The pond is 4 acres with several narrow fingers and bunches of different contour, shelfs, depths, and various forms of cover and structure. Perfect habitat is the key to growing many large bass. Also not only did Aaron want to grow the biggest largemouth on the planet, but he wanted big smallmouth bass down in Southern Illinois too.
We set up ideal smallmouth habitat and then installed a Vertex Air Three aeration system to provide water circulation and movement, optimum water quality, and increased carrying capacity.
As the pond was filling with water we put in a handful of fathead minnows and we let them multiply to the umpteenth degree before we even thought about adding any predators. Then we added bunches of regular bluegill from several different sources and several different sizes. Creating the ultimate bass buffet.... We fed the minnows and bluegills aquamax 400 and let them grow and multiply all year long before we added the yearling smallmouth and largemouth in June of 2010.
The day the smallmouths were being unloaded from the truck, the pond was so full of baby fatheads every square inch of water was basically pinheads swimming around. The smallies burst out of the bucket and started nailing those tiny fatheads instantly. I think it was pretty much one of the best moments of Aaron's life by the way he was jumping up and down with excitement to see those fish hunt down their prey! He said every penny spent on building the pond was worth seeing that first fathead slaughter....
Anyhow I got a couple emails from Aaron this week and figured I would just plop em online as an update. Keep in mind this is less than one year from stocking 2-3 inch baby bass:
Dude, my pond looks awesome! So far so good I should say. Couple small outburst of duckweed that I caught in time to spray and kill. I think starting the Aquashade early maybe helped the most. Algae is growing but under control, I have added copper sulphate once. I just added my second bacteria treatment for the year.
No sign on the Koi yet, but I am hopeful they are alive. These bass are so mean though that I am afraid a 4" orange fish was an easy target. No sign of the smallmouth yet this year either.
Check out the pics of my largemouth bass at less than 1 year of age! The bluegill have really taken off as well and I am catching several of all sizes now. I can't hardly go a night without fishing for a while after work.
Thanks for all the help!
So then I asked Aaron to take some weights and lengths of 5 bass for me and the very next day this is what he sent:
Not sure if this is the kind of photo you wanted or not, but here are the 5 I caught tonight. If you want different kind of pictures just let me know. You can get the lengths off the pictures and I also listed the actual measurements below because the mouths are not pushed tight to board in the pictures.
Notice the last one is a smallie!! Caught another one yesterday too, so they are alive and well. They smally's are just doing ok and not near as fat as all the largemouth though. Definitely not full of eggs like a few of the largemouth appear to be. Here was my catch:
1. 10 1/4" - 11 oz (smallie)
2. 11 1/2" - 1 lb l oz
3. 11 1/2" - 1 lb 1 oz
4. 11" - 13 oz
5. 11 1/2" - 1 lb 1 oz
That's a 5 bass limit weighing just a hair under 5 pounds. Wouldn't get me far in a tournament, but I'm as proud as a peacock of them! This is a pretty representative sample of what I have been catching.
So then I let Aaron know that typically a 12 inch bass should weigh between 12 and 13 ounces. His bass that are just one year old already are averaging 16 ounces which is a relative weight of 133%! By the end of this summer he is going to have a pond full of 2-4 lb fish. They are going to explode in size this year as they will be able to start taking down the bluegills! Also I let him know that growing a smallmouth bass to 10 inches in less than a year is pretty stinkin amazing. Just because his smallies are not as obese as his largemouths didn't mean they were just doing ok.
Last email from Aaron this morning:
Full pool this morning. Both wood duck boxes occupied also. Never knew a pond could bring this much enjoyment to a family. Have a Happy Easter! See Ya