"Fishing is a Tough Job, but We're Willing to Tackle it!"

1. Legal Considerations
2. Site Selection
3. Construction
4. Habitat
5. Fish Stocking
6. Managing Fish Population
7. Catching Bait and Fish
8. Managing Other Animals
9. Aquatic Weed Control
10. Testing Your Pond
11. Diagnosing Pond Problems
12. Commonly Asked Questions


Pond owners have responsibilities , so you should consult with your local Soil and Water Conservation District Office for the terms of stocking, maintenance, and liability requirements. When selecting your pond site and during construction contact a Natural Resources Conservation Service. Depending on the site, watershed size, and the purpose of the pond, federal and state permits may be necessary for construction. Dams need periodic inspections and repairs to ensure their safety. Pond owners are also responsible for the well being of habitats downstream of their property, and is liable for the replacement costs associated with the clean-up. Another consideration in site selection is dam failure, and what would happen if the dam failed and flooding or loss of life and property resulted.
*For help click here - Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board


1. Pond Types:

There are 2 basic types of ponds, embankment and excavated ponds. Embankment ponds are constructed by damming a small stream and can be economically constructed on stream sites where the slope is steep enough to limit the size of the dam. Excavated ponds are constructed by digging out an area fed by springs and runoff and can be used in a variety of situations.

2. Typical Sites:

Site selection is extremely important when building your own pond. You want to consider the location (more than one), shape of the land, water supply, and the soil type before you build. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office before you begin building. They will make quality control checks and assist in design, site selection, soil suitability, engineering survey and provide the information for the cost of the planning, design, and construction of the pond.
*For help click here - Natural Resources Conservation Service

A Good Pond Site Contains:

1. Topography that allows for economical construction. It directly affects building costs and pond management. Put the pond where enough water can be impounded with the least amount of earth fill. Sites that are ideal and minimize areas of shallow water are ones where you can build a dam across a narrow section of a valley and where the slope of the valley floor lets you flood a large area. Avoid large areas of shallow water because they become too shallow to use in late summer and fall dry periods, and they encourage undesirable aquatic plants.

2. Soil with enough clay content to hold water. Clay and silty clays are excellent soils for holding water because they stop water from steeping through. Take soil samples at frequent intervals and have them analyzed to determine suitability.

3. Water supply that is adequate, but not excessive, for the intended uses of the pond, can be provided by springs, wells, or surface runoff. For ponds where surface runoff is the main source of water, the contributing drainage area should be large enough to maintain a suitable water level during dry periods. Drainage areas should not be so large that expensive overflow structures are needed and water exchange occurs too frequently. A pond should have 5 to 10 acres of drainage area for each acre of impounded water. Topography, soil types and plant cover influence the amount of runoff to be expected from a watershed.

3. Watershed Characteristics

The water quality in your pond will vary according to the land uses and geology in the area from which the pond receives runoff. If your pond's watershed is used for grazing or crop production, or it is a dense urban area, poor water quality can result of runoff from the watershed is not filtered before it reaches the pond. A vegetated buffer strip at least 50 feet wide surrounding the pond can serve as a natural filter. If your pond is fed by a stream, the stream should have a vegetated buffer strip along both banks.


1. Size:

The size of your pond is the major factor that will determine what fish species to stock, the degree of management needed to maintain these fish, and how many fish you can remove each year. Many farm ponds are built for livestock watering and are less than 1 acre in surface area. Ponds less than 1 acre are more difficult to manage because the fish populations can easily be overharvested. Small ponds that are shallow, are more likely to have problems with aquatic vegetation, unbalanced fish populations, and low water levels caused by drought. Ponds less than 1 acre are best managed by stocking only channel catfish since they provide more fishing recreation and can be fed commercially prepared feed. Larger ponds you need a surface area of at least 1 acre or more for a good fishing pond. If these larger ponds undergo proper fish stocking, and are managed and harvested properly, then you can expect many years of satisfactory fishing. It is difficult to estimate the surface area of a pond and many pond owners have trouble. It is easy to overestimate pond size, but not a good thing. An overestimate of size often leads to overstocking of fish.

