Are you pondering a 2012 management strategy to take those three to seven pound bass to the next level?  Let’s discuss if your fishery is a candidate for stocking big bass meals—gizzard shad.

Gizzard shad can’t be stocked in just any lake.  They’re “special forage” for a “special class” of largemouth.  As big bass mature, they shouldn’t spend the day chasing small baitfish.  It expends energy that could be contributing growth.  Lunker bass like big meals.  They prefer suspending in cover, ambushing a king-size serving, and returning to their lair.

Pond managers have lively debates about this controversial forage. Some allege they’re bottom feeders that create murky water.  One group feels there is risk of them overpopulating and filling a disproportionate percentage of the lake’s carrying capacity or “biomass”.  Others argue they can grow too large for bass to consume. If not managed, adult gizzards may reach nine to 14-inches.

To be eligible for gizzard shad, a large percentage of your bass population must exceed three pounds.  We recommend they not be stocked in lakes smaller than 15 acres.  It boils down to insuring their population is balanced by predation.  If not, complications can arise.  Gizzards feed by using long gill rakes to filter small food, like plankton.  When their numbers increase, they compete with bluegill and other beneficial species.

Don’t rush to stock gizzard shad.  Evaluate your fishery with our staff.  If your lake doesn’t qualify for gizzards, threadfin and tilapia are excellent supplemental forage options.  Threadfin deliveries begin in March.  Tilapia are stocked in mid to late April.  Do you need a lake survey to make an informed decision?

We wish you a healthy, prosperous New Year with new lake records!