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Amric

Bass vs. bluegill mix

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Our 5 acre relatively shallow pond in SW Michigan has only LMB - the largest I've caught is maybe 10 lbs, but the majority of the population are much smaller.  I always thought bass and bluegill were a healthy mix, so we were thinking of stocking adult blugill for forage.  Then over the course of my research I came across this article from the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.  One would think they know what they are talking about, but this suprised me so I thought I would pass it by you guys for your opinions on its accuracy.  The excerpt I'm referring to is:

The best warmwater fish species for most Michigan ponds is the largemouth bass. They grow well and reproduce readily in ponds that have some sand over shallow water. Largemouth bass do well even if they are the only fish species in the pond. A widespread myth is that pond owners must stock one or more prey species for the bass. The ones most often pushed are bluegill, sunfish and various minnows. In truth, the bass-bluegill combination is often a disaster after the first four or five years. The bluegills actually prey more effectively on the bass, gobbling up their eggs and fry, and effectively shutting-down bass reproduction. Bass are generally unable to eat enough of the right sizes of bluegills to keep down the bluegill population, so the result is a stunted population of bluegills and a gradually aging population of bass. Worst still, the overabundant small fish eat-up the pond's supply of tiny water fleas (zooplankton). Without a good population of algae-eating zooplankton, the algae community grows unchecked, giving the water undesirable green blooms.

Fishing out the bluegills by hook-and-line is impractical, and even intensive seining and removal of the stunted sunfish seldom corrects the problem. Fathead minnows are a better choice for stocking as a prey species for bass, but they usually must be restocked periodically. Bass eat such a variety of prey, including small bass, crayfish, tadpoles, frogs, and insects, that providing a fish prey species is often not necessary. Bass can be stocked in combination with trout in deep ponds without such serious problems.

The rest of the text is here:  

http://www.miwildlife.org/h-ponds.asp

I thought the bass would do better with bluegill for forage, but this author's contention seems to be that the bluegill will outcompete the bass! Is this consistent with anything you have heard before?  

???

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i don't know of any lake that has bass and not bluegill. nature has a way of evening things out.  by that guys theory, it would seem that bluegill will wipe the bass out over time no matter the size of the lake. i just don't think that's accurate.

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Yeap, he is right, in my opinion of course. You have to understand that what really matters in a fishery habitat is the eggs and hatch fingerlings. Now picture any lake with a large population of sunfish and what do you think of?, little ferocious rascals that eat anything that comes in the water. Now picture one large bass trying to fight off a school of 100 them little chowhounds, impossible! The best idea might be a small population of larger bluegills, since one or two large bluegill would be easier for a bigger bass to fight off. But like he said, bass also eat there own so keep that in mind as well. And if you havn't already, I would suggest planting trees that will overhang into the water. Tons of insects fall off overhanging trees providing just that much more food. And obviously create any structure in the pond you can. I would sink some christmas trees in there if you havn't yet, they are excellent, as are giant boulders. Good luck and have fun with it.

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well i know plenty of ponds that are 30 or 40 years or even more years old with bluegill and bass and they are only like 3 or 4 acres and the bass fishing is just great their. i wouldnt think that stocking bluegill would hurt that much.

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im going to have to side with max on this one.  like he said bluegill will just attack anything, and with so many, the bass may be the one suffering.  Also, if bluegill were to be introduced, youre going to be adding a larger bioload (that will continually increase a fast pace), and just curious, is there enough water and structure to support such and introduction? i would suggest other creatures to stock, crawfish, smaller minnows and as stated other insects will also be a source of food.  i just dont  see the need for bluegill to be stocked. but do as much research as possible to find the right course of action.  good luck.

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I vehemently disagree with those posters claiming bluegill aren't good for bass. Every good bass pond I fish has a nice population of bluegills.

Much can be learned about this subject of this site.

From here....

http://www.bassresource.com/fish_biology/forage_bass.html

Snip....

"The bluegill is the perfect baitfish, with a mouth smaller than a pencil eraser, so it can not compete with adult bass for food. Like underwater rabbits, bluegill spawn several times a year adding pint-sized food to the system every time.

In northern waters, bluegill commonly spawn two to three times before the growing season ends in mid-October or so. In Dixie, the pan-shaped creatures may create little craters in the shallows and spawn as many as four times in a calendar year, depending on the severity of the winter.

Bluegill set the table for the success of most bass lakes. Look at numbers.

A female bluegill may lay as many as 2,500 eggs per spawn. One brood male has the ability to incubate a nest of eggs that may have been dropped by several females. So, given these spawning dynamics, how can a pond with bluegill ever have skinny bass?

Answer.- It takes up to 10 pounds of forage fish for one bass to gain one pound. The more bass you have, obviously the more forage they require. And you want your baitfish to supply forage in a wide variety of sizes.

So it becomes a balancing act ... Adult bluegill, too large to be eaten by most bass, cranking out baby bluegill so the buffet line will stay open 24 hours a day.

Stocking rate: Use 200 adults per surface acre for a pond with no existing bluegill population."

