Farm ponds are one of Kentucky's most valuable aquatic resources. A pond can provide extra income, serve as a water source for livestock, help with fire protection and attract numerous species of wildlife. However, one of a farm pond's most enjoyed functions is that of providing hours of fishing.
To provide hours of good fishing, a pond must be properly stocked. Many pond owners may try to stock their ponds with locally caught or purchased fish. This practice is highly unadvisable because it usually results in an unbalanced or undesirable fish population. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) offers help to those wanting pond management advice and pond stocking service.
KDFWR will supply small fish for new or renovated ponds. The only cost to the pond owner is a small fee to cover transportation costs. Ponds with existing fish populations are not eligible for the program. Download the farm pond stocking application.
The KDFWR has experimented with various fish combinations for pond stocking and has found largemouth bass and bluegill to be the best combination for most Kentucky waters. Channel catfish are also available upon request.
Fingerling bluegill and channel cats are stocked in the fall and largemouths are stocked in the spring. When the fish are ready for stocking, the KDFWR notifies the pond owner when and where they may pick up the fish. The meeting place is usually at the courthouse or a similarly well known location in the county in which the pond is located. The actual stocking of the new fish is the pond owner's responsibility once the delivery has been made.
For more information about farm pond management, contact the state conservation officer stationed in your county or district fishery biologist, or call the KDFWR Fisheries Division at 800-858-1549.
- Eligibility - any newly constructed pond or lake, or those which have been renovated (any existing fish population removed).
- Kinds of fish available - largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish.
- Application period - apply before September 1 to receive fish beginning that fall.
- Stocking rate - 400 fingerling bluegill per acre, 50 fingerling channel catfish per acre, 120 largemouth bass per acre.
- When stocked - bluegill and channel catfish in the fall, and largemouth bass the following spring.
- Cost - 0-1.4 acres = $75; 1.5 – 2.9 acres = $200; greater than 3 acres = $200 per pond plus $150 per acre for each additional acre over 3 acres. Example: 4.25 acre pond would be $200 + $187.50 ($150 x 1.25) = $387.50. One pond/lake per card.
- Fish delivery - you will be notified prior to delivery and informed where to pick up your fish, usually the county court house. Fish will be contained in plastic bags and boxes. You are responsible for picking up your fish on delivery day.
- Stocking - instructions for stocking are included on the container.
- How to sign up - your county conservation officer or district biologist will supply you with an application, or call our Fisheries Division office at 564-3596.
- Pond measurement - if you do not know the surface acreage of your pond, your county conservation officer will assist you in measuring it.
- Fish harvest - largemouth bass should not be harvested from the farm pond until they are 14 or 15 inches in length. Then, for every bass harvested, about 40-50 bluegill should be harvested. A maximum of 25-30 pounds of bass should be harvested per year.
Questions and comments:
If the state stocks my pond, do I have to let the public fish it?
No, but you are encouraged to let responsible anglers fish after they have obtained permission.
When can I start fishing my newly stocked pond?
Usually, there is a 2-3 year waiting period.
What if I stock other species, or additional fish?
This will most certainly lead to imbalance in the fish population. This is not recommended. Kentucky's pond stocking program is based on many years of research.