Fishery Maintenance

See Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Guidelines for Designing and Managing Florida Ponds for Recreation where there is a lot of advice. The following paragraphs were extracted from there.

The main objective for managing a bass/bream fishery is to maintain a properly balanced population. If too many or too few bass are harvested (removed) from small ponds, the balance established with the initial stocking can become disturbed. Overharvest of bass and/or under harvest of bream are one cause of population imbalance, and results in poor fishing success.

Stunted bream are a good indication of imbalance. Stunted bream are usually between 3 and 5 inches in total length and have abnormally large eyes (Figure 6). Stunted bream will constitute a large percentage of a pond’s total fish population, and few bream will be larger than 6 inches. Bream reproduce at high rates and stunting occurs when reproduction exceeds predation. A stunted bream population also adversely affects largemouth bass reproduction and results in poor fishing success.

A practice of restricting bass harvest coupled with high removal of bream will help prevent stunting. As a general rule, remove 10 pounds of bream for each pound of largemouth bass. Take care not to remove too many largemouth bass, particularly in ponds less than 5 acres.

If you notice many small bass two to three years after stocking, it may be necessary to harvest some bass that are less than 12 inches in length. An overcrowded population of small bass will exhibit slow growth, and you will catch very few quality-size individuals. While removing smaller bass, maintain a practice of catch-and-release for those greater than 14 inches.

Once a pond becomes unbalanced with too many bluegills, only the addition of adult bass may help restore proper prey/predator ratios. This measure is practical only in small ponds where the owner can acquire enough adult bass. Bass should be at least 10-12 inches long and stocked at 10 to 15 per acre. Stocking fingerling bass does not work in this situation (see Establishing a Fishery section.

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