Can Walleye Live in a Pond?

Yes, walleye can live in a pond.

Walleye Can Live in a Pond

Perhaps you have come to Door County and caught walleye, or you feasted on them at a legendary Door County fish fry. This made you wonder, “Can walleye live in my small pond?

Walleye, a popular freshwater fish, indeed have the ability to live in a pond. However, it’s important to note that walleye are naturally more inclined to thrive in larger bodies of water. These fish are known for their preference for expansive habitats, such as lakes and rivers, where they can roam and hunt freely.

Raising walleye in a pond presents some challenges. Firstly, their dietary needs can be quite specific. Walleye are predatory fish and rely on a diet primarily composed of smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans. In a pond setting, it can be more challenging to provide them with the diverse food sources they require for optimal growth and health.

Additionally, when raising walleye in a pond, there may be competition from other predator fish species, such as largemouth and smallmouth bass. These species might outcompete the walleye for food and territory, creating an additional hurdle in maintaining a successful walleye population in a pond environment.

Despite these challenges, with careful attention to detail and proper management practices, it is indeed possible to raise walleye successfully in a pond. Implementing strategies to ensure an adequate and varied food supply, monitoring population dynamics, and creating a suitable habitat can contribute to the success of a walleye pond.

walleye being held up by a bearded man
Via Unsplash. Used by permission (public domain).

Why Keep Walleye in a Pond?

Raising walleye in a pond can offer several advantages and unique opportunities compared to other fish species. Here are some compelling reasons why individuals might choose to raise walleye in a pond:

Population Management

Unlike some other predator fish like bass, walleye typically do not reproduce naturally in ponds. This characteristic makes it easier to control and manage their population. By regulating the stocking of walleye in a pond, fishery managers and enthusiasts can maintain the desired population size and avoid issues associated with overpopulation.

Forage Fish Control

Ponds can sometimes become overpopulated with forage fish, such as bluegill. These small fish can compete with desirable species and hinder their growth. Walleye, being voracious predators, can help control the population of forage fish in a pond. By stocking walleye, they can actively cull and manage the numbers of forage fish, promoting a healthier balance within the ecosystem.

Culinary Delight

walleye fillets being friend in a pan
Via Pixabay. Used by permission.

Walleye are renowned for their delicious flavor and delicate texture. They are often considered one of the most sought-after freshwater fish for culinary purposes. Raising walleye in a pond provides an opportunity for fish enthusiasts and those with a penchant for fine dining to have a readily available supply of this delectable fish. From flaky fillets to tasty fish fries, walleye can be a gourmet addition to the dinner table.

Thrilling Fishing Experience

Walleye are not just prized for their taste; they are also known for their fighting spirit when hooked. Anglers often appreciate the challenge and excitement that comes with reeling in a walleye. By raising walleye in a pond, fishing enthusiasts can create a local fishing spot that offers the thrill of catching these elusive and strong fish, enhancing the overall recreational experience.

Walleye being held by a person
Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr. Used by permission (public domain).

The ability to manage populations, control forage fish, savor a delectable meal, and enjoy the excitement of walleye fishing are some of the reasons why individuals may choose to raise walleye in a pond. In the next section, we will explore the key considerations and techniques involved in successfully establishing a walleye pond.

Conditions of a Good Walleye Pond

Creating the ideal conditions for a walleye pond is crucial to the success of raising these prized fish. Here are the key factors to consider when establishing a walleye pond:

Depth and Size

A good walleye pond should have a minimum depth of 8 feet, but ideally, it should be more than 10 feet deep. This depth provides the walleye with the appropriate environment they prefer. Additionally, the pond should be at least two acres in size to provide ample space for the walleye to roam and thrive.


Proper aeration is essential for maintaining optimal oxygen levels in the pond, particularly during the summer and winter months. In the summer, walleye tend to stick to the bottom of the pond due to their preference for cooler temperatures and lower light conditions. However, this can lead to a situation where they may reside below the thermocline.

During the winter, when the pond is covered with ice, the walleye may be pushed deeper. Adequate aeration ensures that oxygen levels are maintained even in the deeper parts of the pond, supporting the walleye’s survival during the winter months.

Stocking Rate

When stocking walleye in a pond, a recommended stocking rate is between 20-25 fish per acre. This stocking density helps maintain a balanced population while ensuring the availability of sufficient resources for each individual fish.

