July 25, 2021

How to stock your pond

Recipes for the perfect pond

RICHMOND, Ind. — If you want to focus on managing ponds on your property this year, the first step is to decide what your goal is.

“People have different goals for their ponds,” said Jonathan Ferris, Purdue Extension educator in Wayne County, during a webinar. “Some want it as a swimming pool; they don’t want many weeds or fish. Others want a trophy bass fishery. What you want will dictate your management level.”

An all-around good combination for Indiana is largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish, he said.

Ponds have a certain capacity to produce fish. In Indiana, that is around 320 pounds of fish per acre.

“I like to start with a basic option — a 5-to-1 ratio of bluegill to largemouth bass,” Ferris said.

He cautioned pond owners from moving adult fish from the neighbors’ pond or a river to stock your pond. These fish have unpredictable production and can also introduce disease and parasites to the pond.

Instead, use a reputable, commercial hatchery.

“It’s much better to start a new pond with small fish that grow up together at the same time,” Ferris said.

Fish to avoid include bullheads, carp, crappies — unless you have a larger lake system — and perch.

If you notice poor fish quality, it’s usually due to the wrong kind of fish, wrong size of fish or wrong number of fish.

“If bluegill are small, try reducing the population through seining, trapping or fishing, and reducing bass harvest,” Ferris said. “If bass are too small, either they are being harvested before they can grow large enough, or there isn’t enough forage to sustain them.”

If you have too many fish, it will result in overall stunted growth. You may need to thin the fish out via trapping, fishing or seining.

For more information, visit tinyurl.com/3uj77xjp.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor