Texas Freshwater Fish Hatchery- Texas Fish Farms

Stocking and Managing Lakes and Ponds

Stocking and Managing Lakes and Ponds

Stocking lakes and ponds is more of an art than a science.  Our company’s primary goal is to assist our customers in maximizing their aquatic fisheries resources…


kz speaking at seminar In order to maximize our customer’s fisheries resource and money invested, we help educate them concerning the  many variables that affect their fish for stocking ponds and lakes and then their subsequent fisheries and lake management. In over 40 years of working with thousands of customers, we  have found that customer education and awareness in these areas that affect their fisheries and their resources, greatly assists the pond owner in correctly stocking and managing their resource, and exponentially increases the chance of their overall success. The logical and correct approach to stocking customer’s fisheries correctly is to first of all know what the customer’s goals are for each lake or pond that will be stocked. One the goal is defined and known, then each lake or pond must be properly evaluated. There are many, many variables that must evaluated and include but are not limited to: size of pond, depth of pond, internal contours and characteristics, drain type and size, water supply, watershed, water quality, anticipated management practices, and geographic location. Stocking and managing a lake with future goals and expectations in mind takes a definite strategy and plan. This strategy and plan is the highest objective to consider and should be the very first thing a customer completes off their “checklist” to success.

Lake and ponds are complex entities. Being successful with your lake or pond project is not as simple as just driving down to Danbury and picking up fish for stocking ponds, and then waiting in anticipation for spectacular results to occur 1-2 years later. It simply doesn’t happen that way or that easy. Successful results are a product of “well thought out and planned” stocking and management strategies for your fisheries, followed by a methodical and consistent  lake or pond management plan. Since every situation is a little different, we highly recommend that  you call us and allow us to help you make the right decisions in order to achieve the results you desire for your fisheries. It is our desire to assist you and to help you feel very comfortable that you are stocking the correct type, size and quantity of fish in order to reach your goal for each of your lake(s) or pond(s).

The following are some of those important items you need to be aware of to insure success that when acquiring fish for stocking ponds or when considering pond or lake management issues.

Ordering Your Fish: You must place your order with DANBURY FISH FARMS. To place orders, call 979-922-8414,  or fax your order 979-922-8878, or e-mail us at sales@danburyfishfarms.com. Our staff will gladly assist you or take your order. If you need technical assistance, ask for one of our own staff biologists.

Fish Availability: We have a large fish farm (over 800 acres, with over 100 ponds). Therefore we have a large variety of fish available for stocking. Our customers may have their fish delivered or elect to pick them up at our fish farm on one of our scheduled pick up days. We call these “Slab Sales”. Due to seasonal availability and variable growth rates, fish sizes and corresponding prices may vary from month to month, so it is very important to verify the fish sizes and prices at the time that you intend to acquire your fish. In the event of variation in the size of the fish, we typically adjust the number of fish (up or down) in an effort to keep the dollar value the same. To insure that you are very satisfied with your fish, we recommend that you confirm the type and sizes to be delivered or picked up prior to shipment of your fish.

Standard Ordering: We have standard fish types and sizes that we sell to our customers for our pick up “Slab Sale” days. All other types and sizes are considered special orders.

Special Ordering: All fish types or sizes other than our standards types and sizes used for our pick up “Slab Sales” ,  are considered special orders, and will be delivered to your pond via our professional delivery service.

bass poured from tub

Fish Delivery Services: Danbury Fish Farms has specialized equipment designed to provide for the delivery of healthy fish for stocking ponds. There is an additional charge for this delivery service. Our specially equipped delivery trucks and specially trained drivers insure that your fish are handled with the utmost care and arrive in excellent condition.

Fish Packaging (”Slab Sales”): On our pick up days (”Slab Sales”), we package fish for stocking ponds that you have ordered into Live-Pak containers. These containers measure 15 x 15 square and are 18” tall. There is a cost for the Live-Paks. These Live-Pak containers contain a heavy polyethylene bag, which if filled with water and pure oxygen and supplies a life-support system for the fish. There is a charge for these Live-Pak bags. For the most part, we try to insure that your fish are properly packaged for each pond. When fish are going to the same pond, we may elect to package more than one species per container. If the customer insists that we package fish in any other manner, then there will be an additional charge for Live-Paks.

Fish Transport (In Live-Paks): On sunny or warm days, it is very important to provide a means of covering the Live-Pak boxes. We suggest a good polyethylene tarp or to place these inside an air-conditioned vehicle or inside a bed of a pick up truck with camper shell. Keep the boxes away from sources of heat. Stand boxes upright and do not lay them on their side. Drive straight to the pond once you pick up your fish and do not stop or delay for other reasons such as visiting and shopping.

