More anglers target bass than any other freshwater species in the U.S., usually with the goal of catching a fish of a lifetime. Many pond owners set their objective for trophy bass management with just two things in mind; grow and catch larger bass. Ponds can be managed to grow bigger bass. Although bigger bass come at the expense of other fishing opportunities. Pond owners are willing to make this sacrifice for the chance to catch trophy bass.
When the pond is new, a good practice is to release all of the bass that are caught during the first two years of fishing. By the third year, harvest at least 15 pounds of bass per acre per year from ponds that are not fertilized.
In naturally fertile or fertilized ponds, this number must be doubled to account for the increased production. Harvest primarily small bass less than 14 inches, and release intermediate-sized bass 15 inches and above. This will ensure good growth rates of bass and good reproduction of bass. This will also control bream populations.
In most cases, after the first year of fishing, you can remove bream as desired with no decrease in their population. It is impossible to take out too many bream, as ponds can support at least 45 pounds of harvest per acre.
Try to spread the harvest out over the course of the year. Keep a record of fish harvested, and ask others who fish the pond to tell you the number and size (at least length) of bass and bream they remove from the pond. At the end of the year, tally the harvest to determine if you are reaching your harvest goal.
Determine Fish Balance
There are two ways you can check the predator and prey dynamics of your pond. The first is to pull seine samples from late May to early July. Secondly keep accurate records of fishing activity. Lastly, you could pay a private consultant to conduct an electrofishing sample.
The best way for trophy bass management is to keep detailed records if possible of how many and the size of each fish coming out each year.
Use of Fishing Records
You can determine the balance of bass and bream by closely examining your catch through fishing. This is much easier if you keep good catch and harvest records throughout the year. Make sure to use a variety of types and sizes of lures or baits. When fishing produces large numbers of small bass and large bream, you probably have an overpopulation of bass. When only a few large bass and many small bream are caught, the pond is probably overpopulated with bream. Good catch rates of both bass and bream of all sizes indicate the pond is in balance.
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