Hybrid bluegill/sunfish are among the most publicized and promoted sunfish in the nation. We recommend them for ponds smaller than one-acre.
Hybrids are a cross between female green sunfish and male bluegill. When we mention the word hybrid, we automatically think several things. First, offspring will exhibit hybrid vigor…meaning babies will share best of both parents, growing faster and larger than either parent. Second, we think a hybrid can’t reproduce. With hybrid sunfish, there are few variations to the rules. More than 90-percent of offspring are males. Remaining females don’t produce many eggs. What few are developed, most aren’t viable and we emphasize–most. Also, all hybrid sunfish most definitely do not demonstrate hybrid vigor, only some.
Hybrids are great for small ponds with a goal to grow 1-pound sunfish–fast. They are not a forage species and should not be stocked in lakes managed for bass. This brightly-colored, greenish panfish has hot-orange rimmed fins, is aggressive, and readily consumes fish food. Hybrids outcompete bluegill because their mouth is five times larger than a bluegill. Bigger mouth, bigger meals. It also means hybrids compete in a larger food chain of insects and small fish. They definitely have an advantage over bluegill, especially in new ponds. They cohabitate well with channel catfish. For long-term success, restock every few years.
Stocking rates vary from 500 to 1,000 fish per acre, depending on water quality and if you feed them. Aerated ponds may support slightly higher amounts. There are dynamics at work beyond simple pounds of fish. They include food chain issues and basic competitive nature of panfish. Let’s do the math. If fish average one-quarter pound, the pond can support well over 1,000. However, if you plan growing most to larger sizes, stock fewer. What about stocking hybrids with common bluegill or other species. Hybrids will outcompete bluegill for food and space about 3-years. Eventually, bluegill out produce hybrids and become the dominant species, especially if bass are present.
Here’s the bottom line. If you want a catfish pond with diversity of some other variety, hybrid sunfish are a good choice. Do you prefer sunfish only? Go hybrids. Need forage for bass, don’t stock hybrids. Attempting to grow several types of sunfish? Know hybrids come out of the gate fast, push hard and heavy down the backstretch, but fade near the finish line. Call to discuss your goals.