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Spring Trout Stocking, 2021

Without a doubt, when we get some warm weather in early spring, everyone has the fishing bug.  To encourage that “sickness” we will be stocking catchable-size rainbow trout in waters around the state again this spring.  Here is the list:

Week of March 8 Bridgeport Bridgeport NW 700
  Terrytown Terry’s Pit 1,500
  Scottsbluff Scottsbluff Zoo Pond 900
  Morrill North Morrill Pond 2,250
  Morrill Middle Morrill Pond 450
  Venice Two Rivers SRA 13,000
Week of March 15 Lincoln Holmes Lake 2,000
  Ponca Ponca SP 900
  E.T. Mahoney SP Century Link 2,000
  Hastings Heartwell Park 450
  Grand Island G.I. Suchs 650
  Papillion Halleck Park Pond 1,200
  Louisville Louisville SRA 1A 600
  Weeping Water Weeping Water 1,500
  David City David City Park Pond 600
  Ord Auble Pond 750
  Burwell Gracie Creek 1,000
  Fremont Fremont SRA #2 4,000
  Lincoln Holmes Lake 2,000
  Nebraska City Steinhart Park 800
  Humbolt Humbolt City Park Lake 350
  Auburn Auburn Rotary Club Lake 800
  Falls City Stanton Lake 200
  Pawnee Pawnee City Park Lake 300
  Holdrege Holdrege City Park 1,000
  Gibbon Windmill SRA #2 600
Curtis Curtis Golf Course 150
Oxford Oxford City Lake 150
Norfolk TahaZooka Park 1,500
Columbus Pawnee Park West 1,500
West Point West Point 900
Kearney Fort Kearny SRA #6 1,200
Gothenburg Lake Helen 2,000
Lexington Plum Creek 750
Week of March 22 Ponca Ponca State Park 600
Fremont Fremont SRA #2 1,000
Niobrara Niobrara State Park 1,000
Additional March Stockings Royal East Verdigre Creek 800
Ogallala Lake Ogallala 10,000
Red Cloud Elm Creek 1,000
April Trout Stockings Royal East Verdigre Creek 1,000
Venice Two Rivers SRA #5 10,000
Ainsworth Keller SRA #4 250
Ainsworth Keller SRA #5 400
Lynch/ Verdigre Steel Creek 200
Johnstown Sand Springs 400
Royal Grove Sandpit 50
Ogallala Lake Ogallala 10,000
Harrison Gilbert Baker WMA 600
Chadron Chadron North 1,700
Chadron Chadron State Park Pond 500
Morrill North Morrill 2,000
Morrill Middle Morrill 450
Scottsbluff Scottsbluff Zoo Pond 900
Bridgeport Bridgeport N.W. Lake 1,400
Terrytown Terry’s Pit 1,500
Crawford Grabel 1 (Fort Robinson SP) 400
Crawford Grabel 2 (Fort Robinson SP) 800
Crawford Grabel 3 (Fort Robinson SP) 400
Crawford Carter P Johnson (Fort Robinson SP) 2,500
Eric Fowler photo, NEBRASKAland Magazine.

I often include some other “messages” when we do the put & take trout stockings, so if you have read my blog for awhile you have already seen these.  If not, keep reading!

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).


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!


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!

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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