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Pond Fishing At Its Best

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Published on: May. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

bluegill and 100,000 channel catfish found new ponds to call home through our stocking program.

These fish, however, are subject to state fishing regulations and cannot be sold by the landowner. For people who want to retain all rights to their fish, commercial fish dealerships are the place to go.

According to years of research, the best combination of fish to stock in a Missouri pond is bass, bluegill and channel catfish, which are all fun to catch and great to eat. With careful management, these fish will provide many years of good fishing.

Here's how it works. Bass are at the top of the pond's food chain. They eat small bluegill, frogs, crayfish and aquatic insects. Young bluegill survive on microscopic plants and animals, then turn to aquatic insects, snails, small crayfish and small fish when they get larger. For each pound of bass produced in a pond, 3,676 pounds of plant and other animal life must be available in the pond's food chain.

The only problem with pond fishing is you shouldn't keep everything you catch no matter how tasty the fish look. If you take out too many bass, the bluegill population will explode in number, but they won't grow quickly. On the other hand, if you harvest too many bluegill, the bass won't have enough to eat and may become stunted.

Both bass and bluegill will reproduce in a pond if their numbers are kept in balance. Catfish can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to fill your favorite skillet. You should restock the number you eat plus 10 percent to maintain a good population. Although catfish will reproduce in a pond, the bass will eat almost all of the fry before they become large enough for you to fry.

Bass can be harvested after they have spawned at least once. The Conservation Department recommends that you remove only bass that are larger than 15 inches for the first five years after stocking. In most ponds you should harvest no more than 20 bass per acre a year, depending on the growth rate of the fish and the fertility of the pond. Adult bluegill can be harvested at a higher rate, 75 to 100 per acre a year.

If you want a good excuse to take home a fish or two, take a kid fishing. My godson, Zeke Waterman, caught his first fish in my dad's pond. Even though that

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