Are you looking for a new pond fishing opportunity? While the hybrid striped bass is not for every pond, it could be the perfect addition to bring your pond to the next level!
The hybrid striped bass is a cross between the white bass and the striped bass. It is a fast-growing, hard-fighting fish that is better suited for ponds than either of its parents because it is more resilient to extreme temperatures and low dissolved oxygen. Hybrids can be managed a bit differently than most other pond fish because they do not necessarily have to rely on other fish as a source of food and take to pelleted food well. Also, they will not reproduce so you do not have to worry about them over-populating and stunting. One major thing to consider before adding hybrids is how often and how much your pond runs over the spillway. Hybrids are notorious for “going with the flow” so when your pond overflows, they will most likely leave the pond unless there is a fish passage barrier to keep them from escaping.
The next major question is how many to stock? There are a variety of factors that will influence your stocking decision. Do you have an existing fish population? What does your current forage base look like? Are you planning on supplemental feeding?
If you have a new pond and are going with the standard largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish combo, it is recommended that you stock hybrid striped bass fingerlings when you stock your other predators at no more than 10-20 per acre to the keep a balanced predator-prey ratio. If you have an existing fish population, you will have to stock larger fish so that they are likely to survive and not end up as forage for your established fish. In this scenario, it is recommended that you stock 6-8” fish at a rate of 10 per acre. As a bonus, when hybrids get larger, they can help control a stunted crappie population if they are present (although crappie are still not recommended for ponds).
One last consideration is whether or not to feed. If you already feed any channel catfish present in your pond, you may just need to increase the amount you feed a little bit to compensate for the hybrids mixing in during feeding time. If you aren’t feeding any other fish, you still would follow the general rule and provide only enough food to be consumed in 5-10 minutes of active feeding. Overfeeding can run the risk of putting too many nutrients in your water which can lead to a plankton bloom and make your pond more at risk of a dissolved oxygen fish kill without supplemental aeration.
Reach out to your local regional fisheries management office for more help and information!