General Fish Stocking Recommendations

Every pond is different, and there is no single way to go about stocking or maintaining your fish population. However, there 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, Option 1

This is a “one time” stocking 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 them until the Bluegill spawn. Go with the higher amount of minnows if you choose the 5-8″ 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 3 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 info@keystonehatcheries.com for advice.

 

Largemouth Bass & Bluegill, Budget Option

This is the same plan as described above, but by stocking the Bluegill in the spring and the Bass in the fall, minnows are not required. This can save you a substantial amount of money, but you may have to pay extra for delivery if you are not picking the fish up.

 

Hybrid Bluegill, Option 1

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.

 

Hybrid Bluegill, Budget Option

This is the same plan as described above, but by stocking the small Hybrid Bluegill in the spring and the Bass in the fall, you save a substantial amount of money because of the smaller sized Hybrid Bluegill and reduced amounts of Minnows. However, you may have to pay extra for delivery if you are not picking the fish up.

 

Smallmouth Bass & Pumpkinseed Option

If you have a new pond 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 could be Pumpkinseed! If you plan on trying this, you may need to be patient because these 2 species are sometimes 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 of the Bluegill or Hybrid Bluegill plans, or you could try these species on their own.  Also it is only for deep ponds that either have clear water or an Aeration System because Walleye like to stay deep, and typically only these types of ponds have oxygen near the bottom. The plan is for the Perch to reproduce and the Walleye 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. Really, you need to monitor the pond over the years and make adjustments if you want it to work. Also, since Walleye typically will not reproduce in ponds, you should plan on restocking a next generation every 2 to 3 years.

 

Pumpkinseed Option

pumpkinseed

  • 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.

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. Redear Sunfish are unable to overwinter in some northern locations. Note, Redear Sunfish are not allowed in Wisconsin because they are not native.

 


Northern Pike or Muskellunge or Tiger Muskie Option

  • 2 to 4 Northern Pike stocked after Bass are reproducing – do not stock any Muskie or Tiger Muskie!

Ponds that have Largemouth Bass reproducing prolifically generally benefit from having small amounts of a larger predator species present. This large predator is more likely to feed on Bass than Bluegill, mainly because they are easier for them to swallow because of body shape. This is why, contrary to many people’s belief, large predators like Northern Pike or Muskie can actually make a stunted Bluegill problem worse by eating their primary predator. Finally, 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 these Smallmouth Bass will sustain a population, but they stand a chance to grow to adult size and add diversity to the pond. If you keep your Largemouth Bass in check, every 2 or 3 years you can stock an additional 25 Smallmouth Bass and maybe some minnows to protect them from the Largemouth Bass.

 

Trout Option

Rainbow and Brown Trout require water temperatures below 72F and Dissolved Oxygen Levels above 5ppm – this eliminates 90% 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!