While the vast majority of Wisconsin lakes and streams have self-sustaining fish populations, stocking remains an important management tool for some waters. DNR fish hatcheries and other facilities produce young fish for stocking to re-establish formerly self-sustaining populations, provide research data on the effectiveness of stocking and other related practices, and expand fishing opportunities for Wisconsin's anglers.
Fish stocking database
The stocking database allows you to quickly see where fish have been stocked by DNR facilities throughout Wisconsin in past years in case you are interested in targeting stocked waters. You'll find information from 1972 to the present. These reports do not include stocking events performed by private fish hatcheries or tribes.
Stocking frequently asked questions
Why are fish stocked into some lakes and streams?
Stocking is used as part of an integrated management approach:
- Rehabilitation: To restore self-sustaining fish populations.
- Research or Evaluation: To determine the cost-effectiveness of stocking, evaluate alternate propagation techniques, or other management actions.
- Remediation: To maintain an existing fishery that has been reduced due to external impacts, such as habitat losses or winter kills.
- Recreation: To create or maintain a recreational fishery that did not previously exist and is not self-sustaining.
- Introductions: To introduce a species into a waterbody was not previously present, ideally resulting in the establishment of a self-sustaining fishery with minimal impacts on existing fisheries.
What species of fish are stocked in Wisconsin waters?
The species of fish stocked in Wisconsin include brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, steelhead, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, lake sturgeon, muskellunge, northern pike, and walleye.
How many fish get stocked into each waterbody?
The number and size of fish stocked are based on the size of the waterbody and the management goal for that waterbody. Fish managers consider many factors, including growth rate, mortality, habitat, and the amount of natural reproduction when determining the number and size of fish to be stocked.
What do I need if I want to stock fish in Wisconsin?
To stock fish in Wisconsin, you can either
- fill out a general permit for the stocking of private ponds or
- submit a Form 9400-060 - Fish Stocking Permit Application [PDF] to the Wisconsin DNR fish biologist who manages the waters where you wish to stock the fish.
Fish stocking in private ponds
Stocking fish in private ponds requires a Pond Stocking General Permit - Form 9400-605 [Download PDF]. This general permit allows the stocking of native Wisconsin fishes in a self-contained body of water that is located entirely on private property owned by a person (not a municipality or business). This prevents the need for most people with a “private pond” to register as a fish farm with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, although they must still follow the fishing season, bag, and length limits. Landowners must read all conditions listed in the permit, certify that they qualify, and sign the permit. Please note that fish suppliers may not sign the permit as an agent of the landowner. Keep a copy of the permit for your records and fax, email, or mail the permit to the address on the form. Please note: you will not receive an approval notice from the Department.
Fish stocking in waters of the state
A stocking permit is required under Chapter 29.736 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. There is no charge for this stocking permit. An online application for the permit is available at DNR Fish Stocking Permit Application. Please note: Applications are reviewed in 7 days on average but may take up to 30 days. If you are having trouble with the online system, you can fill out a fish stocking permit application form [PDF] and mail it to the biologist. However, this may delay the review time.
Private fish stocking permit application process
Two options are available for applying for a fish stocking permit:
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Electronic submission may speed up the review of your application. The fisheries biologist for the county of interest will receive an automated e-mail, notifying them that a stocking permit application is ready for review as soon as you click the "Print for Signature" button at the bottom of the application. When filling out your application, please provide your DNR Customer ID. You will still need to print the application and sign it, and if you did not provide your DNR Customer ID, you will have to write in your Social Security number. Then, send the completed permit application with a copy of each fish source's Fish Health Certificate (FHC), a Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection form, for each species to be stocked.
When the permit has been approved, you will receive an originally signed permit and a Receipt of Fish for Planting, Form 3600-16, in the mail. The Receipt must be completed, for all fish stocked in Wisconsin, and returned to the Fisheries Biologist listed on the Permit and Receipt when the stocking is complete.
If you have tried to submit an application and continue to experience problems, please contact the Fisheries Permits Coordinator.
The application asks for the source of the fish you plan to stock. If you need information on where to buy your fish, the Wisconsin Aquaculture Association [exit DNR] maintains a list of their WAA members in Wisconsin and the species of fish they rear (while we mention this list here, we do not endorse WAA as a source for buying fish for stocking). You can search by location (nearest you) or fish species desired for stocking.
Since January 2002, a Fish Health Certificate (FHC) has been required for all fish stocked in state water bodies, including private ponds. When you contact a fish farm to order fish, ask for a copy of the most recent Fish Health Certificate (FHC). You will need to attach a copy of the certificate to your stocking permit application. DNR cannot issue a stocking permit unless the Fish Health Certificate (FHC) is submitted along with your application. This certification is required under Chapter 29.736 of the Wisconsin State Statutes.
Private pond construction
If your plans include constructing a pond on your land, a permit may be required under Chapter 30 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. A general overview of information on pond construction, including links to related publications, can be found on DNR's Web site. Specifically, those constructing or managing a pond for fish may wish to consult Managing Wisconsin Fish Ponds [PDF].
It is illegal for you to collect fish for your pond by angling
Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) rules aimed at preventing the spread of VHS, do not allow the movement of live fish away from any state waterbody
For more information about fish stocking, please contact the fisheries biologist for the county where you want to stock fish.