It’s widely known that adding cover, whether it be natural in the form of cedar trees (our favorite) or chunk rock, or man-made such as PVC or rubber “trees,” can improve a pond being managed for trophy bass. The cover affords protection for forage species such as bluegill and shiners, and lessens the likelihood that the bass will be able to overeat their food source. However, many pond owners are not aware that cover, for the same reason, is something to avoid with a pond being managed for trophy bluegill. In a trophy bluegill pond, you want the bass and other predators to be able to overeat the young bluegill; you want as small a percentage as possible of young-of-year bluegill to survive to adulthood, because the lower numbers of adult bluegill translates to far more food for each fish, meaning far more growth. The world-record bluegill came from a ten-acre private lake just outside Birmingham that was an old limestone quarry; biologists from the state of Alabama that studied the lake noted the limited number of suitable spawning sites for bluegill in the lake due to the steep banks, along with a dearth of cover, as two key factors in the unusual growth of the bluegill, the third factor being a very high density of young largemouth that ate most bluegill that hatched each year before they ever made it to adulthood.
You can use these elements to your advantage if you’re building a new pond that will be managed for trophy bluegill. Skip the cover, and minimize areas shallower than six feet deep. (Note: if young children will be fishing the pond, safety considerations should always be a primary factor in the design of the pond.) One exceptional bluegill pond we’re aware of has banks that drop off straight into six feet of water for most of its shoreline – and it has produced coppernose bluegill to over three pounds.
The moral of the story is, it’s all in the details. Other pond management companies give lip service to growing giant bluegill, but they haven’t put the time in studying all the small details that actually allow one to grow bluegill to three pounds and beyond; we have. If you’d like to see a three-pound bluegill in your own pond someday, give us a call – we can get you there.