Home Forums Fishing General Fishing Forum Why the heck is it so hard to grow decent bass??

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  • Avatarspeng5
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    Post count: 2928

    Kind of a “rant”. But why is it so hard to grow decent bass?? In the past few years a ton of lakes and ponds around here have started churning out cookie cutter, exact replica 10-12″ largemouth bass. Why is this?? Surely I can’t think that many large ones are being kept? The consensus seems to be if you ask anglers that LM bass aren’t good eating. Well folks must be lying through their teeth and the truth is in the buckets and on their stringers then, because where do they go? Also some of said bodies of water are able to grow nice bluegill, crappie, catfish, whatever. But the bass are all in that 10-12″ range with a “nice one” (relative term of course) being MAYBE of legal size should you want to keep it (again, how many do folks suppose actually get kept?). Just kind of boggles my mind that a lot of fisheries that are decently managed have really dialed in what it takes to get good numbers and size of panfish/cats/everything else but yet the LM bass size really sucks. Just this past weekend I fished for a couple hours and I bet I caught over a dozen largemouth that for all I know couldve been the same dang fish. 12″ long and skinny.

    medicdanomedicdano
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    Truth be told, it may be how you are fishing, not where. Nearly every lake in southern Iowa has 3# + fish, but they are not in the same spots all the smalls. Belva Deere is a perfect example. You can bang the banks all day long and catch smalls and think there are no big fish. Truth is, you aren’t in the exact right place. Belva Deere has put out 20# or higher tournament bags in the last couple years.

    AvatarbigA
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    I really have no idea, but will relate to a couple ponds that I fish. Two of the ponds have always had a misinformed intent of releasing all bass regardless of size and the other requires you to keep a decent amount of those smaller bass (especially in the winter). The latter pond has many bass in the 4-5 pound range while the first two ponds have tons of bass in the 10-12 inch range. I think as opposed to your thoughts that people are keeping too many, I think it might be that nobody is keeping them and causing a bit of a stunting issue. My 2 cents.

    Avatarwalleye jim
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    There are people who fish for bass on PURPOSE????? just joking..

    huntersafehuntersafe
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    Take your 12 inch bass and age one. Scales are used to age most fish. The scales are usually removed with the blunt edge of a knife from the upper side of the fish, just under the front edge of the dorsal fin and above the lateral line. Won’t hurt the fish. Lateral line scales can’t be used for aging because they have a tube through the center which obscures the growth rings. The scales are in a variety of ways. One of the most popular methods uses a microfiche reader. I have a mini hand held one. The scales are slightly moistened and placed on the microfiche reader. You can also place a moistened scale in a 35mm glass slide mount and project it onto a screen with a slide projector. I have a micro camera I plug into the computer. Aging fish is similar to aging a tree by counting the number of growth rings. However, the age of the fish is determined by counting the number of wide growth rings called annuli. The close ring is the winter growth time and that is the easiest for me to see. How many winters it has gone through. In excellent conditions a bass can make a foot in one year. If your 12-inch bass are three years or older. They are stunted and they do not have enough food for the numbers you have per acres of water.

    Avatarscherrman
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    We have this issue on my local Sportsman’s pond. I’ve caught close to 100 bass there this year already and they all seem like replicas. Almost every one is 12 to 13 inches. About 8 years ago the pond was drained and redone. They dredged it and added new structure. It was stocked with bass, bluegills and catfish and wasn’t allowed to be fished for 3 years. Once they allowed fishing they did not allow any bass to be kept. That wasn’t a terrible idea for a couple years but I remembering saying how they needed to allow people to keep them soon.

    Here we are 8 years later and the largest bass I’ve caught was 14″. They finally decided to let people keep bass now in order to thin them out. A pond can only handle a certain weight of bass. It can either have a lot of small bass or it can have a fewer amount that includes larger bass. When there are too many small fish they are the ones that compete for the food. Once they get to a certain size they can no longer compete with the smaller guys so their size basically stays the same. What also happens is that you’ll find that blue gills can get pretty big because once they out grow the small bass they not longer have much for predators.

    I read an article about how to grow monster bass and most of those lakes were stocked with trout. The reason why trout were so beneficial for bass growth was because they were easier to eat because of the lack of spiny fins, they slowed down once the water temps got warmer and they got larger with the bass so the big bass had big trout to eat that the small bass couldn’t eat. I feel like I rambled on a bit there but I think it made sense.

    AvatarDaver
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    Quote by: huntersafe

    Take your 12 inch bass and age one. Scales are used to age most fish. The scales are usually removed with the blunt edge of a knife from the upper side of the fish, just under the front edge of the dorsal fin and above the lateral line. Won’t hurt the fish. Lateral line scales can’t be used for aging because they have a tube through the center which obscures the growth rings. The scales are in a variety of ways. One of the most popular methods uses a microfiche reader. I have a mini hand held one. The scales are slightly moistened and placed on the microfiche reader. You can also place a moistened scale in a 35mm glass slide mount and project it onto a screen with a slide projector. I have a micro camera I plug into the computer. Aging fish is similar to aging a tree by counting the number of growth rings. However, the age of the fish is determined by counting the number of wide growth rings called annuli. The close ring is the winter growth time and that is the easiest for me to see. How many winters it has gone through. In excellent conditions a bass can make a foot in one year. If your 12-inch bass are three years or older. They are stunted and they do not have enough food for the numbers you have per acres of water.

