Catfish PondsChannel catfish are among the most popular fish across the country. They fight hard, grow big, and are as tasty as they come. Further adding to their popularity, channel cats can tolerate a range of water quality and are adaptable to most any setting including small catfish ponds. All these factors make channel catfish a natural choice among pond owners and lake managers.

For most pond owners, channel cats serve a three-fold purpose. Primarily, they’re a food source. Not for other fish but for pond owners on a put-and-take basis. Channel catfish are ideal for this purpose because they are readily available and cheap to buy from fish farms and hatcheries across the country. They also can be quickly grown to eating size with basic management practices.

Besides their food value, the sporting nature of catfish is another reason for adding them to a pond. Cats reign supreme in pulling power and stamina. It’s the fish that generates more smiles and fish stories among young and old anglers alike. And for good reason—double-digit channel cats are common in well-managed ponds and some giants exist in ponds across the country, including the Washington state record of 36.2 pounds. The prospect of growing and catching trophy-size catfish from ponds as small as a half-acre should get anyone’s attention.

Catfish also can be stocked to help keep a multispecies pond in balance. Catfish are nature’s cleaners and help by scavenging dead fish that appear on a daily basis in ponds. They also help to control recruitment of panfish that can become overpopulated and stunted if not kept in check by predators.

Recipes for Success
Multispecies ponds are often stocked with a mix of largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. The typical stocking rates are 50 bass, 500 bluegills, and 50 catfish per surface acre. In ponds with good water quality and a rigorous feeding program these numbers can be doubled. These stocking rates assume a “fresh” pond setting that is devoid of any other fish apart from baitfish that help sustain the initial fish stocking. Also, with a feeding program, the growth rate of fish is accelerated.