There’s A Catfish In My Garden!

Catching channel catfish

This past summer when it didn’t rain for almost 180 days in a row and daily temperatures were 105 to 115 degrees everyday, our little livestock pond dried up. First time in at least 8 years that it went totally dry.

We decided to take advantage of this dry summer to rent a D-4 bulldozed and rework our pond. We enlarged it from less than a 1/4 acre [8,500 square feet] to a bit more than a 1/2 acre [22,000 square feet] of surface area and deepened it from 6 feet deep to about 15 feet deep near the dam [south end] and 4 to 6 feet deep at the [north] end of the pond.

Rental cost over a three day long weekend and fuel cost was almost $600.00.
However to hire a contractor to do the same work would have cost $1,000.00.
Besides saving $400.00 dollars, the boy’s got to play with a D4 Caterpillar bulldozer for three days!

Then the rain came. In the middle of October 2011, we finely got a 6 inch hard rain with a lot of run off into our new pond and over night it filled up. This pond has a good clay bottom and holds water well. During the first week of April 2012, we surveyed the pond and found that it now contains a lot of small crayfish[crawdads] and flathead minnows.

Feeding catfish

Checking our local farmers coop store we were told that if we ordered now we could pick up fingerling fish the first week of May this year. Doing a bit of research we decided our first stocking will be 100 channel catfish [4 to 6 inches long] and 100 redear bream [3 to 4 inches long] along with about 1,000 flathead minnows. Total cost to stock our pond this spring will be about $130.00.

Flathead minnow

With limited supplemental feeding we will be able to start fishing and harvesting catfish 1 to 1 1/2 pounds live weight, by the middle to last of next summer, and the readears should be pan size by late fall 2013 or early spring 2014.

A second stocking of 200 channel catfish will be done in the spring of 2013.

CHANNEL CATFISH (ictalurus punctatus)
The Channel Catfish are one of the easiest fish to manage in your pond. They can feed on a live forage or you can supplement with a commercial feed. Supplemental feeding will often allow the catfish to achieve growth rates sometimes exceeding 1 1/2 pounds per season. When feeding a commercial feed on a regular basis, their meat will be as clean, white, and as well marbled as any fish in the pond. Many people consider a commercial fed catfish to have a table quality second to none! Another advantage to commercial feeding a Channel Catfish is that they will feed on top of the water allowing people of all ages to enjoy the fish even more.

These fish can be stocked independently or as part of a combination stocking with Bass, Hybrid Bluegill, Red-ear bream. When stocked properly the Channel Catfish will not have any negative effects on reproduction or growth rates of the other fish in your pond.

Redear is a sunfish with a relatively small mouth. Redears distinctive colors range from olive green on top, to an almost white near its belly. The side of the redear is yellow to green. Redear (Shellcracker) behave differently from other sunfish. They rarely approach the surface for top water baits or lures. They in most cases are caught using bait such as earthworms and grubs. However, redear will feed upon snails, insect larvae and will be found in areas where aquatic vegetation exist. Redear are stocked not only as sport fish but also as a solution to worm infestations commonly found in sport fish. Redear’s growth rate will average a 1/4 pound per season and only a few will survive more than six years.

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