Hybrid bluegill tend to nip a bit. Standards sometimes do too but don't not as much. It doesn't hurt it's just a bit unnerving. It seems like they're after the bubbles that form on your skin.
Is growing food a priority or is it mainly going to be for sport fishing/swimming?
In a pond this size that will be used for swimming fishing mainly for sport, I think I'd stock 15lbs each of fathead minnows and golden shiners after the pond begins filling then next Spring at the earliest add 25 hybrid stripers and as many channel cat as your father in law and family will eat in a year, up to 20. He could also try 50 or so yellow perch (feed trained and supplemental pellets recommended but not required). This is where I would start. More fish can be added in another year or two depending on how the forage fish are holding up and if pellets are used. This is not a typical plan but I think the family would be happy with it.
All of these fish will do really well on pellets, even hand feeding once a day if you wanted to push them a bit.
The main disadvantage to this plan is that the fish would need to be restocked occasionally as the channels, stripers and hybrid bluegill will not reproduce at all or significantly. The advantage is that it's easy to manage and will likely produce quality fish.
The other old standby is bass and standard bluegill. Don't expect quality bass without intense management and very low numbers of bass (like 20) . However, a set it and forget it attitude will likely yield excellent size bluegill (10"+) and very small bass 8-12" with a couple of 14s. A few channel cats, maybe 15 or 20 can be added too.
Sorry, I didn't answer your how long until it's fishable question. It depends on a lot of factors obviously but the plan I gave you could likely yield harvestable size channels by next fall or sooner depending on how big the stockers are. Stocking size Hybrid stripers are usually 6-8"+ and would likely be 12-14" by next fall. Perch grow a little slower but should be good sized the following year unless larger fish are stocked.
Going the automatic feeder route, using the 1st plan, triple the forage fish lbs, and stocking everything very soon (though generally not a good idea to stock in mid summer) you could have some decent fish this time next summer. Slow is generally better though. If there's a problem with the pond then it would be costly.
thanks for the very informative replies! I love the idea of perch, but i dont think my father in law was too thrilled about those when i suggested them month ago. The pond will mainly be used for catch and release fishing and the very occasional swimming. when advisable we'd harvest some fish, as we love to eat fish too, but thats not the main purpose of the pond. Once the pond is established, how should fish be taken out and is there a ratio? If i had to guess my father in law will go with the standard bass/bluegill/channel cat mix.
Also, is it a bad idea to introduce the baitfish at the same time as the other fish? or is it just more successful to introduce the baitfish and let them populate before bringing in the other fish?
Lot's of options. Usually, budget is the deciding factor.
So what is the magic ratio for a great turn key bass pond without pellet feeding? I'll probably come under some fire for this but it's 25:1 standard bluegill to bass. So for a 3/8 acre pond:
Stock 900 2-4" bluegill (yes 900 for 3/8 acre), 35 largemouth 8-10", 40 lbs. fatheads, up to 20 channels 8". Bass and channels over 12" by fall, bluegill 6"+....roughly $1500. Year two begin harvesting channels, restock as needed. Year three, begin harvesting little bass to keep the original stockers growing. Bigger fish can be done for more money. It's tough growing big bass in small ponds. This little pond will need to grow 350lbs of forage for those 35 bass to grow by 1lb. The fish should grow great the first 3 years. After year 3, growth will depend on management.
If this is too much money, a compromise will need to be made. It should be decided what the priorities are to come up with a solid plan. Bass/bluegill/channels...do you want big bluegill or big bass. What's the budget? Is a pellet program an option?
If the pond isn't ready for stocking until fall, best to hold off on the bass until late next Spring. Otherwise, the bass will be eating the forage base all winter and no spawing will be taking place setting the stage for poor bass growth. If the pond is going to be kept very weed free for swimming, golden shiners will probably not do well.
The above is the opposite end of the spectrum from the previous plans. These are simple examples, don't take them as recommendations necessarily. Just about anything is possible. Owner goals must be clearly defined and every pond is different.
Adding baitfish/bluegill a year earlier is a lot cheaper and gives you the opportunity to size up the forage base before adding predators.
Last edited by PondFin@ic; 06-28-2012 at 01:30 PM.