Stocking fingerlings
Pond Stocking

Years of experimentation have shown three fish species are best suited for Iowa ponds. Largemouth Bass and Bluegill are the primary species stocked in ponds, and must be stocked in combination to provide a good fishery. Bluegills are an excellent panfish and serve as prey for largemouth bass. Channel Catfish are also recommended for pond stocking due to their popularity with Iowa anglers and opportunity they provide for excellent fishing. All three species are available from many private hatcheries in Iowa.

Stocking and Managing Iowa Ponds

+ Pond Stocking | Bluegills
+ Pond Stocking | Largemouth Bass
+ Pond Stocking | Channel Catfish
+ Pond Stocking | Other Species
+ Correct Stocking is a MUST for Good Fishing
Fish Parasites
Occasionally, anglers catch a fish infested with parasites. A healthy fish can tolerate some parasites with little ill effects. Black spot and yellow grub are the most common parasites found in Iowa pond fish. Fish infested with yellow grub are often called "wormy" or "grubby". This parasite is found in largemouth bass and bluegill. The yellow grub is enclosed in a cyst which often lies just beneath the skin. A bulge is often seen at the base of the fins or tail. The living worm, when squeezed from this bulge, is light yellow and about 1/4 inch long and 1/20 inch wide.

Black spot is small, black grains embedded in the skin and flesh. These black spots are the home to a small fluke. Found on several species of fish, they are very common on bluegill.

Black spot in fish fillets
Black spot in fish fillets
yellow grubs in fish fillets
Yellow grubs in fish fillets

Since humans cannot be infected with these parasites, it is safe to eat fish that have them. The parasites are killed when the fish are thoroughly cooked. It is not practical to try to remove these parasites from a pond. 

A fungus called Saprolegnia can sometimes be found on fish in ponds. This grayish, cotton-like growth is usually a secondary infection caused by an adverse environmental condition such as disease, low oxygen levels or spawning stress. Many times it is seen on the tails, sides or bellies of fish which have rubbed these areas raw while spawning. Fish not too badly affected will recover, but some will die.
How to Fish For...
Iowa’s fishing opportunities are as diverse as the fish you can catch. Choose one of Iowa's most popular species for tips and techniques from the experts.


Common pond fish:
Fishing for Bluegill
Fishing for Largemouth Bass
Fishing for Channel Catfish


Key to Pond Management:

Harvest Bluegills,
Release Most Largemouth Bass

Iowa ponds contain about 250 pounds of bluegill per surface acre of water; therefore, this species will provide most of the fishing in a pond. Bluegill harvest can begin the second year after stocking. No limits are necessary for bluegill in private ponds because they are plentiful.

Largemouth bass populations in a balanced Iowa pond will reach 50-75 lbs/acre. Largemouth bass should not be removed until the third year after stocking. No more than 15 largemouth bass/acre over 14 inches in length should be removed each year. Greater harvest rates will reduce the quality of largemouth bass and bluegill fishing. Removing too many largemouth bass may result in small bluegills due to their prolific reproduction.

Channel catfish harvest can typically begin within three years after initial stocking. Harvest should not exceed 15 fish/acre and can be restocked once half the original population has been harvested. Large fingerlings (at least 8-inch) should be stocked when introducing channel catfish in established ponds to escape predation by largemouth bass.