Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) have long been a favorite among anglers, and for good reason. They are arguably the hardest fighting freshwater fish in the world. Despite their widespread popularity among anglers, smallmouth bass have received very little attention in the world of pond management - particularly in the southeast.
Smallmouth bass are closely related to largemouth bass; they are both members of the genus Micropterus. Despite this close relationship, smallmouths are considerably different than largemouths in many ways. These differences partially explain the paucity of smallmouth bass in ponds throughout the southeast. Even so, the use of smallmouth bass in pond management has probably been limited more by popular misconception than by any particular life history trait that would preclude their use in ponds.
Most of the pond owners we talk to have no idea that smallmouth bass are even an option in the southeast. Although they do present challenges not typically encountered with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass have the potential to thrive in many southeastern ponds when managed properly. We have seen very good results in the ponds we manage with smallmouths. We are convinced that this aggressive-striking, hard-fighting, beautifully-bronzed fish has a bright future in pond management.
For pond owners who would like to manage a pond with smallmouth bass as the sole predator, or for those who are looking to add a little diversity to their existing fishery, please contact one of our fisheries biologists to discuss stocking and management options.
A few things to consider with regard to smallmouth bass in ponds:
Smallmouth bass tend to prefer rocky habitats. They utilize rock, gravel and sand for spawning substrate as well as a place to forage for one of their preferred food items, crawfish.As their name implies, smallmouth bass have much smaller mouths than largemouths. Therefore, they are less efficient at foraging on bluegills and will benefit from more elongated forage species such as threadfin shad and golden shiners.Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass do not play well together in ponds. If you wish to create a quality smallmouth bass fishery, keep the largemouths out of the pond; they will out-compete and displace the smallmouths.If you wish to diversify your largemouth fishery with some smallies, stock them as adults (10 to 12 inches) and plan to re-stock periodically because they will not likely reproduce in an established largemouth bass pond.