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Spring Trout Stocking, 2022

By now many of you have seen the news release, but I have learned to never assume everyone has seen everything.  So, I am going to spread the word, again, some more:

Trout stockings begin; Two Rivers Trout Lake opens March 12

It’s time to go trout fishing again in Nebraska. Rainbow trout are being stocked in city ponds and lakes across the state in March to enhance fishing opportunities this spring, especially in urban areas.

Additionally, the Two Rivers State Recreation Area Trout Lake in Douglas County will open March 12. By then, more than 12,000 rainbow and tiger trout will have been stocked in the lake.

All trout caught in the Trout Lake must be harvested and not released. Anglers first must purchase from the park office a daily trout tag for $6. Each tag is good for a daily bag limit of four trout. A person may have up to three tags per day and 12 trout in possession. An adult angler may have two children under the age of 16 fishing under the authority of his/her tag, but the group bag limit still is limited to four trout per tag.

The Trout Lake (Lake No. 5) will be open from 7 a.m. to sunset each day. Anglers, except residents younger than age 16, must have a Nebraska fishing license. All vehicles entering the park must have a park entry permit. Anglers possessing trout on any other lake at Two Rivers must have a trout tag, as well. Anglers will be allowed to use one fishing rod and reel each.

Trout fishing is a great way to introduce children to fishing because simple and inexpensive equipment may be used.

“Rainbow trout are especially good for new anglers because they will bite readily on anything, including corn, wadded up pieces of bread or worms, and are easy and safe to handle,” said Larry Pape, aquatic education specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “You can use a simple spin-cast combo or a spinning rod and have a fun day catching trout.”

For resources to help beginners or even experienced anglers, visit outdoornebraska.gov/howtofish.

The following is a schedule of tiger and rainbow trout stockings for this spring, including quantities. The dates can change because of weather or unforeseen circumstances:

Tiger trout:

Feb. 18 – Curtis Golf Course Pond, 300

Feb. 22 – Chadron State Park Pond, 500; Alliance Golf Course Pond, 400

Rainbow trout:

Feb. 25 – East Branch of Verdigre Creek, Royal, 200

March 14 – Fremont Lakes SRA No. 2, 900; Fremont Lakes SRA No. 2, 4,100

March 15 – Bridgeport SRA Middle Lake, 2,000; Bridgeport SRA Northwest Lake, 1,400; Humboldt City Park Lake, 350; Pawnee City Pond, 300; Rotary Club Lake, Auburn, 800; Stanton Lake, Falls City, 200; Lake Halleck, Papillion, 1,200; Weeping Water Pond, 1,500; CenturyLink Lake, Eugene T. Mahoney SP, 2,500

March 16 – Fort Kearny SRA No. 6, Kearney, 1,200; Windmill SRA No. 2, Gibbon, 600; Holdrege City Lake, 1,000; Steinhart Park East Pond, Nebraska City, 800; Louisville SRA 1A, 600; Heartwell Park Lake, Hastings, 450; Such’s Lake, Grand Island, 650

March 17 – Ponca SP Pond, 750; Niobrara SP Pond, 600; Auble Pond, Ord, 750

March 18 – Ponca State Park, 750; Geneva Pond, 300

March 19 – Ta-Ha-Zouka Park Lake, Norfolk, 1,500 (9 a.m. Central time); Pawnee Park West Lake, Columbus, 1,500 (10 a.m.); Neligh Park Pond, West Point, 900 (11 a.m.); Holmes Lake, Lincoln, 4,000 (12:30 p.m.)

March 21 – Terry’s Pit, Terrytown, 1,500; Riverside Park Pond, Scottsbluff, 900; Rock Creek Lake, Parks, 500; David City Park Pond West, 600

March 22 – Two Rivers SRA No. 5 (Trout Lake), 3,500; Bridgeport SRA Middle Lake, 2,000; Bridgeport SRA Northwest Lake, 1,400

March 28 – North Morrill Pond, 2,250; Middle Morrill Pond, 450

March 29 – Oxford City Lake, 150; Lake Helen, Gothenburg, 2,000; Plum Creek Park Lake, Lexington, 750

Other stockings of rainbow trout in March as time and weather allow – East Branch of Verdigre Creek, 600; Elm Creek, Elm Creek Wildlife Management Area, 1,000; Two Rivers SRA Lake No. 5 (Trout Lake), 10,500; Grove Lake WMA sandpit, Royal, 75; Gracie Creek Pond, 500

The following are a list of stockings of rainbow trout in April as time and weather allow –

East Branch of Verdigre Creek, 1,000; Two Rivers SRA Lake No. 5 (Trout Lake), 10,500; Keller Park SRA No. 4, 250; Keller Park SRA No. 5, 400; Sand Springs, Plum Creek Valley WMA, 400; Lake Ogallala, 12,000; Lake Carter P. Johnson, Fort Robinson SP, 2,500; Gilbert-Baker WMA Pond, 600; Birdwood WMA, North Platte, 1,000; Gracie Creek Pond, 1,000

Chadron City Reservoir North, 1,700; Chadron City Reservoir South, 1,700; Chadron SP Pond, 500; North Morrill Pond, 2,250; Middle Morrill Pond, 450; Riverside Park Pond, Scottsbluff, 900; Bridgeport SRA Northwest Lake, 1,400; Terry’s Pit, Terrytown, 1,500; South Grabel Pond 2, Fort Robinson SP, 1,200; Middle Grabel Pond, Fort Robinson SP, 600; Cherry Creek Diversion Pond, Fort Robinson SP, 250; Rock Creek Lake, Parks, 1,500

For information on fish stocking online, including upcoming trout stocking dates, visit outdoorNebraska.gov/fishstockingreports.

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Eric Fowler photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

That list may be easier to read in table form:

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Let me again include this information:

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!

Take the Kids!

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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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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