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Determining Pond Balance

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Fisheries biologists can quickly determine pond balance with the use of a seine.Pond owners may become dissatisfied with the quality of fishing and wonder if their pond is in balance (correct ratios of bass to bream). Sometimes pond balance can be determined by the numbers and size of fish being caught. If a variety of sizes of both bass and bream are being caught (mostly harvestable size, but some smaller), then the pond is probably balanced.

Three types of unbalanced ponds are common: bass crowded, bream crowded, and competitive species. If the bream are large and healthy but few in number and the bass are small, skinny and abundant, the pond is usually overcrowded with bass; and anglers should keep all bass that are caught. If the bream are small, skinny, popeyed, and very abundant and the bass are few but large (over 3 pounds) and healthy; the pond is overcrowded with bream. Usually the quickest and least expensive solution for ponds overcrowded with bream is to drain the pond and restock. Other alternatives may include a reduction in bream numbers by a marginal rotenone treatment or by stocking adult bass (over 10 inches). If undesirable species are mostly caught (shiners, crappie, bullheads, wild sunfish, etc.) then the pond is being adversely impacted by competitive species. Usually these ponds must be drained, the wild fish eliminated from the watershed, and the pond restocked with the correct numbers of bass and bream.

The presence of small bluegill and largemouth bass indicates that this is a balanced pond.If the status of the fish population is uncertain, biologists of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries may need to perform a management check either in June or September. The local district fisheries office should be contacted to obtain an application. Applications must be submitted prior to June 1 to have the pond checked in June and prior to September 1 for the fall check. The pond will be visited by a qualified fishery biologist and management recommendations will be made to improve fishing success.


The above information came from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division's booklet Sportfish Management in Alabama Ponds, which is available as a PDF.

Carol Balch
Carol Balch caught this from her farm pond in August of 2007.

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