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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've seen many lakes big and small over the years that used to produce slab bluegills than just don't anymore. Ponds that used to produce 1 pound gills are now just loaded with 5-6 inchers. Many factors cause this: the lack of predators in a given body of water, underharvest, overharvest, too many good spawns hatching too many fish for the given body of water causing a lack of food and space, and other contributing factors. And since once all the lakes freeze solid and we all are able to have the whole lake to move around in, I thought this was more appropriate for this forum than the warm water and plus it gives us something to discuss while we wait for our favorite lakes and ponds to freeze up solid. Where have you caught big gills or crappies or even bass in past years and you go there now and catch hundreds of dinks??? And why do you think that lake or pond has become that way???:)
 

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You want stunted fish go to the north lake at Stoney creek. I really don't understand it. The lake is full of 3-6"ers and yet the pike are all around 22-26"(at least the ones we catch). You can sit there all day and catch one right after another and maybe get one 7" all day.

Seems like the pike should be huge with all that food around.
 

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I have seen it happen and I have seen lakes where all you can catch are stunted panfish and 5 years later you can catch 10" gills. It has a lot to do with the body of water and its size. Take a small lake say 25 acres of water. I have seen these little jewels produce thousands of big gills and when the wrong person finds them everyone and thier brother in-law are hammering them when the bite is hot. In a very short time they decimate the panfish population. Being selective about the panfish you take is just as important as any other species.
Mike a possible answer to your question about the pike is the water is not conducive to big northerns. Large pike say 36" and up are truely a cold water species. If you subject a big northern to water temps in the 70's for a period of time they will die period. Big pike prefer temps in the low to mid60's. Juvinelle pike do well in warmer water till they reach a certain size then warm water starts to stress them to the point the perish. Musky can handle warmer temps and may be better suited to the enviroment of the water. Just one of many possibilities.
 

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I can think of a couple of lakes in particular in my area that match your profile and I firmly believe that the gene pool has been "raped" by greedy fishermen. Both of them used to produce lots of very nice 'gills but the word got around and they were subjected to overharvest when the fish were most vulnerable, during the spawn. Bluegills, being as visible as they are when on the beds, are easy "pickins" and too many people keep only the largest (usually females) and release the smaller (male or immature) fish.
I like to catch big 'gills and really enjoy the fight. I'm sure that if bluegills grew to 15 or 20 pounds, fewer of us would fish for muskies or steelhead and more would fish 'gills. When I keep bluegills to eat, I keep the six and seven inchers and put the big ones back to perpetuate the gene pool. I think that is a good management practice and I wish more people would realize it
 

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I kinda think the opposite way,,, I feel those 5,6 and 7 inchers are NEVER gonna get to be 9 or 10's if they have to compete with the BIG gills for food. I keep the big ones, ONLY. I haven't kept a gill under 8" in quite a few years, unless of course, I KNOW for a fact that the lake is "stunted" then, everything goes on the ice. For instance, Walled Lake is SO STUNTED with tiny perch, its not even funny. Wolverine Lake is another one. Lake Chemung seems to be getting better, over the last 3 or 4 years, Chemung used to be horrible, with all the tiny gills.

Now before everyone "bashes" me about these lakes I mentioned,,,, I know, I know,, there "is" decent sized fish in these lakes,,, just way too far and few between. Chemung had actually started givin' up some walleyes the last 2 years and I saw a guy pull a 4 foot GATOR outta Wolverine, last year. Lake Sherwood is also stunted with TINY gills, good bass and pike though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Newburgh Lake was loaded was stunted gills before they drained it. If you drill a hole just about anywhere and start catching em in a bigger lake, you know you have an overpopulation problem.
 

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Guess I failed to include the fact that I only keep enough for a meal, in my case usually 6 or 7. My problem is with people that don't know enough to limit their catch, they think they have to catch their limit. "Hey guys, I caught 25 huge gills every day for the last week!!" Incidently, in most lakes the 6 and 7 inch fish will be mostly males that won't grow a lot bigger (but they are mature) and there are a lot more 6 aand 7 inchers than 8s and 9s, which are most likely females. Its a lot healthier to thin the males than the females. Check with your local biologist.
 

