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So the last year has been busy for me. I was having troubles getting bluegill going strong enough for a forage base before i stock bass. 8 acre pond in SE Illinois, average depth is 4-5 and 10 around the levee. I added 6 bottom diffusers, over 50 bluegill beds. 30% of the shoreline is now in cover, maybe 5-8% in open water. Well... my numbers have blown up and now I'm wanting to start feeding soon. As seen in the picture, the pond is surrounded by trees. My thoughts, if anyone has experience in this department. I plan to drive treated 4x4s in open water, put a cross arm at the top and throw up a few texas hunter hanging feeders. Are they decent quality or should I just buy 1 bank feeder? Also, I can't afford to feed these fish at will. I know something is better than nothing but at what point are you feeding them for growth and not recreation? My plan was 2 feeders, 200lb "total" of optimal per month during peak growing times, 100 lb early and late season, and shut it off in the winter. Thoughts?

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I think the standard rule of thumb from Texas Hunter is 1 feeder per 10 acres of water. That said 1 feeder for 5-10 acres sounds like very isolated coverage. I'm on a smaller body of water than you are and went bank feeder only because I wanted ease of access to fill and much easier to seem them getting after the food (how long to feed at each cycle as it changes through the year).

Very pretty pond you have there.


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An acre is the playing surface of a football field. I would go with at least 2 feeders.

Last edited by Dave Davidson1; 02/27/24 08:12 AM.

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I was leaning towards 2 feeders, Dave. Do you know anything about Texas hunters hanging feeders? I was hoping they have a bracket to bolt them on. Instead of hanging. Also, in your opinion. Would 100-200lbs of optimal split between 2 feeders monthly make a noticeable growth difference to your BG on body of water this size?

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Originally Posted by ClintPrice
... Would 100-200lbs of optimal split between 2 feeders monthly make a noticeable growth difference to your BG on body of water this size?

Clint you have a lot of water at 8 acres. It looks like you plan to feed 100 a month for the first and 6th months of a 6 month growing season. For the intervening 4 months it looks like you plan to feed 200 lbs per month. This is 1000 lbs for the season and I will work with that figure.

It would make a difference, more in some fish than others. The 1000 lbs will do as much in your pond as in any other in terms of total gain spread across the population. It's not clear if you are working with a budget but I am getting the sense that you may not want to take things to the limit. The 1000 lbs seems to be a number that your are comfortable with. I will mention, however, that this is a relatively low rate of feeding (125 lbs per acre per year).

Sometimes it is good to look at what you are spending and then what you are getting so you can make a personal judgment as to the value and return of your investment and whether it is too much or just not enough. First let's consider the pond in its natural state. What weight of fish can it support on its own? Is it fertile country or infertile country where it is situated? A lot of water in the agricultural regions of Illinois can maintain 300 lbs/acre (in some cases more) naturally. Is your pond one of them? If so, without feeding, you could maintain ~ 250 lbs of BG and ~50 lbs of LMB for each acre of water you have with no feeders and no feed added. Just judging from the photograph, your water will probably maintain this weight of fish give or take a 100 lbs That's your starting point. Is 400 lbs of LMB and 2000 lbs of BG enough? If it isn't, then feeding can add to that carrying capacity. I will mention, greater weights and numbers of fish require proportionately more effort to manage (just population wise) and also will require additional investment for the energy that supports them.

Optimal isn't just Optimal. They have different formulations. An arbitrary 40/12 formulation will support around 0.45 lbs of BG for each 1 lb fed annually. It can do that IF it can convert at 1.5 pounds of feed to 1 lbs of flesh when consumed at 3% of body weight daily at 75F. I cannot vouch that Optimal BG can at that consumption rate so don't bank on that number. It may not be as good as that. Not dissing the feed. It is very good feed that is as good (probably) as most other 40% protein feeds or possibly even better. At any rate, this gives you a starting place that IMO is not likely to understate its support to your pond. So you can calculate how much additional weight that 1000 lbs of feed will add to the ponds BG and LMB populations. It calculates to 450 lbs BG standing weight and 90 lbs of LMB standing weight additional for feeding 1000 lbs of arbitrary 40/12 annually. That's pretty darn good, don't you think? A little less than $3 per pound of additional carry per year. I think it is an excellent value especially when a pond cannot carry as much standing weight as one would otherwise want. On a per acre basis you will be getting around 11.25 extra lbs/acre of LMB carry and 56.25 extra lbs/acre of BG carry. Is that enough extra? If not then you will need to feed more.

