What are Private Fishing Ponds?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Many people who enjoy fishing seek out local rivers, lakes or ponds, but many of these prime fishing spots are either part of a developed park system or off-limits to fishermen. Other locations may be suitable for fishing, but must be shared by boats and recreational watersport enthusiasts as well. One appealing alternative for would-be fishermen is the private fishing pond.

Lakes are a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts.
Lakes are a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts.

Private fishing ponds are generally located entirely on privately-owned land. Some landowners may have a small pond designed into their landscaping plans, or a natural pond may have existed on their property for hundreds of years. No matter how it was formed, a private fishing pond provides fishermen with the seclusion and tranquil environment they often seek. Private fishing ponds are so popular that many resorts and campsites use them as promotional items in brochures and advertisements.

Guests at a private fishing pond are not required to possess fishing licenses.
Guests at a private fishing pond are not required to possess fishing licenses.

Most private fishing ponds are not under the jurisdiction of federal Wildlife and Game agencies, so owners and their guests are not required to have fishing licenses. There are some exceptions, however, which may vary from state to state. If a private fishing pond owner receives a shipment of government-raised stock fish, for example, the local Wildlife and Game agency can require fishing licenses for a certain amount of time after delivery. Also, guests do not need fishing licenses to fish in self-contained ponds, but they do need licenses to fish in streams or rivers which flow through the property.

Owners of private fishing ponds can either stock them with baby fish (known as fingerlings) bought from a commercial fish hatchery or ordered from a state or federally-controlled hatchery. Some owners may also stock their ponds with live catches from other fishing areas, but the results may be mixed. Some fish species do not breed well in unfamiliar waters or under difficult conditions. It may take several years for fingerlings to reach adult size, but they may also benefit from a lack of natural predators and an abundance of food. Private fishing pond owners may also allow the use of small boats for off-shore fishing.

There are also commercial fishing ponds which stock popular species such as trout or catfish for human consumption. These privately-owned ponds are popular with parents and children who want a guaranteed catch. Poles and bait are usually provided for a nominal fee, no license is required, and the young fisherman or fisherwoman can have their catch cleaned and wrapped on-site.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


@Ivan83 - That sounds like an amazing place. Where was it at? Also, do you know how much your dad paid to be a member there?

I have been thinking about joining a place like that, but there is not one that is really convenient to my area and all of them seem a little overpriced.

I can get a fishing license for $15 dollars and go and fish for free at any number of ponds in my area. I'm sure that the fishing on the private lands is better I'm just not sure it's worth the price.


My dad used to be a member of a private fishing facility. It was the site of an old strip mine so they had dozens and dozens of ponds of various shapes and sizes. All of the ponds had been stocked with fish.

It was a cool place to go to and the fishing was great. None of the ponds were huge but that was part of the fun. You would fish in one for a while, then hike around and fine another.

Mostly we just fished off the banks but my dad also had a little two man boat with a trolling motor on it. We would take it out on some of the larger ponds and just motor back and forth casting at out leisure. We were almost always alone out there, all those fish and no one trying to catch them but us.

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