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CrustyMono

Pond Mangement

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There is a local private quarry that I fish. There are (according to a buddy) Largemouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Bluegill, Green Sunfish, and Black Crappie. Never caught or seen the trout or crappie, but I believe they are there. Water is spring fed. It is gin clear, with visibility pushing 10+ feet. It is a stone quarry, therefore lots of rock. Deep with straight drop offs into 30+ feet. Also an island and flat and grass line. The island is small, enough to pitch a tent on if you wanted. The "flats" is a 100' by 50' section near a drop off and the island where the bluegill spawned (wasn't there for the bass). I made a map of the lake. The grass area is gradually sloping, with tall grass until the top 4' of water. It is about 10 acres. 

I have fished it about ten times now. Lots of numbers, little size. 5 days where we caught 25+ bass. mostly 1-1.5 pounds. My partner has seen a few LMB's that were well over 5 pounds. I have seen one. I know there are a few big ones pushing 3. the ratio i have created is   x>3 lbs : x<3 lbs    3:50. this means the for every fish i see/catch there, 3 of them were greater 3 pounds. Also the bluegill all push 2 pounds, like dinner plate size. they are so big that i fish for them instead of bass here. 

my question:

How can i help the size of the bass increase? Would keeping fish and putting them into a different private pond help the overcrowding? I read that the bluegill may be big because of this. Also would adding another type of baitfish help?

Thanks!

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Sounds like there are too many gills. I'd invite the kids in the neighborhood to have a "keep all you can catch" day within legal limits. Maybe give the kid with the biggest/heaviest bag a bunch of lures. Or maybe keep a bunch yourself. Limit in PA is 50 gills a day. Have a fish fry.

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Wrong sir, you DO NOT REMOVE THOSE GIANT BLUEGILLS!!!  Those fish are the breeders.  What do you think the bass eat....little bluegills.  That size pond crappie are more of a problem then the bluegills are.  Also there may be too many bass so once they hit a certain size there isn't enough forage for them to become larger, not to mention that isn't a very big pond so odds of having a large population of big fish isn't an easy one to accomplish without "feeding" them.  Since it's not your pond, an automatic feeder probably isn't going to be an option.  You can only have so many big fish in a pond, if you want bigger bass, then you need less of them. But removing the bluegill that breed to produce the forage the bass you want will end up crashing the system.  I have watched ponds around where I live have the bluegill overfished resulting in the bass population crashing and become stunted.  Lack of forage results in lack of bass.  Bluegill do not compete with bass for food, but crappie do since thier main diet is small fish.

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If I understand ponds correctly, if most of the bluegills you catch are large, then that is a sign of bluegills being the main forage of the bass.  In that scenario, most of the small & medium bluegills get eaten, their only defense being to grow large enough to prohibit that.  That is not an unhealthy balance.  If there aren't enough bluegill to feed all the bass (i.e., the bass are stunted), the solution is to remove small bass or add more forage, not remove it.

In ponds with stunted bluegill populations, there aren't enough bass to eat all the small bluegill, so the bluegill end up overpopulating.  Those are the ponds where you remove bluegill or add more predators.

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16 hours ago, OCdockskipper said:

If I understand ponds correctly, if most of the bluegills you catch are large, then that is a sign of bluegills being the main forage of the bass.  In that scenario, most of the small & medium bluegills get eaten, their only defense being to grow large enough to prohibit that.  That is not an unhealthy balance.  If there aren't enough bluegill to feed all the bass (i.e., the bass are stunted), the solution is to remove small bass or add more forage, not remove it.

In ponds with stunted bluegill populations, there aren't enough bass to eat all the small bluegill, so the bluegill end up overpopulating.  Those are the ponds where you remove bluegill or add more predators.