Your BG are already grown by the ponds foods. If they haven't yet, they will fill the carry capacity some time this year. If they have already filled the carry capacity of the ponds natural production of foods, you can expect the gain from 1000 lbs of feed to be in the neighborhood of 450 lbs of BG. At first glance it may appear that the BG are converting at 2.22. But actually no. 2000 lbs of BG are being supported by the pond's natural foods and this is equivalent to around 4500 lbs of 40/12. So the BG are eating foods that are comparable in digestible energy of 4500 +1000= 5500 lbs of 40/12. The Gross conversion is actually an FCR > 11. Most of the consumption maintains the population once the population has some weight to it.

But I just said an arbitrary 40/12 may convert at 1.5 above? Yes, but this requires consumption >=3% of body weight daily. If you have 2000 lbs of BG naturally and want to feed them at 3% of body weight daily we are talking 60 lbs per day just to start. The amount you would need to feed would grow every day as they grow. You are quite simply never going to do that unless you harvest them out every year as an aquaculture business.

This year, you can expect 450 lbs of additional BG carry with 1000 lbs fed. This is 22.5% increase in the average weight if you are starting with 2000 lbs of BG. Average is what it is. It tells you nothing about what an individual fish does. The feed (thankfully) will not distribute its benefit equally among your BG. Some will consume more than others and these you will notice. If it were to be equally distributed, the average BG would gain around 6% in length from the supplement (assuming standard weights). You may not notice that. But as I said, some will eat their fill while others eat none so you will definitely notice the partakers.

One last note. Almost all of the food in the pond is going to go towards maintaining your fish. They will rapidly grow into it. But because they grow into it, it doesn't make sense at all to consider feed an important contributor to average individual growth (unless a significant proportion of the standing weight is removed each year). Maintenance is all that matters. If you remove 35% of the biomass, next year all that was removed will be gained back. They will fill the carry every year but they will not grow past it. If you don't have mortality, expect the "average" fish to gain nothing in weight where the population uses all of the available foods for maintenance. If you stop feeding, expect all the gains in carrying capacity (gains from feeding)to be lost over the next 12 months.

Last edited by jpsdad; 02/25/24 04:44 PM.

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Wow wow wow. That is some serious formula breakdown! So bottom line, it will give me roughly a 22.5% increase in my BG total weight "an extra 450lbs. Keeping my LMB numbers at 50/acre or lower. Should... give my LMB everything they need to stay above 110% relative weight?

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Clint,

Assuming that you already have 50 LMB/acre averaging 1 lb, the addition to feeding your BG would allow them to gain on average 22.5%. An increase of ~0.25 lb may not provide that RW. Essentially you are increasing the carry to 62 pounds. What you want to do is also remove say 20/acre of those LMB where they can average 2 lbs. Lowering the standing weight to 30 lbs/acre, allows them to grow more than 22.5%. To have really fat LMB requires consumption that leads to near maximum growth. They consume faster than they can grow in length ... so to speak ... so they get fat. Here I am assuming normal production of consumable prey ... see next.

I will add that an initial stocking, especially with a forage head start, can build a bank of slow growing forage. The bank is built because there was little consumption of YOY by predators in the initial year. The numbers are really high in the small sizes that growing LMB need. So the result of that is that there can be abnormally high numbers of consumable prey for 3 to 4 years. That is what one is trying to do, however, when the bank is depleted, the pond will revert to the production of consumable prey that is normal. Your challenge will be hone the population to be in balance with the production of consumable prey that is normal after the bank is depleted.

