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What would you do if it were your pond?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by bkr43050, Sep 1, 2004.

  1. Okay first of all this is not my pond either so this is all hypothetical at this point. I have a friend who owns a small pond (approximately one acre) that has been in existence for nearly 20 years. When he put the pond in he worked through a fishery and did the recommended stock rates on various fish. Over the years this pond has always had plenty of fish as I have always been able to catch fish on each trip. However, I don't think that I have ever caught anything any bass larger than 15-16". He has never harvested any bass from the pond to my knowledge. In fact the only thing he harvested for years was the perch that he stocked. He has some monster crappies as well in the pond. I am not sure how many he stocked but there seems to still be a decent population of them. It is not unusual to catch them 15-16". He had initially stocked channel cats but a few years ago we convinced him to take a few of those out as they were to large and predatory for the small pond. The were 25+" when we took them out. I personally pulled out 8 in one evening (less than 2 hours).

    My thought is that the bass in this pond have been severely stunted due to overpopulation. I am guessing that the mature bass will not grow once the overpopulation problem is alleviated and thus they will live out the remainder of their lives smaller than normal. Is that an accurate assessment?

    What steps would you do to try and improve the size of the fish in the pond? Would you harvest some of the bass? Or remove several of the crappies and/or large gills? I don't think that he ever had a bait minnow stocking initially. Would it be worthwhile to stock fathead minnows at this point?

    The pond looks very healthy with a good amount of algae growth around the shallows for cover. It has a constant stained color to it which seems to limit the overall weed growth to only the shallow areas. I believe he treats the lake like once a year to kill algae. I am not sure how good of an idea this is as I have heard reports of small fish floating dead following treatments there. There is a spring feeding the pond that seems to keep a pretty good fresh water supply entering throughout much of the year.

    I would like to be able to suggest ideas to him that would be relatively low cost and that would create some bigger fish...for him and me.:D

    I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
  2. I think your right that some of the smaller bass should come out. Most of the articles I've read and shows I've watched recommend taking some of the smaller fish out on occasion. Fathead minnows would be a big help too, but I'd be worried about the crappies eating most of them. I've heard a lot of bad things about crappies in ponds. They seem to do well themselves, but other fish suffer. In-Fisherman had some good articles a while back about pond management. I'll look around and see if I can find them.

  3. I have also read some no-no's on crappie in smaller ponds. I am wondering about taking some of the out as well. I think he wants to feel comfortable about seeing improvement if we take those out though. After all those big slabs are beauties and quite fun to catch. However, I rarely see small fish swimming in this pond (although visibility is limited in stained water) and that makes me wonder if the crappie or perhaps even the big gills are eating the bulk of the bass hatch.

    I am thinking that perhaps I need to cinvince him to take several large gills out as well as a few crappies. Perhaps even a few bass could come out as well but I would feel better about doing that if we were catching small ones more often. Everything being caught seems to be 12-16".
  4. The Ohio State University and the ODNR HIGHLY discourages the stocking of white crappie, perch, etc.. in lakes less than 100 surface acres. In fact, almost 100 years of research has indicated that the best combination for small Ohio ponds is channel cats, lm bass, gills. If you have to stock crappie in a small pond it should be black crappie because they do not reproduce as good as white crappie.

    If it were my pond, the first thing I'd do is get every crappie out of there. (Easier said than done unless you drain it!)

    Go to the following DNR site and either print or request a copy of the "Pond Management Handbook"

    The handbook will show you first how to evaluate the pond by keeping track of catch rates/ size ratios for a period of time. Next it will provide you with a plan of action depending on how you want to manage the pond. (trophy bass or gills) It is difficult to have both, but it can be done.

    I used the handbook to manage a few ponds from 1-12 acres and it works! :D
    Order the handbook and put it into practice!
  5. Marshall

