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Spring Trout Stocking, 2020

The news release went out earlier this week, so let me spread it around some more:

Rainbow trout stockings scheduled this spring

LINCOLN, Neb. – Catchable-size rainbow trout are being stocked in city ponds and lakes across the state by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

These stockings will enhance fishing opportunities this spring, especially in urban areas. Trout fishing also is a great way to introduce children to fishing because simple and inexpensive equipment may be used.

The stocked trout are approximately 10 inches in length. The following is a tentative stocking schedule, including quantities:

March 9 – Northwest Lake, Bridgeport State Recreation Area (SRA), 700; Terry’s Pit, Terrytown, 1,500; Scottsbluff zoo pond, 900

March 10 – Northwest Lake, Bridgeport SRA, 700; North Morrill sandpit, 2,000; Middle Morrill sandpit, 450

March 14 – Two Rivers SRA trout lake (No. 5) scheduled to open

March 17 – Auble Pond, Ord, 750

March 18 – Lake Halleck, Papillion, 1,200; Steinhart Park East Pond, Nebraska City, 800; Weeping Water Pond, 1,500; CenturyLink Lake, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park (SP), Ashland, 2,500

March 19 – Lake No. 2, Fremont Lakes SRA, 4,000; Such’s Lake, Grand Island, 650; Heartwell Park Lake, Hastings, 450

March 20 – Humboldt City Park Lake, 350; Auburn Rotary Club Lake, 800; Stanton Lake, Falls City, 200; Pawnee City Pond, 300; Lake No. 6, Fort Kearny SRA, 600; Holdrege City Lake, 1,000; Lake No. 2, Windmill SRA, Gibbon, 600; Ponca SP Pond, 900; Oxford City Lake, 150; Curtis Golf Course Pond, 150

In addition, rainbow trout are scheduled to be released at the following locations (times are tentative): March 21 – Holmes Lake, Lincoln, 4,000, 12:30 p.m.; TaHaZouka Park Lake, Norfolk, 1,500, 10 a.m.; Pawnee Park West Lake, Columbus, 1,500, 11:15 a.m.; Neligh Park Pond, West Point, 900, 12:45 p.m.; Lake Helen, Gothenburg, 2,000, 12:15 p.m.; Plum Creek Park Pond, Lexington, 750, 1:15 p.m.

Week of March 23 – Ponca SP Pond, 600; Lake No. 2, Fremont Lakes SRA, 1,000; Niobrara SP Pond, 750

Additional March stockings – East Verdigre Creek, 800; Elm Creek, 1,000; Lake Ogallala, 10,000; Lake No. 5, Two Rivers SRA, 13,000

April stockings – East Verdigre Creek, 1,000; Lake No. 5, Two Rivers, 10,000; Pond No. 4, Keller Park SRA, 250; Pond No. 5, Keller Park SRA, 400; Steel Creek, 200; Sand Springs, Plum Creek Valley WMA, 400; Grove Lake WMA sandpit 50; Lake Ogallala, 10,000; Gilbert-Baker WMA Pond, 600; Chadron north reservoir, 1,700; Chadron SP Pond, 500; Chadron south reservoir, 1,700; North Morrill sandpit, 2,000; Middle Morrill sandpit, 450; Scottsbluff zoo pond, 900; Northwest Lake, Bridgeport SRA, 1,400; Terry’s Pit, 1,500; Grabel Pond No. 1, 400; Grabel Pond No. 2, 800; Grabel Pond No. 3, 400; Carter P. Johnson Lake, 2,500

In addition, 8,000 tiger trout were stocked at Lake Ogallala in February. At Fort Robinson SP, 900 tiger trout will be stocked at Carter P. Johnson Lake and 800 will be stocked in the Grabel Ponds.

For more fishing information or to purchase a fishing permit, visit OutdoorNebraska.org. To see more information about stocking, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov/fishstockingreports.

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Eric Fowler photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

If you plan to show up at one of the stocking locations where we have listed specific times, just know that those times are our best estimates.  There are a lot of logistics involved in stocking these trout around the state and a break down, flat tire, bad weather, or other unforeseen event could mean that the truck will not be there right at the scheduled time.

Then, let me re-run some information.  We hope that these put-and-take trout stockings are attracting new anglers, that is why we do it, and that being the case. . . .

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 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).

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What To Do With Them

My favorite way to prepare trout would be smoking.  Know what the hardest part is about smoking a fish?  Getting them lit!

Sorry.

Seriously, when I want to smoke a trout or three, the only cleaning I do is field-dressing, yep, I leave the head on, remove the entrails.  Then I will brine the fish over night.  Don’t have no brine recipe, so I am not going to give it to you.  I mix a lot of brown sugar into some water, about as much as you can get to dissolve, then add some salt, some lemon juice and garlic.  I do all of that by taste, so do not ask me measurements–I do not know.  When it tastes right, I know, you will too.

After brining, rinse and put on the smoker.  I like cherry wood, but use your favorite.  Fish do not take long to smoke.  When they are done, peel the skin back, take a fork and flake out some meat.  Enjoy!

Another way to fix those put-and-take trout, again keeping it simple, field-dress, put some butter, lemon and rosemary inside the body cavity, wrap the fish in foil and put it on the grill!

Don’t you dare fill the freezer

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!

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Jeff Kurrus photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

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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