If you want a sustainable pond, one that continues to grow individual fish at good rates of growth to trophy size, you will have to maintain a stable population of LMB that recruits into the adult class size equal to the mortality of adults. Consider also this, What do you want the fish to average in weight? To grow trophies ... this average needs to be in the neighborhood of 4 lbs. So with 62 lbs of carry this is 15 or 16 fish. There just cannot be a lot of fish less than 15" in the pond if you want a lot of big LMB. Since budget is important to you, I would focus on managing the population so as to balance trophy growth with the pond's natural productivity. If you are successful, then anything you feed will MAINTAIN a little additional weight on them. At 1000 lbs per year, that will be around 90 lbs/acre. So the pond will maintain that extra 90 lbs at a cost of $17 per lbs. Assuming 15 LMB/acre, that is on average 3/4 lb per fish. You may not notice this difference even though it would be there. Either pond(8 acre pond with OR without feed) would feel and fish like a great pond. Assuming that the numbers of LMB in both are the same, the only difference would be their average weight and probably also the greatest weights achieved. You shouldn't expect either to increase by much more than 3/4 lb when feeding at 125 lbs/acre/year.

Last edited by jpsdad; 02/25/24 07:30 PM.

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I have read through all this good information. However I have not seen what are the basic goals of feeding the fish in 8 acres of water? Based on jpsdad's calculations, what are you going to do with all these fish that are going to need to be harvested each year to keep the pond fishery in balance? Secondly how to you plan to harvest all those fish, especially all those small bass when momma bass start spawning. To my knowledge the numbers and sizes of fish that will need to be harvested will be determined by your to the goals for the fishery.

When we tune into your goals maybe jpsdad can provide an estimate of what will need to be harvested for a no feeding and a feeding program.

I have a client that has a TH hanging feeder. I can remember how it is place on the front of his dock. If you want I can check to see if it can be bolted to a upright.

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I have a TH Hanging feeder here that a customer changed his mind on - he went with the directional feeder and put it on his dock. Mostly due to the ease in filling it vs. the hanging feeder.

There are no TH brackets to "bolt it" to a post - it has to hang. You could bolt it to a post by drilling a couple of holes through the feed hopper but then you'd have to waterproof the holes AND make sure that the feeder top is above the post to get the lid on and off.

How will you fill the feeder? It slings the feed in a 360° circle, and you add blocking panels to make the feed "not" throw to the side that you block off, but the feed will then drop straight down.

Filling it from a boat will take 2 people. One person to hold the boat steady by the feeder, the other person fills the feeder.

Typically it's 1 feeder per acre, but that is all based on a persons goals too. I have a customer that has a 4 acre pond with one feeder and he has Bluegill, Hybrid Bluegill and Redear Sunfish over 2 pounds.

If you are feeding Bluegills to create more forage fish for the bass, then you probably will be feeding both Optimal Bluegill Jr and Optimal Bluegill feeds.

I agree with Bill Cody, your feeding goals and your harvest goals are needed.


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Bill, so my long term goal is to have a great bass pond, again. It turned over 4 years ago and lost all my big fish. Since, I've added aeration. It's helped so much, it's becoming an addiction "pond management." The bass number are very low, but my bluegill have gone through the roof "all size classes." My plan is to add feeders and a small restock of bass for hopefully some new genetics. Monitor my bass for a few years and see what happens. As far as harvesting for bass. I'll take every bass out I catch in that 10-15" range that RW are 100% or less. Possible some that are over 100%. Bluegill, I don't have a harvest plan for that yet. I'm just trying to get them as many and as big as I can for the bass. Speaking with another gentleman this evening on the phone.
He advised me not to get the hanging feeders, due to the fact they don't blow the feed out. He's worried I'll have clogging issues and mold. So there's that. Now I'll figure out how to get these feeders close to the water on the banks. All in all. I want to put a lot of fish in the freezer annually with the chance to catch a 7-8 lb size class or larger.

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I wasn't aware of the fish kill. So this happened in Fall during the turnover?

If so, this tells me that your pond has good native fertility and maintains a good weight of fish. I had already noted the shallow average and maximum depths. So was this a case where turnover put a lot of un-decayed organics into the water column?

