Pond Fish Spotlight: Largemouth Bass

A lot of pond owners are interested in keeping largemouth bass, especially for recreation. However, this particular species of fish requires a well-established pond maintenance strategy. You’ve got to pay attention to the water quality, weed management and fertilization.

What Are Largemouth Bass?

Largemouth bass are a carnivorous species which prefer freshwater habitats. They are found naturally in the Central and Eastern USA, along with northern Mexico. Over time they’ve been introduced to other regions and are the state fish for a number of states, including Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

Visually, these fish are olive green or grayish green, with a collection of dark blotches which tend to form a stripe which is jagged and horizontal on each side. Their upper jaws typically extend past the orbit’s rear margin, and most females are bigger than males. In fact, largemouth bass are the biggest of all black basses, reaching lengths of about 30 inches with weights up to 25 pounds.

Bass, especially the smaller ones, move about in schools, behaving as a herd which overwhelms smaller fish and devours them like a machine. The bigger bass go after larger prey, and pond owners who are interested in rearing trophy specimens must provide the proper amount of food and aquatic plants, while also maintaining the correct water chemistry.

How To Care For Them

Due to their size, it is absolutely essential that your pond be large enough to accommodate them. At minimum your pond should be one acre in size. They must also be provided with plenty of food. Traditionally, the best food source for bass is bluegill. Other fish species might be stocked to give additional nutrients so more bass can be supported for each acre. Besides bluegill, other fish that the bass will readily consume are golden shiners and fathead minnows.

Fathead minnows swim slow and serve as an outstanding food source. You will want to stock around two to three pounds worth of fathead minnows for each acre when you initially stock bluegill. The fish will be eaten by the largemouth bass that you stocked during spring by summer and by the end of the year will mostly be eliminated. The reproduction of fathead minnows will not be able to compensate for the losses resulting from bass predation so annual stocking will be necessary. The same rules apply to golden shiners. You will want to stock between two and three pounds for each acre. Golden shiners reproduce ready in aquaculture ponds and serve as excellent forage for bass. However, because they are fond of consuming eggs they might lower the reproduction of fish which has been newly stocked, including bass. For this reason golden shiners should not be stocked in a recently built pond during the initial year. Besides feeding, it is essential to monitor the growth of your bass, and learn how to maximize the productivity of your pond. You must take into consideration phytoplankton yield, insects and water temperature.