So you’ve built your pond. Now what? Listen to Bob Lusk, the Pond Boss, talk about stocking your brand new pond, feeding programs, and the best fish food on the market.

One of the most exciting times in a pond owner’s life is the day you go to the fish hatchery to get fish to stock your brand new pond. Meet Wes Hardin. Hey Wes, how are you doing?

I’m doing great.

Wes is a longtime friend of mine, and owner of sulphur fish hatchery in Sulphur, Oklahoma, and he’s in the fisheries business. Wes, so what kind of fish do you raise?

We raise channel catfish, largemouth bass, and copper nose bluegill

Outstanding, and those are three great species to stock in southern ponds. Now, when you get ready to go to the fish hatchery, you need to know what you’re going to do before you get there. So, it’ll be a fun experience. The three kinds of fish that you can stock are channel catfish, different varieties of bluegill, different varieties of largemouth bass that are native to your area.

Now, channel catfish are a meat fish. People stock those in, they readily take fish food, they grow up pretty big. There’s some channel catfish. now these little four to six inch fingerlings may cost 30 cents 35 cents apiece they’re not that expensive and they’ll grow fast if you feed them a good diet and we’ll talk about diets in a minute. Now after you’ve got your channel catfish figured out you can stock 100 maybe 200 per acre you can stock more if you’re going to feed them but keep this in mind the more you stock, you’re going to have to harvest some at some point because a pond is like a garden. Now if you’ve decided you want largemouth bass you also need to stock some bluegill sunfish.

Bluegill reproduce four or five times a year in the south. They may spawn two or three times up north, but they’re considered the backbone of the food chain for largemouth bass, and also, they are pretty darn good game fish in their own right because they’ll get to be about a pound a pound and a quarter sometimes even bigger and they readily eat fish food.

Wes also raises some largemouth bass and he does something that’s unique that you don’t see all over the country. He teaches a little bitty Bass how to eat pelleted fish food so that kind of gives you a competitive advantage even though a Bass’s natural instincts are to eat fish, they’ll also eat fish food. A Largemouth Bass, when it’s little, has a big big mouth just like it does when it’s big. These are natural born predator fish. They’d much rather eat fish, but they can be taught to eat fish food at the hatchery. You probably can’t do that at your pond.

Now, lets talk about a  feeding program. You’ve got your fish in plastic bags. You’ve got them in the trunk of the car. You’re getting ready to go home and temper them and put them in the pond. What are you going to do next? What kind of feeds do you feed out here Wes?

We feed a 32% protein feed for our larger fish. For our smaller fish, we feed a 35% protein.

So you kind of start off a little higher protein and that’s what some of this feed is here. This feed here is a 35% AquaMax feed made by Purina Mills, the best feed on the market. See how small the pellets are? Small pellets for small fish. Now, as your fish grow a little bit you need to step up the size, and you can even step down a little bit on the protein.

These are a little bit larger pellets 32%. Now, different fish have different requirements for food. Largemouth Bass need more protein. Bluegill and catfish need less protein. So, shop the feeds. Purina Mills makes great feeds, the best feed on the planet, and you get to pick which ones you want to feed. As the fish get a little bit bigger you can feed a little bit bigger pellets. These pellets are outstanding for catfish as well as bluegill.

Now, if you’re growing bass, at some point those rascals are going to get huge, and you need to step up the feed again. Here’s some feed right here. This is called AquaMax Largemouth. These pellets right here are designed specifically for those one pound two pound Largemouth Bass.

So here’s the deal. Know what you want when you go to the hatchery. Choose the right fish. Choose the right numbers. There’s stocking rates. Do some research on stocking rates so you know when you go. Look for good healthy fish. Look for a reputable fish farmer like Wes Hardin from Sulphur Fish Hatchery. Get your fish home, but also pick the feed that you want to feed, and if you do that you’re going to have the best pond in your neck of the woods.