I helped fish an overstocked pond today. (4-1-06) The landowner suggested that in order to get bigger bass we would need to catch and keep some of the smaller ones. This is what I caught. I am going back in the morning.
Crappies are a very effectable species. Once they become overstocked in a pond, they are stunted and will not grow anymore. A farm pond that I used to fish literally had thousands of crappies in them. Over one summer, my father and I, and his best friend and his son caught 100 crappie in a single day, for 5 weeks straight. All of them were between 5-8" long. Not a single one of them ever reached 8 1/2" or bigger.
However, once we started pulling the smaller crappies out of there, we started noticing that they were getting larger. Where we were averaging 100 crappies that were between those lengths, we were averaging 25-30 crappies that were finally getting bigger than 9-10" and we were catching some that were 12-15" long.
With that being said, I have not fished that particular pond and I do not know the state of over-population that it has. The only way to truly find out is to catch as many crappie as you can. If you start seeing that they are all a certain length, and do not get any bigger, then that's the size that the majority will be. I am certain that there are bigger crappies in there, but as to being a trophy size crappie, I could not say for certain.
Another thing that determines the ultimate size of the fish in a body of water is the actual size of the body of water. If they have enough room to spread out and have adequate forage, they will become larger. If they are cramped, they will be stunted.
I dont believe what was happening in that pond was stunting from over population of the fish John. What I believe was happening was the prey to predator ration (aka how much food for the fish) was out of skew. Its common in many small ponds. There become too many fish and not enough food so you end up with a large population of small fish. The only way to really fix that situation is to catch and keep every fish you can.
I am in the process of tryin to do that in my pond. The crappie are competing with the bass for the food and vice versa so I am attempting to catch and keep as many crappie as I can so the bass have the upper edge.
The person who would know most about this would be Ouachita aka Jim.