Can Bass and Trout Live Together?

image of trout and a bass fish

Bass are a great species for sport fishing, while trout is good for your health, and having both of these species is every angler’s dream; one for catch and release and one for food. However, you must find out the preferred habitat for the fish you’ve selected to stock your pond. 

Can bass and trout live together? The direct answer is yes. However, different fish species will thrive in the conditions they are accustomed to in the wild. For bass and trout to co-exist, food and water temperature are essential considerations. These two species are top predators in their own right, and while they’ll compete for the same prey, they prefer different water depths.

To find out how to better stock your pond while avoiding future fish conflicts, read on as I highlight factors and attributes that would make bass and trout live together. You’ll learn how to create a balanced ecosystem that gives each of the two species better survival chances and improves your water body’s productivity. 

Should I Stock My Pond With Bass And Trout?

This is an excellent time to do some pond restocking, but you must know the characteristics of bass vs. trout when they’re living together if you are to avoid fish kill calamity. Both bass and trout are highly regarded game fish, and as a pond owner, I wouldn’t want to lose one to the other. 

Bass does well in warm water, anything exceeding 70° F, while trout prefer cooler temperatures, possibly below 63° F. 

A true game fish that readily adapts to ponds, bass doesn’t crave oxygen as much as trout does. However, they’ll remain largely inactive in anoxic pond water instead of grass beds in the shallows of a lake. Bass will survive in warm waters, preferring temperatures above 70° F, becoming inactive when it becomes cooler than 60° F, and succumbing when exceeding 90° F.

Smallmouth bass is more common in rivers, lakes, and ponds, existing on a diet of crayfish, tadpoles, and aquatic insects. 

Can You Stock Largemouth Bass and Trout?

The largemouth bass is easily recognizable by its dark blotches on the sides and its larger mouth. Bass fry feeds on insects and zooplankton until they’re two or three inches long before switching to a carnivorous diet of fish, frogs, crayfish, and other aquatic critters. 

Bass will grow 12 inches in two to three years, and when temperatures are permissible, they’ll spawn once, usually during the spring. 

The three trout species you can expend to find for pond stocking are brook, brown, and rainbow trout. While rainbow and brook or speckled trout are the best companions for bass, brown trout shouldn’t be stocked with other species as they’ll eat everything in your pond while also proving hard to catch. 

If you are worried about warm water temperatures affecting trout, try stocking rainbow as they tend to handle the heat better, plus they are willing to take the bait. A spring-fed pond will sustain brook trout, but water temperatures must not exceed 70° F, or there should be a depth of at least 6 feet. 

Can You Keep Smallmouth Bass and Trout alongside Each Other?

Bass and trout should be stocked with minnows, shiners or fed with protein pellets with no significant forage base. Both these species are vigorous feeders, and when a balanced co-existence has been struck will live five to six years in your pond. 

Smallmouth bass, also called bronze back for its brownish color, is not the best choice for stocking together with trout. This species prefers water cooler than largemouth bass and, as such, is not suited to shallow ponds. It also has a preference for rubble-bottomed water where there is substrate and cover. 

Smallmouth bass and trout will compete for the same deeper water column, food sources, and spawning sites. Stock a pond where there’s trout with largemouth bass instead, which occupies shallower vegetated warm water that’s no deeper than three feet, although they’ll occasionally foray in the deep. 

Why Keep Trout As A Bass Companion In A Pond?

In their natural habitats, trout thrive in water that’s highly oxygenated, remains fresh, and flows all year round like mountain streams. They’re sensitive to water temperature, stopping feeding or being active when temperatures fall below 64.4° F and will die when it rises above 73.4° F. 

Unless your pond has proper aeration from flowing water currents, trout may find it hard to survive or adapt to anoxic or oxygen-less deep water layers. The most common of this fish species is the rainbow and speckled brook trout, which will not reproduce in the pond unless fed by a stream and has spawning sites on the gravel bed. 

