Fish Stocking and Management
This week we will follow up last week's fish kill discussion with discussion of fish biology and stocking. Some may have a new pond while others want to start over if a pond's fish population and diversity is undesirable.
If you are unsure of the status of your pond, the way to find the answer is fun.
Go fishing and see what you catch!
Similar to land support capacities like one horse to two acres or one cow/calf pair per acre or 170 bushel corn per acre yield averages, ponds have production averages and characteristics.
The average Indiana pond supports 320 pounds of fish per acre varying from 109-703 pounds of fish per acre in a study of 14 Indiana ponds.
State and federal fish hatcheries no long sale fish for private ponds as those fish are only placed in public waters.
Fall is the best time to stock fish primarily due to the fact that most private hatcheries are setup to sale fish during the autumn time period.
However fish can be stocked most any time of the year.
If one has a new pond, it is best to stock it as soon as it becomes filled before someone dumps bait or some other fish species gets started proving stocking difficult.
It is absolutely a myth that undesirable fish species can enter a pond via fish eggs being carried on the feathers, wings or webbing of waterfowl.
Also it is not recommended to catch fish from other ponds or rivers to release into your pond.
This is a vector for disease and will likely result in accidentally placing some number of undesirable fish species into your pond that will negatively affect the balance of fish species.
The initial stocking ratio widely successful in Indiana consists of five bluegill fingerlings to one large mouth bass fingerling, not to exceed 1,000 bluegill and 200 bass per acre.
For a low fertility pond, it would be good to keep the same ratio but cut the numbers by up to one half. Fingerling stocking sizes should be one to two inches for blue gill and three to four inches for bass.
Channel catfish should be stocked at 100, four-to-six-inch fish per acre.
If redear are desired, substitute one-quarter of the bluegill fingerlings with one to two inch redear fingerlings.
If hybrid sunfish are desired instead of bluegill or redear, a 10:1 ratio of sunfish to bass would probably be more suitable.
In this scenario, the maximum stocking rate would be 1,000 sunfish and 100 bass per acre.
If done in this manner, stocking should only need to be done once of bluegill and bass while channel catfish will have to be restocked as they do not reproduce in most farm ponds due to lack of dark habitat unless on incorporates a hollow log or creates an undercut bank.
An excellent resource for fish management in your pond produced by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish & Wildlife can be found at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/publications/fsm... pd.htm on the web.
This publication also addresses options for those with very small ponds (one-half acre or less) and for those with larger ponds of greater than five acres.
There is also good discussion about grass carp for weed control.
If you are looking for a vendor where you can purchase fingerlings, go to www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/fish/fishing/com... to search for commercial fish suppliers licensed to sell in Indiana.
This will help you to avoid a vendor that may not have your interests at heart.
You can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 829-5020 Ext. 14 in Owen County or 448-9041 in Clay County for more information or publication copies regarding this week's column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events.
It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.
While most publications are free, some do have a fee.
All times listed are Eastern Time.
Sept. 17 Goat Grading/Marketing, Spencer, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 Riverwatch Training, Bloomington
Sept. 19 Poison Prevention Workshop, Methodist Hospital, 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 Indiana Farm Sustainability Tour, Clay City & Ladoga, 9:30 a.m.
Sept. 20 Organic Poultry IP Video, Brazil, 6 p.m.
Sept. 27 Bigger Profits Through Targeted Sales, West Lafayette, 7:30 a.m.
Sept. 27-29 State Master Gardener Conference, Evansville
Oct. 19 Large Mouth Bass on Feed Workshop, Kentucky State University
Oct. 20 Sheep Shearing School, Wingate, 9 a.m.
Nov. 3 Owen Extension Annual Meeting with Tom Turpin, 6:30 p.m.