End snip.

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gotta go with sweetwater on this one.  even though i practice catch and release 85% of the time, i harvest some every year to eat.  in some ponds i fish, the owner has told me to "keep everything".  last night i caught and cleaned one that had a bluegill in its stomach, freshly caught too.  in fact, we were catching them on bream beds!!  bream and bass are an awesome combination in any pond.

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Sweetwater is absolutely right even though up to 10 pounds of forage fish to produce 1 pound of bass is inaccurate to a certain point, fish have a conversion ratio of 2.5:1 ( 2.5 pounds of food for each pound of weight gain ) in prime conditions, besides that, bass and bluegills are native fish, they have evolved in the same environmental conditions for millions of years, the only thing you 're doing when you stock a pond is to mimic or create an artificial ecosystem based in a natural model developed through millions of years of evolution, but, since it 's an artificial ecosystem it 's subject to mistakes, to keep a healthy population of both you have to manage the fisheries by maintaining the levels of forage and predators in balance, too many bluegills will eat too many bass eggs and fry the result will be a pond overrun by bluegills and a few big bass, the opposite is true, too many bass will eat too many bluegill fingerlings the result will be a pond overrun by small bass and a few big bluegills too large to be eaten, in closed systems like ponds catch and release doesn 't work well, selective harvesting is the key to a well managed pond. If you want more information we have enough of it, check the "Pond Management" section here in the homepage.

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I don't think anybody meant that bluegills were "bad" for a pond. But his pond is only 5 acres you'd have to keep a pretty tight balance. And I was basing my opinion on experience not some article I read, no offense though. The lakes I have fished that have sparse populations of bigger panfish always produce good numbers of quality fish, 3+ lbs. While the lakes that have absurd amounts of dinky bluegills seem to produce nothing more than dinky bass. Could just be coincedence yes, but I believe it's not. :) So I stick wholeheartedly with my theory, a small amount of larger bluegill is your best bet.

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Max....

No offense taken. I did not base my opinion on "an article". I based my opinion on the writings of wildlife biologist Greg Grimes, owner of this company....

http://www.lakework.com/

Now let me tell you where your experience led you astray.

No amount of bluegill are detrimental to bass.

You can manage a pond for;

1. A balance of good bluegill,bass fishing.

2. Trophy bluegill and a sparse population of older,smaller, bass.

3. Trophy bass and smaller bluegill.

The only thing that will stunt the growth of bass is over population.

If smaller bluegill were deterimental to bass, your scenario would produce a sparse population of older,very well fed bass,not dinks.

On the other hand, crappie are very detrimental to a pond bass population.

It's all in the timing of the spawn. Crappie spawn first, then bass, then sunnies and cats. By the time bluegill spawn,  bass fry have had a good headstart.

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Hehe, but in fact you are basing your opinion on somebody elses findings, am I not correct? But than again, I am basing my opinion between 4 or 5 lakes in Northern Minnesota. So there is other factors that play into my theory like, ice, very cold fall, spring, and winter months, etc. And I'm sure this Greg guy is right in what he speaks but I'm not sure it can be used as a "universal" theory. You said this..."If smaller bluegill were deterimental to bass, your scenario would produce a sparse population of older,very well fed bass,not dinks." On paper, I would agree, but my real time, real life, experience completely disagree's. I mean I have fished these lakes religously and never in my life caught a bass over 2 pounds. But the lakes that have the jumbo 1lb+ bluegills, always produce healthy dosages of 3lb+ bass. I think this is one of those cases that is just "open" as in, there is no right or wrong answer because there are so many other factors involved. Heck, I'm just more confused now than anything hehe. :)

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when i fish on a lake for the first time, or for the first time i fish it that year, i like to catch a few bluegill. if i'm catching big ones, it makes me believe there should be big bass. if all i'm catching are babies, especially when they hit on nearly every cast, i expect it to have alot of little bass too.

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Well I don 't base my opinions on findings of another person, I base my opinions in the fact that I 've worked with the both species as a field technician for the former Secretaria de Pesca of Mexico and wrote my college graduate thesis on the subject it 's called "Manual T écnico para el Cultivo de la Lobina Negra ( Micropterus salmoides ) en Estanques" ( Technical Manual for the Growth of Largemouth Black Bass ( Micropterus salmoides ) in Ponds ) the only way to prove your theory would be to net all the fish in the lake ( pond ) or perform a survey by electroshock to give you an idea of what the pond is holding; lots of bluegills usually means that the pond is overrun by bluegills and that there aren 't enough predators to eat them, the same is true in the opposite side, too many bass means that the pond is overrun by them and that there aren 't enough bluegills to eat them. Not catching fish over a certain weight doesn 't necessarily mean anything in particular, bigger fish don 't get big by being stupid, also, bigger fish represent the smallest population of bass on any given lake and their proportion compared to smaller fish is minimal, a pond may hold 100 pounds of bass per acre, the important thing is how those pounds are distributed, healthy fish populations should always be in piramidal proportion with the larger fish on top.

