How to Start a Fishery

Starting a fishery is one of the toughest but most pleasurable things to do. Your product is life, and if you fail, it shows in the death of many fish. The management of a fishery is not easy in that there is so much more involved than just throwing some fish into a pond. Starting a fishery is probably a bit easier than maintaining one.

Decide what purpose your fishery is going to have. Is it to sell fish to market, to stock other ponds or to open as a fishing hole? Deciding on what your business plan is will make the rest of the steps much easier.

Buy land. You need a large amount of land to start a successful fishery.

Decide on how you are going to use the land and what you want to accomplish with your fishery. If you are just going to have a pay lake, you need only decide how large to make your pond. If you are going to sell the fish to individuals or sell to the DNR to stock other lakes, then you will need to dig several ponds.

Get your permits and insurance. Depending upon the use, you will more than likely need differing permits as well as differing amounts of insurance.

Dig a hole. If you are just having a pay pond, at minimum you need to dig a big hole and fill with water and put in all sorts of fish. You will need to research what fish are indigenous to the area and if they can live with other fish peacefully.

Dig lots of holes, or long strips. If you are selling or stocking fish elsewhere, you will need to keep them separated by species. Some fish can cross-contaminate other fish, and you need to keep this from happening. You also might find that you need to adjust the pH levels of your ponds, especially those that you are selling.

Buy the fish. Buy them separately or together, depending upon your use. You will want to buy them separately if you are selling or stocking to avoid cross-contamination at any point. You need not worry about this if you are just having a pay pond.


  • For pay-per-use fishing, make sure that you put as many varieties as possible. Don't over do it though. Too many fish will lead to stunted growth and most people want the chance to land a trophy specimen. You want enough of a variety to suit everyone's taste.

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