Ever wonder if you should supplement your lake's food chain? Let's visit about the amount of supplemental forage REQUIRED to grow healthy largemouth bass. After reviewing proven data, we hope you agree there's only one answer. In fact, there are no options!
You invested a large sum to build and stock your dream lake. Pardon the oversimplification, but initial stocking resembles filling your gas tank for a long trip. The first tank jump starts growth the first few years. Maintaining a full forage tank, thereafter; is crucial to providing nutrition bass need to reach your ultimate destination---trophy status. Fail to maintain adequate forage and your management program will sputter to the shoreline.
American Sport Fish is not in business to sell supplemental forage. We're in business to help you---grow big bass. To achieve that goal, our experience confirms you must maintain a diverse food chain and balanced bass population.
Research confirms largemouth bass must--WITHOUT EXCEPTION--eat approximately 10-pounds of baitfish to gain one, single pound. If your goal is growing trophies, you must produce hundreds of pounds of forage---per fish. To achieve a 10-pounder, it must consume at least 100-pounds. A 15-pounder, 150-pounds. Imagine, a new world record must feast on slightly more than 220-pounds. If a lake's bass population totals 500, it must produce 5,000-pounds of forage for each fish to grow one-pound. Sustaining healthy development to 5-pounds will take 25,000-pounds. If you're like us and lie awake at night counting pounds on bass instead of sheep, you realize food chain management is no trivial matter.
So, how do we ensure the forage tank remains full and you set lake records? Develop a diverse menu. Effortless feeding means bass convert nutrition to growth. Energy is not expended roaming the lake in search of a meal. Maintaining abundant forage will have your bass looking like a champion steer at the state fair.
The first phase is feeding and growing large bluegill. They can be stocked year round as needed. They produce boatloads of bass food. Bluegill are the foundation of the forage chain. They spawn five or more times per year in the South. Prime females may produce 100,000 eggs per cycle. Conduct regular surveys to confirm size classes from one, two, three, four, five inches, and up. We recommend one feeder per three surface acres. We sell the best model on the market and ship within 24-hours. Feed a high-protein floating ration from mid-March through November. They almost grow before your eyes.
From April through May, stock crawfish. Professional anglers and researchers agree these critters are . When water temps reach 50-degrees, crawfish depart burrows seeking a mate. Bass gorge on them, especially during pre and post-spawn periods. Our fondest fishing moments are observing crawfish pinchers protruding from a bass' gullet.
During April, add Mozambique tilapia--if legal in your state. Depending on environments, tilapia reproduce every 20-25-days and contribute large volumes of forage until Fall. Their presence relieves pressure on bluegill and helps maintain strong bluegill populations. Tilapia offer an added bonus, controlling annoying filamentous algae and duckweed. Mozambique do not survive water temps below 52-degrees and must be restocked annually. In the Fall, they become lethargic. Sporadic swim patterns mimic your favorite fishing lure and send bass into a feeding frenzy.
In Spring and Fall, stock threadfin shad. Threadfin thrive in fertile lakes with balanced plankton blooms. They average four-inches, perfect size for most bass. Threadfin spawn multiple times from Spring to Fall. On large lakes, you may see exciting surface action as bass bust a school.
If you're obsessed with trophy bass, stock 6 to 8-inch rainbow trout in December. Trout are the steroids of bass forage. For memorable winter fishing, stock a one-half-acre pond or smaller, with 10-12-inchers. They'll eat fish food and grow until Spring. Treat yourself and surprise friends with a fresh trout dinner on a crisp winter evening. Highest catch rates will be recorded in small ponds. Trout survive in the South until mid-May.
Lake productivity relies on habitat and food chains. Water temperature is the on and off switch that plays a critical role in the window of opportunity fish have to grow. Since fish are cold-blooded critters, during winter months, their metabolism is like molasses. Energy levels drop. Appetites diminish. Digestion slows. Fast-forward to Spring and Summer when lake temperatures are like a warm bathtub. Fish body functions hum like a fine-tuned NASCAR engine.
Food must be available during warm months when fish are in peak feeding mode. We schedule stockings to capitalize on every growing day.
