Note: this post has now been corrected after the landowner pointed out our mistake. We had written that the pond was stocked in spring 2019, when in fact it was stocked April 24, 2020.
A well-known fish hatchery in Alabama – one that gets far more of the stocking business in that state than we do at the moment – states in an article they have on their website that coppernose bluegill, when fed supplementally, can be grown to 1.5 to 2 pounds, “in some cases.” Given that the average accepted lifespan for a bluegill in the South is six years, they’re saying that, every now and then, if you buy your fish from them and take their advice, you might have a coppernose reach a pound-and-a-half or two pounds within six years from when it was stocked. Trophy fish are always the ones with the best genetics; they’re also almost always found in well-managed ponds. (You have roughly as good of a chance of finding a two-pound bluegill in a neglected pond with a stunted bluegill population as you do winning the lottery three times in one week.) Trophy fish, in a well-managed pond, don’t reach a certain size and then stop growing; if conditions are good enough to get them to grow fast out of the gate, they can be expected to continue to grow well as long as those conditions are maintained. So this particular hatchery is telling you that they can show you how, every now and then, to get a coppernose to 1.5 to 2 pounds in six years.
We stocked a three-acre pond in northern Alabama with one- to two-inch coppernose fingerlings on April 24, 2020. The first week of November 2021, the landowner sent us this photo:
That’s a one-pound-ten-ounce coppernose bluegill, caught nineteen months after it was stocked into the pond. Assuming the fish was around six months old when it was stocked, it still has four years of lifespan remaining. This fish has grown thus far at a rate of 16.4 ounces per year. If it lives only six years – for reference, bluegill do sometimes live beyond that mark, as the current world record was aged at nine years – and continues growing at this pace, it will weigh 5 lbs. 11.6 oz. by the time it dies. Should it be caught a few days or weeks before it dies at that size, it would break the current world record by just under a full pound.
This fish didn’t happen by accident: the landowner followed our advice both with stocking and with management, which has led to him getting far, far different results than he would have with any other company he could have hired to stock his pond. Alabama is home to the world-record bluegill; its combination of just the right climate, soil, and fauna, i.e. which pond macroinvertebrates are common there compared to other states, gives ponds there the inside lane on growing giants. We’re already growing bluegill approaching three pounds up here in Tennessee, with a shorter growing season and less ideal conditions; as alluded to above, we get a tiny fraction of the business, at this moment, in Alabama that the more well-known companies in that state receive. If you care more about results than hype, and the thought of catching a world-record bluegill from your Alabama pond makes your reel finger twitch, give us a call.