    Marshall Catch Photo And Release

    Do you want a bass pond or crappie pond. The bass and crappie are competing for food. If it were me I would keep every crappie i caught. If you catch a ton of small bass take some of them out too. Harvest your bluegill often, leaving the larger ones. Add fat head minnows. This is probably the easiest way to see a fast improvement. Your fish need more food. The cats if channel are not a problem. Your crappie eat far more bluegill and bass fry. Crappie in a small pond is bad. You probably will never be able to catch all the crappie out. good luck, adding tons of fat heads will make the bass get bigger faster.
  6. The real problem with having the crappie and perch in there has nothing to do with each species competing for food sources.The problem with putting crappies in there is that crappies generally spawn sooner than bass,and the crappie fingerlings will rapidly devour the bass when they hatch.Perch also will spawn before bass,but as a rule perch don't have much success at spawning in small ponds,however,the perch that already reside in there will wreak havoc on bass fingerlings.Bluegills if not harvested regularly will become stunted,and they definitely will compete with the bass for whatever food is present.As already stated earlier,the ideal stocking formula for most ponds are largemouth bass and bluegills.
  7. I've seen it mentioned before that perch don't spawn well in small ponds, but I've seen the opposite. In a few years, the population in our ponds exploded, though that was with no predators.
  8. This was the kind of feedback that I was hoping for guys. Thanks!

    The DNR pond management link that Fish-N-Fool posted looks like it may be a big help.

    There are a few things that occurred to me after this discussion and briefly reading the DNR guide.

    1. The bluegill need to be managed much more aggressively. There are some huge bluegill in the pond and I have no idea when he would have last harvested any. The guide suggests harvesting at least 100 or more (for this pond) per year.:eek: That number seems pretty extreme but then again I am not fishing for them when I am there. I am targeting the bass and thus only catching the larger gills.
    2. Crappie (black crappie) seem to be a real problem and need to be thinned out. I would not have a real problem with a few remaining behind because they do not seem to be reporoducing much if at all. I never catch anything other than large ones.
    3. The catfish that were harvested a couple of years ago seem to be a good idea according the DNR guide. They recommend harvesting some of them every year as well. Since they too do not seem to be reproducing in this pond I think I may have done enough removal of them.
    4. The perch that were stocked I believe have been completely eliminated because I don't believe they ever reproduced. Therefore they are out of the picture.
    5. Fathead minnow supply would be a great idea.
    The fact that I see very few small bass in the pond and catch next to none makes me think that their fry are getting consumed completely by the gills and the crappies. Once we thin the panfish population this fall (hopefully), then the spawn from next spring should hopefully create more small bass. If this happens. Then I think the next move should be to take a few of the larger bass out. These are most likely grown to full potential so removing them will allow some of the younger fish to replacing them at the top of the food chain. If I am thinking correctly this approach should begin showing results in more bass offspring immediately next fall. The average size for fish in the lake will initially decrease due to removal of some of the larger ones but after 3-4 years there should be a noticeable difference.

    Now that I have a plan I need to discuss it with the pond owner and see if he is okay with this approach.

    Another thought on the minnow stocking is this. Is it a bad idea to stock (feed) the fish a supply of minnows seined from a local creek. I could inspect them to ensure that everything going in is sucker, chub, dace, johnny darter. If I do this approach what species if any should I be cautious about putting in. I am not looking at this as a replacement of the fathead minnow idea but rather a possible supplement. I could take a bunch with me each fishing trip. This is just a thought. Any suggestions?

    I did not find anything stating how many fatheads to stock per acre as a recommendation. Does anyone have an idea? I looked at the Jones Hatchery site and got prices ($7.00/pound). The hatchery could probably give more recommendations on this as well but I was wondering if they would be okay to simply stock directly into a mature pone and that they would survive enough to maintain a reproducing population?

    Thanks again guys! This is all good practice for me because someday I am planning to put a pond on my property.
  9. bkr -

    You are listening to completely misguided advice (however friendly) from the posters here.

    First, If this pond is producing 15-16" crappie only a complete fool would say keep them or thin them. It sounds like they are not reporducing much and all that you catch are trophy sized - sounds like the IDEAL situation.


    Harvesting big gills/ sunfish is the WORST thing you can possibly do - if you must harvest gills do not keep any 8"+.

    Third, your problem is too many bass NOT too few bass or that they are underfed. Your solution is to THIN the bass population by keeping 10-12"ers not 16"ers! Set a harvest slot limit that protects big fish of all species.

    If you do what others will recommend you will:

    No longer catch big crappies
    No longer catch big bluegills
    No longer catch big cats
    and still not catch big bass

    I speak from experience and manage a pond that is very similar - trophies are produced by low numbers and lots of food - anyone that tells you other wise is ignorant.

    So cut the bass population in 1/2 by harvesting the smaller fish.
  10. I agree that the gills that need to be removed should be the medium size for the most part. Howver, it seems that there may be way too many gills of all sizes in the pond. If that is the case I can't see the harm in removing some of the larger ones as well. As far as the crappie that is the one fish that I have the most question on removing and for the reason you mentioned. They are trophy size. I like the idea of thinning the gills first because they are a renewable resource within this pond.

