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#11203452 - 11/03/15 12:27 PM Stocking Suggestions
cdoz35 Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 36
I just purchased a property with a small tank on it. I am looking at stocking it soon. I wanted to get some suggestions from ya'll on what to put in it. It is approximately 3/4 of an acre when completely full, and can draw down to as small as about 1/3 of an acre when in drought conditions. It currently has no fish in it. It is not a muddy pot hole, has some aquatic vegetation, none that covers the surface. Clear water now, but in the warmer weather has abundant algae bloom.

Would this support any type of bass population? Or is it to small and should I just stick with catfish? If I stick with just catfish would it be ok to stock a few hybrid bluegill for a little change in fishing types? I know it is a poor decision to stock these with other bream species, but wondered if the catfish would be capable of taking care of their inferior offspring. I am open to any suggestions.

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#11203706 - 11/03/15 03:07 PM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Fishbreeder Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 1271
Loc: Brazoria County, Texas
First, find out what kinds fish are in it now. That will help whomever is giving you advice on stocking.

Sure the pond can support a bass population. One of two ways, either traditional with forage fish like bluegill, redear, shiners, crawfish, etc. or non-traditional with pellet feed trained bass that don't need forage as they eat out of a bag.

I prefer the former, but the latter will give you more fish as they do not depend on the pond's productivity for food.

Either way, feeding pellets is good, adding an aerator is better, and be sure to have plantings of good shoreline plants (pickerel rush, iris, thalia, etc.) and a grassy or forested (not bare dirt) watershed.

Your pond is the most productive part of your property and will give you much pleasure for what you put in it.

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#11203715 - 11/03/15 03:12 PM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
cdoz35 Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 36
It currently has no fish population.

Thanks for the advice so far. Looking forward to hearing more.

Another option I have considered is managing it mainly for a panfish type pond. If anyone has suggestions for that.

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#11205501 - 11/04/15 01:53 PM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Meadowlark Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2871
Loc: East Texas
I'll throw out some thoughts:

1) Stocking rates have to be tempered by the variable water volume...3/4 acre is considerably different than 1/3 acre. If its more often 1/3 acre then I would stock accordingly.

2) In spite of what you might read, you definitely can have LMB in there...but you have to manage your expectations...as well as the pond. The pond will only support a few big bass. Typically, in ponds that size there will be 1 top dog bass weighing in at 5 to 10 pounds and a few "wanna bees" from 2 to 4 pounds....and the rest will be smaller fish. You just can not realistically expect to fish the pond and regularly catch several 5 pound bass...not going to happen...but you can certainly have a lot of fun with the bass, especially if you go with very light equipment and limit fishing pressure.

3) Think hard about the catfish...if you want to raise them for food that's one thing...but recognize that you can buy farm raised catfish pretty cheap. Around here, for $1 per pound you can buy all the catfish you could possibly eat.

Once you commit to the catfish, it is very difficult to turn back. The cats will compete with bass for the same food. You can have both cats and bass but neither will do as well as they would without the other.

4) Let's talk hybrid bluegills....you will hear all kinds of stories, pro and con, to these fish. Much of it will be garbage from folks who have an agenda. I've heard it all...and one day decided to find out the truth for myself. Here's what I've found: 1) they grow faster than other bluegills but don't reach mature weights in appreciably excess of coppernose bluegills...they just get there faster. 2) they are more aggressive than "regular" bluegills and hence can add a lot of fishing enjoyment. 3) they are mostly males something like 80% to 90% males...this means they are not suitable for forage production in large bass ponds, but on the other hand may be very suitable for small pond applications, e.g. less than 1/2 acre where you need to carefully control the population to prevent stunting.

5) I'm partial to copper nose bluegills. I love to raise them, catch them, and even occasionally eat them. A small pond like yours can provide hours and hours of fishing fun with copper nose bluegills and a healthy number of predator fish, preferably bass in my view, to selectively manage the population. You can realistically grow 'em to exceed two pounds...and few things are more fun on a fly rod than a mean ole copper nose.

6) forget crappie...there will always be the "story" of the guy that has huge crappie in a small pond...but the odds of that are astronomically small and to get there requires labor intensive work.

7) seriously consider Tilapia...yes even for a bluegill pond. Big bluegills diet changes to small fish when available....but more importantly the Tilapia will act as vacuum cleaners of your pond bottom resulting in algae control and control over "yuk" build-up.

8) also consider one or maybe two grass carp...they will reduce your need for chemicals to control weeds and save you hours of labor...but DO NOT overstock, DO NOT listen to anyone who recommends stocking rates of 5 to 10 per acre...trust me here, don't overstock them.

That's just a few thoughts...from many, many years of managing my own ponds. Good luck.

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#11206812 - 11/05/15 08:12 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Fishbreeder Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 1271
Loc: Brazoria County, Texas
Only ponds I ever saw with no fish in them were either newly filled from a well a few days previous or so toxic fish just can't live there. Otherwise, as they say, "Mother Nature abhors a vacuum." Once there is a body of water, there will be fish. Sometimes the fish will be of little or no consequence, but a pond that has gotten a few mudcat, carp, gar, etc. might have issues, even if stocked right. If the pond is located over ten miles from any other water in the middle of a desert, well maybe there are no fish like those, otherwise, folks are constantly surprised when I find a lot of fish in "un-stocked or unpopulated" ponds. Just sayin'...

