|Overcrowded Largemouth Bass in Alabama Farm Ponds|
District V, Spanish Fort, Alabama
Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
owners in Alabama find that fishing for largemouth bass is an exciting
pastime. On the other hand,
managing a farm pond stocked with bass and bream can be quite a challenge. Too often, pond owners under-fish their pond or return
too many fish to the pond. The
effect on the fish population can be a big problem.
anglers believe that returning all fish to a pond is a good conservation
practice. Fisheries biologists
know that this practice is often not a good idea.
Returning all largemouth bass to a pond can create a problem. In a pond where bass are under-harvested, the bass population
builds as each year passes. As
the bass population increases, less food is available for each fish.
This situation will cause poor growth and the average size of the bass
will decrease. In short, the bass
are starved. Eventually, bass
predation on bream, the preferred food of bass in ponds, reduces the number of
bream. The result is very few
bream growing to adult size and poor bream fishing.
This is especially common in ponds that are not adequately fertilized.
of a pond increases the natural food supplies--plankton and insects--that
bream require. In fact, proper
fertilization of a pond can increase fish production by three to seven times that of
unfertilized ponds. The increase in
natural food increases the bream population and, in turn, provides more bream as
food for the bass. Unfortunately,
bass-crowding is a problem common to ponds that are under-fertilized and
under-harvested for bass. In ponds
over three acres, bass-crowding is very common when enough fish are not
owners can prevent overcrowded bass populations by first attempting to
adequately harvest bass. In a
well-managed pond, where fertilization is done ten to twelve times per year, a
pond owner can harvest 25 to 30 pounds of largemouth bass per acre per year. Adequate bass harvest reduces the population of bass,
promotes good bass growth, and allows for adequate production of bream, their
preferred food. In an unfertilized pond, there is much less bream production.
Therefore, harvest should be about one-third the amount recommended for
fertilized ponds. Remember,
harvesting excess bass from your pond today may improve the bass and bream
you have questions about the proper management of farm ponds, please consult
your local Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologist at
334-242-3471, or check the Division web site: www.dcnr.state.al.us/agfd.
This site also includes a variety of topics concerning fishing, hunting,
and related subjects of interest.