the fish that should become the trophies?

The advice I usually see on Pond Boss is to start a LMB/BG pond with a big dose of FHM to jump start the available forage. Is that procedure incorrect in the case of managing for a trophy BG pond?

Is the optimal procedure to have very hungry bass, whose goal in the pond is to eat as much of the subsequent BG production as possible? Will the BG fry from the very first spawn be up to eating size for the new bass starting around their stocking date?

I also used to see lots of advice to add hybrid BG for the earliest "trophies" in trophy BG ponds, due to the double benefit of faster growth due to hybrid vigor plus less reproduction. However, there is then some discussion of the subsequent crosses reverting to undesirable green sunfish traits.

(Sorry for all of the additional questions. Just trying to help OP Mark, rather than further muddying the waters.)

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Thank you JPSDad! I was getting pretty interested in putting some larger BG in here so I'm glad I read your post first! Thank you!

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Thank you Sunil. I just threw some handfuls of feed in just now but couldn't get any interest. I'll keep trying though! Thank you!

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Thank you FishnRod, I like the extra questions. I'm on the fence fertilizing as we swim in the pond a lot too. Trying to balance the pond as both fish and swimming. May not work but trying! We actually just finished swimming in it a few minutes ago too!

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Originally Posted by MarkTaylorFL
Thank you Sunil. I just threw some handfuls of feed in just now but couldn't get any interest. I'll keep trying though! Thank you!


You are welcome.

If you can, get a few Christmas trees and tie them together and then tie a brick or cinder block to them with a few feet of lead. If you put that in 4-5 feet of water, and within 8-10' of the shore, it should help gather some Bluegill, and then you can feed right by the clump.


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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Originally Posted by MarkTaylorFL
We actually just finished swimming in it a few minutes ago too!

You went swimming in your pond in January? Impressive!

Any chance you can send some Florida pond water to Kansas? grin

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
jpsdad and others,

Will the natural food chain of invertebrates be established enough by June for the bass to thrive? This is a new pond being filled with well water. Will there be enough forage for the BG stockers to thrive, since those are the fish that should become the trophies?

This a good question and something I have often pondered. To have a good food chain, the water first has to be fertile. Some of that fertility is in the pond soil and it will mobilize. Liming and fertilization helps as well. All that's left is the critters to eat the lettuce. For the most part we are talking insects for the initial stockers. So insects like chaoborus, chiromids, mosquitos and such find the water quickly and lay eggs there. For insects with rapid life cycles, the populations surge in a new pond with a low standing weight of fish. Larger insects follow. As for the rest ... Where is Bill? I have often wondered how rotifer, copepod, and cladocera get established. But, lots of things develop ... probably a little differently for each pond. My sense is that insects are primary source of food for 2" fingerlings (both LMB and BG) in a new pond (but I am probably wrong). Did I say where is Bill? Please help!

The advice I usually see on Pond Boss is to start a LMB/BG pond with a big dose of FHM to jump start the available forage. Is that procedure incorrect in the case of managing for a trophy BG pond?

FHM are good food for LMB and BG alike. BG will benefit from them. That said there are other considerations. In particular, will they influence intra-specific competition (BG competition among peers)? When LMB have choices, they will resort to the prey which is most energetically favorable. This is the FHM for sure. So it is possible that large populations of alternative prey may be preferred by LMB over BG. In some cases, this is so extreme that BG develop severely stunted populations. I have seen references for such occurring with crayfish and to a lesser extent with GSH. FHM go away eventually so it isn't going to kill the ponds potential for trophy BG, however, they can and probably will influence recruitment to the side of increased recruitment. In a trophy BG pond, the recruitment into the 3" to 6" sizes must be very limited or one must remove some of the smaller ones to succeed. A two-species pond forces LMB to concentrate on BG. One is giving up some of front end growth if he doesn't stock minnows, but it is possible to make this up later if the recruitment is lower in the early going. Keep in mind that once extirpated, FHM are not going to maintain the fattened LMB and BG population any longer.


Is the optimal procedure to have very hungry bass, whose goal in the pond is to eat as much of the subsequent BG production as possible? Will the BG fry from the very first spawn be up to eating size for the new bass starting around their stocking date?

Depends on when the BG spawn and when the LMB are stocked. BG fry grow right past the gape of 2" fingerlings but are very vulnerable up to about 20% the length of the LMB and somewhat vulnerable up to about 25%. Most consumed (~83%) will be smaller than 20% the LMB length. BG grow as fast as LMB for the first 60 days. Where food is not limited, BG can grow up to 2" in 60 days. Normally, it is recommended to stock the LMB and BG as 2" fingerlings simultaneously for a panfish stocking. By the time the BG are spawning the LMB have grown to 4 -6 inches and would be able to consume 45 day old BG. By the time the fry are 45 days old the LMB have doubled or possibly tripled in weight consuming the first spawn of BG.

(Sorry for all of the additional questions. Just trying to help OP Mark, rather than further muddying the waters.)


Yes, to be sure. That goes for me too.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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For advice beyond what has been discussed, I would like some more pond information.
1. How long has the basin had any water in it?
2. What is the current surface size of water in the basin?. abt 1/4ac? 1/2ac, 1ac. 1ac+?
3. Since you are filling from a well with some limited rain what is the water clarity in inches?. How deep can you see a white coffee cup or a Cool Whip lid tacked on the end of a broom stick or a 2x2???? It is best if this can be observed from a dock. A floatee can also work since you have been swimming in the pond. If the water is only about 3 ft deep,,,, how well can you see the bottom in the deepest part? barely see it: can see some bottom stuff; very clear as glass see leaves easily on bottom.
4. "the water temperature is 66 degrees. I bought a bag of very small high protein feed from the fish hatchery".
4a. What brand was the fish food? If you don't know the food brand email the fish farm for the info.
4b. What is the size of the pellets?. mm works or how may 1/16" 1/4" is 4/16".
4c. IF you have a company brand fish food bag what is the protein content of the pellets?.
4d. Do the pellets float or sink? normally very small pellets will sink and sometimes some sink and some float.
4e. How much of this very small fish food did you buy?

Make a fish feeding ring as a circle from 3 cylinder swim floats bent into a circle or make a square 3x3ft, 4x4ft or 5x5ft from 1.5" thin wall pvc. Tether it to shore or weighted a few feet offshore with 1-2 twine& bricks just far enough that you can toss fish food into it. Use this as a feed ring to contain the fish food that you add to the pond. This will help feed train the BG to pellets and the feeding area.

I will return when I get more answers and info.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/27/24 09:34 PM.

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In most Fla locations CNBG will grow from hatch to 7 inches in one year assuming enough food (size is with pelleted feeding). The pic below is a 10 mth old CNBG on pellets. You will have BG spawn this spring (May is a guess) and more as the fish get bigger. Folks keep in mind that in much of Fla BG and LMB can spawn 9 mths + out of the year (temp and photoperiod). Assuming a Pensacola location you could have BG spawn as early as late Feb and as late as Oct.

Suggestion - feed the fish - don't add any more BG for now, add a few FH and be ready to stock 2-3 inch LMB in June +- .

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