How Deep Should a Bluegill Pond Be?
How deep should a bluegill pond be?
The depth of a pond should be based on the area, soil conditions and purpose. For example, if you are constructing a fish pond in an ice-free or largely ice-free area, depths between 4-5 feet should be adequate. But if your pond is in an area that experiences cold winters, it may be better to make the pond deeper so it won’t freeze over.
Minimum Depth and Water Temperature
A minimum depth of a bluegill pond is 6 inches to 8 feet deep. This depth is a good compromise between size and optimum water quality. It will allow the fish to survive in harsh weather conditions.
This will also help prevent problems such as winter ice formation and algae growth, which can lead to fish kills.
Ideally, a pond should have a diverse food source including phytoplankton (as shown in Figure 5), zooplankton and other aquatic vegetation. This will provide a variety of foods for the fish and help control water quality problems.
Stocking and Removing Bass
For a successful fishing pond, the stocking rate should be 5 to 10 pounds of bass per acre of pond area each year. This will ensure a balanced population of bass and bluegill.
The best time to stock these fish is in the spring or fall, a time when spawning is at its peak. This allows the forage fish to establish a base of food, and provides time for predatory fish to be introduced after spawning.
Recording and Maintaining the Bluegill/Bass Ratio
The ratio of bass to bluegill in a pond is a good indicator of fish population balance. If the ratio is too high, small bass are likely to over-populate the pond, leaving less room for large bass. Remove bass when necessary to keep the population in balance.
A balance between bass and bluegill is usually found in well stocked, mature ponds. In this type of pond, 40-60 percent of the bass are 12 inches or longer and 20-40 percent of the bluegill are 6 inches or more. This ratio enables the bass to keep the bluegill numbers cropped down, which benefits the bluegill by providing them with enough food to grow.
Monitoring and Maintaining the Bluegill/Bass Balance
A pond can be monitored for a balanced fish population by collecting rod-and-reel catch data and by using a minnow seine to check shallow areas of the pond in June or July. Seine 3 to 4 areas of the pond and record the number and size of fish caught in each seine haul. Compare the seine data to Table 1 to determine if your pond is healthy and in good condition.
If the balance between bass and bluegill is unbalanced, you can use a combination of stocking, removing and managing to bring the pond back into balance. This will provide the fish with a balance of food and space to grow and reproduce. It will also allow you to harvest large bluegill without losing quality bass.