John's Journal...

Stock Your Lake with the Best-Biting Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Bluegills

Day 5: American Sport Fish Explains What to Consider Before Stocking Crappie and Catfish in Your Pond

Editor’s Note: Fishery Scientists Don Keller and Barry Smith own American Sport Fish, stock fish and manage ponds and lakes all over the U.S.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Barry, a lot of people say, “Don’t stock crappie in private lakes and ponds.” But, we know that you stock a variety of crappie known as blacknose crappie, in some lakes. What’s the scoop on stocking crappie in farm ponds?

Smith: Not stocking crappie in farm ponds is right and wrong at the same time. If you stock the crappie at the same time you stock your bass and bluegills, the crappie will grow faster and get-off a spawn before the bass. Then the young-of-the-year crappie will be too big for the young-of-the-year bass to eat. That means an overpopulation of crappie are competing with the bass for food. However, we’ve learned that if you stock your pond with bluegills in the fall, stock your pond with bass in the summer and let the bass get-off a spawn the next year, then you can come-in and stock blacknose crappie, and the bass will be big-enough to feed on the crappie. This way, your bass can keep the crappie number in balance. Bottom line, is if you want to have crappie in your pond, you should wait for at least a year after you’ve stocked bass, before you start stocking crappie.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Barry, why did you and Don choose the blacknose crappie to stock in farm ponds?

Smith: The blacknose crappie is a black crappie. There are two different sub-species of crappie – the white crappie and the blacknose crappie. The research we’ve done tends to indicate that the blacknose crappie perform better in pond-like habitats than a white crappie does. We like the blacknose crappie, because they breed true. In other words, all of its offspring will have a bright ring that starts at the base of their bottom jaws and goes all the way around their noses. This ring looks like you’ve taken a black magic marker and drawn that circle on that fish’s noses. Because these fish have that genetic marker, we always can tell the fish we’ve put in the pond from any wild crappie that may have gotten in the pond.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Ok, Barry, let’s talk about catfish. Some people say you should put catfish in your pond, and others say you shouldn’t. What do you say?

Click for Larger ViewSmith: Whether you should stock catfish or not depends on the management objectives you have for your ponds and their sizes. If you have a 1/2-acre pond that you just want for a recreational fishery and want to be able to catch bluegills and bass out of it, then stocking catfish there is fine. However, if your primary objective for the pond is to grow big bass and big bluegills, then I don’t advise putting catfish in the pond. Catfish are predators, and they compete with the bass and the bluegills for food. They also have a huge reproductive potential and grow rather quickly at a rate of about a pound per year. So, we know for certain that the bass and the bluegills in your lake or pond can’t grow as big as quickly with catfish in the pond, as they can if you don’t have catfish in your pond. The bottom line on what type of fish to put in your pond is, what kind of fish do you want to grow to what size and how quickly? If you want big, fast-growing bluegills and bass, then stock your pond with coppernose bluegills and Tiger Bass and possibly crappie. If you don’t care what size bass and bluegills the pond has, and especially if it’s a small pond, then you may want to stock it with catfish, bluegills and bass. To learn more about Tiger Bass, go to or call 334-281-7703.

How to Bass Fish Like a ProTo learn more about how to catch every species of bass, get the new Kindle eBook, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro” by John E. Phillips. click here. Or, you can go to and type-in the name of the book to find it. You can also download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Check back each day this week for more about "Stock Your Lake with the Best-Biting Bass, Crappie, Catfish and Bluegills"

Day 1: Man-Eating Tiger Bass Created by Don Keller and Barry Smith
Day 2: How to Grow Man-Eating Tiger Bass Faster with Perfect Pond Plus Fertilizer
Day 3: Fertilize the Man-Eaters
Day 4: Why Stock the Coppernose Bluegill in a Lake to Help Bass to Grow
Day 5: American Sport Fish Explains What to Consider Before Stocking Crappie and Catfish in Your Pond

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Entry 670, Day 5