How to Stock Your Farm Pond
Farm ponds serve many purposes such as livestock watering, swimming, irrigation for crops, wildlife habitats and fishing spots. Pond sizes range from 1/4 acre to 5 acres. Stock with warm-water fish that easily spend their lifespan in the waters of the pond by growing, reproducing, feeding and dying in a natural cycle. Stock both predator and feeder fish. Common fish to coexist and create a food chain are bluegill, bass, catfish, pickerel, sunfish, walleye, northern pike, crappie, rock bass and bullheads. Stock small minnow-type fish to help feed the predator fish. Fathead minnow, mosquito fish, suckers and the golden shiner make excellent forage fish.
Check the depth of the farm pond using a fishing rod with a heavyweight sinker to reach the bottom 8 feet and a bobber. Eight feet is a minimum depth for an optimum fish environment.
Remove any overabundance of weeds and aquatic vegetation that might prevent fishing as growth becomes more prolific. Check for holes in the dam from muskrats or other rodents and repair before stocking.
Stock channel catfish fish in the fall first. Stock less than 50 channel catfish fish per acre.
Stock bluegill and minnows or any other feeder fish in the fall. Stock bass and predator fish in the spring so they can feed off the feeder fish, bluegill and fathead minnow beams after breeding takes place in the spring.
Check for winterkill. Count how many bass and other predator fish die so you can replace them when spring arrives to maintain a balance of predator/prey fish.
Watch for summerkill. Replenish any fish that die out during the summer or you harvest through fishing so you can maintain an ideal balanced environment.
- Stock a phytoplankton feeder such as gizzard shard to help maintain clear water.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Fish Hatcheries in your region to learn where to purchase stock fish.
- Each state has regulations for stocking a farm pond. Check the Department of Wildlife Conservation in your state for information.
- Do not stock coldwater fish such as trout.
- Do not stock yellow perch with bass. They prey upon the bass spawn.
- Do not harvest fish from their natural environment to place in your pond.