You may also want to introduce minnows and/or catfish to your pond. Your choices depend partially on the reasons for stocking a pond, ranging from purely recreational fishing to more scientific reasons such as introducing “worker fish” to consume and manage overabundant native and forage species.
Minnows are a good choice to supplement the feeding needs of the larger fish in your pond, and they require little effort on the part of the pond manager. Catfish are frequently added as another catchable option; they tend to live close to the bottom of the pond and will not disturb the overall relationship of prey and predator populations.
Stocking healthy, disease-free fish from a reputable fish supplier will help reduce the chances of disease outbreaks and subsequent fish kills.
Helping Fish Survive
Some native fish need a little help to survive in the modern world. With the growth of sportfishing and changes to the environment over the past couple of centuries some habitats are not nearly as friendly now as they once were to native fish. Stocking efforts in some states have resulted in the strengthening of native species, but this is not a normal concern of most private pond-owners. In some cases, notably the June Sucker in Utah Lake and the razorback sucker in the Colorado River, fish have been upgraded from endangered to threatened on federal listings.
What is the Best Time of Year to Stock a Pond?
In most parts of the country, stocking is performed in the spring and fall, when outside temperatures are mild and the supply of oxygen in the water is at an acceptably high level to support young fish. These conditions allow the fish time to acclimatize before the onset of harsher conditions in the summer or winter.
In Minnesota, fry (the tiny, recently hatched mosquito-size baby fish that have been harvested from the state’s fisheries), are stocked in state lakes during the spring. Many years, the number of fry trucked to state lakes is upwards of 350 million, and the majority are walleye fry.
In addition, walleye fingerlings, often approximately six inches in length, are stocked in the fall, and they continue to grow in the state’s lakes over the winter and during succeeding seasons. Typically, they will grow at a rate of about three inches a year. At about four years of age, a walleye can measure approximately 14-15 inches and weigh about a pound.