Stocking hybrid sunfish
If you have a small pond and kids who like to fish, consider stocking hybrid sunfish. These fish grow fast, are healthy eaters, and not afraid to bite the hook
Photo courtesy of the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center
Radio interview source: Michael Masser, Fisheries Specialist, Texas Agri-life Extension
Bluegill and other sunfish are common species in ponds, but there are benefits to stocking hybrid sunfish.
Michael Masser is a fisheries specialist with Texas Agri-life Extension. He says the most common hybrid sunfish is a cross between a bluegill sunfish and a green sunfish. Pond owners like them for their vigor.
"You get a little bit faster growth, potentially, in the case of this hybrid, they're very active biters so they make great angling because they're very aggressive," he says. "But in this case, you get a case you get a fish that grows fast, takes readily to pelleted feed because it has a little bit bigger mouth than a bluegill."
Masser says hybrid sunfish can be stocked by themselves, with catfish, and with other species. However, when it comes to stocking with bass, pond owners often make a common mistake.
"People sometimes stock them with bass at the regular rate that we stock bass at and because they're mostly male, you get low reproduction, and so the bass don't have enough forage and don't do well," he says. "You don't want to rely on them to feed your bass by themselves. Like I said, most of them are males, you'll get anywhere from as many as 80-85% males up to 99-100% males."
The hybrid females will produce all three types – bluegill sunfish, green sunfish, and hybrids. Once these next generations start reproducing, Masser says you can have a crowded pond if you're not careful. Maintaining a hybrids-only pond is one strategy for keeping the fish population under control.
Periodic restocking is necessary to sustain a hybrid bluegill pond for more than a few years. Keep good records and plan to restock when 50-to-70-percent of the original fish have been removed.
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