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I also keep only the biggest gills 8-10s and I fish all of the lakes that WHB mentioned (except Walled lake) and a couple that he did not and most seem to have good numbers and some size.
I go back year after year and I always catch enough good size fish.
 

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Sorry guys but I think you are hurting the resource. By removing all of the large gills you are removing the most valuable breeding stock, leaving the smaller gills to pass on their genes. I usually keep a couple of big gills but I let most of them go and keep mostly 6-7 inchers. I believe there are two reasons gills appear to be "stunted", overpopulation and over harvest of the large breeding stock. When I know a lake is stunted I'll keep every small gill I can, every day I can fish it, and I have seen them turn around and start producing nice gills over a couple of years. This was on smaller lakes and me and a few buddies all did this on a consistant basis. Good Luck out there.
 

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Everything I've read, heard, been taught, or experienced here points to overharvest of predators (10-14" bass are the best feeders) affecting bluegill size,..... and that your bigger gills are males. Males are suppposed to be the colorful, large ones and the only ones that grow the large forehead....or the "bull" gills.....hence the masculine label.

Unless you can keep people from taking the predators (the bass) the onbly other recourse is to take as many small ones as possible. I've fished farm ponds under the condition that any fish I didn't keep were thrown in the field. They stunt before they outgrow their food supply. If humans were like this there'd be 8 million mini-me's in NYC! ;-)

At least that's what I've been told...

Tom
 

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I know alot of guys keep just the big gills they catch. On some lakes this is not to much of a problem. When a lake for some reason panfish go nuts for say 2 weeks and hundreds of people are taking a limit of gills out of a lake everyday all 8" and better. It will devastate a lake. I have seen it happen many times. Big gills are the key to larger gills.

I am not trying to call you out butch but you are slightly off on what you posted on male and female gills. Bluegills are one of a few species where the male will actually be bigger. These are what they call parental males (bulls). These are the big males with the bright colors that guard the nest. Females can be nearly as large however. They are more drab in appearance. Thier bellies will be more one color unlike a nest guarding male which will have the bright red or orange patch near the pectoral fins along with a larger dark flap on the gill plate. There are some males that do however have a more female appearance in thier looks(sattelites). These males are smaller in size and if you ever see a area of active beds where males are courting females these are the fish you see off to the side or high off the beds. They resemble females in appearance and when they see a male and female on the bed will move in and spawn with them. from time to time the bull thinks it is an other female and does not drive it out of the nest. These sattelite males seldom reach 7" in length. It takes large male gills to successfully guard a nest.
Leaving these larger males in the lake leaves for a higher success of spawning. Many of these big gills spawn in areas where people can't see them making them somewhat safe from fisherman. Big females will look for the biggest male they can find to spawn increasing the odds of a succeful spawn. BIG FISH + BIG FISH = BIGGER FISH
There are some lakes I fish I keep numerous big fish to slow the growth of the population. These are places others do not fish. Places where there is pressure I release the big fish knowing enough people will remove gills that the big ones will be needed to maintain a healthy fishery. It is every individual's responsibilty to help manage are resources.
 

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Catfishtom,
GREAT POINT!
The predators play a major roll in population dynamics. Many of the lakes that used to have small gills and are improving can probably be linked to the fact more people are releasing bass than ever before.
 

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I usually keep only the small gills, but then again, I don't think I've ever caught one 8" long. That'd be one heck of a fight compared to the ones I'm used to! :eek:
 

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I know for a fact that at Stoney creek the gills are "stunted" Way too many for the size of the lake. No boat launch. Only access is on ice or along the shore. We have never caught any amt. of any size there for the last 20-30 years. Always tons of 3-6". Lots of pike and bass there too. In no way is it fished out. That lake is also weed choked during the summer. Maybe that too has something to do with it. 11-12ft at its deepest spot.
 

