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Fisheries Management

Fishing WisconsinFish Stocking

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, to provide research data on the effectiveness of stocking and other related practices, and to expand fishing opportunities for Wisconsin's anglers.

Fish stocking database

The stocking database allows you to quickly see where fish have been stocked throughout Wisconsin in past years in case you are interested in targeting stocked waters. You'll find information from 1972 to the present.

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 where 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 must submit a fish stocking permit application (form 9400-060) to the Wisconsin DNR fish biologist who manages the waters where you wish to stock the fish. This permit is required under Chapter 29.736 of the Wisconsin State Statutes.

Electronic submission may speed 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, 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 original 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 stocking is complete.

On-Line stocking permit application available

There is no charge for the stocking permit. The on-line application for the permit is available at WDNR Fish Stocking Permit Application [exit DNR].
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 stocking permit form [PDF] and mail it to the biologist. However, this may delay the review time

If you have tried to submit an application and continue to experience problems, please contact Lori Tate, Statewide Fisheries Database Manager.

Purchasing fish

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.

Health certificate

Since January 2002, a Fish Health Certificate (FHC) has been required for all fish stocked in state waterbodies, 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.

Fish stocking in private ponds

Stocking fish in private ponds requires a Pond Stocking General Permit - Form 9400-605 [PDF].

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, exit DNR] - University of Wisconsin-Extension Publication G3693.

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

Contacts

For more information about fish stocking please contact: the fisheries biologist for the county where you want to stock fish or Lori Tate, Statewide Fisheries Database Manager,(608) 266-5250

Last revised: Friday March 14 2014