hybrid striped bass

Balanced stocking & feeding hybrid striped bass

When stocked proportionally, hybrid striped bass make an exciting addition to a pond. Often, when a new customer calls it’s because their pond is disappointing. Many have fallen victim to the futile practice of re-stocking more largemouth, catfish, panfish fingerlings or minnows every couple years. Others have a pond full of small crappie. In their world, the cycle never ends and fish never grow. But, most are just looking to add some super exciting fish that pack a load of power on the end of a line. For those thinking of adding them to your pond, we offer some tips below to help you plan for your hybrid striped bass.

Stocking Density

LARGE POND & LAKES. Large pond or lake owners (5+ acres) with established fisheries usually stock conservatively at 20-30 fish per acre. These larger ponds and lakes often have stable populations of traditional fish so keeping with a low number of hybrids can minimize negative impact on the established fishery. But, with the lower stocking rates, the harder they’ll be to find when you want to catch them. These type of stocking supplements are commonly used to boost largemouth bass sizes using hybrid striped bass as a culling mechanism to remove unwanted fish.

PONDS. Medium ponds (1-5 acres) are often stocked heavier at 50-100 per acre to ensure successful fishing. These ponds are more prone to population imbalance and hybrids offer a way to produce more large fish per acre.

AGGRESSIVE STOCKING. For the most aggressive stocking, up to 200 per acre, contact us direct, we can help you decide if this is a smart path. Some pond owners stock heavy like this when they expect a high predation rate on the new fingerlings, particularly in ponds with high numbers of largemouth bass.

Whatever approach you chose, Here’s some logic to consider: fish farm near me

hybrid striped bass

Balance Quantity with Capacity

It’s a matter of balance many cattlemen know all to well. Think about cattle… How many cow and calf pairs per acre does your land support?  What would happen if the bulls ran with the cows unsupervised for years on end? In my experience, overgrazing and back-breeding become an issue pretty quick. But, how many more would the land support if you augment their diet with quality feed, clean water and effective culling? A pond is no different. Pond Boss

OVERPOPULATED LARGEMOUTH. When a population of fertile fish are put into a contained environment (a pond) without feed or a method for population control, things tend to go very bad. You may have some expert fish seller tell you the fix is to stock more largemouth bass, but think about it. Your largemouth are small because you already have too many and they are still breeding uncontested. But when functionally sterile predators (like hybrid striped bass) are stocked , growing large fish size is much less problematic. For ponds like this, removing some of the largemouth bass can be helpful.

TOO MANY PANFISH. Ponds overrun with small bluegill and other panfish may also have a lack of predatory fish. In ponds like this, hybrid striped bass likely do very well. However, its important to check on the hybrids as they grow. Typically, they’ll grow very fast feeding on small panfish. As with all ponds, supplemental feed is important. If your hybrids begin to look thin, consider harvesting some and increasing your feed regiment temporarily. Most often, panfish that evade the hybrids and grow large and produce larger spawns as a result. Fish farm near me

CAPACITY ANALYSIS. For some, choosing a good number to stock can be frustrating. To help, we provide a free pond-specific capacity analysis for pond owners considering hybrid striped bass. By providing a pond-specific measurement, the analysis helps choose an adequate number of fish and helps understand feed requirements over time. Contact us if you’d like a capacity analysis for your pond.

Feeding Hybrid Striped Bass

Establishing a feed plan with quality feed is very important, particularly in ponds too small to maintain a strong food chain. In our experience, the smaller the pond, the greater the need to feed. In large ponds, high protein feed offers a great supplement forage to encourage larger, more energetic predators. However, in the smallest ponds, fish may be nearly entirely dependent on feed to grow. If you have a small pond and your are thinking about hybrid striped bass, you will most likely need to feed them. But, how much feed you use depends on their size. baby bass

FEEDING BY WEIGHT VS TIME. Its best to stick to the ten minute rule, but if you need to grow your fish fast, you can try feeding by weight. In a commercial setting, most growers provide juvenile hybrids 10% of their body weight daily until they reach about 1/2 a pound. Feed is then reduced incrementally down to 6%, then 2% of their body weight daily as they grow. In a recreational pond, its important to balance the volume of feed with the ponds capacity in order to maintain a healthy environment. But be careful with feeding by weight. Too much feed and the water quality can quickly deteriorate. …and remember, hybrid striped bass and other predatory fish require high protein feed.

PELLET DEPENDENCY. One of the greatest qualities of hybrid striped bass is their willingness to consume both floating pellets and forage on fish. This is great for fishing because they’ll still bite a hook even if they are given daily feed. If your hybrids aren’t biting, its often because of an abundance of food. TIP: If you have this problem and plan on fishing, stop feeding a couple days before you fish to increase your catch.

Remember its always best to follow the general rule. Aim to provide enough feed to keep the fish eating for 10 minutes; 15 minutes for aggressive programs. Reduce feeding in the winter and before severe cold snaps, and take advantage of the warm days. In the spring and summer, watch the feeding time closely to ensure you don’t overfeed.

Hybrid Striped Bass
Newalla Fish Company juvenile hybrid striped bass feeding

The question we are asked more often than any other, “Will hybrids eat everything in my pond?” We work with hybrid striped bass every day, all year; and these fish only eat smallest fish and only until they’re full, one to two times per day just like most other fish. In a tank, they stop eating just after a few floating pellets. Unlike a largemouth bass that will strike a lure just after eating a fish, the hybrids will hold off until later, when they’re hungry again. fish farm near me

Hopefully this info is helpful as you plan your hybrid striped bass stocking. Feel free to contact us if you’re considering hybrid striped bass for your pond. We can provide a capacity analysis to ensure you don’t overstock or help develop a feed plan for your pond. And remember, don’t fall for the hype, the chances are you don’t need to restock more brood fish. A better option is to start using high protein feed and functionally sterile hybrid striped bass that won’t contribute to your pond problems. Newalla Fish Company