When stocking a new lake, the first phase includes baitfish to establish a forage base for largemouth bass. The list includes bluegill, fathead minnows, and redear sunfish. Wait, redear aren’t a primary forage species, why are they stocked?
You’re right, redear don’t’ build large populations. They only spawn once a year and randomly eat fish food. Bluegill, on the other hand, spawn four to five times annually and have a reputation as the backbone of the food chain. Coppernose bluegill attack fish food and have potential to become prized sportfish themselves. Two-pound bluegill are comparable to a 10-pound bass? If you haven’t caught one on light tackle, you’ll be impressed.
Actually, redear are unsung heroes. They’re the parasite police. Have you caught a fish and noticed small red bumps on its body or near the tail? How about small dark specks around the mouth. Small red bumps are yellow grubs. Dark specks are leeches. Both find their way into your pond via waterfowl or related sources. On arrival, they find a host, typically a snail. When their life cycle is complete, they seek a fish and bore into its flesh. There are approximately 10 different categories of parasites. Grubs and leeches are most visible. Others are internal and found when cleaning fish. Fish with grubs are safe to eat. Just trim away the affected area and cook thoroughly.
Chemical treatment for parasites can be expensive. The most economical, biological solution is–stock redear. Their common name is shell cracker. They get the name from hard, movable plates in their throat that allows them to crunch exoskeletons like snails and eat them. By eating snails, redear break the parasite lifecycle.
Redear may reach 10-inches and provide great fishing action. If you have observed above conditions, stock 250 redear per surface acre.