Colonies of bowl-shaped, bluegill spawning beds that develop along your shoreline from spring to fall are baitfish factories. For a small investment of time and pea gravel, you can expand them and reap valuable dividends that make the difference between average or trophy bass.
Beds should be in areas with consistent 18 to 36-inch depth. Before selecting locations, evaluate pond summer draw-down history. Ensure sites remain covered during most productive months from May through October. Choose sites with firm bottom soil. If only available zones have silted, soft bases, consider installing a liner to prevent gravel from sinking into silt. Sophisticated designs can be made from boxes framed with 2×6-inch boards. Frame boxes rest on the bottom and hold gravel firmly together so it doesn’t sluff-off. Some folks use shallow, plastic children’s wading pools. They could prove beneficial if a dry summer necessitates moving them as water levels fluctuate. Whether you go borderless or install containers, pea gravel should average four to six-inches deep.
Bluegill should set-up housekeeping as water temperatures approach 65-degrees. Action increases through 80-degrees. In our region, it’s not uncommon to record four or five spawns. If you’re a devout pondmiester, check-out these and other neat facts in Wikipedia. Males arrive first and construct nests six to 12-inches in diameter. Females are attracted to nests by grunting noises from males. They circle the nest and typically are attracted to males with large bodies and ears. When spawning is complete, males escort females away, then spend tireless hours guarding eggs and chasing intruders from the nest. Most bluegill are reproductively mature at one-year old or approximately three-inches. Small females may deposit 1,000 eggs. Larger ones can lay up to 100,000. Males remain on the nest until fry depart. We talk to folks who place a chair near beds and watch the fascinating show for hours.
Growth rates spike the first three years. When hatched, approximately 12,000 fry weigh one-pound. In 45-days, 30 will weigh one-pound. Fertilization can double and triple productivity by growing microscopic plankton food sources. Fry are born with a yoke sack that provides initial nutrition. When it’s consumed, if plankton is not present, survival rates decline. When present, survival rates increase to strengthen the food chain for bass, crappie, and other sportfish. According to pioneer biologists H.S. Swingle and E.V. Smith, bluegill average five to eight-years-old. In extreme cases, they have reached 11-years.
Growing more bluegill is key to maintaining a strong food chain and attaining goals for lunker bass. Consistently feeding bluegill a high-protein diet also pays a big bonus. Have you caught a one to two-pound trophy bluegill? Let’s visit about a plan for you to enjoy this unforgettable experience!