Forage Fish Supply

Walleye primarily feed on live prey and have specific preferences for their diet. While they will eat certain sunfish types, they are better suited to consuming slender-bodied fish such as fathead minnows and young perch. Crawfish also make a significant part of their diet. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a good supply of suitable forage fish in the pond to support the walleye’s dietary needs.

Creating a walleye pond with appropriate depth, size, and aeration, along with a suitable stocking rate and a sufficient supply of forage fish, provides the optimal conditions for these fish to thrive. In the next section, we will explore the management practices involved in maintaining a healthy and productive walleye pond.

Managing Threats and Competition from Bass

Managing a walleye pond involves being aware of and addressing the potential threat of competition from largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Here are some important considerations regarding this competition:

Predation on Young Walleye

One of the challenges in a walleye pond is the vulnerability of young walleye to predation by bass. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are known predators and may prey on young walleye, potentially impacting the walleye population. To mitigate this threat, purchasing larger walleye during stocking can help improve their survival rate. Larger walleye are better equipped to evade predation, increasing their chances of thriving despite the presence of bass.

Competitive Nature

In addition to predation, another factor that affects the success of walleye in a pond is their comparatively less aggressive nature when compared to bass. Walleye are generally not as competitive as largemouth and smallmouth bass when it comes to resource utilization. This means that in situations of limited food availability or habitat space, bass may outcompete walleye, leading to a potential decline in walleye population.

Culling Bass

To foster the thriving of walleye in a pond, it is crucial to manage the bass population. By selectively culling bass to reduce their numbers, the competitive pressure on walleye can be alleviated. Culling involves removing a specific number of bass from the pond to balance the predator-prey dynamics and create a more favorable environment for walleye. This practice can help ensure the success and sustainability of a walleye population in the presence of bass.

By addressing the predation threat through stocking larger walleye, recognizing the competitive nature of bass, and implementing bass culling practices, fishery managers and pond owners can enhance the conditions for walleye to thrive and establish a balanced ecosystem within the walleye pond.

Walleye Reproduction in a Pond

When it comes to walleye reproduction in a pond, it is important to note that they often do not naturally reproduce in such conditions. While this may be viewed as an advantage by some, as it allows for better control over the walleye population and the balance between predator and prey fish, others may desire walleye to reproduce in their pond. Here are some considerations for facilitating walleye reproduction in a pond:

Providing Suitable Spawning Habitat

To encourage walleye reproduction in a pond, creating a conducive environment for spawning is essential. Walleye typically prefer areas with large gravel, ranging from 1 inch to eight inches in size, for depositing their eggs. By incorporating such substrates within the pond, walleye are provided with suitable areas to lay their eggs.

Water Circulation and Wave Action

Water circulation plays a crucial role in simulating natural wave action, which aids in settling walleye eggs into the rock substrate. By ensuring proper water circulation in the pond, either through the use of aeration systems or other means, the movement and disturbance of the water surface can help mimic the necessary conditions for walleye egg settlement.

By creating the appropriate spawning habitat with gravel substrates and implementing measures to enhance water circulation and wave action, pond owners can increase the likelihood of successful walleye reproduction. However, it is important to note that reproducing walleye in a pond may require specific considerations and may not occur naturally in all situations.

Summary: Can Walleye Live in a Pond?

  • Walleye can live in a pond, but they are better suited for larger bodies of water.
  • Raising walleye in a pond can be challenging due to their dietary needs and competition with predator fish like bass.
  • However, with proper attention and management, successful walleye ponds can be established.
  • Reasons to raise walleye in a pond include population control, forage fish management, culinary delight, and an exciting fishing experience.
  • A good walleye pond should have proper depth, size, aeration, and stocking rates.
  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass can pose competition and predation threats to walleye in a pond.
  • Managing bass populations through culling can help walleye thrive.
  • Walleye often do not reproduce naturally in ponds, but suitable spawning habitat and water circulation can facilitate reproduction.
About the author
Mark Stoneman
Hi! My name is Mark! I have been a resident of Door County for almost ten years now, and I'm glad to help you say "Hello" to Door County. I believe that travel helps to change lives, and because of that, I want to help you improve your life through travel.

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