Will this year be the year? Will your pond finally produce the double-digit trophy bass of your dreams? That depends on what your large bass are eating. You already have lots of big bluegill because you’ve been feeding them all summer. You may have stocked your pond with tilapia in the spring to squeeze even more growth from your bass. Now you’re wondering, “Is there is anything else I can do to take my pond from good to great?” Well, there is. In fact, you can target a growth spurt in the size of largemouth bass you want – just provide them with a winter snack.
In Texas, rainbow trout can be stocked in your pond or lake as early as December and on through the month of March. For 2-3 pound bass, you want to stock your pond with 5-8” rainbow trout, while those line-breaking bass will need some in the 8-10” range for their snack. Rainbow trout have an elongated body compared to a bluegill and are easy for bass to swallow whole. They also have a higher fat content and make a nutritionally sound winter snack for largemouth bass.
How many fish do you need to stock your pond and how long will the trout survive? Rainbow trout are stocked at 30-100 pounds per acre, depending on budget and purpose. They aggressively eat pelleted fish food and will grow throughout the winter. Rainbow trout require higher dissolved oxygen and cooler water temperatures than most “pond” fish. They will do fine in water below 70ºF. Once water temps climb above 70º, the trout will start to stress and your bass will go into a feeding frenzy. This final gorging really helps your bass replace body weight and conditioning lost during spring spawn.
Rainbow trout are also popular with anglers and can be stocked as adults. Many city parks stock them in early spring for events introducing fishing to kids. If you stock rainbow trout in ponds without bass, make sure to harvest as many as possible prior to the 70º mark. Rainbow trout are best when eaten fresh since freezing makes the meat soften and less desirable.
If you’re looking to catch a new fish or want to provide the forage to push your bass to the next level of “fatness”, consider stocking your pond with rainbow trout this winter.