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saltwater sensei
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371 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I fished a new pond I stumbled upon accidentally. It was full of bluegill. Tons and tons of bluegill. Big ones.

I must have caught more than 50 between 8" and 8.5" and some other number of 7.5"ers with nothing smaller than that. They were fat and heavy. even the 7.5" ones were at least 1.5" thick.

I took pics of the first two I caught and didn't take any more. I'd just cast and get hit. Shallow diving cranks, rooster-tails, kastmaster 1/4oz spoons, red worms and bobber, GULP fake maggot and bobber; these things hit everything. I ended up just using fake maggots with the smallest hook I could rob from my kids' box, what I believe was #6 baitholder, and bobbers 'cause it was a PITA to keep unhooking tri hooks as big as these fishes mouths

This is the average length



This is how fat they were.





I kept hoping I'd hit the magic FO 9" for sunfish but it didn't happen. :(

I have questions. I didn't google well enough to find all the answers to my questions and here are the remainders.

Why are these bluegill so thick and fat? I've never seen any so healthy.

The red chested, fatty is a male as far as I've been able to learn from the internet. Is this true?

The bright color on fatty's chest seem to indicate he's in spawn. Yes or no?

How do you identify male or female other than wide and long ear-tab for males and rounded and shorter ear-tab for females? Can you really tell from black tips on their scales?

How do you know if a female is carrying eggs???? I've seen this statement a lot on this forum " female with eggs"... How do you determine that?

Thanks.

P.S.- I practiced CnR on all of these fish 'cause I wasn't set up for bringing home food-fish. I will, however, be returning to this spot at some point to pick up some takeaway. :D
 

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freshwater newb, perfect size gills for eating... NOW, don't lose your "honey hole". Personally, I think gills are the best tasting fresh water fish (with crappie, yellow perch and walleye next in line.

Don't fish the pond out though, apparently they are eating "good in the hood":eat:... Could be they are full of tadpoles. A really great eco-system(sp) running through that pond. But it sounds you have a few good fish fries coming up. The only way to get some bigger is to take some out.

Good luck and be safe freshwater newb.
 

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Fisherman
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2,352 Posts
yeah. be very careful with how much you take out. places where you can catch nothing but fish that size are are rare.
that fish was indeed a spawning male. and a very big male also! when the water isnt crowded, the fish you catch will be free of sores and abrasions. if they are, they tend to have speed and horrible infections, not to mention cuts and ruined tails.
 

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fish breath
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567 Posts
if a female has eggs you can squeeze their belly and greenish brownish stuff comes out. also during the spawn the females tend to be a more nuetral color, without the pretty dark blue and orange colors.
 

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A one-man wolfpack...
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3,197 Posts
So I'm guessing that there are few if any bass in the pond? I know of a guy who's pond is filled with skinny bass and huge gills. He actually encourages folks to remove the big gills in order to help the bass flourish. Basically, the gills are way too big for the existing bass, which are undersized, to eat...

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saltwater sensei
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371 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the info about bluegills.

I'll be careful not to overharvest there. It does seem to need some culling if I want to get a 9"'er out of there.

I only caught one bass out of there, a 9" largemouth. Seems that the bluegill are the apex predator in that spot.
 

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Premium Member
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10,898 Posts
For ponds there are a few things to consider.

The chances of a perfectly balanced pond without help are very doubtful.

To have a high population of good sized bluegill you need one of two things to happen, either a huge food source to support the high numbers of bluegill and their growth or a high population of predators, bass, to eat a large percentage of the small bluegill to ensure enough food for growth for the remaining gills to grow large

One of the basics of pond management is if you desire larger panfish don't remove any bass and you end up with a large population of smaller bass but bigger panfish. If you want bigger bass you remove a high percentage of the bass each year allowing for more food for the remaining bass to grow larger but you end up with smaller bluegill because the population increases with lack of predation.
 

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I have a friend who is getting ready to build a pond and wants a good balance of good size bass and gills. Sounds like that's going to be a tough thing to do for the most part. I have fished ponds with big bass in them and big gills but the number of big gills isn't close to equal the number of big bass. I dunno. I do know I love eating me some fried gills though!
 

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Premium Member
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It is not hard to have a balanced pond it just takes time.

You have to manage species and populations through harvest or adding predation and ensure enough food to accomplish your goals.

It just takes a while to see the results of your efforts. You friend is in the best position any pond owner could be in. He gets to build a pond to his design with depths contours and cover, and manage his fish and food source from the beginning. It doesn't get any easier than that, much easier than changing the balance of an existing pond.
 
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