Stocked Ponds in Manitoba

By Chase Dreilich, MWF Recreational Angling Coordinator

Right smack dab in the middle of Canada, there’s a place where the prairies meet the boreal forest and eventually the tundra. This is Manitoba. It is home to over 100,000 lakes intermixed with a variety of diverse ecosystems. There is no shortage of water in this great province, and with that, comes some the best fisheries in the world. 

Many of the waterbodies in Manitoba were blessed by Mother Nature and are naturally incredible. On the other hand, there are a handful that aren’t as plentiful, but have been created and maintained by a network of passionate individuals that all collaborate to improve these waters and Manitoba’s fisheries as a whole.

If you would have asked me when I was a kid what my idea of fish stocking in Manitoba was, I would have said, “a couple a people that get to drive around in their trucks with some rainbow trout in bags and drop them off at the Birds Hill Park ponds.” Over the years I’ve certainly become more educated on the opportunities that stocked waters provide. This past year, I had the great privilege to get an inside look at how the fish stocking program works across the province. 

Most stocked pond project proposals were created by passionate people from grassroots organizations. Commonly these are MWF Affiliate local Fish and Game Clubs. During my year of learning, three Fish and Game clubs eagerly showed me the inner working of their fish stocking program. Each club’s stocking program was unique, but ultimately resulted in the same outcomes, which was more opportunities for recreational angling in Manitoba.

Once the idea of stocking a waterbody is suggested, it is brought forth to a provincial regional fisheries biologist. Regional fisheries biologists have their fingers on the pulse of fisheries throughout the province. From running science-based studies, to coordinating stocking efforts and receiving local lake reports, the regional fisheries biologists are a wealth of knowledge and have a true passion for their jobs. So passionate, in fact, that many of the fisheries biologists that I spoke with would go fishing on their days off after working in the same fisheries all week. With all this knowledge on the local waters, a regional biologist can determine whether a fishery is suitable for stocking efforts and if so, which species could be good candidates. There aren’t many water bodies across the province that haven’t been assessed or considered for stocking efforts. 

Once a stocking proposal is ready to move ahead, an order is placed with a fish hatchery. Once the orders are in, hatchery staff can determine what they can fulfill. There is a hatchery in the Whiteshell Provincial Park that was constructed in 1942. This hatchery provides the province with a variety of species including Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Walleye and, a species of fish that is unique to Manitoba, the Tiger Trout. Since its inception there have been improvements to the program, including the recent addition of a new stocking truck that allows hatchery staff to transport more fish, with greater reliability, compared to the old unit. 

There are many moving parts in a hatchery. Staff must manage brood stock of Brown Trout and Brook Trout. Depending on the season they are also either collecting eggs, hatching eggs or raising fry until they head out in the hatchery truck to their new lake. Some fry will be raised to fingerlings, for a second round of stocking. The fish will be counted by an estimated fish per pound amount that is calculated prior to filling the stocking truck. This is the yearly cycle at the hatchery. 

While the hatchery follows a cycle, so does the entire stocking program. The collective efforts create a ripple effect across the province. As the stocked fish make their way into waterbodies in Manitoba, you can bet that core memories are being made for anglers new and old. The stocking program not only attract anglers far and wide to Manitoba but they also help lay the groundwork for future generations of conservationists and anglers.  Local clubs have used stocked lakes to run community fishing events, educational stocking days, learn to fish clinics, derbies, and so much more – essentially building new angling communities in these areas. 

Thanks to the financial support through the Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund, the MWF has created an in-depth look at the stocking program in Manitoba in the form of a short documentary.  Stay tuned, as this will be coming soon!

Thank-you to Mound Wildlife, Lac Du Bonnet Wildlife Association, Swan Vally Fish Enhancement and the Manitoba Fisheries Staff.

To find an interactive stocking map scan here!
(204) 633-5967 / (877) 633-4868
4-999 King Edward Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0R1