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Midland Musings with Jenny Nguyen – Trout Stocking in Verdigre Creek

Old photo I dug up: golden trout.

If there’s any fish that has a special place in my heart, it would be trout. While backpacking in the Sierras during high school, my weary companions and I came to a small pool that peacefully shimmered in the sun. A creek– a tributary from the great Kern River– ran through it, gently rippling the cold, crystalline surface that held a handful of unknowing golden trout underneath. So we threw down our packs, and my friend handed me his fishing pole. Standing from a large, smooth boulder that jutted from the bank,  I leaned over to peer into the water beneath me to see little gold and brown speckled looking fish. I bet my eyes sparkled, because they were one of the most beautiful fish I had ever seen.

Afraid that I would scare the trout away, I carefully dipped my line into the water. The fish swam in circles and zigzags, unsure of what to make of my lure. I waited, with the kind of concentration and earnestness found only in a first time angler. I bit my lip to reach out a little more, to tease a little more. Before I knew it, I felt it– that magical tug that moved like lightning through line and rod, and into my hands. To this day, that initial pull still makes my heart go pitter-patter.

What brought back this wonderful memory?  My day tagging along with Joe Cassidy at Grove Trout Rearing Station. As I watched him release  a total of 200 rainbows at different parts of the East Branch of Verdigre Creek in Royal, which is the only water in Eastern Nebraska that’s cold enough to hold trout, I remembered just how much I love this fish.

East Branch Verdigre Creek

Rainbow trout being stocked in Verdigre Creek.

So far, my short time in Nebraska has been filled with firsts. Stocking fishing is one of them. East Branch Verdigre Creek is stocked with 200 trout every week, year round. A popular fishing destination in Northeast Nebraska, the creek currently holds rainbow, brown and cutthroat trout.

Joe Cassidy releasing fish.

At the rearing station, Joe showed me the baby trout (yes, I’m very scientific) they get from Calamus; that’s where they’re hatched. I was surprised to find out that he has to feed them 3-4 times a day. Who knew a little thing could eat so much!

Then there were the adults. It was complete pandemonium at feeding time. If you’re wondering, the trout eggs used for stocking Nebraska’s waters come from all over the country, primarily from Wyoming. In return, Nebraska may trade with species like northern pike or walleye.

Without a doubt, trout are one of my favorite, if not my favorite fish. I’m not sure how to word it, but they are so pretty and plain at the same time. That’s what I like about them. If you offered me some smoked trout, I would snatch the whole thing from your hands. Then I would find a little corner and sit there until I pick it clean like a little selfish raccoon. So be aware.

Grove Trout Rearing Station is open to the public. For more information, please visit: http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/Fishing/programs/hatcheries/fish_hatcheries_Grove_Trout.asp

About Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

NEBRASKAland Associate Editor Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley was born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, and moved to the United States with her parents in 1992. She graduated from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove, California, in 2008 and completed her bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2012. Wheatley was editor-in-chief for her high school newspaper and continued to write in college, freelancing for various publications, the Tiger Woods Foundation and writing for her blog FoodForHunters.com. After graduating college, she moved to Nebraska in early 2013 to join the Commission as Regional Editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine. She then became associate editor in 2015. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.

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