    Great info, thank you!!

    OldbearOldbear
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    Post count: 2799

    Very few people keep bass on lakes and in alot of cases on ponds the owner requests they put them back. Bluegills have the same effect in ponds where their a limited supply of bass. Worst thing you can do is not harvest them or they get out of balance. I look after a pond that the owner and I came to the conclusion last winter after being completely restocked 3 years before with bluegill, bass and catfish they were big enough to be harvested. We also want all fish caught unless they are really big to not be returned to the water or left on the shore. In the case of Bass or catfish same applies but daily limit needs to be observed. Some on here took some boo coo amount of gills out last winter. Our hope is to keep a more balanced pond.

    Mayor of Hickory Grove

    Avatarkenhump
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    Post count: 12769

    I think the explo2of tournaments is ‘educating” a lot of big bass.

    MyDogCarlMyDogCarl
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    Quote by: scherrman

    A pond can only handle a certain weight of bass. It can either have a lot of small bass or it can have a fewer amount that includes larger bass. When there are too many small fish they are the ones that compete for the food. Once they get to a certain size they can no longer compete with the smaller guys so their size basically stays the same. What also happens is that you’ll find that blue gills can get pretty big because once they out grow the small bass they no longer have much for predators.

    X2… this is the correct answer, and the very reason why it’s difficult to manage a pond for BOTH large bass and large bluegills.

    AvatarTeamAsgrow
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    Post count: 9152

    Maybe it isn’t the lake but more of an operator problem :mrgreen:

    Avatarfowl_attitude
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    We have a pond I have been managing for about 8 years. The first few years I was very strict about catch and release bass because that is how I grew up. But then all our bass started looking like cookie cutter fish. You could catch 10-12 inch fish all day. I did a lot of research about 4 years ago to see what we needed to do. As others have said, the pond or any body of water can only support so much weight. One example that I read about was think of a body of water as a cattle pasture. That pasture will only produce so much food. If you add calves each spring with out selling any off, then you create a food shortage. In our pond, we have a healthy blue gill population which you would expect to provide forage for the fish. But like others have said, once the blue gill reach a certain size it is difficult for the small bass to eat them. Fish have to burn too many calories to get to the food source that is available. It also takes about 10lbs of forage to gain 1 lb of mass. For our pond, they recommend taking out 25lbs of bass per acre per year. That is 75lbs of 10-12 inch bass. So we now tell people to keep those fish. Since we have started to do that, we have seen an increase in larger bass. Caught a few in the 3lb range last year. By removing those 10-12 in fish, we are decreasing the competition for food among the larger fish. And there will be more 10-12 in fish next year as the bass continue to spawn and produce more fish. You never catch all the fish from an age class, so the ones that escape are hopefully the ones that continue to grow.

    On a public lake you have a lot more pressure. But I still believe it comes down to food source. There has to be enough forage fish for those bass to put on the lbs. If everyone is keeping every blue gill they catch then you are taking away the primary food source. I agree, the large bass are probably still there, just a little more educated and probably in a less pressured area of the lake. But growing large fish takes a lot of forage fish.

    Avatarspeng5
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    Post count: 2928

    Thanks for the replies, guys. Definitely a lot of food for thought. At the places I am talking about I am not sure if there is not enough forage or what. I am pretty sure they are stunting because as has been mentioned, no one ever takes them out. There seem to be an abundance of what I would call large panfish and you rarely catch little ones, so maybe there isn’t much of a base of small fish to eat. These locations don’t support or have any shad that I am aware of. I kinda wish there could be special regs for a place like this. Maybe a slot that allows 11-13 inch bass to be kept but 13+ get thrown back. I can’t think 11-13 inch bass would taste real horrible or be too bony.

    Quote by: TeamAsgrow

    Maybe it isn’t the lake but more of an operator problem :mrgreen:

    Oh that is entirely possible 😆 The only thing that makes this seem significant to me is over the last few years (id say 3 to 4) I have fished the same locations, same tactics, same time of year, with diminishing size year after year. The number of bass has remained about constant or maybe even increased a little, but the size has definitely fallen off.

    medicdanomedicdano
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    Post count: 4987

    PM me the lakes you are talking about. I may have some insight for you.

    Avatarmskursh
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    Post count: 1174

    its probably not the fishery. its probably how you are fishing and where you are fishing. in many lakes and reservoirs, if you are out pounding the shoreline, either walking it or in a boat, you are more than likely going to catch young fish. when i see guys bass fishing lakes, they are always just pounding the shorline.

    Now there are big fish on the shoreline at times but not as abundently as smaller fish. and most of the time those fish are super weary.

    my brother’s FIL complained that the smallish lake they vacationed at in wisc was only full of small bass. The housing association all agreed that it was bad fishing from a bass perspective. They had a company come and shock up the lake and there were huge bass all over the place. but most of them were offshore. either on offshore structure or humps or rock piles.

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