Custom stocking ratios for forage species are contingent on management goals. Typically, we propose:
You built that dream lake to embark on a memorable angling journey. American Sport Fish is your guide for successful management. Don't miss the opportunity to fulfill your dream because the forage tank ran dry. Failing to harvest underperforming bass leads to excess populations the food chain can't support. The disappointing result is starving, stunted fish. That can be as devastating as four flat tires.
Growing big bass is exciting! You may get home late for dinner some nights. Perhaps you couldn't resist watching bass bust a school of shad. Or, you had to chase a hawg that broke the surface at dusk. One thing we guarantee--it's FUN! We'll even share methods for turning some into pets that live around the dock waiting for you to feed them. You'll meet life-long friends that share your interest. We have a pro angler on staff to offer fishing tips. We wager you'll spend a few days hanging out with us to learn more about this fascinating science. And what trip doesn't include a photo album. We'll help map a forage itinerary so you return from each fishing excursion with a new memory for the album. It would be a privilege to evaluate opportunities at your property.
Our mission is helping you:
We don't guarantee you'll catch big fish every cast. That's your contribution to this exciting venture. But we pledge to invest every resource from cutting-edge management methods to help you leave a legacy of memories and conservation stewardship for all of Nature's critters that call your treasured waters home.
Spring has been trying to show itself the last couple of weeks. We’ve had some warm weather that’s starting to warm the water temps across the US. These few warming spells have been triggering the fish to migrate to the shallows. Typically, the male bass start showing up first to spawn. You can catch these buck bass by dragging soft plastic worms around the bank or fan casting on shallow flats. I like using the Berkley General. I will throw this weightless or with a 1/16 and 1/8 ounce bullet weight. The key is fishing this bait really slow. With the water temps still not where they need to be, the bass are not very active.
Another bait I like to throw is the Berkley Cutter 90 shallow. This is a shallow running jerk bait that will get you a lot of bites. The big females bass will soon move shallow once the water temps start sustaining an average in the 60’s, but spawning is definitely on their minds.
A few of these females are starting to stage close to the spawning areas. You can target these fish by fishing the first contour change, drop or ledge near the spawning areas. I will work this areas with a Berkley Dredger. Fishing this bait to where its bumping on the bottom will trigger these big fish to bite. I will also use a slower approach and throw a lite Carolina rig with a Berkley Power Hawg. A 1/4 to 3/8 ounce bullet weight on your Carolina rig will be sufficient enough to work the shallow drops for those big fish.
By Keith Poche, MLF Pro
“The cold winter has set in for the year with water temperatures in the 40s and 50s, depending on where you are in the country. This time of year the fish are very inactive and typically don’t eat very often, making it hard to catch bass in winter weather.
Winter is one of the toughest times of the year to catch fish, but you can still catch bass in winter weather with the right approach. These fish normally drop down in the water column to stay safe from drastic cold fronts that chill the surface water to near freezing at times. As these fish stage in the depths, they tend to bunch up together. They will suspend at a certain depth or gather around structure if available. Even though these fish don’t eat very often, they are still catchable.
There are two ways I like to catch them in winter weather; extremely slow or extremely fast. For example, you either drag a Carolina Rig painfully slow with a Berkley Power Worm or work a Berkley Cutter 110 Jerkbait so slow you might want to set your rod down between jerks. This presentation is to allow the bait to sit in the fish's face for a period of time to aggravate him or give him time to slowly swim to it and get a strike.
Next is to fish extremely fast, my favorite! Let me explain! A bass has an aggressive instinct in their DNA that tells them to attack, no matter what, if something is moved by them quickly. I like to throw a spoon while sitting my boat over top of them and watching them on my Garmin Depth Finder. I’m ripping this spoon vertically up and down in their face to get a reaction bite. Next, I like to yo-yo a lipless crankbait called the Berkley Warpig. The constant jerking up and fluttering down will trigger a lot of strikes.
Winter weather can be challenging, but if you put in a little time and patience, you will be surprised how good winter bass fishing can be! Good luck out on the water!