Tennessee Lake and Pond Management: Smallmouth bass

Anyone who reads this blog regularly has read posts by me that reference how competitive the lake and pond management business is in Tennessee and across the Southeast. We have noticed over the last year or so that, evidently, our competitors seem to be following our management practices; as an example, we were the first to warn pond owners about the devastating effect grass carp can have on a pellet-feeding program, and now more than one of our competitors mentions this on their website as though they discovered it. So we face a unique challenge with this blog: we want to engage with you, the pond owner, and give you valuable information to improve your pond; but we don’t want to teach our competitors how to manage ponds as effectively as we do and take away your reason for hiring us over them.

As recently as two years ago, one of our largest competitors had very few encouraging things to say about managing ponds in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky for smallmouth. We have been telling landowners for years that smallmouth not only can survive in ponds in the Southeast, they can thrive; now that same large competitor that two years ago was discouraging pond owners from stocking smallmouth, makes a point on their website of saying that they can work well in ponds in this region. Then they go on to display a complete lack of understanding of what it takes to grow big smallmouth in a pond here.

Then there’s a contingent of folks on the internet that have a set stocking plan they’re giving people for stocking smallmouth, regardless of latitude, that is even less effective than the one we allude to above from one of our southern competitors. Those folks get impressed when one of their followers grows a smallmouth to fourteen inches within three years of stocking.

We totally get that you’d love to see specifics that outline the differences between how we manage for these beautiful fish and how others do. But we have to walk that line between availing you of the fact that your dream of a trophy-smallmouth pond is perfectly achievable, and elucidating for our competitors all the reasons smallmouth don’t reach trophy sizes in their ponds.

Suffice it to say that their methodology is fundamentally flawed. We have written before on the fact that we pay closer attention to the details than they do, and that that is what gives us success where they fail; never was there a clearer case of this than in how we manage for smallmouth. Part of why we do better with the details is simple: we think things through more than they do, and we pay closer attention to how fish biology actually plays out in the water as opposed to how one might suss it out in one’s own head just by theory.

But, as they say, talk is cheap. On November 11, 2016, 240 smallmouth bass were stocked into an eight-acre pond in White House, Tennessee that we had been managing since construction was completed on it in March of 2015. Those smallmouth measured between five and seven inches each, on the small side of what is typically stocked for this species. A little over ten months later, in September 2017, the owner sent me this photo:

That’s a fifteen-inch smallmouth, ten months after stocking at 5-7”.  That pond will eventually have six-pound smallmouth, probably bigger.  If you never up until now let yourself dream about what it might be like to hook into a six-pound smallmouth in your own pond or lake, give us a call, and we’ll make that dream a reality.