The new year brings with it happy memories of the recent holidays, ideas and goals for the future, and a new sense of self…and also cold weather! Here is your answer to the age-old question; is it too cold to stock my pond in January and February?
Typically, the spring season gets the most attention for fish stocking as well as other agricultural happenings. The appeal of spring time stocking includes peaked spawning activity, good zooplankton and vegetation growth, and an increased chance of pond-filling rains and showers. Very hard to beat! While spring stocking is always the most recommended (and for good reasons), sometimes customers need to pull the trigger in the off season and stock their ponds when the weather is a bit more unfavorable.
Not to fret! It is in fact NOT too cold to stock in January and February, within reason. Typically, we are pretty blessed here in Texas with mild winters, and that allows our region to be able to stock ponds in otherwise non-ideal conditions. Aside from periods of harsher weather (think 32 and below), fish can be stocked just fine with the proper acclimation periods. Much like in the peak of summer, fish that are picked up, i.e., in plastic bags with oxygen, must be floated in the pond water for a longer period of time than when the weather is more favorable. Usually, this is a period of about 15-20 minutes. Larger fish orders that constitute a delivery are done a bit differently, and the fish are actually acclimated to the pond water as they are getting loaded onto the truck/trailer. This allows the fish to be stocked directly into the pond water upon arrival.
Now for the catch—stocking in winter means you will not get the spawning activity you need right away. Most fish species spawn once the water temperature hits about 60 degrees and above, and even though Texas has mild winters, that pond water is definitely not that warm! It is not a huge concern, but essentially you are banking on the idea that your winter-stocked fish are going to survive predation and other factors to make it to spring, and thus, spawning weather. Because of this, you may have to wait a longer period of time before introducing any new predator species, possibly 4-6 months. Stocking your forage fish first and then waiting for at least two spawns before stocking predators is a step in the stocking process most people overlook due to excitement, but it is very important to ensure you build a healthy fishery.
In conclusion, winter stocking is completely doable even though spring and fall stockings are preferred. Sometimes, you have to do what you can when you can, and fish stocking is no different! As always, if you have more questions or concerns, our staff at Henneke Hatchery are eager to help. Just give us a call or shoot us an email, and we will work together to make sure you have a pond you can be proud of.
Author: Jordan Moore