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Just throwing out some speculation since we have had a lot of informative GSF threads lately.

Essentially, all of the state agency publications recommend AGAINST stocking crappie in ponds of less than 5 acres.

Of course, we frequently have new posters with small ponds that ask about creating a crappie pond. Most of the replies recommend to avoid crappie. However, those threads sometimes have replies where someone has experienced a good balanced fishery in a pond of similar size, that also included large crappie.

Thinking back, I seem to recall that the good crappie ponds also contained lots of GSF? (I do NOT trust my memory, because I was only thinking about crappie when I was reading those threads.)

For a species that tends to overpopulate, it would certainly be more efficient to have predation on huge numbers of fry and fingerlings without the predators becoming sated, compared to eating 3-6" fish.

Consider a BG/LMB pond with crappie. The BG would eat a lot of fry. The small bass would eat a lot of crappie fingerlings, and the large bass would eat some of the large, mature crappie that were going to spawn the next year. However, these types of small ponds still frequently become overpopulated with stunted crappie.

Consider the same pond as above, but add a significant population of GSF. That pond would have small GSF eating crappie fry, and larger GSF eating a lot of crappie fingerlings considering their much larger mouth gape compared to BG.

Further, that pond might have 10-15 times as many GSF as it does small bass. I think that would be a lot of "extra" predation on crappie fingerlings?

To test that hypothesis, does anyone with experience of a small pond with a good crappie population know if it also had a good population of GSF?

Likewise, any anecdotes on the fish populations of failed, stunted crappie ponds would also be appreciated in this thread.



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I have access to a 1.5 acre pond that seems to get overpopulated with White Crappie, it never did while it had huge LMB in the pond, then the otters moved in and wiped out the largest LMB and the WC started overpopulating.

We can go in there and catch 3 - 400 stunted crappie, just borderline big enough to fillet, but I do, extremely tasty to eat, and then in the next yr or so will have nice large, 12" plus crappie slabs but as soon as you dont do it for a yr or two they become stunted again.

I do not know the status of GSF in that pond, but it is connected to another BOW with a 3' dia culvert, that is actually under the water, fish should be able to traverse back and forth between the two, the other BOW has giant 15" plus BC, but not near as plentiful, and never overpopulate, even tho the biggest bass have been decimated in it as well.


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Thanks for that report, gehajake.

I believe many of the posters that want a crappie pond do so for the exact reason you state, "extremely tasty to eat".

When the WCP population was controlled in the pond with "huge LMB", did you also catch a varied size range of LMB, or was the pond heavily skewed towards very large LMB relative to a normal size distribution - in your opinion?

Also, it sounds like when you and your buddies would take out 300-400 stunted crappie, that was sufficient culling to produce 12" plus crappie a few years later. And when you DIDN'T do that, the stunting continued. In that pond, are you aware of ALL of the crappie fishing, and if so, are you fairly certain that the fisherman culling operation was enough to significantly reduce the stunting? (400 crappie does not sound like a lot to me in a crappie-stunted 1.5 acre pond, but I am a big reservoir crappie fisherman.)

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I also find your comment about the 3' culvert connection very interesting since that is an unusual data point relative to our typical pond configurations.

I would think that in Pond 1 during periods with a high density of stunted WCP, some would manage to migrate over to Pond 2. Perhaps they do, but the existing BCP keeps them from establishing a significant population in Pond 2?

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Here's where I see the issue.. GSF like shoreline cover/habitat. Yearling crappie are pelagic and spend most of their post-hatch year out in the middle of the pond in open water-one of the reasons Saugeye are so effective on young crappie as they too, are pelagic.
During fall net sampling, we don't see small crappie in shoreline sets, 99.9% of the time the smaller crappie are trapped on shallow, open lake flats with no significant cover nearby, but when they reach "about" 5" we start seeing them in close shore sets.

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Thanks Snipe for your crappie location data.

I am still trying to figure out the key element in small ponds that have good crappie fishing, going against the conventional wisdom.

That would be very valuable info for future pond planning in balanced fish populations that include crappie.

Any ideas based on your crappie location observations what is the key factor for population control? For example, the big LMB are taking the prime "ambush" spots around cover, the medium bass therefore have to cruise for their meals and they are the ones that eat the sub-5" crappie out on the open flats? (Total speculation on my part.)

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Walleye consume a generous amount of smaller crappie, as do juvenile bass that tend to roam more open waters compared to larger bass. A pond environment is much different than a large lake, spawning areas are condensed as are distances of cover points and travel routes,
Both systems are somewhat complex in their own way, in large impoundments, 10-15% of the total area is useful by most species, 50-60% would be a more realistic number for pond environments where different species interact much more frequently.

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Thanks for the additional info. I am hoping your saugeye provide a tool that make small pond crappie a more viable option.


I believe I have even encountered stunted crappie populations in Kansas reservoirs of greater than 400 acres. This was a mature lake with large LMB, some decent walleye, and large flatheads.

Is that possible, or was my rod and reel perhaps a poor sampling method? More relevant, have you observed stunted crappie populations in the very large reservoirs when you were electroshocking with the State guys? If so, did your surveys show any other fish population factors that coincided with the occurrence of stunted crappie?

