Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
DVW

Stocking Baitfish for Largemouth Bass/Rainbow Trout

Recommended Posts

We have a 7 acre lake(private lake in a mountain community) in Upstate NY that is currently stocked with Largemouth Bass and Rainbow Trout. It is a man-made lake that is about 12ft deep at its deepest. One end is shallow(~3ft), while the other is deeper. It is spring fed, and always contains pockets of 50-60 deg F water. The lake constantly overflows, unless there is a severe drought, at which point the level usually remains constant(doesn't go down or overflow). Its bottom consists of many rocks/rock walls/etc. Some of the lake is a bit muddy(more like silt), due to shale run off from the mountain.

The lake was initially stocked with only Rainbow Trout years ago. They do not reproduce in the lake, so we had to restock every few years. Well, one year someone used shiners(not sure which kind) for bait and dumped the rest into the water. Eventually, the lake was absolutely infested with them. You could literally walk across the lake on them. Stocking of the Trout ceased(not sure why they decided to do so).

Eventually, they decided to stock with Largemouth. For the first few years, the fishing was incredible. People were pulling out 2ft+ bass with ease. 5lb bass were pretty common.

Unfortunately this did not last. The shiners were completely wiped out. Then, the newts(spelling) were no where to be found. Soon the frogs and crayfish followed the same path. The frogs/crayfish are still there, but their numbers have plummeted.

Then, for some unknown reason, they decided to restock with Rainbow Trout. Since this was done, the bass have gotten much smaller.

If you go watch the lake at sunrise/sunset, it looks like an aerial show. They feed like crazy on the insects. While this always has happened, it seems they feed more heavily now on the insects then they did before.

After reading some of the articles here, I came to the conclusion(always had a feeling), that the food chain was basically broken in the lake. There are NO baitfish in the lake, and the frog/crayfish population is almost non-existant. Adding Trout only seemed to make the problem worse.

From the reading I've done, Bluegills seem to be a good fit. We have a friend with a pond that is loaded with "hybrid sunnies", but I've read they may not be such a good option.

We are currently looking into adding a fish feeder for the trout(and in the future the baitfish), to help alleviate the food problem.

My questions:

What is the best baitfish to stock?

Best time of year to do so?

Can we re-stock crayfish?

Will a fish feeder help?

I included a pic of a Bass from the lake. He is about as big as they get now. A few years ago, he would be considered a small fry.

Thanks

post-16626-130163010456_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome aboard!

8-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fathead minnows and Bluegill would be a good place to start.  I don't have my fisheries book with me right now so I can't give you numbers.  All I can say is that you will need a significant amount.  A good time to stock would be in the spring or early summer before water temps. get to high.  Plus this will allow them to hopefully start spawning.  A feeder may help alleviate some pressure from the bait fish.  Although, bass don't take pellets easily and it may take awhile to train them.  It might be a good idea to start with the feeder now and then stock in the spring or summer.  This would allow the bass to become accustomed to the feeder and not totally depend on the bait fish.  I would think the crayfish would eventually come back.  By the way where are you located?  I'm just out of Cooperstown.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thanks for the quick reply!

The lake is about 20 minutes north of Windham, on the top of a mountain.

The lake never gets too warm. It is fed constantly by springs. Even in the dead of summer, you can find pockets that will give you major shrinkage. :o

I was thinking of using the feeder for mainly the Trout and eventually for the baitfish. I figure if the Trout eat more feed, they will eat less of the natural food in the lake, leaving more for the bass. And if the bluegills/minnows fatten up on the fish food, the bass will eventually benefit by eating them.

Would hybrid sunnies hurt the Bass population? A friend of ours has a pond with those and I believe perch(what kind I'm not sure). One thought was to net the perch and use them as feed. The hybrid sunnies were also contemplated. I asked them to hold off on those until I could learn a bit more about them. Are there any benefits to hybrid sunnies, or will they just cause problems?

Edit:  We also were going to try and coax the trout to spawn.  Our lake has a slow, but steady flow from east to west.  One end is fed by a spring fed pond(very shallow/filled in) which constantly overflows into the lake.  There is a mini stream that connects the two(I use stream loosely).

We were told if we cover the "stream" bottom with gravel, we may be able to get the trout to spawn.  Has anyone had success with creating an artificial stream?  It would cost us next to nothing to do, I was just wondering if anyone has any tips/experience with it.

Thanks again....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a few suggestions:

1. What is the goal, a trout lake, a big bass lake, multispecies? You have to have one major goal in mind, you can't have everything.

2. Why your figuring out question #1 harvest as many LMB as possible, otherwise trying to stock bait fish will be very hard when the bass are eating 4% of ther body weight a day.