If so, aeration is making a difference there and one of the benefits is the recycling of nutrients which were previously bound in anoxic sediment. Productivity of pond will increase due to this increased activity on the bottom. IOWs it increases the natural carrying capacity. Your pond may be more susceptible to fish kill due to high productivity and modest water volume (for its surface area). Give some level of thought as to whether you want to add nutrients to it. Also give some thought to how you might reduce nutrient loading. Something that might help would be to clear some trees near the water to reduce leaf loading. You may get unwanted pulses of nutrients from neighboring fields under cultivation. Those you cannot control. With a lot water and apparently mostly you doing the fishing, give some thought to this. The pond in its natural state may provide all the fish you care to eat and may be easier to manage population wise.

You have a plan for mortality ... but you have no plan for recruitment. It takes both to have a population plan. In other words, you need something other than the current plan to be sure you have a enough trophy path LMB but not too many. Both aspects affecting population must be accounted for to fully achieve goals. With regard to recruitment, only a selection program involving marking can succeed in being sure you have enough recruits. With regard to mortality, only a culling program that removes unmarked fish can succeed in limiting the population to the selection.

Can you tell us more about your current LMB population? I assume catch rates are down and this is what you mean by the numbers are very low. Please expand on info regarding the LMB population and also can you tell us whether there has been success of recruitment of LMB to the 8" class since the fish kill 4 years ago?


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So pre turnover. It wasn't uncommon to catch 20 or 30 on a low front in a few hours, ranging in that 1 1/2- 4lb range.commonly a 5 or 6, and rarely larger one. For the first 2 years after the turnover, I didn't catch any bass. Even bluegill were poor "10-15" in a few hours of fishing. I caught 3 bass all year long, around that 1.5-2lb range. They looked like little footballs with great color. The bluegill numbers blew up last year. I caught roughly around 400 in a week in early may throwing those tiny mepps #0 spinners with single hooks. Thats when I noticed a bunch of small bass. I caught around 100 small bass last year on those spinners in that 4-5" range. I took the kids out last night and caught 6 lmb in that 5-7" range. The body size seemed to have tripled from last year. Unless they were last years spawn, which still seems like slow growth to me. Also, I had stocked gs in there years ago, and last year we caught over 100 in that 5-6" off of spinners. Before that, had never seen them before.

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Clint, I sent you a PM.


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Firstly - One important note. IF you are really serious about moving your fishery toward your stated goals of the occasional bass in the 7-8 lb range then IMO you should be listing on paper or electronically EVERY bass that is caught. Also helpful is H for harvested or R for released. Recording lengths IMO are more important than weight, but both L&W do enhance the data trend and the accuracy especially during the later years as fish in the carrying capacity fluctuate as they always do with reproducing populations.. These data will accurately document the trend in fish size growth and relative abundance of numbers in the various size classes that are present. Having paper records are very important to achieving your goals. Casual observation and memory are not good enough for the long term effort and details that it will take to get and KEEP some bass at the upper sizes of 7lb-8lb. Seeing and watching the actual numbers change over the years will help decide how the fishery is progressing toward your goals. As the pond ages, the numbers will not lie but your memory of accuracy will not be reliable and will not remember the needed variabilities that are needed. All this is important when you need some serious advice about how to improve or adjust the fishery to keep in on the path of your goals. You won't get serious reliable advice or help if you don't have some serious accurate data for a knowledgeable pro to see the problem and the best way to solve it. A good example are the generalized current historical informational points you are posting now about the fishery. IMO when you have generalized information you will only get generalized advice which results in a general fishery and not some specific points to achieve or maintain or regain your specific goals.