    I see your point on the bass and that makes sense in a normal situation. However if these larger bass are already several years old and do not appear to be growing are they going to start growing once the other fish are removed? It seems to me that the ones that will be able to show growth potential initially will for the most part be the ones that are only 10-12".

    I think since there is quite a difference in views here and the only part I feel sure about is removing a large number of gills. I hope to do that this fall. I plan to do more research and consult some others in the meantime. Again, this is all if the owner gives me the freedom to do so.:rolleyes:
  11. Marshall

    Marshall Catch Photo And Release

    Ok since we are all amatures here the best thing to do would be to contact odnr or conservation service or fish hatchery to get their opinion. But some of the stuff you are hearing is the right thing. First off if you want a perfect pond (1 acre keep in mind guys) then you have to start from scratch. Drain the pond kill everything. fill it up stalk it with 500 blue gills per acre 100 bass per acre and 50 channels. Additional supply of fathead minnows will help but is not needed. You will get better growth with the minnows though. After about 5 years harvest 20lbs of bass per year and 80lbs of gills every year. to maintain a healthy balance. Channels usually do not reproduce so its a take and put thing here. This is what most hatcherys and odnr will tell you to do. At least that is what i was taught in college about 8 years ago. Some things may have changed. No crappie in 1 acre pond!! Ok this may be too extreme, draining the pond is not the option i would want to take. With that said. Do not take the larger bass out. You want a pond with nice size fish. Do like someone said earlier and harvest the smaller bass . Also like already said leave the big bull bluegills in the pond. Beliveve me you can catch small bluegills till you are blue in the face and still need to take more out. Once a gill is around 4 inches it probably will not get eaten by a bass. Of course there are exceptions of the big 6 lber yes he will eat a 6 inch gill but overall 4 inches and up are not a primary food source. Getting all the crappie out will be almost impossible but if it were me i would try hard to get em out. But you seem to like them so manage them also. You said the crappie are big so if you catch small ones then harvest them. You will still have a problem with crappies eating bass and gill fry so you should definantly add the fatheads. I don't know how much for sure but it would not hurt , They are cheap. You don't want to catch them from a stream , you open up another issue with carp getting in. I would just buy them from a hatchery. Make sure you add christmas trees, pallets stuff like that. The fatheads spawn around this stuff and should spawn year after year. You should not have to introduce them for a few years. After you do all this, manage your pond on what you catch. If you keep getting alot of 10 inch bass with an occasional 18 incher then you need to keep more 10 inchers NOT the 18 incher. That bigger fish is they type of genetics you want. Same with the gills. If you get nothing but little guys then you need to keep more. Make sure the gills are not green sunfish they have a tendency to over populate and stunt at small size. This is ok if you are only managing for bass but the kids will have a better time catching a 9 inch gill over a 3 inch green sunfish. This is the best advice i have to offer. All may not agree with me but hay that is the way it goes. I would really compare this and any info you get on here to what osu, odnr, soil conservation service has to say. I have a pond i am managing now for 5 years. We did the drastic drain and start over deal. It had tons of carp in it that we did not want. I put in the ratios i told you 4 years ago and now I have 13 to 18 inch bass and up to 9 inch gills. I have noticed catching more smaller gills and probably need to yank a few out. When i start to see 6 to 8 inch bass i will start removing any thing under 12 inches(when I harvest) and keep the big ones. Good luck hope this helps. By the way im not a "complete fool" just for the record.
  12. I read some of the ODNR publication last night and learned a few things along the way. The one thing that I have concluded for sure is that we are going to need to go in there this fall and hit the bluegill population hard. I am not sure yet how many bass need to come out. Since I am not seeing the smaller fish I am thinking that I may want to thin the gills and see what the spawn does for them this year. If there seems to be a good number of surviving young bass from next year's spawn then we may remove a few medium size bass if we can find them. In my last few trips we never seem to get anything but 12-15".

    I am not overly concerned about the crappie at this point because I really don't think there is a population issue with them. I know they can wreak havoc on the small fry but I don't really think there are a lot of them. I have not caught different sizes to indicate that they have ever successfully reproduced in the pond.

    I need to convince him to get some bait fish in there as well. This would give the bass food and also the crappie which may slow down their slaughter of bass fry.

    Thanks for all of the suggestions guys!