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Spring Trout Stocking 2016

The weather has been nice and I know folks have fishing fever.  Recently, my phone has not quit ringing about the spring trout stockings.  I have been telling folks that when we have the schedule set, we would let everyone know.  Here you go. . . . Grab a young angler or beginner, and GO FISH!

Location Number Time Location
Week of March 7th Gracie Creek 1,025  Calamus SRA
16-Mar Bridgeport NW 1,400
Middle Morrill 450
North Morrill 1,350
17-Mar Rock Creek Lake 1,000  Rock Creek Lake SRA
Fremont #2 3,800  Fremont Lakes SRA
Century Link 2,300 Mahoney State Park
Weeping Water 1,200
18-Mar Curtis Golf Course 150 11:00
Melham Park 1,500 12:30 Broken Bow
Lexington 750
Humbolt City Park 350
Auburn Farigrounds 800
Stanton Lake 200 Falls City
Pawnee City Lake 300
Ft. Kearney #6 600  Fort Kearny SRA
Holdrege City Park 1,000
Ord City Park 750
Ponca State Park 900  Ponca State Park
19-Mar TahaZouka Park 1,400 11:00 Norfolk
\ Barnett Park 1,000 11:00 McCook
GI Suchs 650 11:15 Grand Island
Lake Halleck 1,100 11:45 Papillion
Oxford City Lake 150 12:00
Pawnee Park West 1,400 12:15 Columbus
Heartwell Park 450 12:15 Hastings
Steinhart Park 1,100 1:00 Nebraska City
Holmes Lake 3,800 1:00 Lincoln
Windmill #2 600 1:00  Windmill SRA
Elm Creek 1,000 2:00 East of Red Cloud
Week of March 21st Ponca State Park 500  Ponca State Park
Femont #2 1,000  Fremont Lakes SRA
Niobrara State Park 500  Niobrara State Park
Terry’s Pit 1,500 Terrytown
Scottsbluff Zoo Pond 900
Lake Ogallala 4,000  Lake Ogallala SRA

DSCN6097Note that some times are listed for some of those stockings.  Those are the best estimates of the times the stocking trucks will be at those locations.  Yes, show up and watch the fish being stocked!  However, keep in mind that a flat tire or breakdown can change everything.  We will keep those schedules as well as possible, but sometimes there are “unforeseen circumstances”.  If I were to meet the truck at any of those stockings I would expect the arrival time to be somewhere within 30 minutes on either side of the listed time.

Two Rivers Trout Lake

As far as I know the Trout Lake at Two Rivers SRA is set to open this coming Saturday, March 12.  Please know that the fishery there is a little different than all the waters you see on the list above.  At Two Rivers, anglers are required to purchase a special trout tag at the park office before they go to the Trout Lake to fish.  Each trout tag costs $6.00 and allows the harvest of four trout.  Anglers may purchase up to three tags, and can possess up to twelve trout.  An adult angler is allowed up to two children less than the age of sixteen under their tag(s), but the group is limited to no more than four trout per tag.  Only one rod and reel is allowed per angler on the Trout Lake.

Yes, it will cost a little more money to fish for the trout at Two Rivers, but I promise you that the fishing there will be as easy as possible, as there will be around 7,500 trout there waiting for the opener.  Among those 7,500 trout will be a few surprises, some larger fish and some “purdy” fish.  Here is a little hint:

DSCN7126

How To Catch Them

Let me repeat something I have written in my blog before.  Here are some ideas on catching those trout:

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 Trout Baits.  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.  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

If you need some ideas on what to do with those trout after you catch them, how to clean them, go back and check out this blog post, Happy Thanksgiving, What’s To Eat?.  You also will find some ideas there on my favorite way to prepare trout–smoking.  Know what the hardest part is about smoking a fish?  Getting them lit!

Sorry.

My buddy Greg Wagner has another idea for preparing trout here, Take Kids to the Trout Lake.  Or, keep it simple and after you get that trout field-dressed, put some butter, lemon and rosemary inside the body cavity, wrap the fish in foil and put it on the grill!

Again let me finish by reminding you that we stock the catchable-size rainbow trout in urban and parks waters across the state NOT so folks can load their freezers with eating-size trout.  We stock those fish where they are easily accessible to a bunch of youngsters and beginning anglers.  The weather is nice, it is time to grab the kids and GO FISH!

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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