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.
Farm Pond Fish Stocking Program
The Department’s farm pond fish stocking program is designed to help owners of new or reclaimed farm ponds create a fishery by providing largemouth bass, channel catfish and bluegill to qualified pond owners. To receive fish from the Department a number of conditions must be met.
All ponds must be at least a half-acre in surface size and the pond’s owner must agree to allow law enforcement personnel to examine the pond prior to stocking and check licenses of those fishing at the pond. Additionally, no fish will be provided for private ponds which charge a fee for fishing, and no fish will be provided for ponds that have existing fish populations. All applicants to the program must have a current Oklahoma fishing license, even though they may otherwise be exempt. '
The Department offers a free brochure entitled How To Get Fish for Your Farm Pond.
Any pond owner is eligible to apply if the pond is at least a half-acre in surface size and contains no existing fish populations. There can be no fee charged for fishing the pond and the owner must have a current fishing license.
How To Get Fish For Your Farm Pond
It is important that you provide all the information requested on the application. Please print or type clearly. Other things to remember as you complete your application are:
1. COMPLETE and give CORRECT MAILING ADDRESS, including ZIP CODE and email address if available.
2. PHONE NUMBER, with AREA CODE. If you do not have a phone it would be helpful to list the phone number of a relative or close neighbor who can relay a message to you or call you to a phone.
3. Complete legal description of land where pond is located. SECTION, RANGE, and TOWNSHIP.
4. COUNTY where pond is located. This facilitates routing your application to the proper hatchery.
5. SURFACE ACRE size of pond. If you are in doubt, see item #1 of requirements.
6. Date pond was constructed, if and when it was stocked. This information is needed to further identify your pond.
7. Are there ANY fish in the pond? IF THIS IS TRUE, please do not proceed because IT IS NOT ELIGIBLE TO BE STOCKED WITH FISH FROM THE WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT.
8. Fish are provided based on the following lengths and STOCKING RATE: largemouth bass 2" (100 per acre), channel catfish 2" (100 per acre) and bluegill 1" (500 per acre). However no more than 3 ponds or 10 acres total worth of fish will be provided to any one applicant. If larger fish are desired we will provide a list of commercial fish producers.
9. SIGNATURE. Must be signature of land owner or lessee.
10. FISHING LICENSE NUMBER. As stated in #5 of Requirements, you must have a current Oklahoma Fishing License.
11. All pond owners need to have their ponds inspected by a game warden or fisheries biologist to ensure that the ponds do not have existing fish populations AND THE APPLICATION NEEDS TO BE SIGNED BY THE GAME WARDEN OR BIOLOGIST PRIOR TO SENDING TO CENTRAL OFFICE FOR PROCESSING. For a list of Game Warden numbers
12. Return EACH APPLICATION by MAY 31 of the year that you want fish.
13. Send the application to:
Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation
PO BOX 53465
Oklahoma City, OK 73152
If you follow these directions, the processing of your application will be assured and you will receive your fish in a timely manner. As applications are received, they are numbered and a letter is sent to the applicant advising them of the application number. Any correspondence regarding your application should contain a reference to your application number and county where pond is located. All questions should be directed to Fish Hatchery from which you received your letter stating that your application was received.
If your application is disapproved you will be notified and given the reasons for rejection. If all requirements have been met and the pond is approved your application will be processed by the hatchery nearest your pond for processing. Oklahoma State Fish Hatcheries are located at Medicine Park in Comanche County, Durant in Bryan County, Byron in Alfalfa County, and Holdenville in Hughes County.
Preparing for Your Fish
Most fish spawn only once a year, and keep in mind that private pond stocking is only one program of the hatchery system. Plans must be formulated before hatchery ponds are filled to determine the most important needs. Fish are distributed as long as the supply lasts. When fish are available (for channel catfish and bluegill approximately September 1 and largemouth bass approximately the following June 1) you will be notified by postcard with the date, time, and location where fish can be picked up. You, a relative, or a friend can pick up the fish as long as the notification card is brought to the pick up point. Fish must be picked up at designated sites on designated days. Failure to pick up the fish as designated on the notification will result in cancellation of the application.
Upon reaching the pickup location, the notification card must be presented to the hatchery personnel. The card will specify the species and number of fish that will be ready. Since largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill are available at different times it will be necessary to make a trip in the fall and the following spring. Notification will be sent each time. To get your fish in the best condition, every effort should be made to pick up the fish on the earliest date specified on the notification card.
All fish for private ponds will be placed in plastic bags filled with water and oxygen. Fish should be taken directly to the pond with no stops en route.
Applicants should bring medium size cardboard boxes for holding plastic bags while the fish are being transported. The number of boxes required will be given on the notification card. The box facilitates handling and helps keeps the plastic bags insulated so that water temperature does not vary. Boxes should be transported in the back seat of a car. If carried in a pickup, some sort of covering should be provided to keep the box out of the sun. The sun's direct rays will quickly penetrate the cardboard box and warm the water inside the plastic bags. This could result in death of the fish.
For further information on managing your farm pond contact one of the hatcheries or Fisheries Division.
NEW PONDS ARE A JOY to anglers and landowners alike. They can provide years of excellent fishing. But, these new ponds do not come equipped with a ready made fish population.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation maintains four warm-water fish hatcheries for use in fisheries management and research. One program of the hatchery system is the stocking of new or reclaimed privately owned farm ponds.
The Department recognizes the needs of owners of new and reclaimed farm ponds. Our present program fulfills these needs at the lowest possible cost to the sportsman of Oklahoma. However, several requirements must be met before fish can be provided.
1. All ponds must be at LEAST 1/2 surface acre in size. If in doubt measure the length and width of the pond in feet and then
multiply: length X width = square feet of pond ÷ 43,560 = surface acre(s).
2. Fish will not be provided for private ponds which have a charge for fishing.
3. NO POND CAN BE STOCKED THAT HAS AN EXISTING FISH POPULATION PRESENT.
4. There is a limit of three ponds or 10 acres total per applicant per year.
5. The applicant must have a current Oklahoma fishing license, NO EXCEPTIONS. The only income for operation of hatcheries comes from the sale of licenses. It is only fair that landowners receiving fish share in the cost of rearing these fish.
6. Law enforcement personnel are allowed to check licenses of those fishing in your pond. However, you do NOT have to allow other people to fish in your pond.
To obtain fish for your farm pond you can:
Fill out and print off the Fish for your farm pond application and mail it to the Department of Wildlife Conservation at the following mailing address:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
PO BOX 53465
Oklahoma City, OK 73152
When you request the forms you should specify the number of ponds you wish to stock. ONE APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED FOR EACH POND.
If you would like to purchase fish to stock in your pond, call (405) 522-6128 for a list of commercial hatcheries. You can also go to the following web site http://www.oda.state.ok.us/forms/ais/aquaculter021116.pdf for a list of Aquaculture License holders in Oklahoma.
- Building the Perfect Pond
- Catfish Spawning in Ponds
- Controlling Fish Grubs
- Fall/Winter Pond Activities
- Feeding Your Farm Pond Fish
- Getting to Know your Farm Pond
- How to Assess the Fish in Your Farm Pond
- Is Your Pond Half Full or Half Empty?
- Pond Dam Maintenance
- Prevention is the Best Cure
- Protecting Your Pond
- Renovating Old Farm Ponds