2. Depth:

Pond depth should be between 6 and 8 feet, with maximum depth not greater than 10 to 12 feet is the average depth for a fishing pond. This lets fish forage on the bottom, even in summer, when low oxygen concentrations are common in deeper water, while maintaining enough depth to sustain the fish during drought. Less than 6 feet increases the chances of aquatic vegetation problems. Depths greater than 12 feet are not necessary for good fish production. Pond banks should be a minimum of 3 feet deep at the waterline. Deeper ponds do not necessarily produce more fish than shallow ponds. Shallow ponds tend to be more productive, but ponds that are too shallow suffer the risk of drying under summer drought.

3. Water Outlets:

Water control structure or drainpipe is an important feature of a fishing pond. This structure allows for draining of the pond to make repairs, manage the fish populations, and control aquatic plants. A drainpipe that contains a bottom draw maintains good water quality by drawing water from the bottom of the pond. A trash rack over the standpipe will help prevent structural damage. An emergency spillway is also necessary for water overflow from a pond. An emergency spillway carries flood runoff away from the pond so the dam is not damaged or destroyed.

4. Site Preparation & Contraction Timing:

Remove all brush, trees, and vegetation from the site before the pond is filled. This will easily help to keep fish populations in balance and obstructions out of the way. Late summer or early fall is when new ponds should be constructed in time to fill them.

5. Dam Maintenance:

Immediately after construction, establish permanent grassy vegetation on the top and sides of the dam. Once established, regular cutting on the top and sides of the dam will keep trees from growing, preventing weak spots in the dam.


1. Water Quality:

Fish need water quality to survive, grow, and reproduce. Quality water has no pollutants,is high in dissolved oxygen, and does not have excessive organic matter. Fencing a pond is needed to prevent livestock from trampling pond banks, which causes pond shallowing, muddy water, and loss of fish. Fences should be 50 to 100 feet from the pond bank and completely enclose the pond. A vegetated border is needed at least 50 feet wide that will reduce soil erosion and the amount of fertilizer and pesticides entering the pond. Trees along the shoreline are desirable for shading and nutrient uptake. Water clarity should be at least 18 inches throughout the year and is necessary for plankton production.

2. Fish Structure:

If your pond contains very little fish cover, you may wish to add cover by providing artificial fish attractors. Not only do fish attractors provide cover, they also provide a substrate for aquatic insects, and they concentrate fish for better fishing. The primary purpose of fish attractors is to congregate fish for the angler. Brush piles, Christmas trees, stake beds, and rock piles all make good fish attractors. For ponds 1 acre or less, one attractor is enough and for larger ponds, one attractor for every 2 to 3 acres is needed. Attractors should be placed at depths exceeding 2 feet, and within casting distance of the shoreline, and you can even use floats to mark the location of your submerged fish structure. Stake beds are another great tool for creating fish structure. Any type of stakes can be driven into the pond bottom or nailed to a weighted frame and sunk. The stakes should be placed 6 to 8 inches apart, and the bed should cover an area of about 200 square feet. Another option for creating fish habitat is through the use of automobile tires, that can be used to construct a satisfactory permanent fish structure, but they must be prepared properly. Chum is also a useful attractant that will attract all fish types. It can be hung off of your pier, dock, or favorite fishig hole to attract those big fish your looking to catch. Chum can be purchased at Heinsohn's Country Store.

3. Fertilization:

Water fertility determines a ponds productivity. Fertilizer increases pond productivity by stimulating the growth of microscopic plants. Fertilization makes the water turn green, shading the bottom and preventing growth of nuisance aquatic plants. Once fertilization is started, it should be continued. Fertilizers high in nitrogen such as 21-53-0 or 10-34-0 should be used. During the summer months add fertilizer as needed to maintain 18 inches visibility. In the fall, stop fertilizing when water temperature drops below 60 degrees F. Have your pond water tested to be sure the lime content is adequate before beginning a fertilization program.

