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Spring Trout Stocking 2013

This news release ran last week, let me blog about it again here in case you did not see it:

Game and Parks Announces Spring Trout Stocking Schedule

March 6, 2013

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will stock catchable-size rainbow trout in several city ponds and lakes across the state this month.

The schedule, subject to change depending on conditions, includes date, location, approximate time of stocking, and quantity:

March 13 – Niobrara State Park (SP), 11:30 a.m., 750 trout

March 14 – CenturyLink Lake, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, 2,250; Fort Kearny State Recreation Area (SRA), 600; Windmill SRA No. 2, Gibbon, 300; Holdrege City Park, 1,400; Auble Pond, Ord, 700

March 15 – Auburn Rotary Club Lake, 1,300; Fremont SRA No. 2, 4,000

March 16 – TaHaZouka Park, Norfolk, 9:30 a.m., 1,400; Barnett Park, McCook, 10 a.m., 1,000; Ponca SP, 10:45 a.m., 900; Lake Halleck, Papillion, 11 a.m., 1,000; Pawnee Park West, Columbus, 11 a.m., 1,400; Curtis Golf Course, 11 a.m., 150; Holmes Lake, Lincoln, 11:30 a.m., 3,000; Steinhart Park, Nebraska City, 12:30 p.m., 1,000; Lexington City Park, 12:30 p.m., 750; Heartwell Park, Hastings, 2 p.m., 450

March 18 – Stanton Lake, Falls City, 200; Pawnee City Pond, 300; Humboldt City Park Lake, 350

Week of March 18 – Bridgeport SRA northwest, 1,400; Morrill sandpits: north, 1,350, middle, 450; Scottsbluff Zoo Pond, 900; Lake Ogallala, 2,000 (8,000 stocked on March 5); Terry’s Pit, Terrytown, 1,500; Elm Creek, 1,000; Ponca SP, 500; Fremont No. 2, 750

Trout fishing is an excellent activity for children and families, requiring only a basic rod and reel, hook, worm, and bobber. Small spinners and prepared baits also work well.

All anglers fishing in Nebraska, except residents under age 16, must have a fishing license. A park entry permit is required for each vehicle entering state parks, recreation areas and historical parks.

Now the schedule listed there is to the best of our knowledge.  We will stay to that schedule, but things like weather, flat tires and breakdowns can influence that schedule.  For example, in some parts of the state we just had our biggest snowstorm of the entire winter and that might have an impact on some stockings this week.  I have already heard that the stocking at Niobrara State Park, scheduled for Wednesday this week, is probably going to be postponed until the ice is gone.  We will stay to that schedule as close as possible, but things can “come up”.

One other note, you do not see the David City Park Pond on that stocking schedule.  We do plan to stock some put & take rainbows in that pond this spring, but that will probably occur later in March.

I have blogged about how to catch ’em and what to do with them before, let me copy and paste some of that here again:

How to catch them?

Keep in mind that the catchable-size rainbows that are being stocked have lived their entire lives in a fish hatchery.  They are used to swimming around in a raceway or pond and having artificial feed dropped on top of them.  These fish are not rocket-surgeons or brain scientists.  I have seen them start biting as soon as they come off the hatchery truck, in fact I have seen them suck #12 Marlboro Butts off the surface as soon as they came off the hatchery truck.  But usually they will bite better after they have had a day or two to acclimate to their new environment.  Once they are stocked, they often cruise the shoreline or a drop-off like they would in a hatchery pond or raceway.  Corners or points will tend to concentrate cruising fish; you will often find fish in the vicinity of the stocking location too.  Trout have an excellent sense of smell and will sample a variety of baits as they try to figure out what is food and what is not.  Nightcrawlers will work as well as a variety of prepared baits.  For example, there are a variety of PowerBait products made just for trout, and they will catch fish!, Berkley soft bait Some folks like to try corn and cheese, and those will catch fish too; so will a variety of commercially-prepared salmon eggs.  If you are still-fishing for the trout start fishing near the bottom, but I would recommend getting your bait up off of the bottom a few inches to make it easier for the trout to find.  You can use floating jig-heads to float your baits off the bottom or consider adding a small marshmallow to your hook to float the bait off the bottom and provide even more attraction.  Keep your eyes open as the trout may be cruising way off the bottom at times and you will be able to spot those fish.  Suspending baits below a float (i.e. “bobber”) would be another presentation to try especially if you see fish cruising higher in the water column.

The catchable-size rainbows are also curious especially as they are sampling new baits and learning what to eat.  Besides appealing to their senses of smell and taste, use some color to attract their attention.  A good way to cover some water and find fish would be to throw some small spinners, spoons, or crankbaits that give off some flash.  Even though the put-and-take rainbows have been raised on artificial feed, fly-anglers can get them to bite too.  Initially some wet flies or nymph patterns that just look “buggy” or have some bright attractive colors will get some curious fish to bite.  Later on, after the trout have acclimated to their new environment, they will begin to feed on aquatic insects and other prey items found in the waters in which they were stocked and fly anglers should try to imitate those natural food items.  Even keep your eyes open on warm afternoons as those rainbows will take advantage of insect hatches that occur (likely some type of midge).

What to do with them?

My preference for any trout or salmon would be smoked!  If I chose to harvest a trout, I just field-dress it, remove the gills and “guts”, and leave the head and fins on the fish.  I brine my trout overnight in a brine I mix to taste with water, a lot of brown sugar, some salt, some lemon juice and some garlic.  After brining I rinse ‘em and throw ‘em on the smoker.  Once they are done just peal the skin back and start eating!  Put some chunks on crackers if you want or just dig in and eat!

Or, if you do not want to smoke them, after they have been field-dressed, open up the body cavity, throw in some butter, some rosemary, fresh if you can get it, a squeeze of lemon and then wrap it all in foil and put the fish on the grill or in a baking dish and slide it in the oven.

Let me finish with this, we do not stock these catchable-size rainbows in parks and urban waters so a bunch of adults can come out and fill their freezers with trout!  We do these stockings to provide some easy fishing opportunities, especially when the water is relatively cold, for kids and beginning anglers!  Please find a kid, find someone who is not an angler and take them along to catch some of the put-&-take trout.  Get ‘em hooked!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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