Managing Ponds


The Wildlife Department’s Fisheries Division offers free technical assistance to landowners who have questions about managing ponds on their property. Many times, problems with fish diseases, growth, harvest, aquatic vegetation control and clearing muddy water can be diagnosed over the telephone.

In some cases, fisheries biologists may need to determine the status of the fish population to recommend possible management strategies. Pond owners can assist by providing information on previous management activities including the stocking history and by keeping harvest records. Sampling the fish population by hook and line, recording the number and size of fish caught over a several week period, can provide the biologists with data that can help them determine what action must be taken to achieve the landowner’s desired goal for the pond.

The Department, in cooperation with Zebco and the American Fisheries Society, produced a book on managing pond fisheries in Oklahoma. This book provides landowners with management tips on how to achieve specific goals, such as creating a catfish pond, a bluegill fishery or a trophy bass pond.

Back to the Basics

Pond Management Simplicity

By John Stahl, northwest regional Fisheries supervisor

     Summer is here and everyone has the urge to go fishing. Many will head down to the pond on the back 40. But, they may get tired of just catching the normal farm pond fish species. So why not add a little excitement to the mix. Here are just a few of the questions the Department com- monly receives about farm ponds.

     Will rainbow trout live year round in my pond?

     When the pond was construct - ed we uncovered six strong springs and when we go swim- ming, the depths are real cold. Answer:

     The presence of springs and cold ground water does not mean that trout will survive. One key consideration besides cold temperatures is the amount of oxygen in the water. Trout need oxygen levels of 6-7 parts per million to be healthy. Most warm water fish like largemouth bass need around 3-5 parts per million.

     There are three factors limiting the amount of oxygen in pond water. First ground water has little or no oxygen as it surfaces. If your spring enters below the ponds surface it may be very cold, but very oxygen poor. Farm ponds may also be rich in organic matter such as dead leaves, cattails or cowpies. Bacteria are also present and will break this organic matter down consuming up to 99 percent of the pond’s oxygen in the process. This leaves little oxygen for trout. Just like many of the Department’s winter time trout fisheries; you can stock rainbows in late October and have good trout fishing in your pond through March or April. Remember to stock at least 8.5 inch trout or larger to avoid largemouth predation. What about stocking hybrid stripers, walleye, saugeye or flathead catfish in my pond? Answer:

     Folks, it’s hard to beat a pond with largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. The easiest farm pond to manage (keep in balance and producing) is one containing a single species, like a fed channel catfish pond. You will have more problems with every species you add.

     These large exotic predators don't work well because of food economics. An old largemouth bass has an established territory and ambushes it’s prey like a big cat. It uses very little energy to obtain fuel. Because the bass is efficient, it only needs around six pounds of bluegill to produce one pound of bass. Stripers, hybrid stripers, walleye and saugeye are roving wolf packs, which are always on the move. Because of their hunting strategy, they burn energy. Therefore it would take over ten pounds of groceries to produce one pound of predator.

     As you can see, a good population of these predators would quickly eat all the forage in the pond causing the largemouth bass population to be in poor shape. Flathead catfish are huge predators that can reach up to one hun - dred pounds. A big engine needs a lot of fuel. Stock one to two 10 to 20 pound flathead catfish in your pond and in a few years, all you will have are two 30 to 50 pound flatheads. They are underwater vacuums that will clean out a pond.


Any landowner in the state of Oklahoma is eligible for technical assistance, regardless of the number or size of ponds.

Who To Contact

For more information contact the Fisheries Division Regional Office for your county or call 405-521-3724 to be referred to the fisheries biologist in your area. REGION CONTACTS

Additional Information


Farm Pond Fish Stocking Program

Controlling Pond Vegetation

OSU Fact Sheet  - Improve Fishing in Your Pond

OSU Fact Sheet - Fingerlings for pond Stocking

OSU Fact Sheet - Common Pond Problems


How to Enroll

No enrollment is necessary.