Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stocking Smallmouths, Shiners, Trout, and Perch

Today we stocked tons of golden shiners for several different lakes. Golden Shiners are a great supplemental forage for largemouth bass and all species of predator fish. Shiners grow to about 8 inches long here in Central Illinois and they reproduce great in lakes and ponds with lots of vegetation. Bass absolutely love them and they convert them to flesh at a much higher ratio than fathead minnows. I stock 20 lbs of shiners per acre in larger lakes and up to 100 lbs per acre in smaller lakes.

Here are some pics of shooting the shiners into this 35 acre lake:

Also we stocked a whole bunch of smallmouth bass. Smallies grow great here in central Illinois, they just dont reproduce well when a lake is overcrowded with Largemouths. They reproduce great when largemouths are not overcrowded or not present. The key to getting smallies established in a mature lake is to stock them large enough so they dont get eaten by the existing predators.

Stocking rates for smallmouth vary depending on your goals and your habitat. Typically if your lake is clear and produces lots of 12-14 inch bass, your habitat is actually more geared for growing trophy smallmouth than largemouth. Smallmouth can grow to larger sizes on smaller forage than largemouths can. A diet of crayfish, amphibians, and small fish will grow 3-4 lb smallies whereas that same diet will only grow 12-14 inch largemouths. Largemouth bass need big prey items that they can capture easily in order to reach trophy size.

Next fish we stocked today was the rainbow trout. Last week we stocked thousands of trout, today we just finished up our trout orders with 200 fish into several different ponds. Trout need clear water typically over 40 feet deep or heavily spring fed in order to survive our hot summer months. Surprisingly we have quite a few lakes and ponds in the area that sustain trout year round. I still stock more trout into farm ponds than you can imagine. We put em in as bonus fish for ice fishing and cold weather open water fishing. They are alot of fun:

The last pond of the day is a male only bluegill and female only perch pond. Sounds interesting doesnt it? Male bluegills grow abnormally large in the absence of females, and female perch grow HUGE in the absence of males. We have this one acre pond setup to grow some monster panfish for our client for ice fishing this season. It takes a bit of thinking and management to pull this off, but this one acre pond will be the best icefishing pond on the east side of the Illinois river.

It was a very busy day. Started in Norris, then to a couple places in Canton, Cuba, Mapleton, Peoria, Washburn, and Spring Bay. Lots of driving, but got alot of fish into some new homes!

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