Bass Fishing Management - Land Link Issue #8

October 26, 2023

As most of us are hunkered down with the Corona stay at home orders there are some of us lucky enough to be able to spend our time doing what we enjoy and that is being outdoors in the country and for me and my family we have been spending lots of family time fishing. We have fished some very neat clear flowing creeks and streams for some super fun smallmouth bass. Some of the fish caught on these streams have been pretty nice and are a lot of fun to catch. We of course release these sport fish. Being in the land brokerage business for over 35 years I have sold many farms with some nice ponds/lakes on them and the owners always invite me to fish. Many of the ponds are owned by absentee landowners and they always ask how the fishing was.

Taylor was out in a pond last evening and he said they caught a lot of fish but they were all the same size. I started thinking what a great landlink blog. We have a nice fairly large 15+/- acre lake in N MO which has brought so much fun and enjoyment to our family and I started going through my files and I must have forgotten how much management and care it takes to have a perfectly balanced lake. First of all what is the difference between a pond and a lake. Really there is no set rule. Many people consider the size but again no set rule. Some have said that with a pond sunlight can reach the bottom of the pond and enable grass growth but again no rule. I guess it is the same answer as what is the difference between a farm and a ranch. Lots of people consider the size but in Texas I have seen many 30+/- acre places called ranches so I guess it is totally up to the owner to decide; pond or lake.

There are going to have to be several Land Link blogs with all I have uncovered with pond and lake management but for right now why are we catching so many fish the exact same size? Most of the ponds in Missouri have been stocked with a combination of largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.  There is a difference in stocking rates in the state because of differences in soil fertility. The maximum stocking rate provided by the conservation department is 100 largemouth bass, 500 bluegill and 100 channel catfish per surface acre of water.  Natural reproduction is adequate to replenish those fish removed by fishing (except catfish) providing the pond is properly managed.

At our farm lake which is a great example of fish mismanagement  we did a fish survey on the lake which amounted to boating around the lake with electric shock being sent into the water and temporarily shocking the fish netting them and then counting the different numbers and species to come up with our fish survey. The following is the recommendations by the Conservation Dept for our lake which I think is very typical of most lakes and would be a good recommendation for others with lakes: "With this excessive vegetation it makes it hard for the larger bass to find food.  The result is a lot of small, hungry bass. There also needs to be harvest of a lot of those bass under 12 inches long.  Whenever your friends or family fish the lake, keep bass 12 inches and under, up to your daily limit of 6.  Do not keep bass between 12 and 15 inches long - release these right away. These larger fish are needed to eat the small bass, bluegill and crappie and return the pond to a balanced situation where fish of all sizes are present. Continue to keep bass under 12 inches until you notice that two or more of ten bass you catch are over 12 inches.  Removing 300-400 bass this year would not be too many!  In other words, invite people over to fish your pond!  Again, even with heavy fishing pressure, you may not notice results for 3 or 4 years." In other words a lake needs to be fished hard and many fish need to be culled. So get ready for the fish fry and see if you can get your lake in property balance. More pond management will follow in future Land Link blogs.

There is so much to be learned and nature is so incredible. It is truly the wonder of it all.

I have also attached a copy of a fish survey for those interested.

Thank you,
Drennan Bailey

Drennan Bailey

Owner | Broker | President

a successful land-owner and manager of thousands of acres of Missouri and Mid-American farmland and ranchland

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