Fish Stocking in Farm Ponds

When stocking fish in your pond, pay special attention to species balance, water temperature and food sources to better your chances of a healthy fish population.

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    Early memories fishing with Mom and Dad are never forgotten.
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  • Fishing with Dad
Farm Pond Management 

Whether after initial construction or after revitalizing your pond, you may need to stock it to supplement the existing fish population. Or you may even be starting from scratch. Pond owners can obtain fish from commercial growers. Lists are available through any department of wildlife and parks, Natural Resources Conservation Service or Extension Service office. Although transporting fish from other waterways is also an option, adequate populations are difficult to obtain and these fish are more likely to have disease than those coming from commercial growers.

Climate, visibility, water temperature and correct fish numbers are four elements that must be considered for best results. Consult your local department of wildlife and parks office for region-specific data. The following are recommendations for Kansas and the surrounding area.

● Stock soon after the pond fills, but try to avoid stocking during the summer, since high temperatures and a lower oxygen level in the water weaken the fish being transported.

● Visibility needs to be at least 12 inches so that species can see to feed. The ideal situation would be 18 inches of visibility – that ensures bass can see bluegill and other smaller species and helps maintain predator/prey balance.

● Take special care to adapt the fish to the water temperature. Fish that don’t go through this process and suddenly encounter a change in temperature will enter shock, and the chances for survival diminish. Take the water that you’re using to transport the fish, say you’re using a bucket, and empty out half of it. Refill that the bucket with water from your farm pond. Repeat this process until the temperature of the water in the bucket and the water in your pond are within 3 degrees of each other. This eliminates the possibility of shock and increases the chances of survival.

● Stocking the correct number of species is also critical to maintaining that balance. It will vary depending on region. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks recommends stocking 100 bass, 500 bluegill and 100 channel cat fingerlings per acre. Consult your state wildlife agency for appropriate recommendations.

Caleb Regan and his wife, Gwen, live in rural Douglas County, Kansas, where they enjoy hunting, fishing, and raising and growing as much of their own food as they can. Caleb can’t imagine a better scenario than getting to work on a rural lifestyle magazine as a profession, and then living that same lifestyle right in the heartland of America. Connect with him on .

6/23/2016 10:46:44 AM

5 acre, 5 yr. old farmpond....several large bass, occasional large crappie, several large channel cats, hand sized pumpkinseeds, abundance of small bluegill and shellcracker but almost none of any size. Why are we not seeing larger panfish...some parent fish are obviously reproducing the glut of smaller ones. Numerous bass of 1-2 lbs. are regularly being caught but not taken out of the pond. We also catch a fair number of 5-7 lb. bass and channel cats, an occasional 3 lb. crappie. Crappie are there but very difficult to find and catch with consistency. Why are we not catching larger bluegill and shellcrackers? What harvesting or stocking practices would improve this situation? We are happy with almost all aspects of our fish populations, except for the less than acceptable size of our panfish. Thanks.

shane andersen_1
8/7/2009 12:47:24 PM

I have a farm pond that's around 2 acres big and at least 12 foot deep. It was built up from a 1 acre dam about 6-7 years ago. It was full of sunfish that people had put in to use as baitfish for catfishing on the niobrara river a mile or so away, but to the best of my knowledge there were no predatory fish in the dam. So I stocked the dam with mature bass and crappie from another one of my smaller dams and some fish from the river since we're so close to it. And for the first 3-4 years the fishing was great we never caught a bass below two pounds or a crappie below a pound, through the last 5 years I've been harvesting all bass below a pound and all crappie below a 1/2 pound, cause I'm not concerned with how many I catch just how big. And now for the last 2-3 years the fishing as really trailed off meaning I don't catch as many fish and they are not as big. This year I've only caught 4-5 bass above 2 pounds and 8-10 crappie above 3/4 of a pound. So you would think that the bait fish are getting thicker but they're not. Maybe the moss is getting thicker but it is mostly below the surface and the banks are the only places with moss on top of the water. Cattle are fenced off from only half of the dam. Too many nutrients, not enough oxygen cause to much moss I'm not sure what is going on, but I haven't caught a fish above 3 pounds in a couple of years now, when I was used to catching several every time I fished. I would appreciate any and all suggestions about a plan of action now, help me save MY fishing spot.

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