 

16 hours ago, gulfcaptain said:

Wrong sir, you DO NOT REMOVE THOSE GIANT BLUEGILLS!!!  Those fish are the breeders.  What do you think the bass eat....little bluegills.  That size pond crappie are more of a problem then the bluegills are.  Also there may be too many bass so once they hit a certain size there isn't enough forage for them to become larger, not to mention that isn't a very big pond so odds of having a large population of big fish isn't an easy one to accomplish without "feeding" them.  Since it's not your pond, an automatic feeder probably isn't going to be an option.  You can only have so many big fish in a pond, if you want bigger bass, then you need less of them. But removing the bluegill that breed to produce the forage the bass you want will end up crashing the system.  I have watched ponds around where I live have the bluegill overfished resulting in the bass population crashing and become stunted.  Lack of forage results in lack of bass.  Bluegill do not compete with bass for food, but crappie do since thier main diet is small fish.

 

17 hours ago, Gundog said:

Sounds like there are too many gills. I'd invite the kids in the neighborhood to have a "keep all you can catch" day within legal limits. Maybe give the kid with the biggest/heaviest bag a bunch of lures. Or maybe keep a bunch yourself. Limit in PA is 50 gills a day. Have a fish fry.

what if i take 1/3 of the bass out, put them in a new lake, and stock baby pickerel, rainbow trout, perch, bullhead, and a new breed of small bluegill?

 

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I don't know what would happen in that situation, it might be worthwhile to talk to someone in pond management.

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I agree with talking to someone about pond management.  Now stocking Pickerel into the pond now competes with the bass you want to grow.  Trout in a pond don't normally do well so unless you want to stock to feed the bass in the winter go for it, but that would be a bit costly. Remember a pond will only hold so many pounds of fish per acre.   All those fish need to eat, the more mouths you put into the pond, the more food they require.  Read a bunch from Pond Boss and realize to have large fish there must be forage available for them.

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Check the local game and fish laws in Crustyville before moving fish... especially to a public lake.

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You wont be able to fish that pond out. It's nearly impossible. Removing the skinny bass that are 10-12 inches is a good start. In unfertilized ponds its recommend that you take 3-10lbs per surface acre (annually) harvesting some of the gills will not hurt the pond at all. And could do some good if there are way too many. Bluegill should be harvested annually just like the bass should to keep the populations in check.

Saying that the bluegill don't compete with the bass for food is not completely true. There is a pond I fish and the owner has me go to the tackle store and buy a large amount of minnows to "feed " the pond. Naturally i fish with them when I do this. And believe it or not I catch just as many gills as I do bass on 3"+ minnows.  

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So looking at the size of that pond, I'd say it might be over an acre which would be 3-10lbs maybe 15lb.  So if you removed the smaller bass under a pound (say 20 or so which isn't many), then remove 10 bluegill that are around a pound you have reached the 15lb harvest limit.  I'd remove crappie before I'd remove bass.  But thats under a healthy population.  As I stated before,  you want bigger bass you will need less of them.  Now here comes the problem.  We have a few ponds around where the bass were catch and release only which was great as most were above the 4lb average.  Bad part, the lake had a fish die off and wiped out 2/3 of the population of bass which was only about 60 fish.  That pond still hasn't recovered although there are a lot more small bass in there now then before but it's got a long way to go to get back to the size fish it had.  Had another pond that had a lot of stunted bass in there (6-10") as people removed both the adult larger bass and the bluegill that were the primary forage of the bass.  Someone put in some larger fish which well cured the problem of small bass (by eating them) but then also helped restart the bluegill population as the lake had a good year of weed growth without the city wiping it out.  The next year fishing was great, but then the harvest of bluegill and large bass again has now turned it back into a well useless place to fish.  This is why I state the forage has to be there to sustain your bass population.  You remove too much of the forage base you can't keep the system healthy.  Removing some smaller bass isn't going to hurt the population as bad as removing too many of the larger bluegill.  The larger bluegill are the primary breeders, the 5" and smaller are food. If the population of bass are heathy and balanced you won't have a bunch anyways as the system won't carry the larger popluation.  

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I agree the crappie need to go.. I can't see the bass. But a bass has to be pretty decent size for it to choke a 5 inch bluegill. That 3-10 lbs is just for bass. I'm not sure what the bluegill is. 3-10 is a broad range. And you have to adjust according to your ponds needs. 

