Start fresh with fingerlings
Some Oklahomans consider a day at the pond with a good companion, a cold beverage and fish nibbling at the hook a splash of heaven.
Before that time can come, however, some work has to be invested. When starting from scratch in creating the fishing pond of your dreams, Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist, said the first step is to become educated about pond management.
What type of fish do you want in your pond? Will they work in the size and type of pond you have? How do you deal with pond problems such as muddiness or excessive plant growth?
“Information on many pond management topics, including trophy bass, catfish only ponds and hybrid bluegill, can be found in ‘Managing Pond Fisheries in Oklahoma,’” Beem said.
A limited supply of this publication is available from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Fisheries Division in Oklahoma City. Beem said the information would be posted online once the supply is exhausted.
When stocking your pond for the first time, Beem suggested using fingerlings. However, if there is already a fish population, visit with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists about other options. Stocked fingerlings usually become food for large bass already in the pond.
Fish for stocking a fishing pond can either be purchased from a private hatchery or be obtained from ODWC without cost. An application for free largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish fingerlings from state hatcheries in Byron, Durant, Medicine Park or Holdenville must be completedbefore June to receive fish this year.
An application can be filled out only once a pond owner meets ODWC requirements and accepts certain conditions. The pond owner musthave a current fishing license, along with a pond of at least a half-acre with absolutely no fish, Beem said. Also, game rangers are allowed to check anglers for fishing licenses but owners are not required to let the public fish in their ponds, unless part of the pond is on public property.
For an application or more information on ODWC pond stocking, visit www.wildlifedepartment.com/farmpond.htm. There may be many reasons why a person would prefer purchasing fish from a private hatchery.
“Buying fingerlings from private hatcheries gives pond owners the option of stocking other fish species and getting larger size fingerlings,” Beem said. “It pays to visit the hatchery before you buy, to inspect the fish you’ll be buying.”
Whichever path is chosen to stock a new pond with fingerlings, certain precautions must be taken.
“Observe the fingerlings closely and check for any signs of disease,” Beem said. “Not all sick fish will show disease signs, so it may be safest to reject all of them if some appear sick.”
Some signs of ailing fish are loss of balance, hanging near the surface, bulging eyes, swollen or shrunken stomach, sores and cotton-like growth, Beem said.
“There may be undesirable fish mixed into your fingerlings,” Beem warned. “Take care not to introduce such problem fish into your pond by checking closely for unknown fish.”
More information on fingerlings and farm pond management is available through your county Extension office or by looking at OSU factsheet “CR-9205, Fingerlings for Pond Stocking.”