When managing for a trophy bass population, it is essential to provide them enough forage to allow them to get to the trophy size class. As well as fisheries management, we can provide larger sized fish for stocking in neighborhood ponds.
Below are some of the fish stocked, which are of top quality from our suppliers.
A popular sport and forage fish in Texas, Bluegills are the backbone to creating a quality bass population in ponds. Members of the Centrarchidae family, bluegills are identified by their dark vertical bands and small mouth that feed on zooplankton, insects, fish and fish eggs. They begin reproduction in the spring and can continue throughout the summer spawning up to five times in a season. Males clear a circular depression in the shallow areas in sand or gravel substrate then circle the nest in the hopes of attracting a female companion, which can lay up to 25,000 eggs each spawn. Fry then hatch in 3-5 days then leave the nest to begin feeding on phytoplankton and larger prey as they grow, which can commonly reach 2 pounds. Without the presence of a higher-level predator such as bass or proper management, bluegill can quickly become overpopulated and stunted, limiting quality angling and growth of bass
Channel Catfish are members of the Ictaluridae family and are found in most freshwater systems in Texas and even some brackish systems. Identified by the deep forked tail, black spots along its body, and anal fin rays of 24-29, they can occupy a wide range of water quality tolerances as well as clarity ranges. Catfish can be found feeding and nesting on pond bottoms that consist of plant and animal material, but are easily feed trained to floating pellets of 32% protein. With abundant food they can grow up to 2 pounds a year and as large as 50 pounds if properly managed. Catfish require spawning habitat of cavities, and periodic restocking is required if initially stocked with other predatory fish as their young are easily preyed upon by largemouth bass and bluegill.
Often referred to as Rosy Reds, Fathead minnows are identified by a thick body, small mouth, and a orange or silver coloration. Members of the family Cyprinidae, their lifespan is usually only 3 years, feeding on zooplankton, as well as plant and animal material. Fatheads are very slow swimmers, making them a very popular stocking option when stocked with bass and bluegill, giving the bass forage before the bluegill begin to reproduce. Fatheads reach a maximum size of about 3 inches and will reproduce in ponds laying eggs on hard structures when water temperature are between 65-85°, sometimes several times a week.
Hybrid Striped Bass belong to the family Percichthyidae and have two variations of cross the first being a cross between a female Striped Bass and a male White Bass creating a Palmetto Bass. The second cross is between a female White Bass and male Striped Bass creating a Sunshine Bass. Hybrid striped bass are identified by the broken black horizontal stripes on their body and most often occupy deeper open water and only rare instances with lakes larger than 10 acres will they reproduce. They are easily feed trained on a 40% protein ration and when managed are most often stocked with forage fish of Threadfin Shad that school in open water and can grow as large as 15 pounds, but can survive on a diet of zooplankton and naturally occurring forage. Life span of hybrids is 5-7 years and can survive in a wide range of water quality, with alkalinity above 100 mg/L and hardness being the most important.
By far the most recreationally popular fish in Texas is the Largemouth Bass. The Largemouth Bass is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae. Identified by it’s large mouth and dark blotches along its side, this species are both easily recognizable and fun to catch. Bass are usually the top-level predators in a pond system, feeding on zooplankton, fish, crawfish, prawns, and insects. Bass usually spawn once a year between April-July in water of about four feet deep, in sand or gravel substrate, where males fan out a nest and attract females with circling motions around nest site. The female bass will usually lay around 5,000 eggs at each spawn, which are then guarded until hatch (5-10 days depending on water temperature) by the male bass, which if not in good condition prior to spawning can become malnourished and die, since the males do not eat during this period. Properly managed bass populations can grow up to 2 pounds in their first year but average .5 pound a year.
Sometimes referred to as Shellcracker, the Redear sunfish are members of the Centrarchidae family. Identified by the red-orange marking behind their ear and often striped or blotched bodies, redears are found in shallow areas of ponds with abundant aquatic vegetation, and make their nests to spawn in slightly deeper water than bluegill. Redear readily consume snails, mollusks, insects and zooplankton that allows them to grow to sizes up to 2 pounds.
Threadfin Shad are members of the Clupeidae family primarily found in schooling in open water where they can seek refuge from cold temperatures that are lethal below 45°. Threadfins are similar and often confused with Gizzard Shad, but are identified by their silver to blue body coloration that fades to a yellow caudal fin, and the thread like filament on the rear of their dorsal fin. Threadfins feed primarily on phytoplankton and are most often utilized as a supplemental forage species for hybrid striped bass and largemouth bass. Threadfin can reproduce in ponds larger than 10 acres but need vegetation or floating objects to lay sticky egg masses to and grow to about 4 inches in size.
Tilapia are members of the Cichlidae family and are identified by their long dorsal fins, lateral stripes, and broken lateral line characteristic of the Cichlidae family. They are a very common aquaculture fish, and rank second to carp in the world in production. Tilapia are commonly used for algae control in ponds and are often used as a forage species when managing for largemouth bass. Tilapia can live up to ten years but are not cold tolerant and will die off annually when water temperatures reach 55° and below. Tilapia have a unique reproductive strategy by being mouth brooders (carrying eggs in their mouth), and can spawn throughout the year in warm climates where females lay up to 1,500 eggs each spawn.
Grass carp or White Amur are members of the Cyprinidae family and are identified by their small mouth, green-silver coloration, and large scales. Triploid grass carp are the only species legal to stock in Texas as they are sterile but a permit must be obtained to purchase them from Texas Parks and Wildlife. Grass carp are known to be very effective at controlling submerged and some floating vegetation in ponds but control can sometimes take over a year if the system is heavily infested by vegetation. Grass carp readily take to feed and can weigh on average of 50 pounds while living up to ten years, as well as occupy a wide range of salinity and water quality ranges.