By Steven King
Lake management specialist and avid bass angler
Many lake or pond owners interested in growing bigger largemouth bass would usually consider stocking forage fish as a primary method. However, there are several limiting factors that can affect growth rates, and the maximum potential size of largemouth bass, that should be considered first. For example, when a lake or pond already has a substantial population of forage fish such as bluegill or other smaller species that largemouth bass feed on, adding more fish into the ecosystem could actually have an adverse effect by causing an overpopulation issue. Before implementing any management tactics, an assessment of your aquatic ecosystem and fish population should be performed by an experienced lake management professional to help determine the best strategies for managing your fishery
Fisheries managers often recommend supplemental feeding for growing larger predator species. In fact, the addition of a supplemental food source into the water can result in one pound of increased fish size for every two pounds of fish feed. Fish feed comes in a pellet form that is specifically created to give fish important nutrients that their natural diet does not provide. Although largemouth bass do not naturally eat the feed themselves, the forage fish that they consume will naturally eat the nutrient-rich feed. In turn, those nutrients will be passed along to the largemouth bass when they eat the forage fish. This management strategy is not only beneficial for largemouth bass, but can also boost the health of the entire fish community.
The feeders themselves come in stationary models that can be installed on the bank or floating models that can be placed directly in the lake or pond. Pellets come in floating or sinking form to help meet the specific needs for each waterbody. Additional benefits of using a fish feeder are that feeders are solar powered, very low maintenance and can be set on a timer for your desired feeding frequency. Adding a secondary food source will reduce the feeding pressure on the smaller minnow species and newly hatched fry, which will help increase their populations due to a higher survival rate. Supplemental fish food is also the most cost-effective way to increase fish size, and quality feeders can last a lifetime if they are maintained on a regular basis. Lastly, it is just plain fun to watch schools of fish go into a feeding frenzy when the food is released!
There are numerous methods that may be implemented as part of a sound fisheries management plan to help improve largemouth bass population structure. Stocking fish, liming, fertilizing, enhancing fish cover or adding aeration may all be recommended depending on the needs of your aquatic habitat. The one management strategy that virtually every lake and pond could benefit from, however, is the addition of supplemental fish food. Lake and pond owners should consult a fisheries management professional to help determine the most effective management strategies. The professionals at Solitude Lake Management have years of experience working with a diversity of waterbodies, and are trained to provide sustainable solutions to help clients achieve their fisheries goals.
Steven King is an experienced aquatic and fisheries management professional with SOLitude Lake Management, an environmental firm providing a full array of superior lake, pond, wetland and fisheries management services and solutions. He can be reached through the website www.solitudelakemanagement.com.