The Origin of a Fish

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010

this type of maintenance stocking include sturgeon, paddlefish and walleye in rivers and impoundments, and channel catfish at many conservation area lakes.

We also stock adult fish in some waters. Called put-and-take, this strategy provides keeper-size fish in waters that are subjected to extremely high fishing pressure, including urban fisheries, kids fishing ponds and trout parks. Given the number of anglers enjoying these resources, natural reproduction and growth could not possibly sustain quality fishing. We stock some waters daily and some monthly, after raising the fish to harvestable size in hatcheries.

Pond Stocking

The Missouri Department of Conservation provides fingerling largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish for the initial stocking of new or renovated ponds.

The fish can be obtained free of charge from the Department’s Private Pond Stocking Program. To be eligible for participation, the pond must meet the following requirements:

  • Water must be at least eight feet deep.
  • The water and shoreline must be protected from livestock use.
  • The dam must be constructed for permanency and water tightness.
  • No undesirable fish species, other than minnows, may be present prior to stocking.
  • Water quality must be sufficient to ensure the survival of the stocked fish and sustain good fishing.
  • Stocking will not endanger species of conservation concern.

Landowners interested in participating in the program must submit a completed pond stocking application by July 15th. Applications for fish are available at offices of the Missouri Department of Conservation, from conservation agents, and from most agricultural agencies (NRCS Offices). For more information, go to

Participating landowners are not obligated to allow public use of their pond or property, but are encouraged to permit a reasonable amount of fishing. However, fishing is subject to regulations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.

Trout and muskie wouldn’t exist in Missouri or many other Midwestern states if they weren’t produced in hatcheries.

Yet, trout fishing is one of the most popular outdoor recreations in Missouri. We support trout populations with fish raised at five coldwater hatcheries. Muskellunge fishing also has a dedicated following, and the muskies we stock in select waters provide Missouri anglers the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime.

In addition, our hatcheries supply fish to restore or establish populations in suitable, but unoccupied habitat. These fish go into new or renovated public lakes to establish sport fisheries.

We continually monitor fish populations in Missouri waters to identify needs and opportunities to bolster fish populations. We also try to reestablish fish populations in waters they formerly inhabited.

Biologists look for opportunities to diversify fishing opportunities by introducing species into existing public lakes that have available habitat. Sometimes, we can improve the quality of angling by introducing predatory fish to keep prey fish species from overpopulating.

In such cases, the Conservation Department stocks only native, formerly native or established species within their historic or established ranges, and only after determining that existing sport fisheries and native populations of fish and other aquatic organisms will not be harmed. triangle

Growing Up Wet

Different species of fish grow at different rates, and depending on food and competition, fish in one lake might grow at a different rate than fish in neighboring waters.

It might take anywhere from two to four years, for example, for a crappie to grow to nine inches long in Missouri, or 10 to 16 years for a blue or flathead catfish to reach 40 pounds.

Most Missouri fish have fairly consistent growth rates, however. It usually takes six years for a redhorse sucker to grow to 15 inches long, and nine years for a river smallmouth bass to reach three pounds. Largemouth bass and walleye usually reach that weight in six to seven years.

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