Fall Fish Stocking: Golden Shiners, Rainbow Trout, Bluegill and Grass Carp
With autumn right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to begin developing a fall fish stocking strategy. Fish stocking is a temperature-driven operation. While timing can differ greatly depending on the region, fall and spring, when water temperatures generally hover between 55 and 75 degrees are the best times to introduce fish to your waterbody.
Depending on the goals of the waterbody, whether it’s establishing a trophy fishery, resetting or creating a new fishing spot, or naturally managing nuisance vegetation, a professional fisheries biologist may recommend a variety of stocking strategies for your lake or pond. Golden Shiners and Rainbow Trout make outstanding supplemental forage for Largemouth Bass, which tend to become less active as temperatures cool off. Rainbow Trout also provide reliable winter fishing activity for those who enjoy fishing all year round. They can adapt to a variety of lake and pond habitats and thrive in temperatures under 60 degrees.
If your waterbody is lacking a sufficient population of adult Bluegill, fall is an ideal time to stock. This is because adult Bluegill are continually in higher demand than the supply can support. Every spring these adult fish are sold out across the country. If your fishery’s success is dependent on stocking adult Bluegill, consider fall stocking to ensure you fishery stays on track.
Those with new lakes and ponds should consult with a professional fisheries biologist to develop a customized stocking strategy, but it’s common for new waterbodies to begin stocking in the fall. The cool autumn temperatures will facilitate less stressful transport and allow new fish to acclimate and flourish quickly. Stocking should begin with forage fish, which will become established throughout the fall and winter before predator fish are introduced the following spring or summer.
In addition to fishing, property owners should consider their vegetation management needs for the following year. Lakes and ponds that experience excessive curly-leaf pondweed in the spring and summer can stock sterile, Triploid Grass Carp in the fall for the natural management of cool water species such as curly-leaf pondweed, which start growing in winter months. A fisheries management professional can work with you to identify the species of vegetation affecting your waterbody, the appropriate stocking rates and time of year, and state laws about stocking grass carp.
When stocking your waterbody in the fall, it’s critical to ensure that your lake or pond is on track to meet your goals. In the process of putting your fisheries management plan together, consider water quality testing to help identify potential problems related to alkalinity, pH, nutrients and, perhaps most importantly, dissolved oxygen levels. As summer temperatures drop, the surface layer of lake or pond will become cooler and mix with the warmer layers below. The resulting mixture may not be of suitable water quality. This can cause an unexpected stress on fish, which may result in subpar fish growth or even mortality, in some cases. Understanding the unique water quality parameters of your waterbody will help you implement proper management strategies to meet your goals, while also providing a realistic understanding of future management improvements for which to budget.
As summer continues winding down and the signs of autumn begin to appear, don’t forget to talk with a fisheries biologist to determine if fall stocking can play a role in keeping your fishery productive and on track to meet and exceed your goals.
Contact Us today at 888-480-5253 to learn more about fish stocking, the best time to stock fish, and other aspects of fisheries management.
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