BIG BASS

The definitive South African trophy Bass fishing site

 

SOME COMMON SOUTH AFRICAN

BASS "FODDER FISH"

 

 

The Predator:

 

 

And the Prey:

 

These "fodder fish" are naturally present in many waters in South Africa or may be stocked in virgin waters to prepare a food chain prior to introducing Bass fingerlings:

 

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Minnow (Barbus paludinosus)

Minnows are an important initial or short-term "fodder fish" base to cater for the ravenous baby Bass fingerlings until they can manage the larger Kurper species. Minnows (literally thousands) should be stocked at least a year or more before Bass fingerlings are introduced to give them a head start to establish themselves and breed. Minnows will average between 5 - 10cm length. Individual life-span would be rather short, probably no more than about 4 years, if that. After 2 - 3 years, the Bass would probably put a severe dent in the Minnow population and could all but wipe them out, but they would have done their job to nourish the baby Bass until they graduate to the Kurper species and later, possibly the Yellowfish and Trout as mentioned in the main page dealing with stocking and management of Bass waters.

 

 

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Dwarf Kurper or Southern Mouthbrooder (Hemihaplochromis philander)

The Dwarf Kurper is an excellent "fodder fish: for Bass, especially in the first year of life of a young Bass. Dwarf Kurper breed prolifically like the other Kurper species, but rarely exceed a length of 10 - 12cm. Individual life-span would probably run no longer than 4 years. They will never compete with Bass. Stock Dwarf Kurper at least 6 months to one year before the introduction of Bass fingerlings to enable the Dwarf Kurper to establish themselves and breed successfully.

 

 

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Vlei Kurper or Banded Tilapia (Tilapia sparrmanii)

The Vlei Kurper is probably the closest SA version of the USA Bluegill and is the most well-behaved Bass "fodder fish" in SA. Due to its average length of 10 - 23cm and small ultimate size (usually under 500g) and small mouth, it will not compete with Bass for food. Individual life-span would be around 4 years. It will breed every 6 weeks in summer, but harvesting will only be necessary should they become so numerous that the Vlei Kurper interfere with Bass nesting (Large male Vlei Kurper can be rather aggressive and could rob Bass nests of eggs and fry). The Vlei Kurper should form the long-term self-sustainable base of any food chain for Bass. Stock at least 3 - 6 months before introducing Bass fingerlings.

 

 

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

The Bluegill is the classic Bass "fodder fish" and is found in some SA waters notably in the Cape and Natal. Due to its average lenghth of 10 - 23 cm and smallish ultimate size (500 - 700g, although specimens of over 1kg have been recorded) and small mouth, it will not compete directly with Bass for food, but can become so numerous in warm climates as to interfere with Bass nesting. Harvesting of Bluegill may be necessary in most cases.

 

 

Redbreast Kurper (Tilapia rendalli)

Redbreast Kurper grow relatively rapidly and breed prolifically (about every 6 weeks in summer). They can attain a lenght of up to 40cm and grow to a maximum weight of about 2kg, but the usual specimens are much smaller (around 20 - 25cm). Average individual life-span is around 6 years. Can denude small waters of plant and weed growth and, as the Blue Kurper, can interfere with Bass nesting, but will usually not compete directly for food with Bass (as the Blue Kurper will) as the Redbreast Kurper have smaller mouths (than the Blue Kurper). In some waters especially waters with excessive plant or weed growth, Redbreast Kurper can be a viable option as a "fodder fish" in addition to Minnows and Vlei Kurper. In most waters, Redbreast Kurper will have to be harvested should they become too numerous.

 

 

Blue Kurper or Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus)

Blue Kurper grow relatively rapidly and breed prolifically (about every 6 weeks in summer). They can attain a length of 40cm and a maximum weight of over 3kg (although the usual specimens are much smaller at around 20 - 30cm). Average individual lifespan would be about 6 years. Blue Kurper have been known to compete with Bass for food (large male Blue Kurper have large mouths) and have also been known to displace Bass and suppress Bass breeding and nesting. Larger Blue Kurper can prey on small Bass and other fodder fish intended for Bass and can also interfere with Bass nesting. Only introduce Blue Kurper (fingerlings), if at all, simultaneously with or after Bass fingerlings have been stocked and harvest Blue Kurper regularly. Bass have been known to have been killed in attempts to swallow Blue and Nile Kurper which were a bit too large and wedged in their gullets. The body profile of these Kurper and the strong, sharp spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins may have prevented the over-optimistic Bass from regurgitating their intended prey which was too large for them to swallow properly.

 

 

Smallmouth Yellowfish (Labeobarbus aeneus)

The other regional Yellowfish species mentioned on the main page look similar. All Yellowfish species are slow growing, mature late and live long (about 12 years). The Smallmouth Yellowfish pictured here will reach a length of 50cm (eventually) and a maximum weight of about 6kg. Stock Yellowfish species at least a year or two before Bass to give the Yellowfish a head-start. Follow-up with subsequent annual stocking for at least 2 - 3 years running after initial stocking. Yellowfish have a slimmer body profile and softer fins than Kurper and the Bass will love them! Although Yellowfish will feed on smaller fish, they are somewhat limited as predators by the size of their mouths and will not ever be serious competitors with Bass. Yellowfish will never displace Bass and harvesting of Yellowfish will never be necessary. Return ALL Yellowfish of any size immediately to the water.

 

 

As mentioned on the main page, Rainbow Trout can also be an excellent addition - some may even say a prerequisite - to the diet of large Bass!

 

 

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Check this out!

(As seen on www.trophybassonly.com)

 

Karl Williamson happened upon this 11.5lb trophy bass, which had a 1.3lb trophy Bluegill sticking out of it's throat! He was able to carefully remove the Bluegill and the bass swam away strongly!

 

 

 

Karl with two trophies!

 

So how about upgrading the size of your Lures?


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