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Mike,
Sounds like a fish producing machine. My guess there abundant food and good cover to grow bluegills. Is there any large bass? They will eat many gills. The pike sound like they will not reach maximum size and age do to shallow warm water. If you want to see it turn around it can be done. Leave all the predators. A pike left in it will still eat gills till it succumbs to summer temps. Take every female colored gill you can. I suggest leaving the bull gills to guard the nest. These males are the ones with the potential to get larger. They will once the overcrowding is corrected. The bigger they get the more likely they will breed wth the bigger females. In a few years of hard work you could have your self a honeyhole of a gill fishery. It sounds like many people don't fish it due to the small size. Then it is a matter of staying mum once it turns around you will have some incredible gills till someone figures it out.
 

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I'd say another problem with Stoney is that it gets hammered all summer long and all winter long by the nearby population. Even people who do not normally fish go on a picnic and take a pole or two to kill the time. Stoney Creek has a nice boat launch and is normally too crowded for me to fish. I think the main problem with it is overharvest of the "bulls". Stoney Creek was a featured lake in one of Tom Hugglers Books and since then I have not seen more than a couple of nice catches come off of it. I used to catch 10-14" crappies on that lake but they are not there anymore, they went home in buckets. I haven't fished it in a couple of years now, hopefully things are improving.
 

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Hey Mike I see you are probably talking about the North "Lake which is a pond really. I'd have to say when I was fishing it there were not enough predators, largemouth bass and pike to keep the bluegills population under controll. That is exactly the type of situation where I think selectivly harvesting the smaller gills by a bunch of folks over a few years could result in a nice bluegill lake. Unfortunatly without the deeper cooler water I think it could not be self sustained, you would need to keep removing a large number of gills every year or in no time they would be overpopulated again. Good Luck, Eric
 

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I use to fish Stoney alot. (both the main lake & the north lake)
I never could understand all of the small panfish either. I've seen as well as caught catfish up to 15lbs, bass up to 6lbs as well as numerous pike up to 6lbs & the ocassional walleye. So the predator base is there. I also believe that the lakes do get to warm for big pike, although every once in a great while, someone will get one in the winter.
 

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When I fish these lakes, the smaller ones like 6 lakes, horsehead, cadillac etc..., I see see some things that just make me sick, and in most cases it is local fisherman, the ones who complain the most about the fishing, who are doing it. I see all these small fills on the ice, ones that you would need 5 of to make a decent sandwich. Same with the perch. Little dinky things sitting on the ice. To the other extreme, you see the photos and stories of guys limiting out 6 days in a row. Limiting out is a great thing, but some of these guys, like stated earlier by someone else, simply rape the lake of fish. Probably the same guys that get 6 doe permits, "cause they can" and then complain about the hunting 5 years later after they have decimated the herd. Sorry, this should probably have gone in the soundoff section, but man, it is just more and more out of control every year.:mad: :mad:
 

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Well Frantz believe it or not they may very well be helping the resource! In most shallow pond type lakes overpopulation is the main problem with the bluegill population. There are simply too many fish and not enough food or cover for all so you get stunted gills. Fish in an aquarium do the same thing, they only grow to suit their environment. I have a 60 gallon tank, I've had silver dollars fish for years and they grew a little over that time, I gave them to my brother in law who has a 90 gallon tank and in 1 year they have doubled in size. I don't condone wasting any resource but I have used buckets of micro gills to fertilize the corn.
There is a certain lake in Oakland county that I have fished for years and it is full of nice gills , Handsizers or better with a few small ones mixed in. When me and my friends first started fishing it nothing but dinks, after 2 years of culling we started to notice an increase in the overall size of the gills after 4 years this became a great bluegill lake and still is, and yes I still keep all of the small ones I catch and many nice ones and I do let the monsters go. I know it seems wierd but it works in this situation. Good Luck, Eric
 
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