Just a little update before the post, OUR OFFICE HAS BEEN MOVED. WE ARE NOW LOCATED AT 601 N. LAUREL STREET, SPRINGFIELD GA. 31329.
Now back to our topic! January has flown by it seems like. As our eyes are set now on February and hopefully only a few more months of colder weather, now is the time we need to plan for what we like to enjoy when the temperatures warm up. Fishing in a pond was one of my earliest childhood memories. I am not a professional by any means, but I do enjoy fishing from time to time. (I like eating fish more than catching if we are being honest) That being said, I am sure several of us want to make sure our ponds are as healthy as can be so the fish inside can be as healthy as they can be. In order to establish a healthy stocked pond, there are several things that owners should consider.
First, decide what types of fish you want to stock, and whether your pond is large enough and an appropriate environment for them. Also consider how extensively you are willing to manage problems like muddiness and plant growth. Most of the ponds in our area are stocked with bream (bluegill and redear), carp, catfish, and largemouth bass. Pond management can be extensive if you want it to be, from fertilizing, liming, weed control, water sampling, aeration, and more, but many ponds are going to be self-sustaining once established. It is possible to have a decent fishing pond with little to no maintenance.
Stocking your pond may take a year to do correctly. Typically, we recommend stocking bream (1-2 inches) in the fall and early spring so they can spawn before you add largemouth bass (4 in) in early summer. Catfish (8in) can be stocked in fall and winter. If you want to help manage aquatic plant growth, consider adding triploid grass carp to your fish population. The balanced stocking rates on a 1-acre unfertilized pond are: 500 bream (80% bluegill, 20% red-ear sunfish) to 50 largemouth bass, with the optional addition of 5 sterile grass carp or 50 Channel Catfish. Stocking rates for Trophy Bluegill are: 400 bluegill, 100 redear, and 50-100 largemouth bass.Stocking rates for Trophy Bass: 25-50 largemouth bass, 2-3 lbs Fatheads, 500 bluegill, and 500 threadfin. Along with the stocking rates comes essential management strategies as well. For more on those please contact me.
In addition to starting out with the proper stocking rates of fish species, it is essential that you then harvest the correct ratios of fish. Bream serve as a forage species for largemouth bass, and must be present in enough quantities for bass growth. However, too many bream will overpopulate the pond and stunt their own growth. To maintain correct populations, it is important to consistently harvest intermediate bream (4-6 inches) and bass (14-18 inches) to limit competition with the larger trophy fish. The recommended harvest rate on a 1-acre unfertilized pond is 40 pounds of bream (~120 fish) and 10 pounds of bass (~5-8 fish) every year.
The types and sizes of fish that you do catch on your pond can be very telling as to what is going on with your populations. If you are harvesting lots of smaller bream (3-5 inches) and very few bass, it means your bream population is too large and overcrowding the pond. If you are catching large bream (greater than 1/3lb) and small bass (less than 1lb), odds are that your bass population is overcrowded. If you’re catching a lot of crappie, sunfish, carp, shiners, and others, it means these undesirable species are competing with your bass and bream populations. If you consistently catch bream that are 6 inches or larger as well as different sizes of bass (averaging 2 lbs.), your pond’s fish population is well balanced. If you have a population issue, the best management for that would be to fish the undesirable fish out to help with the population of the desirables. Managing your pond can take dedication to keeping record of your harvests in order to maintain the correct populations and develop trophy fish. I also recommend starting, well before stocking, with a pond sample which can be provided by my office.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or want further information, please give me a call at or stop by the Effingham County Extension Office, (912)754-8040, 601 N. Laurel Street, Springfield GA, 31329.