Fathead Minnows – These minnows work well as forage to feed other fish. They are small, slow-swimming, and are often totally eliminated by bass in clear ponds without much cover. They do well with catfish where a typical stocking rate is about one gallon of minnows per acre. They spawn on the underside of vegetation or floating lumber such as wooden loading pallets placed in the pond.
Golden Shiners – These minnows can serve as forage for bass, but have some drawbacks. Fast swimmers, they are not captured as easily as fatheads. They grow too large for smaller predators and may even eat the eggs of desirable species. Golden shiners work well when the only objective is a trophy bass fishery. Place cedar trees in the pond to provide spawning habitat and cover so shiners will reproduce and provide forage for bass. Shiners should be stocked at about one gallon per acre in the spring after the cedar trees are in place. Select shiners that are two to three inches long since older females are likely sterile.
Gizzard and Threadfin Shad – Neither of these species work well for forage in most ponds. Threadfin tend to die during cold winters, plus they are difficult to obtain. Gizzard shad grow too large to be eaten by most bass and do not reproduce well in small ponds.
Flathead Catfish – These fish are voracious predators and can be used to control stunted fish such as bullheads. However, the pond owner will likely end up with a few large flatheads and few other fish, eventually regretting having stocked them.
Green Sunfish – These fish are not recommended for ponds. They tend to overpopulate and stunt in new ponds or where bass are over-harvested. Their larger mouth size, compared to other sunfish, allows them to compete directly with bass for prey fish. They will not supply as much food for bass as will bluegill.
Bullhead and Carp – These fish are not recommended for ponds because they tend to overpopulate and stunt, and they can muddy a pond with their bottom feeding habits.
Hybrid striped bass x white bass – These fish are now available from a few commercial fish farms in Oklahoma and from hatcheries in Arkansas. They can be an excellent bonus fish in the right situation because they are aggressive fighters and decent table fare. Typically the do not grow well in the standard bass-bluegill pond, but they will eat commercial fish feed and thrive in a fed pond situation. The larger sizes are difficult to handle and transport without heavy mortality, so it is best to purchase fingerlings and grow them up to catchable size on fish feed in your pond. These hybrids require a large quantity of minnows or commercial fish food to grow well in most ponds. It appears that a stocking rate similar to channel catfish (see Channel Catfish Pond, page 22) is probably feasible, but information on their use in sport fish ponds is limited.
Species not mentioned here are not recommended for Oklahoma ponds.