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Kenny418

Lake management?

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Okay, I want to get some opinions on this matter. I Have fished a private gravel pit/lake for a couple years now. It seems you either catch 10 to 12 inch 1.5lb bass or you catch 5,6,7,8, and 9lbers. You can catch 60 to 100 per day of the small ones. The big ones have come on all of my sunken cover. Lake has huge bluegill,crappie,catfish in it. Why is there a void of 2 and 3 lbers. you dont catch any of that size. Last year I removed 580 small bass from this lake and added 7 brushpiles. This year I plan to do the same. What else can I do to improve the lake?

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Every lake needs something taken out of them. When you catch fish that have heads the size of a 3lb bass and they are 1.5 lbs, somethings wrong.

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Keep doing what you are doing. The best thing for smaller waters like that is to remove the small fish. The reason you aren't catching 2-4 pound bass is because the population is "stuck" at the small sizes. There are too many mouths to feed. Once you remove enough bass, the remaining ones will begin to grow larger. At that point, the bluegill will have better survival of young and their young will more significant meals.

Here's a point. When a baby fish is first hatched, especially bass and other sunfish such as bluegill and crappie, they weigh about 12,000 per pound. If they can live as long as 50 days, they grow to weigh about 30 per pound. Right now, when a fish is first hatched and dares come off a nest, it is immediately eaten by small fish. Reducing the numbers of 10-12" bass improves the odds of survival of ALL young fish, replenishing the population and feeding the whole lake.

The reason you see large fish is because you have figured out how to congregate them from open water. And, think about what those big fish have to eat. They have the entire population of fish to choose from. A four pound (or larger) bass can eat almost any fish in that lake. It makes its living from the small bass.

You are doing the right thing.

You asked what else you can do to improve the lake.

If your goal is to grow large bass, here are a few ideas.

1) Keep a fishing log. Weigh and measure and record every fish you catch, along with the date.  If you're really into it, log those numbers into an Excell spreadsheet and look at them on an x-y graph. As the numbers of fish begin to come in line with "balance", you will see it on the graph. The weights will become heavier as the numbers drop into the right population size for the food chain. Also, look at the numbers of fish you catch during a given period of time. As the numbers of small bass are reduced, you can study a bar graph. The bar graph should be a bell curve. Right now, it's not. As you manage the lake by harvesting fish, you will begin to see a bell curve when the fishery comes into balance. After the bell curve is formed, you will begin to see it move to the right, as the entire population of fish stays balanced and begins to grow "normally."

2) Keep adding structure/cover to the lake, but be thoughtful how you do it. Fish need travel paths, they need "funnels" and don't forget about your forage fish, either. Bluegill need dense cover in which to hide, something like thick aquatic plants peripherally or cedar trees in a pile, maybe 6 feet by 6 feet in water 8 feet deep.

3) Remove non-target fish such as crappie. You don't mention how large this lake is, but if it is smaller than about 25 acres, the crappie are part of the food chain problem.

4) Consider feeding the bluegill sunfish. Bluegill respond well to fish food. When fed, they grow larger and produce more eggs. More eggs means more babies. More babies means more bass.

Keep it up, you are on the right track

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Thanks for the info. Lake is about 53 acres. Average depth 11 to 15 feet. 25' at deepest. I am also looking into aquatic plants for this lake. The lake has none right now. I am in southwest ohio with gravel and clay soil. I am looking for something that will grow but not become a problem in the future. Any ideas?

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Kenny, if you are not aware of it, one of the foremost pond management experts in the country has just offered his advice.  I suggest you pay very close attention to his words.  When it comes to pond management, Bob Lusk is THE MAN.

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You're a little far north for threadfin, but I'd suggest a stocking of suitable forage species.

Everybody gets crazy thinking about impacts of shad stocking on resident species (particularly YOY bass and gills), but it appears that you have the lake surface area and established adult fish predatory size structure to take advantage.

I don't know if some of these authorities are fisheries biologists, but introducing forage species to attain your management goals doesn't always result in messed up growth patterns or diminished competition species...

Place some prominent high-growth forage in your lake and grow your bass...It will work. With 50+ acres you have plenty of area and the predatory base established to get some serious growth going on w/ your gamefish.

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Thanks Bob I am going to use the advice you have given(I am the guy that spoke to the day you left Kenlake about the algae control).

Kelley

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Bob is the man for sure.  Wish I had a my own small lake to play with.  

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53 acres is a nice lake.

You will probably harvest 1,000-1,500 bass before you see a change in growth patterns...so go fishing!

Threadfin shad are a good idea, but you are a little too far north for them to be of much help. They die at 42 degrees and it takes at least 60 days of warm weather for babies to grow large enough to become significant for food for larger bass. And, stocking them right now, into an overcrowded bass lake probably won't work because they become more of a snack than a reproducing source of forage fish. I still think you should spend effort on reducing bass numbers and increasing bluegill populations.

American pondweed is outstanding in a lake such as this. You may have to get creative to get it to grow....maybe put up a small cage and plant some inside. The cage will keep out the critters which like to eat aquatic plants...fish, turtles, some kinds of birds.

I think you have a good plan and it will work. If you get a minute, spend some time on the discussion forum at pondboss.com and you can get some good ideas of other things you can do.

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Those 5,6, 7 pounders are the mommies of those 8,10 inchers; when there 's nothing in between it means there 's a bunch on 8,10,12 inchers eating everything they can and bulegills can 't keep up with the demand of fry, there 's not enough food for them all, many of those 8-12 inch bass have an appointment with the frying pan.

In my neck of the woods the best lakes and ponds have tilapia, unlike bluegills which spawn once a year tilapia in warm waters like ours spawns twice or more than twice a year, they produce a lot more fry and bass have an almost unlimited supply of food year round.

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I can't really speak as someone who know's what he's talking about, but here in the south we have a sort of similar problem at Calling Panther Lake.

It's  about 500 acres and you either catch a monster (current lake record is over 12#) or a "stump-nocker", and LOTS of them.

It such an issue that the daily creel limit has been 'upped' to 30 bass per day and are STRONGLY encouraged to KEEP ALL small bass caught out of the slot.

I, myself, ALWAYS, practice catch-and-release, EXCEPT here.

It seems a prime example of "OUT-OF-BALANCE", mostly due to people NOT keeping any bass....

just my 2 cents..

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