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Seasonality of Fish Stocking

By Samuel Scott

Fish typically become stressed during times of extreme temperatures, so we stock fish according to the seasons to minimize mortality rates.

Why Only Stock Fish Seasonally?

When it comes to stocking fish, there are essentially two times a year we'll carry fish - spring and the fall. The exact dates are entirely dependent on the weather, but usually, our spring season runs from early March through the end of June, and our fall season goes from September through late October. The reason for this is simple: fish become stressed during times of extreme temperatures. That means it will be harder for the fish to tolerate the additional stress of transportation, resulting in a higher mortality rate. Understanding the optimal times to stock fish is key to effective pond and lake management in Texas and to getting healthy fish in your pond. 

Spring Fish Days

Our Spring Fish Days are perhaps one of the most anticipated events at Pond King - and certainly one of the busiest times of year for our biologists. Managers of fisheries of all sizes have been waiting all winter long to stock their ponds, and spring is when we offer the widest variety of species, so the first couple of weeks are pretty hectic. We recommend calling before coming to get fish because our inventory changes so quickly. 

Bass-ReleaseTypically speaking, the first species we'll have for stocking are your most common forage species; Coppernose Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, and Golden Shiners. We'll also have game fish at this time; Native Largemouth Bass, F1 Hybrid Bass (a cross between Florida and Native), Black Crappie, and Channel Catfish. While we won't stock Crawfish or Shad, since they are excellent forage for Bass, and we can special order these species for you, but there are minimum order requirements, so it's best to call for details. 

Grass-Carp-in-TankSpring is also when we'll carry species that aid in the control of aquatic vegetation. Grass Carp is an exotic species reputed for its ability to keep submergent vegetation in check and is usually one of the first species we'll have available. The Grass Carp we sell are triploid, meaning they are sterile and cannot reproduce and are about a foot long. It isn't uncommon for a Grass Carp to live 10-12 years in Texas, so they are an excellent long-term investment in your pond. Remember, they are an exotic species, and if you are a Texas resident, you'll need a permit. The application process is conducted entirely online with the TPWD and takes about four weeks. 

Mozambique TilapiaSometime in April, we'll start to stock Mozambique Tilapia, and we'll carry them through June. Tilapia are prolific breeders, so they are an excellent forage fish for a Bass fishery. They'll reproduce every 4-5 weeks providing lots of food for your Bass, plus Tilapia will eat the algae that grow in your pond. These fish are very hardy but are not indigenous to Texas. When the water temperatures are 55 degrees or less, they will become very lethargic and eventually die. That's why there is such a short stocking season for Tilapia: we want to make sure that the water temperatures are well suited for them before we begin to stock them. Starting in 2021, certain Texas counties will require you to get a permit through TPWD to stock tilapia in your pond. You can learn more in our blog about Stocking Exotic Species. 

Fall Fish Stocking

Our fall season typically begins in September and runs through late October or early November, depending on how warm the weather stays. We carry the same species we do in the spring during these months, except for Tilapia and Crawfish. And, when our fall fish stocking has ended, we'll sometimes offer Rainbow Trout available. Trout are typically available in December by pre-order only with minimum requirements. These Trout will either be forage size or adults that are roughly one pound. 

rainbow-trout-breachingThe forage-sized Trout are a great alternative forage option for your Bass during the winter months as they provide a good hearty meal for Bass, allowing them to put on more weight through the winter months. Adding Trout to your pond as forage will alleviate some of the feeding pressure on the Bluegill and other baitfish helping with recruitment back into the population and it gives your Bass something different to eat.  

Since Trout are a lot of fun to catch and eat, we have some customers who prefer to stock only adult Trout. They add a lot of variety to your fishing experience because you can catch them fly-fishing, or spin-casting - which is a nice change from bait-casting.

Why We Don't Ship Fish

When we transport fish, we do so in oxygenated water, in water-tight containers. The longer the transport distance, the more oxygen required. The more fish transported, the more water required. The more water required, the more weight. Shipping fish isn't cost-effective or conducive to a reasonable survival rate, so we don't do it. 

Transporting Fish for Pond Stocking

transporting-fishThere are essentially two options when it comes to transporting your fish for stocking: Pond King can deliver them (please see our service area map), or you can come to pick them up. You can learn more about these options and keeping fish healthy during transport in our blog Transporting Fish for Pond Stocking, but if we deliver them, we will get your fish to you in the best shape possible. If you are picking them up, check out our Freshwater Fish Pricing for a list of the species we offer and their price, and see our Fish Stocking Plans for more about stocking quantities. And be sure to call first to be sure we have the fish you want. If we don't have it at that time, we can tell you when we will have them and give you a call whenever we receive them.

If you have any questions on stocking your pond or the fish we have available, stop by and see us at our office in Gainesville, Texas, give us a call at (940) 668-2573, or email us at askapro@pondking.com

See y'all down at the pond.

Tags: Fish and Fishing, Pond Management

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