Trout eats small fish, aquatic critters, and zooplankton, but you can also spur their growth with artificial high protein feed. They are eager, aggressive feeders and will fight long and hard when hooked, often performing wild acrobatic stunts on the water. 

How to Create an Ecosystem to Support Bass and Trout Together 

Water Temperature as a Critical Factor towards Bass and Trout for Pond Stocking

When determining the type of fish species that can co-exist together in your pond, you must consider the water temperature that’s best for both bass and trout. Freshwater fish, in general, can be categorized into three groups based on the water temperatures preferred, and these include;

  • Coldwater fish species like trout which thrive in cool, constantly flowing water
  • Cool water fish that prefer intermediate temper ranges like smallmouth bass
  • Warm water species that do well in high temperatures like largemouth bass

Many aquatic biologists and hobbyists wouldn’t recommend keeping cold and warm water species like bass and trout together if the pond isn’t big enough. Due to competition for food, seasonal water temperature changes, one of your species will become incompatible no matter how often you restock. 

What Size of Pond Can You Stock Bass and Trout Together?

The water body must be of a sufficient area and depth to provide adequate resources for your bass and trout ponds inhabitants. When top predator game fish co-habit the same waters, they require natural food and cover that supports a balanced ecosystem. 

If your pond is ¼ to a few acres in size, a third of it should be at least 6 feet deep to give trout a cooler water column when temperatures rise. Ponds that are less than ¼ acre and used for livestock watering, irrigation, and other high water-consuming uses or those in hot regions where evaporation is high should be deeper than 6 feet. 

Shallow banks serve as spawning and nesting areas for bass, while trout prefer the sandy or gravel bottoms with a flowing current. Make shallow banks at least two feet deep for excellent bas habitat and prevent excessive water plant growth to avoid weed choking. 

Which Trout Should I Stock With My Large Or Smallmouth Bass?

One of the most popular pond fish species in North America is trout, which grow to an impressive size and are beautiful. The trout types that seamlessly will cohabit with your bass include;

Rainbow Trout

Rainbows are also delicious table fare and make great companions for bass in a lake or pond due to their hardiness against higher water temperatures compared to other trout species. Rainbow trout are easy to identify, seeing as they have a greenish body with black spots and on which a distinctive pink stripe runs down the side. 

Can I Stock Largemouth Bass with Rainbow Trout?

Trout grow quickly, especially in well-aerated ponds with an abundance of food, where they will convert each pound of their diet into an equal measure in weight. When stocked together with largemouths, trout provide forage for the warm water fish, especially when temperatures rise and they become sluggish and easy pickings for the bass

The giant largemouth bass that you’ve seen caught in ponds is partly as a result of feeding on trout. You can stock trout late in the winter and early spring in warmer climates or later in the season for cooler regions. 

For every two or three-pound bass in your pond, you’ll need at least a five to eight inches rainbow trout, which have an elongated body and prove easy for largemouths to swallow. You can stock about 300 trout alongside the bass on an average one-acre pond if the water is well aerated. 

Cutthroat Trout

This trout has a noticeable body color pattern, characterized by red splashes on the lower jay and behind the head. Cutthroats are also long, growing in an elongated fashion instead of widening.

Tiger Trout

This is a hybrid trout species arrived at by mating male brook trout and female brown trout, but their appearance is far removed from the parents. More patterned like a cheetah than a tiger, these hybrid trout are sterile and moderate-sized, barely exceeding 20 pounds. 

Brook Trout:  

This fish is also called spotted, or speckled trout and squaretail, and they are used as water quality indicators. Brook trouts are tiny, weighing at most a couple of pounds, and are yellowish goldish worm-like lines. 

Conclusion 

Whether yours is a cool, warm, or temperate water pond, you can stock either large or smallmouth bass alongside trout. It’s only natural that when two top predator fish live together, a certain amount of fish is killed. But good planning and strategic introduction should help strike an ecosystem balance. 

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