While we will do some “one-off” electrofishing surveys and fish stocking for some customers, most of our customers request year-round management solutions for their ponds and lakes. This would include an electrofishing population survey once a year to check fish health in addition to bluegill and bass distribution, any fish stocking necessary, and taking care of any water quality needs via liming and fertilization.
It’s always great when we get the opportunity to compare data from one year to the next and see how the fish populations have improved with our management strategies. In this blog we’ll share some largemouth bass distribution data from a local pond that we surveyed in 2022 and again in 2023.
2022 Largemouth Bass Distribution
The data from our 2022 electrofishing population survey is shown in the figure below. The orange line depicts the distribution curve for an ideal largemouth bass population. Ideally, a largemouth bass population would have a fourth of the population below 12″, the largest number of fish in the 14-16″ size class, and approximately 25-30% of the fish greater than 16″.
While we rarely see pond data that follows this orange line perfectly, some ponds do get very close to having an extremely balanced largemouth bass distribution. But that was not the case when we sampled this pond in 2022. As we can see from the data below, there were way too many bass in the 12-14″ size class range.
This type of largemouth bass distribution data is usually indicative of a pond that is overcrowded and doesn’t receive enough fishing pressure. There were too many small bass in this pond, which resulted in limited resources for the largemouth bass population as a whole. As a result, individuals were not “graduating” to a larger size class like they should be.
We see this type of problem far too frequently in ponds that don’t have enough fishing pressure. Pond owners are so worried about their pond being overfished, and instead they cause more problems by not fishing it enough. We had to implement some drastic measures here and remove a significant amount of these smaller bass. We also needed to increase the resources for the bass left in the pond.
2023 Largemouth Bass Distribution
After a year of implement some largemouth bass population management strategies and providing more resources for the bass in the pond, the results were quite impressive. Below you’ll see the largemouth bass distribution data from our 2023 population survey. And while the bass size class distribution isn’t perfectly aligned with the orange line, it’s much better than it was in 2022.
We can see that we have drastically reduced the percentage of individuals in the 10-12″ and 12-14″ size classes. We still have some work to do on the 12-14″ size class, but this year it was almost 10% less than in 2022. The best news about this bass distribution is that we now see a decent percentage of individuals in those larger size classes. This tells us that those mid-size bass are eating well and growing again.
Once we removed a significant amount of those smaller bass, the remaining bass had more space and resources to thrive. Assuming the appropriate amount of bass are removed from this pond each year via fishing, the population should remain in this balanced state going forward. But many times it takes a mass removal to get the pond back in an acceptable state.
Don’t Worry About Overfishing
As stated above, don’t worry about your pond being overfished. If you’re not catching fish, the bass may not be biting that day. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any bass left in the pond.
It’s much more likely for a pond to get overcrowded than it is to get overfished. Enjoy your pond, catch fish, keep fish, and have a fish fry. A healthy pond with a balanced bass distribution needs to have bass removed every year.
Let Up Help Improve Your Pond!
If you’re in the south GA or north FL areas and need a population survey on your pond or lake, complete this form and we’ll contact you to schedule a time to meet. We look forward to turning your pond into a productive fishery for years to come!