3. Consider ecology, does the lake have aquatic plants for the baitfish to hide and reproduce?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

welcome aboard . What you need is alot of bluegill,fathead minnows , and threadfin shad . While you are doing this try to put big adult Bluegill so the spawning rate is at its highest . Good luck and let us know how it goes .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you own this lake or a property owner with lake rights? Your local DNR would be the agency responsible for restocking fish.

Bass and trout have very different needs and do not mix well in a small lake. If the trout are not sterile, they can spawn without much help. The established bass population will, more than likely, eat the trout fingerlings. Northern strain bass may not bother triut over 8", however it takes a full year for a trout to grow big enough for adult size bass not to eat them. Florida strian largemouth will eat the larger size trout, however the water temperature tends to get below 45 degrees that far north and FLMB can't surivie.

Bass are opportunity feeders and will eat whatever is available, so your small lake needs forage to support them. Adding the bluegill is a good idea, along with whatever else can survive to support the bass.

WRB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the list.

I know bass, in a California lake, where they plant trout for recreational catching, are very happy to make a large part of their diet the planters.

You Might check out Tom Mann's website www.schoolofbassfishing.com. I believe he has some videos that may help. You could try contacting him directly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the trout are not sterile, they can spawn without much help.

Could you maybe apply for some jobs with the Vermont fish and wildlife.  Seems we can't get may trout to spawn except maybe brookies in the relatively undisturbed mountain streams.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a few suggestions:

1. What is the goal, a trout lake, a big bass lake, multispecies? You have to have one major goal in mind, you can't have everything.

2. Why your figuring out question #1 harvest as many LMB as possible, otherwise trying to stock bait fish will be very hard when the bass are eating 4% of ther body weight a day.

3. Consider ecology, does the lake have aquatic plants for the baitfish to hide and reproduce?

1- Big Largemouth is the goal.  The trout are stocked every couple years(I believe they are 12" - 16") and seem to survive ok, but don't get all that big.  I'm fine with that.  It's a nice change of pace every now and then.   I believe they stocked them mainly for the kids.  The problem is that the trout don't survive "catch and release" with the kids....They are learning, but still gut one every now and then.  The bass however can take a beating.

2- I've been telling the association to harvest the bass....They will get it one day.  What is the best size slot to remove?

3- We have lots of plants that grow from the bottom up along the lake, along with lilly pads/cat tails(seen in pick on left).  We also planned on making some artificial shelter using pine trees/branches etc.  We also have a large stone wall that runs along the bottom of the lake with lots of nooks and crannies.

The lake is privately owned by a community that my father belongs to/lives in.  Basically they vote at a yearly meeting on matters such as the lake.  I finally got them to agree that the bass needed more food.  The lack of frogs/crayfish/newts finally sunk in.

Now, it's a matter of stocking the right combo of baitfish for the bass.

We are looking for a solar feeder for the trout as well.  My hope is we can supplement the trouts diet with the feed, and leave more for the bass.  Plus, I would think the bluegills/minnows would readily take food from the feeder, which should eventually end up in the bass when they chomp them down.

Thanks again for all the replies.  ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If the trout are not sterile, they can spawn without much help.

Could you maybe apply for some jobs with the Vermont fish and wildlife. Seems we can't get may trout to spawn except maybe brookies in the relatively undisturbed mountain streams.

If Vt is like PA a lot if not most of the stocked trout are sterile.

I have seen Northern Strain LMB feed heavily on 10 to 12 inch trout in NYC Watershead Resivoirs, many times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The FLMB are genetically wired to feed on larger baitfish like golden shiners and one reson when transplanted into California lakes the FLMB targeted rainbow trout. The "native" California bass are nothern strain planted from the mid west, rarely targeted rainbow trout in the same lakes that the FLMB were planted. Bass are bass and can be very aggressive at times. I grew up fishing a high alititude lake, Big Bear, that had an excellent bass and trout fishery and rarely whitnessed bass preying on trout or caught a bass with a trout in it's throat. I worked at the marina for several years and whitnessed bass chasing nearly everything else in or on the water. The difference could be stocked trout verses native wild trout, back then Big Bear was planted only once a year, in the fall with trout. If the lake only has trout for prey, the bass must eat something. Sun fish like; bluegill, pumpkin seeds, crappie and minnows are prefered by NLMB, if availble. I don't believe threadfin shad can survive that far north, but a shiner called silver sides, about 1 1/2" to 2" long that looks like a shad can survive the cold water. Both trout and bass will target silver sides.

It's mute point, as FLMB can not survive in cold water during the winter period, so the trout should not become a primary prey source for the NLMB, if the trout reach adult size. The food source problem isn't balanced, the bass may start to prey on other bass, the lake is real trouble.

I would contact Bob Lusk on this site or hire a good small lake biologist familar with your area to make recommendations as to what are the best options.

WRB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • fishing

    fishing forum

    fishing rods

    fishing reels

    fishing

    bass fish

    fish for bass
    fish

×