4. Liming

Ponds with soft, acidic water sometimes require the addition of lime to improve fishing. If alkalinity is below 20 ppm, add agricultural limestone to neutralize the pond bottom. A mud sample should be analyzed to determine the amount of lime needed. Lime should be applied evenly over the entire pond bottom. Late fall or early spring is the best time to apply lime. Ponds typically require liming every 2 to 4 years.

5. Aquatic Vegetation:

Aquatic plants supply oxygen, provide cover and can be food for insects that are eaten by the fish. Plants protect shorelines from wave erosion and serve as feeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl. Aquatic plants are desirable and beneficial to fish communities but can cause problems with fishing by interfering with angler access. Fish function better when aquatic plants cover 20% to 30% of the pond surface during the summer. Plant densities greater than 30% can cause fish kills. Aquatic plants can be controlled by manual, chemical, and biological methods. Manual control refers to physically pulling, raking, cutting, digging, shading, or mowing nuisance plants and should be done in the spring when the plants are first emerging. Chemical treatments can be very effective in controlling vegetation in small areas of a pond such as swimming areas or boat ramps. Stocking triploid grass carp is the most effective long term control for aquatic plants. The best way to prevent aquatic plant problems is proper pond construction. Shoreline depths of 2 to 3 feet with bank slope ratios of 3:1 are ideal.


1. Stocking Considerations:

Your choice of fish to stock depends on the goals and resources available to the pond owner. Except for supplemental stocking of channel catfish, a pond that already contains fish generally does not need to be stocked. Moving fish from your neighbor's pond, or a local lake to your pond, is not recommended. This can cause fish diseases and stocking a wrong fish species in an environment. Stocking your pond with the right species and number of fish is very important!

2. Fish to Stock:

If your pond is less than 1 acre, catfish will be the best decision to stock with. A pond less than 1 acre, is very difficult to manage bass and bluegill. Combining largemouth bass and bluegill is the the most common stocking strategy. This combination generally works best in ponds that are larger than 1 acre and also provides excellent fishing for both species. Bluegill will reproduce and grow rapidly with an abundance of food from a well-fertilized pond, and will provide good food for the bass. If bass are not over-harvested, they will keep the blugill population from overpopulating. Channel catfish may also be added to a bass and bluegill pond. The downfall is that the catfish will consume a portion of the food supply, slightly reducing the total pounds of bass and bluegill the pond can maintain. In Texas, recommended stocking rates of lakes and ponds vary with size, location, and condition of the pond or lake and the desires of the pond owner. A pond larger than 1 acre that will be fertilized, should be stocked with 1,000 bluegill fingerlings, 100 largemouth bass, and 100 channel catfish per acre. Stocking of 3 to 5 inch bluegill is most commonly done in the fall or early winter. Bluegill will grow and spawn by the following spring. In late May or June, bass are stocked and grow rapidly, feeding on the new bluegill fry. Bluegill will spawn 2 or 3 more times before fall, providing adequate food for the bass. Bass growth should average around 1/4 to 1/2 pound in the first year and can approach 2 pounds if food is plentiful. Catfish can be stocked in the fall or srping. Always stock catfish as large or larger than the bass if stocked together. Catfish usually cannot successfully reproduce in ponds with bass and bluegill populations and will have to be restocked as they are fished out. Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, Channel Catfish, and Trout are all excellent fish to stock in your pond.

3. Fish to Avoid:

Crappie, Flathead Catfish, Common Crap, Bullheads, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed, and Green Sunfish are species that should NOT be stocked into farm ponds. Crappie may cause management problems in small ponds by overpopulating, and compete with both bass and bluegill for food. In larger farm ponds, specifically more than 25 acres, Crappie can be stocked, but only after the largemouth bass have spawned several times. Largemouth bass harvest must be carfully controlled to ensure enough bass in the pond to control crappie numbers. Flathead catfish are voracious eaters, cannibalistic, and grow large enough to prey on even large bass. Bullhead catfish and common carp overpopulate rapidly, compete for food and resources, and can affect the survival of fish. Also, these types of fish are not recommended because they stir up the bottom, keeping the pond water muddy.


The purpose of fish management is to provide good fishing.