The crappie do need to go if you want big bass, along with selective harvesting of the skinny adult bass. Harvesting some bluegill will not damage the pond..nobody is saying to go catch all the biggest bluegill you can and take those specific ones out. See what a pond management in your area recommends for harvesting bluegill . I almost guarantee that he/she recommends harvesting ADULT BLUEGILL. Just Google it. 

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Check out the pond boss forums for one thing, they have experts available to answer your questions. 

I wouldn't do too much without checking the legality and if you don't own the pond, make sure you have permission to do anything first. 

There are also tons of great articles in the lake management section of this site.  Go read them and you will learn a lot about pond/lake management....many of them written by the administrator of pond boss.  

The typical answer for managing ponds for larger bass is to remove 25-35 lbs. of 10-14 inch bass per surface acre per year.  This takes out the most voracious eaters in the group and leaves more forage for the survivors to get larger.  Once fish are stunted, it is less likely they will grow much larger, so it may take some time for the younger fish to grow and become the large ones you're looking for.  However, there should be a few overachievers in there that have thrived in the meantime.  

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I wish I had ponds around me with problems like this, I think it'd be fun to figure out what needs to be done and catch fish to try and fix it.

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Don't know where you live, but lots of 1 to 1-1/2lbers sounds pretty normal to me (if you are providing accurate weights). Those aren't stunted fish -esp if you are in the north. Just sounds like good recruitment to me. And it has some large ones (the frustrating part of having super clear water :)). It can grow a full range of bluegill sizes (a good sign). Signs of poor growth in bass would be thin bodies and large heads. Be careful comparing your water with those you read about in the south.

It does look as though the bass habitat (shallow with cover) is limited: Your map shows a relatively small area of shallows- maybe a quarter of the pond. However, I can't tell how much shoreline shelf there is around the quarry. If there is some shelf space with cover some bass habitat could exist there too -that might be enhanced in some way. One thing is likely: With the depth of the majority of that quarry, and surrounding trees blocking wind, the deep areas may thermocline and remain cold, excluding bass altogether. You might look into (via experienced sources) the addition of a more open water forage species like shad, or possibly golden shiners. However, establishing functional populations can be a challenge, esp with lots of established species in there already. And beware that introducing shad could impact (compete with) the bluegills. Lotsa pond owners work very hard to grow bluegills like you have there.

Still, that's a mighty big water body to "manage", esp for a single angler. If you want to try managing, I'd start by talking with your local biologists, and getting to know the PondBoss site. I certainly wouldn't just start dumping new species in. Trying to tip things in favor of bass growth may potentially affect other things like competition or direct predation of young bass, affecting recruitment. 

Big bass are rare. And there are real reasons why that is. Much of it has to do with having enough quality food produced (or provided), both available and vulnerable, for each size class of bass in that water. There are a myriad of things that can bite into that: available habitat (water quality, temperatures, cover, sheer amount available) for all species and sizes involved, as well as competition, and direct predation.

At this point none of us know what's "wrong" in there, if anything. Any real such work would start by surveying what's there to begin with, with real numbers to work from.

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I hate to be the nay-sayer -- but honestly, you don't know what is in the lake.  No offence intended, but from fishing it 10 times, and hearing what your buddy said doesn't necessarily equate to what the lake actually holds.  It certainly gives no meaningful data on what the breakdown of species and size truly is.  Maybe there are TON's of huge bass, you just haven't caught them... Maybe there are tons of trout, maybe there are... the point is, until you really know what is in the water you may as well toss dice and let fate decide how to manage the water.

If you are serious about trying to improve this small fishery (which is awesome!)- I would personally suggest starting with the local fisheries department (not sure where you are so, whatever their department is called) and see if they have any fish population reports.  Usually you will find they break things down a little differently vs your 3:50 ratio.  Most times you will see something like 40% of the fish over 8 inches long were also over 12 inches long.  28% over 8 inches long were also over 15 inches long, etc. for bass, which helps establish the actual size of catchable fish in the water.  But, the real key is they will do so via electroshock.  So they will not be counting fish based on those you caught (which would be a false report as it would only indicate what's in the pond based on your strategy), but a better sample of all fishes not just bass, but bluegill, crappie, etc. anything in the test areas.   If they have not done a report, you could volunteer to help and see if you could convince them to do a study on the water and help monitor the fishery with them.  

