Why Stock a Farm Dam
There are many reasons why one would stock a farm dam with fish. They provide sport in the form of recreational fishing, can control mosquitoes, tadpoles and algae, provide food as a cheap source of protein or perhaps just as pets to feed whilst you relax at the waters edge at the end of the day. Your reasons for wanting the fish along with the size, depth and water clarity of your dam will govern which species is best for each situation.
Angler into a good fish in a Wheatbelt Farm Dam
Silver Perch - do well in most dams from the muddy turkey nest dams of the Wheatbelt to clear water gully dams in the South West. They are omnivorous scavengers so with a greater available food supply much higher stocking densities are possible than with carnivorous fish.
The best times to stock dams is during the warmer months, fry are available from late summer/autumn and fingerlings from spring/early summer. Silver perch can tolerate poor water quality and high water temperatures so are suitable for dams that drop to 1 metre or less in depth over the summer months. They provide good angling especially once over 1kg in size as their deep bodies provide strong resistance when side on to the angler. Also an excellent eating fish with white flesh and few bones.
- omnivores so will help control algae, weed and mosquitoes
- easily trained to accept pellets
- will not breed in the dam unless water level rises during the summer
- reguarly achieve sizes of 1 - 2 kg though have been caught up to 5kg in some SW dams
- grows well in clear, muddy and turbid dams
- long lived, up to 20 years plus
- small mouths so impact on marron negligible
- will not prey on fry/fingerlings in subsequent stockings
- slow growth rates (compared to trout), generally wont reach catchable size for 18 months - 2yrs after stocking of fry
- not permitted in some catchments (check with Dept Fisheries)
- can take up off/muddy flavours in some dams
Silver Perch from a dam in the Margaret River area, the one on the left weighed 2.4kg and one the right went 5kg
Rainbow Trout - are suitable for some dams in the South West of the state, they do best in gully dams that flood over fertile pastures in the winter/spring months or contain weed beds, a depth of at least 2.5m at the end of summer is also necessary for survival. Trout feed by sight so clear water dams are the most suitable, these also encourage the weed beds which provide a home for aquatic insects that form the main part of a trouts diet.
The best time to stock fingerlings is in the autumn months once the water has cooled down in the shallows allowing the young fish access to the abundant food supply there. If your dam already contains fish or is frequently visited by cormorants it may be wiser to stock with yearlings in the winter or spring to ensure a better survival rate. The lifespan of Rainbow Trout is short, 2 to 3 years after stocking its likely the majority would have died out, therefore a regular stocking program is needed to keep the numbers up.
- fast growing, from an autumn stocking they should be of a catchable size by late winter/early spring
- will help control tadpoles and mosquitoes
- easily trained to accept pellets
- will not breed in the dam
- reguarly achieve sizes of 1 - 2.5kg and have been caught up to 3.5kg in some SW dams
- short lived so require regular stocking
- carnivorous so will prey on newly stocked fingerlings
- need cool water to survive through summers so deep dams required
- will eat some marron but prefer aquatic insects if available
- needs reasonable water clarity for acceptable growth rates
WA State record Rainbow Trout of 3.5kg from a small farm dam in Pemberton
Brown Trout - have similar requirements to Rainbow Trout. The main differences are they live longer so often reach a larger size, tend to be smarter making them more difficult to catch and are less tolerant of high summer water temperatures.