One of the best ways to manage fish populations in your own waterway or community is to strategically plan and stock with carefully-selected, hatchery-reared species. Strategic stocking can have a number of positive benefits, bolster fish populations for exciting angling opportunities, balance native fish communities, create a prey base for improved wildlife watching, reduce exotic fish populations through competition and predation by native species, reduce invasive exotic plant species, and control nuisance mosquito and midge hatches. All of Lake & Wetland Management’s fish are aquacultured in closed pond systems then transported in specially-designed, cooled, aerated tank trucks and gently hand-stocked by experienced hatchery staff for the healthiest and least stressful transition from our hatchery to your property.
Why Stock Your Waterway With Fish?
Both municipal agencies and private organizations such as Lake & Wetland Management, Inc. have been stocking fish in Florida’s waters for many years. Though this practice originally came about as an effort to add non-native fish for the purposes of food and recreational fishing, contemporary fish stocking revolves around the restoration of native populations (rather than the introduction of new ones).
There are multiple reasons for this. For one, many of Florida’s native fish species have been overfished, and many others are no longer able to breed due to scarcity, pollution or environmental causes.
Thus, sustainability is one pertinent reason to stock waterways with fish. These species stabilize the habitats of lakes and wetlands. Some keep parasites and bacteria in check, while others fertilize the water with nutrient waste. However, a native species that is threatened, endangered or extinct will often introduce new (often non-native) species that will compete for the waters’ sun, oxygen and resources.
In addition to environmental sustainability, fish stocking also has the potential to raise the value and/or appeal of a waterway’s property. Stocking your lake with fish can make it appear more fun and interesting to people. It also allows people to fish for sport, thereby attracting them to your waterway and making for an all-around more enjoyable experience for visitors/residents.
How Fish Stocking Works
If you want to stock your waterway, you can start by calling 855-888-LAKE to get a free quote from Lake & Wetland Management, Inc. We will come to your site, assess your needs and develop a plan for what kind of fish you need stocked.
From large lakes to small backyard ponds, whatever your goals, Lake & Wetland Management can develop a custom stocking strategy specifically tailored to your individual needs and those of your waterway. What follows are some of the more commonly stocked species we offer:
Eastern Mosquitofish, (Gambusia holbrooki):
A cousin of the Guppy, the mosquitofish bears live young. It is extremely touch and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and salinity. This small surface-dwelling fish has an upturned mouth and specializes in preying upon the aquatic larvae of mosquitoes and midges and has been introduced around the world to control the spread of mosquito-borne disease. In turn, it is an important forage fish for larger fish, birds, insects and other predators. Females grow substantially larger than males. Size: ♂️1.5 inches, ♀️2.5 inches
Bluegill, (Lepomis macrochirus):
This common sunfish or “bream” occurs naturally from the Rockies east to the Atlantic coast, from Canada south into Mexico and has been introduced into the western USA and around the world. Named for dark navy blue gill covers, males are more brightly colored, especially during the spawning season. A popular panfish, the bluegill is often stocked as a forage fish for its larger cousin, the Largemouth Bass. Bluegill are often stocked in conjunction with Red-ear Sunfish to add diversity (70% Bluegill/30% Red-ear Sunfish). Size: to 2.95 lb., 15 in.
Red-ear Sunfish, (Lepomis microlophus):
Related to the Bluegill, the two species sometimes hybridize, especially in murky water. Also colloquially known as “Shellcracker”, this panfish possesses thick plate-like teeth to crush its preferred prey, snails and mussels. Its name comes from the red edge of its gill covers. The Red-ear prefers deeper, heavier cover than the Bluegill and is often stocked in conjunction with Bluegill to add diversity (70% Bluegill/30% Red-ear Sunfish). Size: to 4.86 lb., 16 in.
Largemouth Bass, (Micropterus salmoides):
Florida’s official state freshwater fish and one of the world’s most prized gamefish, the Largemouth Bass has been introduced around the globe. A top predator, it eats any animal it can fit in its oversized mouth and swallow, including fish, frogs, insects, and the occasional small bird or mammal. The Florida largemouth bass fishery generates billions of dollars annually for the state economy. We stock the Florida subspecies, sometimes known as the “Florida bass”, or “black bass”. Typically available only in spring. Size: to 17.27 lb., 24 in.