I wont suggest they will likely do so, but it is going to take a genuine study to really understand the dynamics of the water --- and even then, management will be restricted by the local ordinances and willingness of the fisheries department to manage the water.  And that is just one of the stepping stones.  To really evaluate the fishery, one will need water chemistry tested, habitat analysis, understanding of non-fish forage opportunities, ancillary predation, other environmental impacts on the water, and just keep on going.

The biggest problem I suspect you will find, is that they don't care about this water.  I suspect you will find there is little more management to it than the initial stocking and they will not be willing to spend much, if any, time or money on it.  But, heaven forbid you break a law there... and in most states attempting to manage a public water via import or export (outside of creel limits for keeper fish *and then only to be killed and eaten, not relocated) is an infraction.

Now, if this were a private lake, managed by a subdivisions HOA, etc. then the opportunities change -- but all at your cost as you would still really need to do the same things... just on your dime.  Good luck with it, and hopefully you will find a young officer with the department who is willing to spend some extra time working with you and can help get the fishery in tip top shape!

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I live In Pennsylvania. This is a private quarry that I have exclusive permission to fish. There are several quarries in my area, because it used to be a mining town. The plan I have is to put perch into the water. I also want to use fish finder to map out the lake if i can get a jon boat in there. Thanks for all the help

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On 10/24/2016 at 4:19 PM, CrustyMono said:

 

 

what if i take 1/3 of the bass out, put them in a new lake, and stock baby pickerel, rainbow trout, perch, bullhead, and a new breed of small bluegill?

 

That would probably benefit you the most. Because the baby pickerel will grow into large pickeral which will eat the baby bass. And the medium sized bass will eat the trout and perch. I don't think you need to introduce bullhead or a new breed of bluegill though.

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A lot of the talk on here is bucket biology 101, which all fisheries biologists and pond managers warn strongly against doing.  Without doing a fair assessment of the overall fish population through something such as an electro-shock survey with a trained biologist, you're really just taking a shot in the dark and could seriously hurt the fishery.  I'm no expert, but I've done my fair share of reading on the subject trying to slowly gain knowledge for managing my own ponds.  I HIGHLY recommend going over to the pond boss forums and talking to a few of the experts there before you do anything you regret.  

For example, my family acquired a new fishery a year and a half ago and I haven't made any changes to it yet, other than harvesting as many bass in the 10-15 inch range as possible (per a biologists recommendation to the previous owners).  I will not be adding any new fish of any type to it without talking to a biologist first.  What I'm doing right now is a long-term assessment of the overall health of the fishery by weighing and measuring every bass I catch and keeping a spreadsheet of those weights compared to the relative weight of a bass that size.  This will help me determine if and when adjustments need to be made in our current plan.  

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Honestly I agree with the people above who say to get a real biologist evolved. you would really kick yourself if you introduced something and couldn't get them back out. ie perch . they eat a lot and that could mean disaster if they all spawned and overtook the pond. it also sounds like you only have permission to fish. I mean honestly I'm sure the owner wouldn't think it a bad Idea to try to grow the bass but maybe talk to them first, and then get a real biologist in there to check it out. even if they can't give you a definative survey, they might suggest something less drastic. maybe a few sterile fish could help, or they might have just got back from the quarry over and might have some simple yet good tips. you really would feel bad if you exterminated the bass in whole by adding something else.

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It may sound like it's getting complicated (even possibly expensive)  but if you talk to your local managers, you may be surprised how helpful they might be. I've always found managers willing -even excited- to talk fish and fisheries. No, they won't run a survey for you, those are expensive in man-hours. But they may have worthwhile advice. Inexpensive water quality tests that could give you a basic idea of fertility, or experienced explanations of habitat needs of, and possible interactions between, different species. And, again, get familiar with the Pond Boss site; Lotsa expertise and experience built up there. And, people there will be thrilled of those big 'gills you've got.

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