Get ready to go fish. The ponds across Fort Benning were restocked last week.
The ponds, stocked with bluegill, crappie, bass, catfish and shelcracker fish, received a boost in their population with a shipment of fish from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Steve Cocke Fish Hatchery, located in Dawson, Ga.
Josh Tannehill, from the hatchery, said they stock private ponds and public waters. He said this year an excess amount of fish had to be given away.
“You put the parent fish out there and they spawn and you may get 100,000 more than what you need,” he said. “This year we have hundreds of thousands more than what we need so we give them out to whomever we can find to take them.”
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Brent Widener, fish and wildlife biologist for the Directorate of Public Works’ Conservation Branch, said the hatchery provided Weems, Twilight, Kings, and Headley ponds with 220,000 bluegill and 30,000 shelcracker fish. Victory Pond was restocked with 70,000 catfish.
One of the goals of restocking is to provide more food for the small bass, Widener said. The bass will feed on the bluegill and grow to a more desirable size. Now the bluegills are 1 to 2 inches in length but by next year they will be about the size of a person’s hand.
Widener said this year they stocked more than average. In 2009, 800 to 1,000 fish per acre were stocked in Kings Pond compared to this year where around 2,000 per acre were stocked.
The bluegill stocked in Kings, Twilight, and Headley’s pond last year were around 3 to 5 inches in length. Widener said by the end of last growing season they were already at least hand sized. He said there are already good-sized bream in Twilight and Weems ponds.
For every pond except Weems, the creel limit is 15 bass, 15 bream, and eight catfish. However, people can only catch two bass that are greater or equal to 14 inches in length.Weems pond has the same limits with the exception of bass. Only five of the bass can be 12 inches or greater, and only one can be 15 inches or greater in length.