1. Removing Unwanted & Overpopulated Fish:

The best management option when your pond becomes out of balance amd overpopulated, may be to destroy all fish in the pond and start over. Removing or killing the fish population usually is much easier and less expensive if the pond can be drained. Fish will survive in very small pools of water away from the main body of water to help treat your problem. Rotenone is a registered aquatic chemical that is used to kill fish. It comes oin liquid or powder forms, and a concentratio of 5 precent active ingredient. Rotenone should be applied at a rate of 10 pounds per acre-foot. The volume of water in the pond, must be estimated so this concentration of rotenone can be calculated. One gallon of the liquid form is sufficient to treat app. 1 acre-ffot. Powdered rotenone should be mixed with water (about 2 gallons per pound of powder). Liquid rotenone also should be diluted with water at a rate of about 10 gallons of water to 1 gallon of rotenone. Using buckets, sprayers, or pumps, apply rotenone evenly over the pond. Rotenone applied properly and at recommended rates will not harm most livestock. However, pigs might be affected by the formulation, and ducks and geese may suffer if they eat dead fish. Rotenone is usually applied in the summer or fall when water temperature is above 70 degrees F. Rotenone will dissipate within 3 to 10 days, depending on weather conditions. It is generally safe to restock 2 to 3 weeks after applying the rotenone. To check for the presence of rotenone, place a few small bluegill in a minnow bucket and float it in the pond. If the fish are still alive after 24 hours it is safe to restock! Before using rotenone it is best to contact a fisheries biologist or county Extension agent for information in purchasing, applying, and using rotenone. In Texas, rotenone can be purchased from most farm supply ot feed stores. You must have a private applicant license to purchase and use this chemical.
*For help finding a County Agent click here - USDA

2. Harvesting:

A balanced pond fishery can be established with the initial stocking. Maintaining that balance requires the pond owner to manage the harvest, which is usually the most difficult part of pond management. Although there are no hard and fast rules for managing the harvest, the key is to practice a conservative harvest. One way is with a minimum size of 14 inches. Another helpful guideline is to remove no more than 20 to 25 fish per surface area each year. Unfertilized ponds, harvest up to 40 lbs of adult bluegill (about 120 fish) and 10 pounds of adult bass (about 8 to 10 fish) per acre per year. Fertilized ponds, you can harvest 160 pounds of bluegill (600 to 700 fish) and 35 to 40 pounds of bass (30 to 35 fish) per acre per year.

3. Fish Feeding:

The amount of food produced in your pond determines the productivity of your pond and the weight of your fish. All ponds produce some natural food for fish but sometimes not enough to really get the fish you want. Supplemental feeding is usually not required, but in some cases where the harvest demand is high or where large fish are desired, fish feeding may be beneficial. Formulated fish feeds in pellet form are very common and available in a sinking or floating form. The floating pellets are advantageous because the person feeding the fish is able to see whether or not the fish are eating the feed, since the feed floats. Artificial feeding will also increase your fish weight. Fish feeders are very useful, and can be used in almost any pond for a productive and easy way of increasng fish weight. Fish feeders can be found at Heinsohn's Counntry Store, where you will find afordable and life time feeders from brands of Aqua Pro to Tomahawk.
*To purchase Fish Feeders click here - Fish Feeders here!

4. Record Keeping:

Keep accurate records of numbers and sizes of fish caught in the pond that will help you evaluate the status of your fish populations and if any additional management is needed. Record the size and kind of fish caught. Periodically review your records to see if there are any differences in the number, size, or kinds of fish now in the pond.

5. Fish Kills

The most common cause of fish kill is suffocation, which occurs when aquatic plants do not produce enough oxygen to the fish to breath. This may occur during heavy snow and ice cover in winter, during rapid plant die-offs after a cold rain or several days of cloud cover or following aquatic plant die-offs from herbicide applications. Once fish suffocation starts, it is too late to stop it. Fish kills in general can be best prevented by properly controlling nutrient inputs and overabundant aquatic vegetation. Winter kills can be prevented by circulating the water either by motor-driven air compressors or wind driven baffles and artificially aerating. This will usually stir up organic materials and result in more oxygen consumption as the materials decay. Summer kills can be prevented by making sure no fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides or organic run-off enter the pond. Chemically threat aquatic vegetation early in the growing season according to the label and avoid treatments in late July and August. Avoid treating large amounts of aquatic vegetation throughout the pond by treating one area at a time.


