What you need to know about stocking catfish

There are several things you will want to learn about before you consider stocking catfish in a pond or in a lake. First, there are a couple of different ways you can go about stocking them. You have to decide if you are stocking them for recreation such a private fishing. If you are stocking a pond to raise catfish then you will want to go about it differently so that you are a viable entity for the commercial market.
If you are going to stock the pond to raise catfish for a commercial market, you can buy catfish fingerlings in the 2 – 4 inch range. If you have adequate equipment for oxygenation (pumps work best) and your pond is at least 6 feet deep you can stock about 500 fingerlings per acre of surface water.

If the pond has any cover around the shore such as trees that hang over or vegetation you want to leave it. Those trees will cool down the water and offer some shade in those areas. The various types of vegetation can also aid with the overall process of oxygenating the water.

A pond that is used on a large scale for raising catfish like this should be something you can easily drain when you need to. Every once in a while you will need to do a thorough cleaning to remove predators that could be eating your fingerlings. You may need to do various types of maintenance for underwater coverings too that are in place from time to time.

If this is just a private pond that will be for recreational use, and it won’t be supplied with a commercial pump or oxygenation equipment, you don’t want to have more than 100 fingerlings in there per acre of surface water. You also need to make sure the water is deeper than 3 feet.

The deeper the water is the more of it you will have in a single acre. This will also increase the amount of oxygen that the water will have. This means that the water will have areas that are cooler too due to the deep areas being a place for the fish to be able to congregate when it is cold.

During the hot summer months the heat can really increase the level of the temperature for the fish if the water isn’t very deep. As a result you may lose a large number of them. When you have deeper water though they can move to where it is cooler and your fish will have a higher chance of survival.

In your pond, keep any forms of vegetation including weed beds there. If there is vegetation around the shore line you need to welcome them instead of trying to remove them. The more oxygen that the water has the more your fish will be able to thrive in that environment.

When stocking your pond it is best to do so in the early spring or the late fall. This is going to offer you cooler water temperatures – 65 degrees or less – to work with. The fingerlings have a higher survival rate because they will be able to get used to the water in the new location better than when it is higher than 65 degrees.

For a recreational pond, it is a good idea to place a few types of predator fish in there too. This will help you keep your catfish levels at a good balance. If it explodes there will be problems due to a lack of habitat and not enough oxygen for them to survive. Keep a good eye on things at first so that you can take care of any stocking problems at first. As you evaluate the conditions you can make changes where necessary to keep things moving along in the right direction.

If this pond doesn’t have catfish in it right now, and you aren’t sure if it has before, you can consider to experiment with the habitat conditions. You need to start out with a few of them and see what their patterns are. The idea of spawning is something you have to take into consideration. Without spawning you will find that there is no mating taking place.

Since there are so many variables that play a role in successful stocking, it is wise to get specific information on what your plans are. Stocking a smaller pond is easier than a larger one. You want to make sure you understand all of the elements that you need to lay out for them to have a chance of survival.

There are plenty of pitfalls with this type of set up so you need to learn about them too. That way you can safeguard your developments from those common issues that have made successfully stocking fish a problem for many that have tried it.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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