Raising Bigger Better Catfish in Your Pond
Find out why you should consider catfish for your pond, and learn Bob Lusk, the Pond Boss’s tips for raising bigger better catfish in your pond.
Today we’re going to talk about what it takes to raise catfish. Before us is a catfish pond. Channel catfish. Where we’re standing is a pond that covers about three-quarters of an acre, and there’s about 250 catfish in here, pay close attention to them everyday.
People that like to have catfish, usually want them because they grow large and are great table fare. So we’re going to talk about that a little bit. Now it’s common that we get a phone call from somebody that says gosh hey Lusk, we want to buy some catfish and how many do we stock?
Well, it goes right back to your goals. Now, if you want to eat catfish, you can stock a lot, but you need to feed them. I love to feed fish because they’ll come up and just gobble that food up. It’s fun to watch. It’s a great show. Now you can stock anywhere from 100 to 1000 per acre, but the more you stock, the more you have to know, so pay close attention to this. If you’re going to stock them to eat, stock 200 to 500 in that neighborhood, prepare to feed them that’s per acre. Now, the stocking rates I’m giving you are per acre. An acre is a football field, 209 by 209, 43,560 square feet. That’s an acre. Stock 200 to 500 per acre, if you plan to feed them.
Now if you really want to get serious about catfish where you are going to eat them or give them to your friends, you can stock more, but I would discourage that because the more you stock the more work it is. Channel catfish have a tendency to outgrow their area and begin to cause water quality issues later on. So stock 200 to 500 per acre.
Now if you’re going to stock them just per fun, stock 100 per acre or less. Now, if you’re going to stock them and name them here a buddy, hey jimmy, stock 50 or 60 per acre.
Catfish are stocked for meat. They’re also stocked to diversify fishery, to add another fish to be able to catch. Channel catfish can grow anywhere from two pounds up to ten or twelve pounds. I mean some I’ve seen channel catfish get this big. Sometimes, they’ll get as big as sixteen pounds so be prepared for that. If the higher number you stock, the more you have to harvest earlier when a channel catfish hits a pound and a half, take it it’s okay. Look at a pond like you look at a garden, when you stock it, you grow it, you need to take some out.
Now, catfish, I look at those guys as a put and take fish. You put it in a number, you grow them up, you take them out, you put more in. Don’t count on them to successfully reproduce, even though they will. So, look at channel catfish as a put and take fish. Stock in some, expect some attrition, there actually are creatures around here in the air and along the shoreline that will eat catfish. So be prepared to stock more later.
Let’s talk about nutrition. You know channel catfish are one of the most fun fish because they’re very predictable as a matter of fact, they’re probably the easiest fish there is to raise because what you put in is what you have and then you can feed them and they come up and eat and you’ll watch them come up and grass on that fish food and their conversion rates are outstanding. You feed two pounds of fish food, expect to gain one pound of catfish.
So over the course of say a 200 day growing season in the Midwest from you know April until November, expect your catfish to grow from finger length size say eight inches if you stock in the spring to a pound and a quarter by the fall and if you’re going to feed you know a hundred catfish to get to be a pounding a quarter. Let me do the math let’s see a hundred at a pound and a quarter, that’s 125 pounds it took 250 pounds of fish food for them to get there. That’s worth it for what you wind up with.
Now let’s feed some fish to see what they look like. Now these catfish in this pond are channel cat. They’re about a year and a half old and I’ve been feeding them AquaMax and game fish chow mixed for the last year and a half or so. So I’ve got a timer to this little feeder going to push the button and it should go off in about four seconds, now what you’re going to see is a lot of catfish come up and just take advantage of this feed they absolutely love it, and here they come.
These channel catfish range in size from about a pound up to two and half pounds, but look at those mouths. They look like vacuum cleaner and that’s something else I love about channel catfish. When you feed them a good quality feed like this like game fish chow and AquaMax they’re eating AquaMax right now is they are what they eat. They’re a product of their food and of the quality of their water so with this good clean water and good clean food.
These fish taste great and what’s more fun than watching these guys come up to the edge and seek out their favorite meal. So catfish are fun. They’re easy. Kids love them, and you ought to see age tug at the end of a rod when you’ve got a catfish about this big on one end and a grandchild about this big at the other, cheeks puffed out, rod bent double. There’s nothing like that’s what it’s all about.