Texas Fishing Forum

Pond management question

Posted By: Fish docter

Pond management question - 04/13/20 01:03 PM

I have a small spring fed pond about 3/4 of an acre. We’ve always had bass in it. Years ago 4-5 lb bass were common to catch. Now it takes a lot of time to catch a small one less than a pound. Biggest one I’ve caught was maybe a pound and a half. They look healthy to me. I never have culled any. I don’t know if there’s not enough food source, or if I need to restock and start immediately culling small bass. What are your thoughts?
Posted By: bronco71

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 03:43 PM

I am not a professional but I own a pond about the same size, deep and spring fed. I would be culling the the small bass immediately and add a generous amount of fathead minnows to the pond...also helps to add some bluegills.
Posted By: Flippin-Out

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 04:20 PM

I'm not a pro either, but do own a pond where northern strain largemouth over 8# can be caught, a few times more than one in a day. Bass need a massive forage base to survive & grow. In the vast majority of ponds, that base is bluegill. I've spoken with several fisheries biologists over the years in managing my pond, and one of the first things they seem to all ask is "how's your bluegill population?". That's a far better feeding plan than fatheads, which always seem to become extinct over time, lol. If they don't have enough to eat, they will stop growing, and stop spawning, and you're stuck. That may be where you are, but I am just guessing and rambling, obviously. If you do want to add bluegill, they are going to need to be big enough to not be dinner for the bass. You might think of catching/adding some adults from elsewhere. They'll make babies this year to grow some bigger bass.
Posted By: BrandoA

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 08:33 PM

Cull and then cull some more
Posted By: Fish docter

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 08:48 PM

That brings me to a cull question. What do I cull and how often? I see a lot of people say 14 inches.
Posted By: Fish docter

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 09:06 PM

Also beings most likely they’re growth has been stunted. I stock bluegill, Will they grow at all?
Posted By: bronco71

Re: Pond management question - 04/13/20 11:53 PM

I had built another pond so I stocked it partially with culls (about 15" and under) from this existing pond plus some hatchery fry. I was able to put smaller bluegills and hybrid sunfish in the new pond since there were no large bass in there. I put larger (4 - 5" bluegills and hybrid sunfish) in the existing pond and they have grown into nice pan sized fish. I put fatheads in both ponds since they reproduce many times during the year and I still have plenty without stocking them in the last 4 years.

In your case I am surprised that it is difficult to catch the small bass, they should be hungry if they are stunted. I put some tilapia in my ponds 2 years ago and the bass were fat and happy.....and very difficult to catch, lol.
Posted By: Fish docter

Re: Pond management question - 04/14/20 03:16 AM

It’s really hot and miss. One day I won’t get bit. The next day will not bite a soft plastic but will eat a small whopper plopper. The other day I caught maybe 5-6 all exactly the same size. Same exact spot. One went 1.5 lbs all the others were maybe 8-10 inches. They looked healthy for their size though. That’s why I’m confused on what to do. I do for sure need to put more food sources though.
Posted By: salex

Re: Pond management question - 04/14/20 01:15 PM

I'm glad to see so many of the responses are harvest the small ones. It sounds like, many understand the importance of harvest as it is one of the 5 pillars of managing a private pond. However, based on the OP's post I'm not sure this is the best idea. The post mentions hard to catch fish and the fish are "healthy" (which I would take are not skinny). Perhaps you had a fish kill (otters, oxygen depletation or other). If the problem is, bass are not biting and the pond is not pressured, then you likely do not have enought bass. (unusual but happens) If the fish are "healthy" (weights are good) then you likely don't have to add more forage.

I would keep track of relative weights, using this chart Relative weight chart.
Keep track of catch rates per hour and comare year over year; and give it a year. The bass numbers and size will rebound in a year or two. And at that point you will likely need to harvest and/or add forage. I would not re-stock, as you already have bass and mother nature will seek to fill the void if you are bass shy in the pond.
Posted By: Meadowlark

Re: Pond management question - 04/14/20 06:29 PM

A critical part of the pond management of an existing pond is "what's in it?" Until you have a good handle on that, everything else, like throwing in fathead minnows or culling fish, is just pure guesswork and likely to do as much harm as good.

