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Thoughts /advice #13685856 08/31/20 02:59 AM
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Shakebaker Offline OP
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We have about a 4 acre lake on our property. Two years ago ( August 2018) we had a fish kill that killed basically all the large bass and catfish of catchable size. Water was low and we had an algae bloom I believe and a neighbor drove by and saw tons of fish floating. The next two years we didn't catch a fish at all through many many tries and techniques. We would see lots of small perch and bait fish. I was planning on restocking but life got in the way the best couple of years. This summer I have finally started catching some small bass. Usually only 2-3 in any session and sometimes days with no luck. Usually the fish are small ( 6-8 inches). Biggest was about 1.5 pounds. Still more perch than you can imagine. Can catch them all day if you want on worms. Also some big enough to catch on crank baits , spinner baits , etc
So my question to this who might have some knowledge or advise is should I still stock some bass or are they going to come back naturally ? We had never had a fish kill like this in the 12 years we have had the place. Just any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Before the fish died off we could usually catch 15-20 in a few hrs and had a good many in the 7-8 pound range. Biggest we ever caught was about 9 pounds
Thanks in advance

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13688864 09/02/20 03:56 PM
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I would certainly consider stocking more bass. With all the perch I would think there is plenty of forage for them. We had to do this last year to a 15 acre lake I am on in Oklahoma. Lost a ton of big bass and crappie. It if was my place, I would put more fish in the pond.


Aztec Anglers San Juan River Guide Service
www.aztecanglers.com
Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13689001 09/02/20 06:06 PM
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We had something similar happen in a 7-acre pond on a ranch. We had an ichthyologist come do a study. It was worth it. We had planned to get a certain sized fish and stock a bunch of them. The fish lady said the size we were considering would compete with our current bass and actually be detrimental to their development. She recommended a mix of one type of bass that is a hybrid but can inter-breed, and another type of bass altogether. She also recommended a ratio of different sizes and some aquatic vegetation to add. We went from a few 1 to 2.5 pound bass in a day to 6 -8 bass per hour of 3-4 pound size in just one years time. Now it is 3-years later. You can catch a 2-3 pounder every 15 minutes of so if you have the lure they want. You can see there are 2 different color schemes on the bass and they are all way bigger than what we stocked. So, I would seriously consider stocking your place with the advice of a ichthyologist. Their knowledge will pay off in the long run much more than just winging it.

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13689285 09/02/20 10:30 PM
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I think an electrofishing survey is needed before providing solid advice. Predator/prey ratios often get wonky after fish kills. I'm a bit puzzled by the high abundance and large size of sunfish simultaneously with a low abundance of small bass. If there are only a few bass in a pond with that much food, they should be growing very well. A two-year old bass could be 5+lbs with unlimited food. Stocking bass may very well be the solution, but the ones in there aren't growing so something seems odd. It may be missing size classes in the smaller sunfish, preventing the small bass from growing enough to jump up to eating the larger sunfish.

Do you have any vegetation in the pond, any artificial cover?

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13691400 09/04/20 10:31 PM
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pop r Offline
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Have you stocked fat head minnows in your pond? If not I would get some established before stocking any bass. Just my 2cents

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13691573 09/05/20 02:10 AM
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Shakebaker Offline OP
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Thanks for the advice. Seems I need to get some more help out there before I do anything to drastic one way or the other. Would love to see what's really in there now since it's pretty much a guess.
There is lots of vegetation ( coontails ) , in fact to much sometimes to fish it properly. Lots of algae in the summer and warm months. I do see lots of small perch too not just bigger. I kind of wondered if they had so much food they just weren't hitting artificial lures much but when I used live bait like worms I just had constant perch eating them and never caught a bass. Of course the perch didn't give the bass much chance.
I just really wasn't sure how many bass would possibly be in the lake if all the mature bass were killed off in August of 2018 and all that survived were that years spawn. Im guessing now there would be bass from 2019 and 2020 spawns too. I do see a good amount of small bass in the shallows (3-4 inches or so )

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13691575 09/05/20 02:14 AM
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Shakebaker Offline OP
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Oh also we do have lots of trees in the lake for cover. So between that and the coontails I figured the cover was pretty good for smaller bass to grow. Especially if there were not any big fish to feed on them.
I've got to fish it a lot more this summer since we have been staying up here since wife and I can work a lot from home right now. Just not a lot of luck. I was feeling better catching some after not catching any for close to two years but seems like it should be a bit better from the opinions y'all have given

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13693457 09/07/20 03:24 PM
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The dense vegetation and cover could be part of the issue. I've sampled a few ponds with dense submerged vegetation, coontail included, that had tons of bluegill to eat but the bass just weren't growing. When vegetation gets super thick the bass can have a hard time getting to the bluegill consistently and can show signs of stunting even when there's plenty to eat. If more than 50% of the pond is covered up in coontail, thinning it down to 25-50% coverage with herbicides should help. Grass carp are way cheaper in the long run but it's near impossible to put the correct number in to achieve a perfect balance of vegetation; they tend to either 1) not make a noticeable difference when too few are stocked, or 2) eradicate the palatable plants in the pond when too many are stocked. Smallish ponds like this one are easier to manage without vegetation, your trees and brush will provide the cover, but I do like vegetation when it can be controlled.

All that said, a fish survey would be very valuable in confirming what the bass situation is. If they catch a bunch of small skinny bass, and lots of bluegills of all sizes, I'd say vegetation reduction and stocking adult bass would be appropriate.

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Outdoordude] #13693536 09/07/20 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Outdoordude
The dense vegetation and cover could be part of the issue. I've sampled a few ponds with dense submerged vegetation, coontail included, that had tons of bluegill to eat but the bass just weren't growing. When vegetation gets super thick the bass can have a hard time getting to the bluegill consistently and can show signs of stunting even when there's plenty to eat. If more than 50% of the pond is covered up in coontail, thinning it down to 25-50% coverage with herbicides should help. Grass carp are way cheaper in the long run but it's near impossible to put the correct number in to achieve a perfect balance of vegetation; they tend to either 1) not make a noticeable difference when too few are stocked, or 2) eradicate the palatable plants in the pond when too many are stocked. Smallish ponds like this one are easier to manage without vegetation, your trees and brush will provide the cover, but I do like vegetation when it can be controlled.

All that said, a fish survey would be very valuable in confirming what the bass situation is. If they catch a bunch of small skinny bass, and lots of bluegills of all sizes, I'd say vegetation reduction and stocking adult bass would be appropriate.


Excellent post. You are exactly correct. My experience has been very similar.


Steve Alexander
salexander@privatewaterfishing.com
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Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13702803 09/17/20 01:12 AM
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Shakebaker Offline OP
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Appreciate all the advice. Will look into the electroshock today see what is really in the lake.
Quick update. After all the rain a couple weeks ago lake cake up 5-6 feet and was able to fish more with less vegetation. Had a hard time catching anything for 5-6 days. In fact caught only 2 bass when fishing about 2 hrs a day.
However last couple days better catching 2-3 instead and today caught one that went over 3 pounds on the scale. That's more than double the 1.5 pounder that was the biggest. So evidently there must be at least one that grew up. It was fat and healthy. Would assume there would be more like it.
Thanks !

Re: Thoughts /advice [Re: Shakebaker] #13705623 09/20/20 12:14 PM
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When bass truly aren't growing it generally means a shortage of appropriately sized forage. A bass or any gamefish needs food/prey/groceries that is 1/4 to 1/3 their body size. It's a matter of protein obtained vs energy expended. A skinny bass generally means an out of balance body of water.

Last edited by Dave Davidson; 09/20/20 12:15 PM.
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