A common option for pond owners is to stock, particularly smaller ponds, is to manage for channel catfish fishing. Channel catfish are a hardy fish that consumes a variety of foods, including insects, crawfish, mollusks, smaller fish, and commercially-prepared catfish feed as well. Channel cats grow fast in ponds and provide excellent recreation for anglers of all ages.
Pond management for channel catfish works well in ponds of all sizes including ponds less than one-half acre in size and even muddy ponds that are unsuitable for bass and bream. Of course, catfish stocking rates will vary depending on if you plan to feed your fish or not. In an unfertilized pond, stock 100 channel cat fingerlings per acre. A fertilized pond, however, will support up to 200 fish per acre. If you plan on feeding catfish a commercial food, then you can stock a pond with up to 1,000 catfish fingerlings per acre.
Keep in mind that the more fish you stock the more you will have to feed. Before fish stocking, you should decide on how much money and time you are willing to spend on feeding your fish. It is also important to keep in mind that channel catfish are not likely to reproduce successfully in your pond, so as you catch them out you will need to purchase new fingerlings to replace the fish that you retain to eat.
The frequency and number of fingerling channel catfish that you will have to restock will depend on how many fish you harvest. It is important to remember that while a pond might support 800 1-pound catfish, oxygen and water quality problems would probably result if all of those fish were allowed to attain sizes of 2 or 3 pounds. It is important to start removing fish as they reach harvestable sizes for proper catfish population and pond management.