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No Title 2003

Supplement to “Pond Planning”

Here is a useful list of signs that point to problems with a pond’s fish population, which should help keep your fish from going belly up. When fishing, note the number, size, and species of the catch and consider the following guidelines to determine if the fish population is in balance:

Balanced fish population
Has bluegill 6 inches or more in length, bass 12-15 inches long and up to 1 or 2 pounds, or larger.

Unbalanced, bluegill overcrowding
Bluegill, 3-5 inches long; few bass are caught, but are 2 pounds or more. Remedies include removing excess 3- to 5-inch bluegill through fishing or trapping, and protect bass by releasing them after they’re caught. Try stocking 50 bass (3-5 inches long) per acre for one to two years.

Unbalanced, bass overcrowding
Bluegill average 1/3 of a pound or more and 9 inches or more in length, and are less abundant. Bass are less than 1 pound (12 inches long or less), seem in poor condition, and are plentiful. Remedies include removing some bass (keeping all sizes if you desire more bass quality), and not removing any bluegill to also maintain this population.

Unbalanced fish population
Small crappie, sunfish, bullheads, carp, and other undesirable fish are present. In a stunted crappie or sunfish population, the fish are small and may have bulging eyes, while bass and catfish will have large heads and thin bodies if overpopulated. The remedy here is to eradicate the fish population and restock—ask the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for advice.

Other tips to maintain proper fish balance include keeping aquatic vegetation in check, concentrate on catching bluegill while fishing, fish regularly, return smaller bass, and know what kinds and sizes of fish are being removed from the pond. Don’t allow fish from streams, unknown sources, or bait buckets to be stocked in your pond.

Source: A Management Guide for Ponds and Small Lakes in Kentucky, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources


  • The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources,, can help stock fish on new or renovated ponds, but not ponds with existing fish. Stocking ratios are based on pond size. Stocking fees are: $75 for ponds under 1.4 acres, $200 between 1.5 and 2.9 acres, and $200 plus $150 per additional acre for ponds more than 3 acres. The annual application deadline is September 1, with fish stocked in October and May. Call (800) 858-1549 for more information or to find contact information for your area’s KDFWR district representative.
  • The KDFWR also offers pond construction and management advice through its online publications. Go to and in the search box at the top, type “Managing Your Farm Pond” to locate the page to several informative reports and publications, including A Management Guide for Ponds and Small Lakes in Kentucky
  • (a downloadable PDF file), Solving Pond Problems

    , and Kentucky Farm Pond Stocking Information and application.

  • Richard Durham with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service recommends going online to for pond-related resources or to locate your local Extension agent who can assist you.
  • Though it doesn’t generally assist with recreational pond construction, the local Natural Resources Conservation Service’s agents can collaborate with landowners and contractors to determine the best site for a pond from an engineering standpoint. Their Web site,, contains links to helpful publications landowners can use as a resource when creating their ponds. The service can provide technical and financial assistance for qualifying landowners for agricultural and conservation purposes. Call (859) 224-7350 to learn more. Use the “Publications” link to download a copy of their helpful publication Ponds—Planning, Design, Construction from their Web site, or request a hard copy by calling (888) LANDCARE. Ask for Publication # AH590.
  • To find out more about how farm ponds benefit wildlife, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site at and type “Farm Ponds Work for Wildlife” in the search box to locate a downloadable PDF.

To read the Kentucky Living March 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Pond Planning.

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