We've written a lot about establishing a baitfish broodstock, our habitat recommendations for forage fish, and why maintaining the correct ratio of prey to predator species is important to Bass production. But, what we haven't explained is how you benefit from having an established broodstock of baitfish in your fishery. So, what's in it for you? Bigger Bass with less work (for you and your Bass) and a smaller budget. Let us explain.
One of the most important things you can do whenever you stock your pond is to be sure to include ample amounts of baitfish. Whether it be Bluegill or Golden Shiners, baitfish will help your Bass grow faster and bigger throughout the year - without you having to do anything. And, when you stock sufficient ratios of baitfish, you'll need fewer subsequent supplemental stockings - saving you money. Have we piqued your curiosity yet?
Let Them Eat Bait
For your Bass to grow at a good, consistent rate, they need to have an ample supply of forage to eat. Bluegill are a Bass's primary forage source, and you must stock enough of them to maintain a steady food supply. Bluegill in the 3-5" and 5-7" ranges are the most desirable size classes because the majority of Bass in your pond will be able to consume these with no problem, and your Bass will get a sufficient meal by only eating a couple of them. The goal when stocking baitfish is to be able to have enough in your pond that some will grow to a broodstock size where they can reproduce and constantly supply food for your predators. Bluegill will reproduce multiple times throughout the summer, laying thousands of eggs. Although not all fry will survive, this reproduction rate will still provide your pond with the steady supply of Bluegill that your Bass needs to stay healthy.
Another good source of forage for Bass is Golden Shiners. Golden shiners will take some of the feeding pressure off of your Bluegill and provide Bass with another source of forage. Although Shiners aren't as hearty a meal as Bluegill, they are still a desirable source of forage for your Bass. Golden Shiners will also reproduce multiple times throughout the course of a summer and can reach lengths of 8" or more as an adult. As with Bluegill, when stocking Golden Shiners, you want to be sure you are stocking enough of them so some survive the initial feeding frenzy and live to reproduce, providing another round of feed for your Bass. You can see how this self-perpetuating cycle helps you grow healthy, quality Bass - with minimal effort on your behalf.
Save Time and Money
If you invest enough initially, you could save yourself some money in the long run. When you initially stock the correct amount of forage in your pond, the forage populations get well established. Established populations replenish themselves, so you won't have to supplementally stock your pond as often. That isn't to say that you won't have to do a small supplemental stocking every now and then, but it will cut down the amount and frequency at which you do these supplemental stockings - which saves you time and money.
There are different ways to establish a broodstock of baitfish for your fishery. One of the quickest is an initial stocking with sufficient quantities to ensure a portion of the population survives long enough to spawn. If you need help determining which species you need, at what size and quantity, we're always glad to help. Just give us a call or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be glad to help you out!
See y'all down at the pond!