Otherwise, I seen Meadowlarks ponds and I'd say you can go a long ways and not find any better advice about ponds. But maybe he underplays here, the amount of research, forethought, planning, time, effort, expense, heartache, and other things he's gone to in order to have the fishing paradise he's got.

So, be sure of your resource (size, depth, water chemistry, etc.) then outline your goals, what you really want to get out of your pond, learn all you can, make a plan and implement.

If truly 3/4 acre, and you do a few things to make it as productive as possible to fit your goals, there is no reason you cannot catch some decent bass, big coppernose and readears, hybrid sunfish too, even hybrid stripers if you want.

Crappies as Meadowlark says, are not the best for small ponds. There has been some research and production of a hybrid crappie that is sterile, but they still got the same issues to grow well, with food supply and such. Unless that is your only and highest goal-to grow crappie, stay away from the blighters.

Catfish, well in this small pond if bass/sunfish is the goal, a few would be OK especially if feeding the fish. A few for a small pond would be like maybe ten or twenty channel cats or maybe half that blues. But a few too many catfish is waaay too many catfish.....unless that's your goal.

Ponds are an adventure.

I got customers with things like alligator gar, peacock bass, flatheads catfish, yellow bullheads, I mean you name it, for their "goal." Some want to catch fish, others raise food to eat, others raise bait to fish with, others just fish to look at, you name it your limit for what your pond can be is only your imagination and um...pocketbook.

Have fun is the main thing.

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#11207014 - 11/05/15 09:24 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
cdoz35 Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 02/11/14
Posts: 36
Fishbreeder

How do I go about finding out if there are in fact fish in it? I have spent numerous hours sitting at this pond, and have never seen any evidence of fish in it. Not saying that there absolutely are not any. Is electrofishing it the only good way of testing? I figure on a pond this size to pay someone to come out and do that it might be cost prohibitive.

I want to make sure and do this right though. I guess my main goal is to just have a place to take the kids out and catch a few fish. Not looking to raise any trophies just good old fun fishing. I am leaning towards focusing on a coppernose bluegill.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I am looking forward to the adventure.

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#11207356 - 11/05/15 12:04 PM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
79scooter Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 1695
Loc: Saginaw Tx
If you have a cast net, you can get an idea of whats in it.
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#11208891 - 11/06/15 07:40 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Meadowlark Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2871
Loc: East Texas
Originally Posted By: cdoz35


How do I go about finding out if there are in fact fish in it? .....



Fish it with worms under a small bobber...and if you catch a small bluegill rig it up on a larger hook and fish it...this way you will find any bluegills/sunfish and/or predators in the pond.

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#11209262 - 11/06/15 10:40 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Fishbreeder Online   content
Extreme Angler

Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 1271
Loc: Brazoria County, Texas
Originally Posted By: cdoz35
Fishbreeder

How do I go about finding out if there are in fact fish in it? I have spent numerous hours sitting at this pond, and have never seen any evidence of fish in it. Not saying that there absolutely are not any. Is electrofishing it the only good way of testing? I figure on a pond this size to pay someone to come out and do that it might be cost prohibitive.

I want to make sure and do this right though. I guess my main goal is to just have a place to take the kids out and catch a few fish. Not looking to raise any trophies just good old fun fishing. I am leaning towards focusing on a coppernose bluegill.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I am looking forward to the adventure.


Electrofishing is good, but cost prohibitive is almost an understatement, and not really needed in this case.

Cast net as well as hook and line as mentioned above are both really good ways to assess fish in a small pond.

Even more informative would be a few pulls with a minnow seine. even a 20 footer four feet deep would tell a lot if pulled around a few times along the shore line and the catch categorized. For instance, finding small bass would likely indicate the presence of larger ones. Sandy bottoms, weed beds, and just about any shoreline you can access will yield informative catches. Remembering of course you can't prove a negative. Not catching fish does not mean there are none, but would sure make me wonder....or fish harder.

Also, coppernose bluegill, like any sunfish will easily become overcrowded and not grow well if not in a balanced and well managed pond. They grow best in the presence of bass. We can fairly easily drive a pond to what we call "Small bass/Big sunfish" situation and make the sunfish (coppernose bluegill, redear, redbreast, warmouth, green sunfish, hybrids, etc.) the primary goal for fishing and the bass being humongous not really important. One of my favorite kinds of ponds, big sunfish but mostly dinks for bass.

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#11209398 - 11/06/15 11:57 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
Meadowlark Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 11/04/04
Posts: 2871
Loc: East Texas
Here is an example from a "small bass/big sunfish" pond....a big ole copper nose...over 3 pounds...caught on prince nymph fly (shown) and out of a 1/2 acre pond on my place...and hopefully still swimming and reproducing there.

Unlike other ponds I have where you should remove all the bass under about 14 inches, this pond never has the bass removed...and it produces stunning copper nose bluegills, numerous small bass and occasionally one big lunker king of the pond, LOL. The pond has numerous Gambusia and is stocked with Mozambique Tilapia every year (or what passes for Mozambique)

By the way, the genetics of these go to Tyler fish farms and came directly from Florida via Tyler and Brett to me. The nice thing about Tyler is that Bob also adds about 10% or so red ears to the mix and those babies get big also.


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#11212464 - 11/08/15 09:47 AM Re: Stocking Suggestions [Re: cdoz35]
roadtrip Offline
TFF Guru

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 11498
Loc: Terrell/Dallas
WOW!! Bluegill over 3 lbs!
Very impressive Meadowlark. All that hard work over the years has really paid off.
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"The refusal to come to terms with the way the world works is at the core of progressive philosophy."


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