Tempering the fish at the pond: Customer beware: If you “shock” your fish, it is likely you will loose some of them. To avoid shocking your fish, take these steps. When you arrive at the ponds, remove the bag from the Live-Pak box and float the sealed bags of fish on the water surface for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. If your pond is shaded, perform this in the shade. Now open the bags (one at a time) and gently splash water into the bag until the water temperatures equalize and the fish will not be stressed (no longer than 30 seconds). Now release your fish. When stocking fish into an already existing fish population, it is preferable to release your fish in an area that has some habitat cover (vegetation, rocks, brush piles, etc.), but not choked with aquatic weeds or moss. This helps keep predation of the stocked fish by the bass and other sport fish to a minimum. If it is very hot, it is also a good idea to release the fish into or near the deepest portion of the pond.

Pond Sizes and Depths: It is important to correctly determine the size of your pond in surface acres. This insures that the pond owner correctly stocks the pond and can effectively manage their fisheries. The customer should precisely measure every lake and pond.  The pond owner should measure and record all measurements, and then determine the surface acreage of the pond. It is also important to conduct several depth probings in the pond, and to know the deepest point. This allows the pond owner to determine the average depth of the pond. By knowing the average depth the pond owner can calculate the number of acre-feet of water contained in the pond. Acre Feet = Surface acreage x Average depth.  In the event you do not know how to get this done, we will be glad to assist you in this endeavor. Our advice: Don’t guess at these measurements. We have found that most customers are “off” by at least 30 – 50% with these guesses. This could drastically affect the outcome of your fisheries project(s).

Ponds Less Than Three Acres: Stocking and managing for species that will readily accept commercially available fish feeds is usually the wisest choice for ponds smaller than three acres.  This stocking strategy can maximize your time and investment and can yield great a great fishing report from your repeated fishing trips to the lake or pond. After all, this is usually the “ultimate goal”. The species typically used in these type of lakes and ponds  are blue and channel catfish, coppernose bluegill, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass on feed, and a few others.  Fathead minnows should be stocked with these species as a base forage to supply supplemental food during the winter time and cut feed costs. Ease of management, high per acre productivity, and longer-term recreational fishing yielding that highly anticipated fishing report you have always dreamed of are among the benefits of using these easy to raise and manage species in these smaller lakes and ponds.  Largemouth bass (untrained to feed on feed pellets) and crappie are much more difficult to manage in smaller ponds and usually give disappointing results when stocked into them.  However, largemouth bass that are not trained on feed pellets can be successfully raised in small ponds if an intense stocking and management program is followed, and the pond owner is very disciplined to follow it. We find that few customers desire to put forth this intense effort so this is why we highly recommend this strategy for lakes and ponds less than three (3) acres.

Ponds Larger than Three Acres: Larger ponds offer more management options for largemouth bass and other sport fish options. Bass in combination with catfish, bluegill, hybrid stripers and other species will work well in these larger ponds.  Strategic and correct stocking, management after stocking, and proper harvest are keys to success with these ponds and fishing trips to these ponds can yield a fishing report that has been long anticipated. When stocking and managing for largemouth bass in new ponds, a full compliment of forage species (bait fish) should be considered and stocked well in advance of the introduction of the bass. The types, sizes and numbers of forage species is dependent upon the quality of bass fishing desired, from both a size and number (stocking density) perspective. When stocking forage into already existing bass fishing lakes and ponds, forage species are usually introduced on a regular basis.

Ponds With Existing Fish Populations: Before attempting to stock older fisheries with new fish, it is best to know what types and sizes of fishes currently exist in these lakes and ponds. This knowledge insures that good decisions can be made concerning future stocking and management. Stocking fish into fisheries where fish populations are for the most part unknown is usually not a wise decision and could be a waste of both time and money. If the stocking goal is to improve an existing sport fish population, the knowledge of the types and sizes of fishes in the lake is critically important. Again, and as a standard objective, fishing trips to these fisheries should yield that long awaited good fishing report. There are a variety of sampling techniques used to obtain this knowledge concerning these fisheries. Among them are: creel surveys (report of fishes being caught by rod and reel or other fishing methods), seine sampling, and electro-shocking surveys. It is our advice that before attempting to stock an older lake or pond with new fish, that the land-owner take some steps to discover what types and sizes of fish currently exist in their ponds, so wise stocking and management decisions may be made. On larger lakes, we recommend that prior to making substantial investments in fish stockings, a lake survey be performed by one of our biologist. This step is usually one of the wisest investments you will make. Please call us for more information on this topic. If rough fish (unwanted) species are present, renovation may be necessary prior to stocking.  Customers we deal with day in and day out have no interest in carp lakes. Carp lakes yield nothing but a waste of time and money, and over time destroy a fishery. By taking the correct steps the customer converts their carp lakes to a high quality sport fisheries. Lake and pond renovation can be accomplished by rotenoning a pond or lake during the warmer months or by simply draining the lake or pond and starting over. In many cases, rotenoning the pond results in the cheapest remedy of unwanted fish species. After rotenone is used, a three to four (to be safe) week waiting period before restocking is usually sufficient.

