Although many different types of freshwater fish will live in Virginia ponds, only a few fish species will produce good sportfishing over many years. The fish species recommended for stocking warmwater ponds in Virginia are largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish (bream), redear sunfish (shell crackers), and channel catfish. A single pond can be stocked with all of these species or desired combinations, but should contain no other types of fish. Coldwater ponds should contain only trout. All other types of fish, particularly crappie, bullheads, carp, goldfish, perch, suckers, and other types of sunfish will compete with desirable fish for food, cover, and spawning sites. Nuisance fish tend to overpopulate ponds and ruin sportfishing. Moreover, nuisance species and wild fish obtained from nearby streams or ponds often carry diseases or parasites that infect sportfish and reduce fishing quality.
Three major causes for nuisance fish problems are (1) failure to kill all fish life in a pond and its inflowing waters before hatchery fish are stocked, (2) failure to prevent the entry of wild fish into a stocked pond, and (3) failure to stock only the recommended fish species. Before stocking, fish life can be eliminated by completely draining and drying the pond bottom or by partially draining and applying fish poison to the remaining waters. Inflowing waters should also be screened or filtered to keep out unwanted fish. A saran screen filter (100 meshes per inch) can be used to filter out nuisance fish and their eggs. The best way to stock only the recommended types of fish is to obtain all stocks from a commercial hatchery. Reliable commercial hatcheries will not only provide the proper kinds of sportfish in the correct numbers and sizes, but will also guarantee live delivery of disease-free fish. This is a particularly valuable service since small fish are very difficult to identify. Unless one is an expert at fish identification and diseases, never stock fish from nearby streams, ponds, or lakes. The pond owner must also ask neighbors and friends not to introduce any fish into the pond.
Desirable Sportfish Nuisance Fish
- Largemouth Bass Black Crappie (Speckled Perch)
- Bluegill Sunfish (Bream) White Crappie (Silver Perch)
- Redear Sunfish Yellow Perch
- Channel Catfish Carp
- Brook Trout Goldfish
- brown Trout Suckers
- Rainbow Trout Bullheads (Mudcats)
- Pumpkinseed Sunfish
- Green Sunfish
- Golden Shiners