Channel cats will eat small pan fish and minnows as well. Keeping the top level predatory fish in check is the key to a healthy pond. With a good food chain base predatory fish can grow and multiply quickly......something I have seen done to help bolster pan fish production it get some "T" post and use woven wire fence to protect shallow spawning areas. The smaller fish will spawn and the fry are more protected. Also consider the amount of cover in your pond/lake. Cover hides fish and especially in shallow water if can hide those panfish and help reduce how effectively those bass can feed on them. Ponds are a very similar situation as our deer habitats. Cover is means of food and safety from predators. Brush, rocks, weeds and the like can all help the panfish hide and escape. I will also say that the "catch and release" policy some fisherman have is not warranted. Sort of like shooting or not shooting does. That pond will only support some many fish.....so you need to take some out from time to time. An annual fish fry and camp out with the kids and their friends tends to help the pond and makes great memories as well. I am not sure why but keeping fish seems to have become frowned upon in some areas..... Just like shooting deer...... you have to take some so there is room for the rest of them.I have a pond a little less than two acres in size. I stocked fathead minnows the first year. By the second year, the pond was actually seething with them. The second year I stocked fingerling bass, bluegill, redear, hybrid bluegill, and catfish. That was in 2014. The bass have just about wiped out the sunfish population. None of the bass would make 16”. I have decided this spring, before sunfish spawn, I need to catch as many of the bass and get them out. I live on a 29,000 acre lake so it would be no problem to add bass when the sunfish population had re-established. I wish I had waited two years after the sunfish stocking before adding the bass.
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