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Yea I think I'm gonna take your word on this one ;)

But I'm still confused as to what the original posters answer should be. Should he stock it, being as theres already 10lb fish in there, and if yes, how would he manage the distribution? As in, what size, how many, etc?

P.S Hey Raul, it's obvious your well educated in the science of fish. I'm curious as to what type of degree/s you have and how long it took to get it/them? I would love to follow the same path, or at least something to do with fish science/managment.

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Actually Max I 'm a veterinarian, how I got involved in producing fish has a story behind it, animals fascinate me, specially fish, it all began when I was 5 years old when my Dad bought me my first aquarium, fishkeeping took a grip on me and 36 years later it hasn 't gone yet, but one thing is just to keep fish alive and well and a completely different thing is to make them thrive, later to make them breed, as you "grow" in the hobby you want more challenging things, in order to do that you have to read and study anything written on the subject, first I started breeding the easiest fish available ( livebearers like guppies and mollies ) later when I dominated the art I stepped into the easiest egg layers until I dominated them and so on, the most challenging to reproduce were discus, man they are tough even to keep so you can imagine how tough they are to breed, picky and choosy little critters when it comes to food and water quality parameters, later saltwater fish became my goal and to go further salwater invertebrates like live corals represented the maximum that could be achieved in the hobby.

I have several degrees but I really don 't have a degree in aquaculture, I have 36 years of experience in fishkeeping that 's the reason why I was invited to participate in SEPESCA, a vet in a world of biologists and aquaculture engineers from which I also learned a lot; fish like tilapias are cichilds they behave and have the same requirements that their aquarium counterparts, carps are large goldfish or goldfish are small carps the same principles apply to both, if you know how keep and breed cichilds or goldfish you can do it with the other ones, is not as difficult at it seems but in order to make it you need to study. BTW I also taught aquaculture at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the La Salle University for 10 years.

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Oooh Grasshopper,

If you want to fight, do not pick the 600 lb gorilla as your opponent.

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Ok we have about a 1 to 2 acre pond of our own and my dad stocked it with bluegill and catfish then I ahd to catch some bass to put in it cause i jsut dont like to catch bluegill and catfish as much ...

So a friend of my dad had 2 ponds full of catfish bluegill and bass i might have cought 15 to 20 bass and put in our pond and now there are around 40 that ive seen around the edges not knowing whats out in the middle they are around 5" to 12" mostly and tons of 1 inch baby bass. and i can go out daily and catch 4 or 5 bass in about 30 min to an hour.

So im gonna have to say that his theory is wrong on it except for the part about to many small fish eating the plankton cause it does seem to have lots of algea in our pond and quite a bit in the ponds where i got the bass from.

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"Oooh Grasshopper,

If you want to fight, do not pick the 600 lb gorilla as your opponent."

What's that supposed to mean rw? If your implicating me as a "grasshopper" I can assure you my knowledge of fish and the science of it is much more than that of a grasshopper ;) You'd be amazed at what I've taught the local geezers.... 8)

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"grasshopper" is a term that was used in ancient China by wisemen when teaching their prodigies. It means young, eager one.

I think he was just trying to say that there wouldn't be much point to dispute Raul on the matter.

Don't be offended, ol' RW says that alot.

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Yea probably. I still think experience on the water is the best education there is, and I have 22 years of that ;) But I do also have my share of education in the subject, just not a major degree or anything.

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I fish in managed ponds in south Georgia and the fishery actually publishes reports on each pond whether they are balanced, predator heavy (bass), or out of balance (panfish heavy).  They then establish limits or will even close ponds in order to balance them correctly.  The web site about their management can be found below.

http://www.stewart.army.mil/dpw/fish/the%20management.htm

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Thanks for the interesting discussion.  It appears there is no definitive answer other than to manage the pond for the results one desires.  I was originally thinking that it would help the bass to have bluegill as well, but now I am not sure.  In my case, I would not expect that I could actively manage the pond as it is not heavily fished.  Personally, I have a hard time believing that introducing bluegill will overrun the LMB population, but I'm no expert, and if it is true that the bluegill prey effectively on bass fry and eggs, maybe he has a point.

Since bass do eat other bass, it seems like the larger fish will always have a supply of smaller fish to prey on.  I know there are a ton of smaller bass in there.  Do LMB prefer to prey on other species or are they non-discriminatory when it comes to feeding?   If they are just as likely to prey on each other, maybe it is better to leave the pond as is.

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Large bass never suffer from lack of food, they create their own source every year, smaller fish are the ones who suffer that 's the reason why in ponds overrun by bass the only thing you catch are dinks, catching 4-6 inchers all day long is a very clear symptom that the pond is overrun by stunted bass, there are too many predators eating whatever food is available.

Do LMB prefer to prey on other species or are they non-discriminatory when it comes to feeding?

Bass prey on anything, they are on top of the food chain, leaving the pond as it is is not the way to go to catch more quality fish, instead remove those 1 and 2 pounders, with time the pond begins to gain balance.

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