Secondly - With feeding boosting the carrying capacity, I question if you with 8 ac of pond will be able to do with just angling harvest remove enough LMB per year to consistently achieve your goals of having the occasional 8 lb bass in Southern IL. This will take a concerted annual accurate effort of small bass or selective LMB removal. SE IL is noted as having a somewhat above average fertility rating of close to 80-100ppm Alkalinity. This means 250 to 340lbs of natural fish capacity (310 x8ac=2480 to 2500lbs of fish). Feeding the pond as planned, boosts the carrying capacity (CC 3X-4X) to 7,200-10,000lbs having around 1080 to 1500lbs of bass(15%). Keeping that bass population properly sized for 7-8lbers is a daunting task that will need good information achieved in the first paragraph.

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Originally Posted by esshup
I have a TH Hanging feeder here that a customer changed his mind on - he went with the directional feeder and put it on his dock. Mostly due to the ease in filling it vs. the hanging feeder.

There are no TH brackets to "bolt it" to a post - it has to hang. You could bolt it to a post by drilling a couple of holes through the feed hopper but then you'd have to waterproof the holes AND make sure that the feeder top is above the post to get the lid on and off.

How will you fill the feeder? It slings the feed in a 360° circle, and you add blocking panels to make the feed "not" throw to the side that you block off, but the feed will then drop straight down.

Filling it from a boat will take 2 people. One person to hold the boat steady by the feeder, the other person fills the feeder...

esshup pretty well covered it.

The TH hanging feeder is well built, but it's basically a corn slinger over water. Every blocking panel you add, will mean 25% of the fish food will fall straight down. I bought one 4-5 years ago, and still can't find a good place to put it.


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(I don't have any feeders at my place, so this advice is just from reading this thread.)

If I was utilizing the hanging feeders, I would put them on a long horizontal "swing pole". Could do that off of the end post of your dock. See how far the feeder throws from X feet above the water. Then size the pole length so it throws feed just short of the edge of the dock.

Just rotate the pole onto the dock when you need to refill.

Same thing might work for your shore feeders. Much easier to set one post on dry land, rather than set posts out in the pond below the water level.

The smallest typical oilfield pipe is usually dirt cheap. You could drill a hole in the pipe and put a piece of rebar in the post to make your pivot. That will be very practical, but maybe too ugly on the dock. Maybe paint it your favorite colors?

The swing pole could also be used to attach a camera to observe feedings, etc.

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Just my 2 cents, I wouldn't want to have to launch a boat every time I had to refill a feeder.

Further, one of the great joys of feeding is getting to observe, visually, the various fish hitting feed; so feeding off a dock or shoreline is easier all around.


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Clint, I believe in feeding all the Optimal that they can eat on about 15 minutes.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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Thanks, Bill. That's my next goal to learn and start tracking my fish. I figured I would tag any fish caught in that 110%+ range. Be much more strict on recording my catches and spread sheet it. What size class of fish would you recommend taking out annually? The wife squashed the hanging feeder idea. Said it would look to trashy lol. We took the boat out today and found a few spots to put directional feeders. Fished a little and caught 15 lmb. 13 were in that 8" class. A 13oz and a 2.4 both were little footballs. I guess that's about 10x better than last year. IMO

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Clint, I once built a hanging directional deer feeder and figure a fish feeder wouldn’t be much different. But, I was throwing in a 360 degree circle. I see No problem with hanging a fish feeder.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

Boy, if I say "sic em", you'd better look for something to bite. Sam Shelley Rancher and Farmer Muleshoe Texas 1892-1985 RIP
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Originally Posted by ClintPrice
So pre turnover. It wasn't uncommon to catch 20 or 30 on a low front in a few hours, ranging in that 1 1/2- 4lb range.commonly a 5 or 6, and rarely larger one. For the first 2 years after the turnover, I didn't catch any bass. Even bluegill were poor "10-15" in a few hours of fishing. I caught 3 bass all year long, around that 1.5-2lb range. They looked like little footballs with great color. The bluegill numbers blew up last year. I caught roughly around 400 in a week in early may throwing those tiny mepps #0 spinners with single hooks. Thats when I noticed a bunch of small bass. I caught around 100 small bass last year on those spinners in that 4-5" range. I took the kids out last night and caught 6 lmb in that 5-7" range. The body size seemed to have tripled from last year. Unless they were last years spawn, which still seems like slow growth to me. Also, I had stocked gs in there years ago, and last year we caught over 100 in that 5-6" off of spinners. Before that, had never seen them before.

