General Fish Stocking Recommendations

Every pond is different, and there is no single way to go about stocking or maintaining your fish population. However, these are rough general fish stocking  recommendations and guidelines that will give you an idea of possible stocking scenarios. The stocking options listed below are for ponds in the Upper Midwest (e.g. Wisconsin and Illinois) that are approximately 1 acre in size (43,560 square feet) and at least 8 feet deep. These numbers can be adapted to ponds down to 1/4 surface acre by multiplying the number of fish recommended by the fraction of a surface acre. Likewise, you can multiply the number of fish by the number of acres for ponds up to 5 acres. Remember, these are rough recommendations, and they do not work well for very small or very large water bodies. If your pond is in Wisconsin or Illinois, you can request a Fish Stocking Recommendation by sending us a little information.


Largemouth Bass & Bluegill

This is a “one time” stocking plan, designed to put in place the species required to set up a self-sustaining food chain. The idea is that the Bluegill will reproduce to provide food for the Bass, and the Minnows will feed the Bass until the Bluegill spawn. Go with the higher amount of minnows if you choose the 4-6″ bass.  Channel Catfish, which will most likely not reproduce, will not help or hurt this stocking combo if kept below 100 per surface acre. If you want to maintain Channel Catfish, you should restock 50 per surface acre every few years, or more often if they are fished for. Bass and  Bluegill should be monitored for growth rates and relative abundance. If one or the other begins to stunt or become overabundant, email us at for advice. Approximate costs of this stocking plan are listed on the Fish Stocking Packages page. 


Largemouth Bass & Bluegill, Multi-Season Option

  • 10 lbs of Tuffies (fathead minnows) stocked in the spring
  • 100 to 300 2-4” or 4-6" Bluegill stocked in the spring
  • 40 to 80 2-4” or 4-6” Largemouth Bass stocked in the fall
  • Optional: 25 to 100 4-6” or 6-8" Channel Catfish stocked in the fall

This is the same plan as described above, but by stocking the Bluegill and minnows  in the spring and the Bass in the fall, you can stock a lot less Bluegill and minnows. This can save you a substantial amount of money, costing about 1/2 of the amount of the Option 1 listed above.  Approximate costs of this stocking plan are listed on the Fish Stocking Packages page. 


Hybrid Bluegill Option

This stocking plan virtually eliminates the possibility of Bluegill overpopulation, but it does add a dependence on restocking Minnows & Hybrid Bluegill. Read the article Bluegill vs. Hybrid Bluegill for more information. If you stock the smaller Hybrid Bluegill, be sure to also stock the smaller Bass.  Also, go with the higher amount of Minnows if you choose the larger Bass.  



Smallmouth Bass & Pumpkinseed Option

If you have a new pond that has a rocky/sandy bottom, and want to try something unique, consider the Smallmouth Bass and Pumpkinseed Option. It’s a tricky thing to establish a stable food chain in a pond using Smallmouth Bass. Typically they will not control Bluegill, but would wipe out minnows, so the struggle is in finding the right forage species to balance the population. The answer might be Pumpkinseed. If you plan on trying this, you may need to be patient because these 2 species are usually in short supply. Also, if you want to go this route, you will have to be very careful not to ever add Bluegill or Largemouth Bass, as both of those species are more dominant and would almost certainly upset the balance.


Walleye & Perch Option

This stocking option is designed to be added onto any stocking plan, or you could try these species on their own.  Also it is best to stock Walleye into ponds with an Aeration System, or larger water bodies that have oxygen throughout, because walleye like to hang out near the bottom. The plan is for the Perch to reproduce and the Walleye to feed on them. This sounds easy, but Perch are somewhat unpredictable in ponds. Also, Perch are both predator and prey, and that is the reason for the heavy amounts of Minnows and Golden Shiners. One other thing is that if bass are present, they need to be controlled thru selective harvesting, otherwise they are likely to wipe out the perch.  See the Largemouth Bass Stunting article for details. 

Really, you need to monitor the pond over the years and make adjustments if you want Perch and Walleye to work. Also, since Walleye typically will not reproduce in ponds, you should plan on restocking a next generation every two or three years.


Pumpkinseed Option


  • Reduce initial Bluegill stocking by 100 and add 100 Pumpkinseed.

By stocking both Bluegill and Pumpkinseed, it will force the Pumpkinseeds to feed on snails, which can help prevent the spread of some unsightly parasitic fluke worms. If Bluegill and Bass are already established, more than 100 Pumpkinseeds per acre may be needed, plus you should stock minnows to deflect the attention of the bass.

Redear Option

By stocking Redear Sunfish, they will feed on snails, which can help prevent the spread of some unsightly parasitic fluke worms. If Bluegill and Bass are already established, more than 100 Redear Sunfish per acre may be needed, plus you should stock minnows to deflect the attention of the bass. Note, Redear Sunfish are a southern species and may not survive winter in Northern Illinois or Wisconsin.


Northern Pike or Muskellunge or Tiger Muskie Option

Ponds that have Largemouth Bass actively reproducing generally benefit from having small amounts of a larger predators present. This large predator is more likely to feed on Bass than Bluegill, mainly because they are easier for them to swallow due to body shape. We do not recommend mixing large predator species because Northern Pike generally out-compete Muskellunge in the upper midwest.


Smallmouth Bass Option

It is very unlikely that Smallmouth Bass will sustain a population in a Largemouth Bass pond, but they stand a chance to grow to adult size and add diversity. If you keep your Largemouth Bass in check by harvesting the most abundant size class, every few years you can stock an additional 25 Smallmouth Bass and some minnows to protect them from the Largemouth Bass.


Trout Option

Trout require water temperatures below 70F and Dissolved Oxygen Levels above 60% saturated – this eliminates roughly 95% of Midwestern ponds during the summer, but not during fall, winter & spring! You can stock these fish in the fall when water temperatures drop below 65F and they will be yours to fish until the first significant heat wave the following summer. In general, we recommend stocking twice as many trout as you want to catch.