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I strongly agree with Snipe. IMO GSF would be a poor predator for small crappie both fry and fingerlings up to 1.5" long because as Snipe noted GSF and early growth crappie do not hang out in the same type of habitat. For good predation of forage,,,,, both species need to frequent the same locations. The more the predator and prey interact the better one can encounter and eat the other.

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I proposed an hypothesis and two actual experts explained that it is almost certainly wrong and gave their reasons. Not exactly "falsified", but good enough for me based on the fact that we mostly cannot conduct true experiments in complicated, real-world pond environments!

If anyone does want to keep this thread going after the failure of the initial premise, any ideas regarding why crappie do work in some small ponds?

Another option I have considered: It is extremely difficult to balance predator/prey fish populations in small ponds and have a sustaining crappie population that includes a fair number of large crappie. However, every pond is unique, and sometimes the conditions just randomly happen to come out right.

Perhaps there is only a 5% chance of that occurring. In that case, the state agencies should still recommend against crappie in small ponds. However, if crappie have been introduced into 100 Pond Boss member ponds, we should have 5 success stories. Further, in the case of an old pond, the previous owner may have tried the "crappie experiment" and failed, and the new owner doesn't even know about, so we have a selection bias in the record favoring successes over failures.

Any and all predator/prey observations (or even speculations) still welcome from both the experts and the tinkerers.

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Knowledge based on fishery science and experiences indicate the best commonly available predatory pressure influence on crappie populations is use of a combination of LMB and HSB as the predators. HSB, as primarily an open water species, prey heavily on the crappie fry and small fingerlings during their early growth habit in open water or pelagic phase. LMB of appropriate sizes then prey on the large fingerlings and 3"-4" sizes when they leave the open water habitat and move into the near shore and shallower water habitats. Thus there is good effective predatory pressure on both YOY and juvenile crappies.

Snipe has also encountered good predatory experiences of using saugeye to prey heavily on young crappie. However the main problem is where to you buy saugeye??? Saugeye are a VERY rare commodity and are just about impossible to buy at private fish farms.

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I have an unproven theory on pond management.

In your lake or pond :

If you have one species known to stunt you can manage that,
if you have 2 species known to stunt you may be able to manage that if the 2 species counter each other,
if you have 3 or more species known to stunt it is most likely that the water body will find its own status - probably unbalanced in some manner and often shifting from one state to the other.

Species known to stunt - LMB , BG , YP , GSF , crappie (hardest to control) , PS , pike and maybe some I missed.

Problem species not included which can be disrupters - tilapia and GShad and TShad who all have their own management processes.

Thoughts ?
















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Sounds very logical to me. We have tons of posts from people trying to balance a LMB/BG pond that includes maybe one small forage species for the BG and small bass. That is a simple "recipe", yet it is still hard work to keep in balance for extended periods.

However, if some of our northern members have a pond full of stunted pike, I volunteer to help them perform some rod & reel culling operations! grin

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Problem species and Tilapia which can be disrupters. I think everything I've read on these guys has been positive as long as they die in the fall. Can you elaborate a little?


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Originally Posted by Boondoggle
Problem species and Tilapia which can be disrupters. I think everything I've read on these guys has been positive as long as they die in the fall. Can you elaborate a little?

Sure - in some places they are illegal to stock (don't go there). While they will overpopulate and stunt, they are not included in the list as they don't tend to do so when used for the purposes as intended. The same can't be said for the other species I set out above.
They out reproduce other species and take up a lot of the biomass in a system (so can GShad). That is one reason they are used worldwide as a food resource in aquaculture operations at extreme stocking numbers. Recreational ponds are not aquaculture operations and can crash if the circumstances are not as expected (winter die-off or extreme over production). I agree that tilapia are a very good pond mgt tool for limited purposes. However, you don't want a pond full of large tilapia in most cases as it does not fit the plan as an add-on forage species (goal is for lots of small tilapia to be consumed). If you are using them in controlled numbers for plant control that is an even different purpose that can be disruptive if the numbers, go haywire. They are a good tool for both purposes when used correctly (most here do so) but require specialized management ability to work the plan to satisfaction. Then you have to repeat every year.

Disruptive does not mean bad, don't use, or have negative connotations. It means a bit harder to use with the potential for disruption and having their own management processes.

The degree of predation by tilapia on yoy pond fish is uncertain in studies on the subject - see Pond Boss Cutting Edge articles. I don't consider that a problem just an unknown possible disruption.

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All good. I can see a higher concern for them in applications where there is a chance they won't get wiped out by cooler temps in the fall and winter.
I hadn't factored in the possibility of an overpopulation/stunting as part of the equation. Just trying to soak up the knowledge. Much appreciated on the additional info.


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Originally Posted by Boondoggle
All good.
I hadn't factored in the possibility of an overpopulation/stunting as part of the equation. .

Exactly - that is why I did not put them as one of the stunters above. Tilapia don't IMO fall into the same boat as the obvious stunting candidates.

















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