Fertilization: We highly recommend that you fertilize your lake, especially if you are serious about good to excellent sport fishing for largemouth bass. If you are regularly feeding catfish in a pond, excessive nutrients are generated from the catfish wastes and uneaten food, and this provides enough fertilization for the pond. In this case, fertilization is not needed. Fertilization aids in the production of the food chain (microscopic plants and animals which are the basis of the natural food web) which feeds the fish in your pond.  For more information, please request our fact sheet on pond fertilization. We advise our customers to educate themselves concerning lake and pond fertilization and the scope of what this includes. This is NOT as easy as it sounds and most lake and pond owners are never successful with this fisheries management practice.

Aeration: If it is the desire of the pond owner to have a highly productive pond, we suggest that an aeration system be installed into your pond. If a lake or pond owner installs the correct type aeration system, this system can be likened unto good insurance. Aeration systems provide many, many benefits to the pond, prevent most long-term problems, and are well worth the financial and time investment. Most serious pond owners would make a wise choice in adding aeration to their ponds. DANBURY LAKE MANAGEMENT carries a complete line of aeration systems. We have an aeration system available for any size pond. Aeration is very misunderstood by pond owners. This is evidenced by the countless types of self-employed pumps and spray bars erected by pond owners, which have little impact on the pond as a long-term solution to oxygen and other associated water quality problems. We suggest that you consult us when considering aeration. By doing so, we can help you understand the concepts involved in aeration and help you get set up with the right system for your pond. For more information, please request our fact sheet on pond aeration or call our offices to inquire about an aeration system to best fit your needs.

Feeding Fish: Feeding your fish regularly with a high quality fish food is the single most important management tool you can employ in your fisheries management strategy. Feeding will greatly enhance your pond’s ability to grow fish and will increase the pond yield, regardless of what type pond you have. We have a full line of fish feeds and fish feeders.

Muddy Water: Muddy water hinders the growth of the food chain (all the tiny organisms in the water), thus adversely effects fish growth.  Quality sport fisheries are very difficult to establish and co-exist with muddy water, so therefore muddy water is a serious issue for those who desire quality fisheries. Catfish (especially if fed) grow much better than bass in muddy water.  Do not fertilize muddy waters.  There are many possible causes for muddy water. It is in the pond owners best interest to identify the “root cause” of their muddy water. Improper water chemistry, watershed problems, erosion, wave action, cattle wading, or large trash fish population are some of the probable causes of muddy water. In many cases, muddy water situations can be corrected by the application of chemicals. We can assist you in identifying the ”root cause” to your pond muddiness problem as well as provideing a solution for it. Inquire about our pond and lake management services offered by DANBURY LAKE MANAGEMENT if you desire to correct muddy water situations.

Harvesting: Harvesting strategies (type, size and numbers of fish you remove or leave in your pond on an annual basis) are important in managing your pond for its fullest potential. In the case of catfish, coppernose bluegill, and hybrid striped bass, a fishing report and associated records of all fishing trips to the lake or pond are very important. These are typically known as “creel reports” and are important and useful fisheries management tools for managing your lakes and ponds. Records should be kept of the fish (number, sizes and weights) are removed so that restocking can be done as necessary. Harvesting largemouth bass from ponds and lakes needs to be strictly regulated in order to preserve the quality of the fishery. These harvest restrictions usually have to be regularly evaluated and adjustments made accordingly. For more information regarding harvesting strategies, please request our fact sheet on harvest regulations.

Habitat (Structure): Structure in a lake or pond is anything that provides cover and escapement for the smaller fish in the food chain. These smaller fish are referred to as forage or bait fish. This covers such items as brush tops, stumps, logs, tires, old cars, culverts, machinery, etc.  Structure is particularly necessary when managing for bass as it can supply spawning areas and protection for the forage fish as well as a place to concentrate bass making them easier to catch.  For more information on structure, please request our fact sheet on habitat.

Danbury Fish Farms and Danbury Lake Management have been in business over 40 years and the testimony to our success is well  documented. We provide a full line of product and services for lakes and ponds, starting with consulting and culminating in the ultimate management of any size fishery. Our companies are focused on “doing it right…. right the first time”, and putting our customers 1st in everything we do. Whether it is laying out your “Master Plan” for your lakes and ponds and/or other recreational projects so you can do it right the first time, fish for stocking ponds, managing your existing fisheries, or helping with existing problems or “mess” you find yourself in, our companies can help you. For more information, call us Today at 979-922-8414 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              979-922-8414      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, email us at info@danburyfishfarms.com or info@danburylakemanagement.com , or visit our websites at www.danburyfishfarms.com and www.danburylakemanagement.com

Ranch Management Services

Would you be interested in hearing more about how we can help transform your ranch or property into a better investment? Ask about our new services:

* Land Planning and Consulting Service

* Recreational Property Development

* Ranch Construction and Development Services

* Wildlife-Fisheries Management and Maintenance

* Conservation Easement Planning, Wildlife Exemptions and more! Call us today 979-922-8414.