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Matching Pond Management Plans to Different Fishery Goals

By Samuel Scott

There isn't a single best pond management plan for all fisheries. The plan needs to be specific to your goals and your fishery's physical profile. Typically, our customers are looking to grow trophy-class Bass, increase the frequency with which they catch a Bass, or create a fishing experience for all types of anglers - including novice and youth. To learn the key aspects of managing for these different fishery goals, read on. 

Defining Your Fishery Goal

Before creating a management plan for your pond or lake, we need to know your goals; are you managing for aesthetics, recreation, or fishing. And, more specifically, if you want to create a great fishing experience "down at the pond," what does that mean to you? For example, maybe you want to raise true, trophy-class Bass. Or maybe want to land a Bass with every cast? Perhaps you want to fish for crappie, Bluegill, and/or catfish. Depending on the physical profile of your pond or lake, once we understand your goals, we can develop the best plan to achieve those goals - with your budget and time constraints in mind. If you'd like to learn more about how your pond or lake's profile impacts management planning, check out our blog, "What Type of Fishery Can my Pond Support."

Pond Management Made Easy - Planning Guide

Management Tactics for a Trophy Bass Fishery

Woman holding trophy-class bassOf all the goals mentioned above, raising trophy-class Bass is the most resource-intensive. The quest for lunker largemouth requires time, patience, and money. If you don't have a lot of any one of those resources, say, for example, time, you can always hire someone (like us) to do it. If you don't have a lot of patience, you can pay more and stock bigger fish, so you are ahead of the growth curve. And, if you don't have a lot of disposable income, you can always do more of the work yourself. But raising and catching a 10+ pound bass is a little like childbirth. Once you've done it, you won't remember much other than the moment when you reeled in that monster. 

To accomplish the goal of raising trophy-class Bass, you'll need to implement these three key pond management techniques that impact bass production: 

  1. Increase food production
  2. Decrease competition
  3. Enhance cover
Increasing food production

If you want fat Bass, you need to make sure they have plenty to eat, so you must provide plenty of forage for your Bass. The primary source of forage we recommend for Bass is Bluegill. Bluegill are a mainstay of the Bass' diet because they provide the protein Bass need for proper growth throughout its lifetime. Another great source of forage for your Bass is Mozambique Tilapia. Tilapia spawn often throughout the summer, providing variety and an abundance of food for your Bass.

Decreasing competition

bass with big head and small bodyA bass harvest is a management technique that can significantly impact your pond's ability to grow trophy-size Bass. Conducting an annual bass harvest reduces the amount of competition between the Bass in your pond and, when done correctly, can help to mitigate below-average genetics in your pond. When you reduce the amount of competition from lower-quality fish in your pond, the Bass with a genetic predisposition for growth gain access to more resources. Access to more and better resources allows the remaining Bass to grow at faster rates and have better fitness while doing so. In addition, when these fish begin to reproduce, they'll pass their genes onto the next generation, who will then have very similar traits to their parents. Our general rule of thumb for ensuring the best genetic potential for growth is to remove 10-15 pounds of Bass per acre per year. For a more detailed estimate of how many and what class Bass you should remove, contact us at askapro@pondking.com

Enhancing cover

The third significant management practice for raising trophy Bass is providing adequate cover for the Bass to ambush baitfish and conserve energy. We recommend covering 10-15 percent of your pond's surface area with usable habitat for your Bass. Whether you opt for organic materials, like trees or vegetation, or artificial habitat, you need to locate the habitat in various water depths throughout your pond. By doing so, the Bass can use the structures throughout different seasons of the year and throughout their different life stages. Increasing ambush opportunities will help the Bass conserve energy, thereby accelerating their growth rates.

What to Do if You Want to Catching Bass with Every Cast

If the goal for your pond is to have a pond where you can catch high numbers of fish every time you go fishing with friends or family, you'll focus on a different set of fisheries management tactics. Specifically, in this scenario, you want to provide just enough forage for your Bass. Remember, in a resource-rich environment, Bass tend to get lazy, so they are harder to catch. And, don't worry about reducing competition with an annual harvest if you want to catch Bass frequently. Not only will this keep the individuals from getting lazy, but it'll also increase the size population from which you have a chance to catch a fish. In this type of fishery, it will be doubtful that you'll grow a trophy-class bass, but you'll have a lot of fun because you'll catch a lot of fish.

Managing a Catfish and Bluegill Pond 

Man holding a catfishIf your goal is catching Catfish and Bluegill, you are in luck because accomplishing this goal requires minimal management. All you need to do is stock your fishery with the correct amount of Channel Catfish and Hybrid Bluegill. If you want to take it a step further, you can add fathead minnows to your pond, too. Creating this type of fishery is a great way to get younger kids hooked on fishing. The Bluegill are usually easy to catch, and when kids hook a catfish, they get excited because they are catching something bigger than a Bluegill. In fact, if your goal is to delight the kiddos, you might even consider supplemental feeding with a pelleted feed. You can do this manually by tossing the feed on the water's surface or using an automatic fish feeder. We like the automatic feeder because the fish will become trained by the sound it makes. Then, when you set it off remotely, the fish will come to feed - which kids love. Plus, supplemental feeding will provide your fish with a steady food source and help them reach bigger sizes quicker. 

As you can see, for every goal, there is a management plan, and we can help. Still not sure what's appropriate for your pond? Check out our interactive Pond Management Planning Guide, give us a call at 940-668-2573, or shoot us an email at askapro@pondking.com, and we'll hook you up. 

See y'all down at the pond!

Tags: Pond Management

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