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Hello all!

This is my first thread on this forum so thanks for any advice y'all are able to provide. About 5 years ago my family acquired a 25 acre private lake, a former irrigation reservoir. The lake is located in west Arkansas. I believe its about 20 feet at the deepest but probably 10-12 acres of it is 15' or more. There is little structure throughout the lake and the water is also relatively clear. It is fed by two small creeks that don't connect to any other bodies of water. To my knowledge, it currently contains largemouth bass, bluegill, redear, green sunfish, and crappie. The lake was home to large catfish decades ago but I believe these to have been killed off long before we owned the property.

The bass are very overpopulated, 99.9% of them being 9-13" or so. It is so overpopulated to the extent that two friends and I on multiple occasions have caught over 100 bass (which we removed) in about a 3 hour time span from a boat. All the bream we catch are hand-sized. The crappie, which we rarely catch, are all in the 13-15" range. For example, the other day we fished it and caught 90 to 100 bass. All of which were in that small size range except for one amazing outlier which we weighed at 7#.

While its fun to catch the bass in such numbers, I would like to manage the lake to be more balanced, with a larger size range of bass and more crappie and bream. I would also like to introduce catfish to the lake. Last week I put several channels and two large blue catfish in there. My hope is that the introduction of more large catfish may somehow be able to help regulate the bass population. I would also like to introduce shad to the lake because its baitfish population is severely lacking.

What would be the best way to slowly turn it into a more balanced fishery with decently sized bass, more crappie, and the occasional catfish? Would it be harmful to add flathead catfish and more blue catfish in addition to channel catfish? Are there any other baitfish species I could add that would help significantly? Even if its just as many bluegill as I can catch?

Assuming I am able to establish a growing shad population in the lake, would their presence noticeably benefit the game fish within a year or two? To my knowledge, the best thing I can do to achieve these goals is to keep removing as many of the little bass as I can.

Would adding a number of larger bass from other ponds help by mixing up the gene pool or anything? Or even act as another larger predator to keep the stunted bass in check?

I am open to fertilizing the lake so long as its relatively economical, but my knowledge of fertilizers is next to zero. Also, I don't want to poison the lake and restart.

Attached is a satellite image of the lake in question. Any thoughts, advice, and recommendations y'all can give me are very much appreciated!

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I would start with the basics. Keep ripping lips on the LMB (measure the length and weight) of the fish you are catching and track it. Over time you will be able to see your progress relating to relative weights.
....One thing you might keep in mind on the LMB. Without much habitat or structure they are going to make a living as marathon runners. Not many chunky marathon runners I've ever seen. Ambush opportunities from habitat will greatly help them on both successful captures at lower caloric output.

Before doing anything on fertilizer you will need to see what the water quality is. You can buy a pool test kit or take a sample and send it off to a water testing facility. You really want one that has the capability to look at it in comparison to aquaculture imo. I've used Texas A&M twice. Several of the universities have testing like this.

Welcome to Pond Boss. Lots of great people and resources here to bounce ideas off of and learn what others have tried that worked.


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Welcome to Pond Boss!!!

Like Boondoogle says, you are on a good path. Aggressively culling LMB is a huge part of the plan, and introducing some new LMB genetics could also be a benefit. For culling, you could start with a benchmark # of LMB/Acre for removal. 100-200 LMB/acre is a good bit of work over 25 acres, but it's those kind of numbers that will give a faster result.

On a side note, when 'bucket-stocking,' or taking fish from one body of water to another, those fish don't always thrive in their new homes.

Adding some new bluegill genetics could also help.

Enhancing fish structure is an ongoing task.

Finally, introducing a feed program may help.


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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A large flathead will eat anything that fits in his mouth, including large bass.


Ross Canant

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