Tennessee Lake Management and Tennessee Pond Management: The Benefits of Feeding through the Winter

Some publications on pond management advise not feeding in cold weather. Many pond owners assume that when it gets cold, their fish don’t eat enough for feeding to matter. However, a recent study conducted at Oklahoma State University  (Shoup and Wahl 2011) found that bluegill fed supplementally throughout the winter entered spring in better condition than those that were not fed.

There are two methods I recommend for winter feeding. If you have an automatic feeder, set it for only one feeding per day, and a short duration, half or a third the duration of what you would program for the warm months. If you feed by hand, watch the weather forecast, and choose the day that’s predicted to be the warmest and feed on that day. If the air temps don’t get above forty degrees at any point during the week, skip that week. Most weeks here in Tennessee we’ll get at least one day where we break 40F. Your bluegill won’t feed with the same gusto that they display in June, but they will feed, and they’ll benefit.

I have posted a couple times in recent months about a 1.1-acre pond we have managed since 2014; from March through August of this year, that pond produced four largemouth between 6-1/4 and 7-3/4 pounds, along with two bluegill over two pounds. The landowners have fed throughout the winter from year one.