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Fish Per Acre

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In an average healthy lake that hasn't been fished to death how many bass should there be per acre?  I don't know if there is any way to answer this but if anyone has any comments I'm listening.

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There is indeed a way to answer this question. I have heard certain numbers before, but do not know if they were correct or not. There is only a certain amount of fish per acreage that the ponds natural forage can keep the fish fed to healthy levels. If it starts to get to be too much for the pond to handle, you will start to notice you are catching nothing but small fish. The fish will be stunted due to lack of readily available forage. This is where selective harvest is an absolute must for the healthy management of a pond. I hope to see a scientific answer for this thread. Maybe Raul or ouachitabassangler (Jim) can shed some more light on this subject since they have some background working in their areas respective fisheries depts.

Here is a document I found on the Missouri Department of conservations website. Page 32 outlines the carrying capacity of a pond. this infor is for MO ponds though. I don't know if it would be different in other states. Like I said, hopefully one of the two above can confirm this info.

http://www.mdc.mo.gov/documents/fish/aquaguides/pondhb.pdf

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Guest ouachitabassangler

There is no simple answer, each body of water having a different carrying capacity. It might be a particular lake can support 300 pounds of several species of fish in any combination of size. The next might only support half that, and another twice as much where artificial feeding occurs. A lot of that depends on ratio of say bluegills to bass, or shad to bass. Presence of crappie can really reduce the ratio of bass to other species.

Jim

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Jim, I understand that the answer is pretty much "it depends."  And it's a complex question with lots of factors determining the answer.  But can you give us ballpark answers?  What is typical?  What is considered high?  What is low?  

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A typical lake in North America supports 250-300 pounds of fish per acre. If you go to your fish and game or DNR you can probably get pretty good numbers on a given lake. These numbers can and will vary greatly. Farm ponds vary far greater.

Stick Marsh/Farm 13 runs in excess of 800 pounds per acre.

Do fisheries people know the where's and why's and what fors? No!

If they did they would duplicate the phenomenon.

It is not unusual for the fishery people to ask for information based on the number of hours and times per week that we fish this place. If the predation is right, and the food is right, and the recruitment is right, the fishery is going to be astounding.

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This is interesting.  The numbers I'm seeing would suggest that their could be as many as 100 fish per acre.  Some acres will contain no fish so some acres will contain 200 fish or more. This tells me that we are dragging our lures by 100s of fish each outing.  Almost makes me sorry I asked.

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How fertile the waters are carrys alot of weight.     The Ecology of the lake itself.   ie.... nutrients, type of fish, is fish to control grass like carp.   As other mentioned, supplemnetal feeding programs or self sustained.

Lots of interesting reading.   Google "fish per acre" and you will see so many different situations.     Size of fish to be stocked, fingerlings or mature adults.

As Jim said, it depends.

Matt.

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Remember, that pounds per acre equate to not just bass, but all fish inhabitants.

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Ponder this:

George Welcome, his son and their clients probably catch more pounds of bass than anyone else on this Forum. George just stated that not all of the 800 lbs of fish per acre are bass, but still, 99-100% of the "bass per acre" ignore his (their) presentations.

How's that make you feel? I'm surprised I ever catch a bass!

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All the scientific and interesting studies notwithstanding there are days when, even if fishing a water body, twelve inches deep, with starving bass evenly spaced, one per square foot, I STILL CAN'T CATCH ONE!!! :-[

Dang!

FR

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Went explorating, (like that word) a couple of days ago: 1 1.5-pound bream on a 5" Senko, and one 2.5-pound bass for 3 hours of effort.

Estimated 800-pounds per acre w/estimated 35% bass. Yikes.

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Went explorating, (like that word) a couple of days ago: 1 1.5-pound bream on a 5" Senko, and one 2.5-pound bass for 3 hours of effort.

Estimated 800-pounds per acre w/estimated 35% bass. Yikes.

That is only 280# of bass per acre. ;) Of coure if you factor in the conventional wisdom that 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water, and assuming a man of your skills was in the 10% zone, RW may have a point; fishing can be tough. That may also be what makes it so good?!

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Guest ouachitabassangler

A recent lake sample on Ouachita came up with this:

(Acres in "surface acres")

Total fish per acre: 9791

Total biomass fish per acre: 203 pounds

Total Largemouth Bass per acre: 425

Total biomass LMB per acre: 6 pounds

Total Threadfin Shad per acre: 3077

Total biomass Threadfin per acre: 32 pounds

Keep in mind the vast majority of any lake isn't likely bass habitat, so in this case 17 million LMBs averaging 6 pounds per acre indicates a high number of small bass, but there's 240,000 pounds total, concentrated in bass habitats scattered all around the lake. Size distribution is in fact still normal, though we have a minimum keeper length slot of 13" due to a poor recruitment year a while back. Last year the slot was 16", so there's been improvement.

32 fish species were listed. For unknown reasons statistics on Striped Bass were not released. All I know so far is the AGFC has stocked 80,000 a year there, and a recent report noted their growth might have reached saturation. They have reached the 60 pound mark, huge schools of thousands seen often around the dam. There's stiff opposition from black bass organizations, challenging the AGFC over not producing reasonable justification for basically making Ouachita into a Striper lake. The AFGC has agreed to reduce stocking to 60,000 this year.

The lake is a 40,000 upland reservoir with water to 200 feet deep, about 700 miles of shoreline, and typically clear, low in nutrients. It's pracially free of pollution, the watershed mostly covering federal lands, otherwise protected by clean water law. Most pollution is found around marinas.

The latest creel survey program supplied harvest data of 168,871 total fish weighing 304,357 pounds. Stripers accounted for 38%, and LMBs for 16%.  Those numbers repeat each year with little variation. I have not seen a survey on total bass caught and released, that being mostly related to tournaments, and probably in the tens of thousands annually.

You should be able to request recent sample data from a lake biologist in your area.

Hope this helps. No two lakes will resemble each other. I've looked over sample data on dozens of lakes and hundreds of small wetland impoundments, each one a different world, each containing a wild assortment of species, numbers per acre, sizes. Some very shallow water fisheries are subject to cold weather and drought losses more than others, so average sizes vary considerably.

Jim

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Another thing to consider on larger lakes.    Its been said that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish, and 90% of the fish can be found in 10% of the water.   I find certain areas replenish and just hold more fish than what the shocking report survey tells.

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Guest ouachitabassangler

I just got off the phone with the latest on catch & release figures. Last year an estimated 140,958 LMBs were released. 53% were within slot limit (13-16" at the time). That slot limit cut angler hours from 22 hours per acre in 1994 (when the slot was begun to offset losses from LMBV) to 11 angler hours per acre per year. The remaining 67,000 were released either voluntarily or because of tournament rules. Voluntary catch reports from tournaments have not been completed or processed, which should help determine how many of the 67,000 legal keepers were released with no requirement. 27,000 were harvested.

Jim

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