The Coppernose is a subspecies of bluegill native to extreme southeast United States. It is now commonly stocked in ponds throughout the south. Coppernose bluegill look similar to native bluegill, however the Coppernose can be identified by the copper colored band around the nose. They also have similar diets consisting of insects, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates. Bluegill have small mouths which limit them to a diet of small meals. However, they can consume small fish, including juvenile largemouth bass. This is the main reason not to stagger your bass stocking too long after your forage stocking. Life span is around five years for both native and coppernose bluegill.
Coppernose bluegill have a story comparable to the Florida largemouth bass and in warmer climates, including Texas, Coppernose bluegill thrive. Research conducted in Texas suggests Coppernose bluegill grow faster and reach a larger ultimate size than native bluegill. The largest Coppernose bluegill taken from private water in Texas was 3.25 lbs. Because Coppernose grow faster and get bigger they will produce more offspring than native bluegill. One adult female bluegill can produce more than 10,000 eggs per spawn. This is why they are stocked as the primary component of the food chain to support largemouth bass. Bass have to eat 10 pounds of bluegill to gain a single pound in weight.
Many times we recommend feeding the bluegill to get a good number larger than 10 inches, which gives you a protected brood stock. This means that even your largest bass won’t be able to swallow those bluegill that achieve lengths in excess of 10 inches. Use a pelleted floating fish food of 30-32% protein. You can hand feed or use an automatic fish feeder to disperse feed up to twice a day. Children, especially enjoy watching the fish feed, nearly as much as catching them. Feeding fish regularly will not significantly affect the overall catch rate, but it will at least double their growth rate.
Coppernose bluegill will serve a dual purpose in your pond or lake. Not only are they fun and often easy to catch, they are the backbone of the food chain. They spawn shortly after bass in water temperatures from 67°F to 89°F and can spawn up to five times a season. Also, they mature to spawning capability at only three to four inches. Bluegill spawned early in the season will mature and begin spawning later the same season. Early maturity and frequent reproduction make them an ideal forage fish, and a necessity to grow trophy largemouth bass.