Most people can not determine the accurate, honest status of their bass just from observation. Objective measurements are required. Equally important are measurements of the forage base. You need to measure relative weights...and not just on the bass but also on the primary forage if its bluegills. Once you have a baseline on "what's in the pond" the management steps are pretty straight forward.

I recommend you spend some time and thoroughly read this article: https://www.aces.edu/blog/topics/fi...easy-to-measure-index-of-fish-condition/ ... In it you will find. not only how to measure relative weights of bass and also forage fish (important) but what the resulting numbers imply to pond management measures. It is very much worth your while to spend the time first understanding that article and then establishing the baseline of what's in the pond.


One last thought...LMB in a small pond can (will) get highly educated due to fishing pressure. To find out the true bass distribution, you may need to fish the pond on occasion with live bluegills...or whatever is your primary forage fish. You may very well be shocked at what you find!!
Posted By: Fish docter

Re: Pond management question - 04/15/20 06:39 PM

I have put thought in using live bait to see what’s in there. I’ve actually even thought about throwing my cast net just to see what’s in there. When I was younger “almost 6-7 years ago” I could catch bass everyday. That time has passed with very little to nobody fishing it, that 6-7 years ago I would always cast netting for Bream/bluegill to carry to the lake and use for bait. Realizing now i shouldn’t have. Maybe they repopulated, maybe they didn’t. I’ll throw the cast net around see what I catch. I think doing that will help me more on what to do next. I appreciate all the input.
Posted By: Meadowlark

Re: Pond management question - 04/15/20 11:15 PM

Originally Posted by Fish docter
.... I would always cast netting for Bream/bluegill to carry to the lake and use for bait....



I have 5 ponds covering 7-8 acres of water. In the last 40 years, I have never, ever removed bluegills intentionally by any method...and in fact have restocked 'gills in ponds when relative weights have indicated the need to do so.

My well intentioned advice stands....find out what is in the pond currently before taking management steps that could very well make things worse.
Posted By: Chelsea FC

Re: Pond management question - 04/24/20 05:59 PM

Pond mgmt is tough. Like previous poster said, the key is knowing what is in there. I often find myself wishing I could start a pond over, but can't really bring myself to poison everything in it

I have never purposely taken bluegills out either, in fact I try to add them to the ponds when I can.

Never stop culling bass...again here the difficulty is figuring out what to do with them. You can only give away and eat so many of them. Feeding them to fire ants is easiest, but I try to avoid that
Posted By: Meadowlark

Re: Pond management question - 04/24/20 09:27 PM

Originally Posted by Chelsea FC
...
Never stop culling bass...again here the difficulty is figuring out what to do with them. You can only give away and eat so many of them. Feeding them to fire ants is easiest, but I try to avoid that


Try this and turn those possibly fire ant food into bass food...when you catch a cull in your pond and do not intend to eat it, then clip one of the gills and return it to the pond. It will quickly be consumed by a larger bass...presto, you help the overpopulation problem, help the forage problem, help the relative weight , and don't waste valuable protein to the fire ants!

I have done this successfully for years.


Posted By: Fish docter

Re: Pond management question - 04/28/20 01:50 PM

It’s been a while since I’ve been on the forum. Still haven’t tried getting a clue on what’s in there as my work schedule got hectic. speaking of starting a pond over. Before my grandfather passed he would get a small water pump and start draining. It would take DAYS to drain the pond. Once the water was about knee deep he’d pay some friends to Sein it. We’d have a fish fry the next weekend and started the pond over. He did it once when I was very little. You would be SUPRISED at the number of snakes show them selves when the water gets low enough to kill all the bream. That’s all I remember is sitting there in the cab of his pickup shooting at snakes and turtles with a 22lr.
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