Catching bait and fish in your pond can be helpful in many ways. Catching your fish is very importatnt when it comes time to restock and manage your fish populations. If you are looking to catch a lot of fish, Gill Nets are the most effective way! Heinsohn's County Store, has the best selection of gill nets found. Trot lines can also be found at Heinsohn's. Trot lines are baited and tied to anchors of your choice depending on your catch. You will need a strong and sturdy twine for your trotline to hold. Hoopnets are a great alternative when fish are not coming to the hook. They are great for catching all fish and even better, they fish 24/7. Hoopnets are also sold at Heinsohn's Country store for an affordable price and a great quality. Now in order to catch all these fish you are first going to need some bait. Minnow Seines catch a lot if bait quickly. They are one of the best, and can be found at Heinsohn's Country Store. In addition to all these items, there is also minnow and perch traps that are manufactured by Sure Trap Company and then sold at Heinsohn's Country Store just like the snake and turtle traps. Minnow and perch traps are effective and easy traps that work great to catch the bait you need. Bait bags are also a great alternative when bait catching. Bait bags are easy to use and can be placed in fish traps. Bait comes in a block form for you to just cut off the amount needed. Great for catching catfish!!!

*For more Fishing Items and help click here - Heinsohn's Country Store


Beavers, Muskrats, Crayfish, Snakes, and Turtles all can affect your ponds in their own way. The use of traps in the most effective, practical and environmentally safe method for control. The only snake trap I am aware of is manufacutuerd by Sure Trap Company and sold by Heinsohn's Country Store. Turtles especially are trapped by turtle traps that can be anchored in the shallow side (where the fish nests are!) of your pond with twine. These traps are also manufactured by Sure Trap Company and sold at Heinsohn's Country Store. Turtles may be trapped in Spring, Summer, and Fall. Frogs also can be a problem and there is also a trap designed for that. Frog traps are placed anywhere in the pond and attract frogs at night by a solar powered light.

*For more Traps and Information click here - Sure Trap Company


Aquatic plants are essential and beneficial to the pond community of the fish and wildlife. Aquatic plants provide living areas, shade, food and cover for the fish and organisms of the pond community. Control is not recommended if the vegetation covers less than 20-25% of the pond's surface. But when aquatic vegetation does become overabundant, covering more than 20-25% of the pond, it can cause problems and something must be done. Excessive amounts of aquatic vegetation detracts from the pond's appearance and makes swimming, boating, and fishing difficult. Aquatic vegetation also uses nutrients that could go into producing fish food organisms. Excessive aquatic vegetation offers unneeded protection to small fish from predators and often results in overpopulation. On cloudy, hot summer days or under ice cover, excessive vegetation can lead to fish kills by using up the available oxygen. There are several ways to control aquatic vegetation in ponds. Hand pulling, cutting, or raking aquatic vegetation may be the simplest and least expensive. Placing permeable filter fabric on the bottom can control vegetation in specific areas of the pond. Some pond owners also control with registered and approved aquatic herbicides and another alternative may be biological control. The first step in chemically controlling aquatic vegetation is to correctly indentify the problem plants. There are four basic types of vegetation found in ponds and your choice of herbicide will depend on the types of problem plants you want to control. If you are unable to correctly indentify your problem plant, enclose a damp sample within a plastic bag and mail them to the District Fisheries Biologist. After the vegetation problem has been indentified, the next step is to determine the acreage and water volume of the area to be treated. To prevent killing too much vegetation, you may wish to treat the pond in sections. In this case a calculation of the area and the volume of only the section you want to treat is needed. After that it is time to select an appropriate aquatic herbicide that's registered and approved. Carefully read the entire label and directions to ensure the herbicide will do the job in the manner expected. Be sure to wear safety equipment such as gloves or eye protectors as stated on the label. The method of herbicide application is dictated by the formulation and the product label. Liquids are usually sprayed from shore or a boat. Granular herbicides can be broadcast by hand or hand help spreaders. Powders might be dissolved in water and sprayed or poured along the shoreline as a paste or slurry. Licensed and certified commercial aquatic pesticide applicators are available to treat pond vegetation for a fee. Do not apply aquatic herbicides to your pond on rainy or cloudy days or if the weather forecast calls for a period of rainy or cloudy days or else you may cause a fish kill.

