Well sometime between 3 and 4 years after the initial stocking is the time to start harvesting fish in your water body to keep a healthy balanced system capable of growing large fish. When to remove fish and the size of fish to remove greatly depends on each individual’s goals for their fishery. Generally you want to try and not harvest the original fish that you stocked but the ones recruited into the population after the original stocking. This will take about 3 years to start that process.
Generally you will know when you need to start harvesting fish. As I stated above once you begin to notice weight gains slowing or decreasing as with lengths, it is time to start harvesting. You never want to harvest the biggest fish for they have the potential to grow into those large fish. In most cases these are the male fish in bass. Once you see species that won’t necessarily reproduce but compete for food, such as catfish, reaching about 2 pounds you want to start harvesting them. With species like bluegill you never want to harvest the biggest fish for they are the nest protecting males. Harvest the individuals the size class smaller.
Having the right harvest strategy is important to growing and maintaining a healthy fishery with trophy potential. It must be done. When you see thin or sick looking individuals harvest them so there is more food available for the other healthy fast growing fish. What a better way to have a hands on approach to your fish management and be able to put food on the table of in the freezer at the same time.
Remember to manage today for a better tomorrow!