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What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds?

Q: What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds?

Steven – Johnstown, OH

A: If you stock game fish in your pond or lake, you better know your baitfish. Used as food for larger predatory game fish, these small swimmers are typically common species that breed rapidly. They’re easy to catch, easy to supply and easy to stock.

Freshwater baitfish include any fish of the minnow or carp family, sucker family, top minnow or killifish family, shad family, and some fish from the sculpin or sunfish family. Some common types that you’ll see in a recreational lake include fathead minnows, golden shiners, creek chub and white suckers. Let’s learn more about these specific types of fish and how to fatten them up for your bass and trout.

Fathead Minnow

The fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) is a species of temperate freshwater fish whose natural geographic range extends throughout North America. The golden, or xanthic strain known as the rosy-red minnow, is a very common feeder fish sold in the United States. In the wild, the fathead appears dull olive-gray with a dusky stripe extending down its back and side. These guys will eat just about anything, and they prefer a water temperature of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH range of 7.0 to 7.5. Its main predator is the northern pike.

Golden Shiner

The golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) is a cyprinid native to eastern North America. In the wild, these bait fish grow to 3 to 5 inches long and have dark green to olive body with a silvery white belly. They prefer quiet, weedy waters and are fairly tolerant of pollution, turbidity and low oxygen levels. They can tolerate temperatures as high as 104 degrees F – which is unusually high for a North American minnow – and they nosh on zooplankton, insects, plants and algae. Predators include trout and bass.

Creek Chub

The creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) is another type of minnow that’s found in the eastern United States and Canada. Growing up to 6 inches, they typically have a dark brown body, sometimes with brown spots, with a white lateral line. These hardy bait fish, which prefer water temperatures between 35 and 90 degrees F, gravitate toward weedy areas and prefer stream or river environments rather than lakes. They’ll gobble just about anything – including fish, insects, larvae and vegetation. Predators include trout and northern pike.

White Suckerfish

White suckerfish (Catostomus commersonii) are found in small streams, rivers and lakes in the Midwest and east coast of the United States. Reaching lengths between 12 and 20 inches, the white sucker has a dark green, gray, copper, brown or black-brown body with a light underbelly. They’re bottom feeders, and they’ll use their fleshy lips to suck up bottom sediment and other organisms that live there, including small invertebrates, algae and plant matter. Predators include walleye, trout, bass, northern pike and catfish.

Using Baitfish

When it comes to using bait fish, you have two options: stock your pond with them and keep a separate supply on hand to use when you do some fishing.

To stock your pond with bait fish, purchase a supply from your local sports shop or pet store and introduce them to your pond or lake after acclimating them. Be sure to provide a fish habitat for them, like one of the Honey Hole Attractor Logs, Shrubs or Trees, so they can safely reproduce (and fatten up!) and keep the population thriving.

In addition, grow bait fish in a separate tub or tank for use when you’re fishing. Be sure to keep the water cool and fresh to reduce stress, and keep the oxygen levels high with a bubbler. They might be able to tolerate less-than-ideal conditions, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be without their O2!

Pond Talk: How do you stock your pond with baitfish?

Create Habitat for Baitfish - Pond King Honey Hole Fish Attractor Log

Do I really need to feed my fish? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I really need to feed my fish?

Do I really need to feed my fish? Joe – Little Rock, AR

Come And Get It
Those of us pond guys and gals that own large farm ponds have been feeding our fish for ages. Over the years, some of us have pondered, “Do I really have to feed my fish?”

“Fish” Food Versus Fish Food
There are two ways to keep your fish well fed: properly stock your pond or use fish food. We suggest both.

Properly Stocking:
To properly balance your pond, you should stock the water body with 3 prey fish, like Perch or Bluegill, for every 1 predator fish, such as Bass. This will ensure that your predator fish will have a bountiful selection of prey, while still giving the prey fish a sporting chance to mature and reproduce. If you stock too many prey fish, you will experience a very small number of big predators and a ton of tiny pan prey fish. If you stock too many predators, you will end up with very small predators and only a few big prey. When your pond is properly stocked, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. We suggest starting out with 300 bluegills and 100 bass per acre. You can add some feeder minnows into the pond to provide a nice snack that will be able to replenish itself. However, it is not uncommon for the fish in your pond to make short work of the feeder minnows you add to the pond.

Fish Food Pellets:
So you feel your fish should have a little more selection than their regular diet of … well … each other? You can control what your fish are eating by feeding them quality fish food like Game Fish Grower. Foods that are high in protein and low in filler promote rapid fish growth and optimum overall size. Pellet feeding also provides an opportunity to turn feeding your fish into an opportunity to have some fun. Pellet training your fish takes some patience and persistence, and while it can be trying at times, it is truly enjoyable once you get it right. Try to establish a daily routine feeding time and place so your fish will begin to expect your pond side presence. Start by throwing some pellets in the water from a distance, waiting for the fish to venture to the water surface to take the food. Repeat this process until your fish willingly greet you at feeding time. As time progresses, you can close the distance between you and the pond’s edge. Avoid making sudden movements, as this will scare the fish and they will be more hesitant to approach you at feeding time. You can then begin placing your hand into the pond with a fist full of food, opening your hand slowly to release the pellets which will float to the surface. You may not have any takers the first few days you try this, but if you are patient, they will eventually figure out where this food is coming from. As they grow more comfortable to your hand being in the pond, they will start eating from it. If you do not have the time or desire to feed your fish by hand, you can place a feeder, like the a directional feeder, at the pond’s edge to release food at programmed intervals.

What’s On The Menu?
While your fish always eat the food you throw in the pond like they haven’t eaten in years, the truth is, if your pond is stocked properly, they really don’t need any outside assistance. On top of having other fish in the pond to eat, they will also eat bugs from the surface of the pond, leaches at the bottom, and basically anything else they can find in the water. Try to catch some of the fish in your pond each season and record how many of each type you are pulling out of the pond while inspecting them for healthy color, weight, and size. Occasionally checking up on your fish will decrease the frequency and severity of population issues, while making your pond an enjoyable addition to your home with fun activities for the entire family.

POND TALK: How often do you feed your fish?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

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