A well managed lake or pond adds a spot of beauty and tranquility to your landscape and provides food, cover, and water for an amazing array of creatures. However, a poorly managed lake or pond can damage surrounding habitat, require frequent maintenance, and endanger people and wildlife. The following information is designed to provide guidance to avoid the most common mistakes made in lake or pond management, whether your lake or pond is a wildlife sanctuary, ornamental, a water source for livestock, or an irrigation source for agriculture or orchards.
There are many very attractive plants and animals not native to our state available for use in and around lakes and ponds.. As a person selects species for their lake or pond, there are a few things to consider. Many of these plants and animals will not thrive, or even survive, in our temperate climate, and could result in the loss of an expensive investment. Others may do extremely well. In fact, there are some that can overwhelm your pond and surrounding areas, becoming an invasive nuisance that is difficult, if not, impossible to control. Sometimes, these species are easily spread to other areas by birds and animals visiting your pond, or by unexpected flood conditions. Many of these highly invasive species are prohibited by law for use in this state. Others are recommended for indoor use only. regardless of the size of the waterbody that you are managing, getting professional advice when selecting what plant and animal species to use will help ensure that you have a healthy, productive lake or pond.
A Fish Stocking Permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is required to plant fish into lakes or ponds in Washington State. . Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, bluegill sunfish, and channel catfish are the best choices for stocking into waters in Washington State. Triploid (sterile) grass carp have limited applications in some types of lakes or ponds, (i.e., golf-course ponds, water-ski lakes, etc.). The main concern with fish stocked into lakes and ponds is preventing any escape of the fish into nearby waters, where they may become problematic.
WDFW is trying to protect our native and important non-native fish species. The spread of stocked fish species can have a detrimental impact through predation or competition. Additionally, stocked fish species coming from commercial or wild sources may carry disease agents to waters that currently do not have them. By requiring a Fish Stocking Permit, WDFW biologists are able to look at these possibilities and make determinations on the risk to fish in the waters intended for stocking and any nearby state waters.
Applications for a Fish Stocking Permit may be downloaded in electronic format by clicking on the links at the top of this page. Applications may also be obtained at the WDFW Regional office in your area. There is a $24 stocking fee and a $70 processing fee ($94 total) that needs to accompany the application when it is submitted. When your application is received, you will be contacted by a WDFW fish biologist to arrange an appointment for an on-site evaluation.
The required fish stocking permit and biological evaluation covers two aspects concerning approval. The first relates to the lake or pond site parameters, while the second deals with approval of the source of fish. Lake and pond site parameters reviewed by a WDFW biologist include water quality and quantity; inlet and outlet structures; connections to nearby waters; and flooding potential. Screening may be necessary in some lakes or ponds to keep fish from leaving. In some cases, it may be necessary to have a hydraulics permit approval (HPA) to put inlet or outlet screening in your lake or pond. The biologist working with you will help determine if you need an HPA, which is also issued by WDFW. There is a fee for the HPA and it may take 30-45 days to process the permit.
The fish source approval covers an evaluation of the landowner’s proposed fish management stocking plan regarding fish species or combination of fish species, stocking rates, potential feeding recommendations, and ways these species will mesh with the lake or pond's habitat. Additionally, there will be some feedback regarding possible sources of fish for stocking. The biologist will also review with the owner whether state fishing licenses and state fishing regulations apply to the lake or pond. Final recommendations are made to enhance the success of the private lake or pond owner’s proposed fish stocking plans.
You will need to contact the fish grower directly to arrange for the purchase of your fish. Fish may be purchased from any Registered Aquatic Fish Farmer in the state. However, the fish must have accompanying documentation showing them to be free from disease-causing organisms. A list of state-certified, disease-free fish farms can be downloaded from this website. Applications listing growers who are not certified will require additional review by WDFW’s fish health staff in Olympia.
Fish Transport Permit
A Fish Transport Permit is different than a Fish Stocking Permit. If you are applying for a Fish Stocking Permit, you do not need to also apply for a Fish Transport Permit. The Fish Transport Permit is usually only needed by the commercial aquaculture industry, public aquariums, fish researchers, and retailers who are transporting live fish products from one location to another.
It generally takes the department less than 30 days to issue a fish stocking permit. You can contact the WDFW Region to which you submitted your Fish Stocking Permit Application and determine the WDFW fish biologist who is processing your permit if you need additional information or have questions. Please note that if screening is required on your pond, you may need other permits prior to stocking.
For triploid grass carp, the application process is more detailed and must follow the State Environmental Protection Act process (SEPA). This means it will be reviewed by biologists from WDFW’s Fish Management, Habitat Management, and Wildlife Management programs. When all three programs have approved the application, it is sent to the Habitat Division in Olympia, where it will be held for a 15-day public comment period. Following the comment period, the Habitat Division will notify the biologist working with you, who will notify you of the results.
- The Fish Stocking Permit has a $24 application fee and a $70 processing fee for a total of $94. If your Fish Stocking permit is denied, the $24 stocking fee will be refunded to you. The $70 processing fee is non-refundable.
- Fill out your application completely, including the section, township and range of your lake or pond.
- You must identify the source of the fish you wish to obtain before a permit can be issued.
- Permits are approved based on the location of stocking, an evaluation of screening requirements, and the source of fish.
- It is illegal to transfer or stock fish without a permit issued by WDFW. It is also illegal to move fish to a lake, pond or stream on your land, or between any other bodies of water.
- Stocking Permits are issued for a one-year period.
- If you have additional questions on Fish Stocking Permits, call your nearest WDFW regional office.
- For information on Fish Transport Permits, call the Fish Program’s Olympia office at 360-902-2700.