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Old 06-07-2012, 12:24 PM
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Default pond out of balance?

I sometimes fish a small pond a friend owns. This pond used to have some lunker bass, big bluegills, a few blue & channel cats, and one monster flathead catfish. It also produced a crop of bluegill each spring, and small ones were easy to catch about any time we fished.
3-4 years ago the landowner had a heavy alge bloom and treated the pond with herbacide. The alge died, but it was such a massive shock to the pond it caused it to "turn over" (rotting alge depleated the oxygen level).
He lost many fish over 2-3 pounds in the kill.

Since then I've stocked a few small channel cats for him, and there were small bass & bluegill left.

The past year (and this year) the pond suddenly seems to give up very few fish to my efforts, though. The bluegill I do catch are large (8"+), but I get almost no small ones? The bass seem to be thick, but they also seem to be stunted?
The water is clear and there is a good growth of coontail on the bottom in the shallow water.

Haven't caught a single catfish, caught a few large 'gills, and the bass are the most frequent catch, but no big ones?

Got a couple bass this morning, both about the same size, and only one (8"+) bluegill. They hit very softly, but fought a good fight when hooked.

Took a pic of the bass -
(does it look undernourished to you?)

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: pond out of balance?

Bass looks about right. When they are stunted the heads get really large compaired to the body. I would susspect that the catfish have been eating a good amount of all the baby fish that are hatching each spring. is that flathead still in there? its probably eating everything it can get its mouth on, so yes i'd say its alittle out of whack. probably going to have to stock some baby bluegill in there to help it out. my buddy's dad's pond did the same thing and we just ended up having to restock it with fresh fish.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:56 PM
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Default Re: pond out of balance?

Having helped manage several ponds and having seen this happen to smaller ponds in the past you have an imbalance in prey to predators. Killing off all the weeds removed all the hiding spots for prey species and they got decimated. Oxygen depletion depleted spawners that kept putting out prey (juvenile fish) Now Large gills and bass cant eat each other but anything small enough for bass to eat get ate and the gills eat anything smaller. You are probably seeing a decrease in gills because bass are a better predator and the bass are stunted because they aren't getting enough food.

Not seeing the pond an going off your quick synopsis I would tackle several things. One provide habitat for small prey to hide. Dead Christmas trees, fish structures like piles of pallets, even downing a tree into the water along the side. You want to provide structures so small fish can hide. I would also suggest putting those structures in deeper water though edge line structure is good too. Diversity in structure is really good.. Put different types of structure. When planning a pond i like to put a gravel bed in for spawning structure but hard to put in an established pond.

Next feed. When i helped my newly retired dad dig, stock and manage a pond and helped a friend recover from a similar imbalance, once we had structures in place we went to a bait provider and bought 50-100 dozen minnows. These were small ponds and we dumped them in near the structure. Sometimes its good to space your bait stocking 25 dozen or more at a time. Look for a bati provider or fish stocker that you can get a discount in bulk.

I also had a friend put what he called carp baskets overhanging the pond on the far side. Basically he put dead fish (carp) harvested by local bowfishers in these locked baskets. They rotted, flies laid eggs, maggots dropped in water and gill population exploded. It was stinky but the fish in that pond still gets me excited when i think about it. Large gill population made bass population explode and its the one place I am guaranteed to go fish and catch a 6 pound + bass every time when i go back home to visit.

TLDR: PROVIDE STRUCTURE, and Stock bait not more predators. Once some balance gets restored then work on adding more fish.
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