Here a some important points to remember when treating aquatic vegetation are:

1. Indentify the problem plant and select the appropriate herbicide.
2. Use only registered, approved herbicides.
3. Carefully read and follow all herbicide label and directions.
4. Distribute the herbicide evenly, covering all areas on the treatment zone.
5. Do not over treat or apply the herbicide to an area larger than needed.
6. Treat submerged vegetation and algae early in the growing season.
7. Properly dispose of empty containers and unused herbicide.

Another way of controlling the vegetation in your pond is through the use of triploid carp. Triploid, because they are sterile and will not reproduce and over populate your pond or the streams below your overflow. My experience with triploid carp is mixed. First the three fish we put in a 1 surface acre pond couldn't keep up with the vegetation and then, when they matured, my pond looked like a desert. Not one weed anywhere.
They could probably be gillnetted at that time and moved to another pond that needs attention so that some vegetation could grow back. For your information.


Fishing is the best way to determine how well your pond is doing. By catching fish in your pond you can check how well your fish are growing, reproducing, and if there are any unwanted fish or animals in the pond. You should fish your pond frequently as possible to not only check on how well your fish are doing, but also to harvest the crop of older, larger fish for less competition between the fish. Fishing with a rod and reel can be done to catch a selection of fish, and will also give you a great hobby to do!
Purchasing a minnow seine, about 12 feet long and 4 feet deep is also an effective way to sample the fish population. By dragging the seine along some shallow, shoreline areas you can catch fish and determine how successful the fish are reproducing.


There are 3 basic reasons to why a pond may not produce the quality of fish you want. The pond may contain the wrong type of fish, the wrong size of fish, or the wrong number of fish. Remember there are many types of fish that are not suited for ponds. Completely draining the pond or chemically eradicating all fish in the ponds that cannot be drained, can eliminate undesirable fish. When pond owners complain and are not satisfied with the size of a certain fish they want to catch, this usually means too much of the pond's standing crop (fish population) is tied up in overcrowded, and a slow growing number of fish. Corrective management of this problem centers on removing certain fish to increase the population of the fish you want.


1. Should i feed my fish?

In most cases the answer is "NO". The natural fertility of ponds is usually sufficient for providing enough food organisms for normal fish growth. Fish must first learn to eat commercial pellets and for optimum learning, feed should be offered daily in the same places. Feeding costs money and takes time which ends up is a waste of time and money. Many fish learn to take artificial feed and feed that isn't consumed falls to the bottom to decompose. If the pond owner wished to supplementally feed fish, it should be done to provide a small boost to fish growth in an already-balanced pond. One situation where supplemental fish feeding is recommended is for small pond used to produce harvestable-size channel catfish.

2. What type of aquatic plants may be found in my pond?

Aquatic plants fall into 4 functional groups with similar characteristics. 1. Algae - are attached to the bottom, have branched stems, but no true leaves. 2. Submerged aquatic vegetation - have stems and true leaves, sometimes have a few floating leaves, reproduce structures at the water surface and almost all of plant is submerged. 3. Floating plants - most of their leaves and flowers float on the water surface. 4. Emergent plants - are rooted in water or moist soil and have most of their stems and leaves extending above the water surface

3. My pond is covered with green slime or stringy moss. What is it?

If the water is tinted green, green-blue or probably even brownish, then your pond is probably experiencing a planktonic algae bloom. These blooms usually consume available nutrients and run their course. If the plants do not contain leaves and are stringy filaments, clumps or netlike masses, then one or a number of the species of filamentous algae are present. Filamentous algae usually start growing on the bottom, form mats that can float to the surface, and can eventually cover the entire surface of the pond.