Clint,

The fish kill kind of throws a wrench into the works. Much less predictable results. Some might advise to kill it out and start from scratch. That would "not not" be good advice. You didn't mention if you want the same results or fewer bigger LMB this go round.

From a remedial stocking perspective, it will be very important to stock LMB that are large enough to exploit the current large population of intermediate sized BG. Not 2" size LMB fingerlings. If I were to remedial stock LMB in this BOW, I think I would go with 1lb to 2lb fish. I think I would personally go with 56 of them in total, I would fin clip at least these fish in such a manner that I could identify them as the initial (post kill) remedial stocking. If things are like you say. A half ton of intermediate sized BG to eat, it should be four or five years before food is limiting growth and you might grow bigger fish than before. One current advantage is an extremely low population of adult LMB. It could work. Best of luck to you. Please let us know what you get worked out and please record in a thread here so we can follow your progress.


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B
Joined: Apr 2002
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I like the idea of this spring adding 50-60 bass in the 1lb to 2lb range. This puts proper predation on the size class of BG that now need to be thinned . These larger bass will / should grow fast to get to the 7-8lb sizes which should happen in 5-6 years. IMO I would fin clip them as jpsdad suggested because IMO this is less stressful on the fish. If I had 8 ac with annual new crops of LMB occurring I would be contacting Herman Brothers Fish Management group 3004 N Taylor Rd. Hanna City, IL 61536.
https://hbfisheries.com/

for learning the availability / feasibility and ordering for fall purchase of 5 to 7 tiger musky to add to the pond to help thin the recruitments of 1yr old and 16 month old LMB. As the hybrid musky grow larger than 36" they may also be eating some 12"-14" 2 yr old bass. Heavy reduction of small bass allows more forage available for skewing the selected LMB toward larger individuals in the fishery. You do not want a lot of your LMB poundage tied up in bass smaller than 2-3 lbs.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/26/24 09:37 PM.

aka Pond Doctor & Dr. Perca Read Pond Boss Magazine -
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1 member likes this: jpsdad
Joined: May 2018
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J
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J
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 1,902
Likes: 281
I think the tiger musky at this stocking rate would be a great asset in this lake both for cropping small LMB and 5-8" BG. The arrangement should help top end sizes for the BG and LMB and increase the production of BG YOY.


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


Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 19
C
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C
Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 19
Bill,
I really like this tiger musky idea. I'll call them today. Today's chore has been planting pickerelweed in some new spots in one of my coves for habitat. While planting in waders. Naturally, I had to fish for a minute. I caught 20 more of those 8"ers in around 30 minutes. I took them out. If I'm catching that many in a 1/4 acre shallow flat in February. There's no telling how many I've got and how much of my forage base they're wiping out.

Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 95
Likes: 13
J
Fingerling
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Fingerling
J
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 95
Likes: 13
I have two TH bank feeders and one TH hanging feeder in a 9 acre pond. For 2023, I went through 1600# of feed. For 2024 I ordered 2000#, I'll have no problem using this increased amount of feed this year.

The bank feeders are a breeze to fill, and do a terrific job to throw the feed out a good distance over the water. They leave little feed wasted at the edge of the bank. I set them at max elevation at the emergency spillway elevation as to hopefully never flood. They are 3 yrs old with no issues other than some minor adjustments and new batteries.

To get the hanging feeder out over the water, I first set about 3 ft of 3" steel pipe at the waters edge. I used post hole diggers and cemented the 3" in place, leaving the inside clean. To make the hanger, I used 2 3/8" OD pipe to make a big "L" - about 8 ft tall and about 4 ft long, welding them with support at the joint. This big L was lowered into the 3" and now I could swivel the feeder out over the water. A good portion of the feed falls in the water near the bank. I think it eventually gets eaten but not ideal. This was kind of a PITA to put together but it works. The hanging feeder was a few hundred bucks cheaper than the bank feeder, but I really didn't save much in the end.

1 member likes this: ClintPrice

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