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Stocked Trout are Fun to Catch, Healthy to Eat

They strike often. They fight hard. They are easy to clean and cook. They are wonderful to eat and have tremendous health benefits!

THEY are stocked rainbow trout in Nebraska waters.

A hooked, pan-sized, stocked rainbow trout puts up a fight as it nears the shoreline of the Nebraska state recreation area lake. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

A major asset along with many of its excellent qualities as a cold-water game fish is the fact that few foods are as nutritious as a stocked trout from Nebraska waters! And, get this: Tens of thousands of 10-12 inch rainbow trout are being stocked when the weather, conditions and staffing allow on the schedule at designated water bodies around the state for your fall fishing. So, get your trout tackle ready!

A plump Nebraska rainbow trout is displayed by an angler after the catch just above the water. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

In addition, these keeper-sized rainbow trout are stocked weekly, year-round in the cold, spring-fed, non-freezing waters of the East Branch of the Verdigre Creek flowing through the Grove Lake Wildlife Management near Royal in Antelope County. These fish supplement the naturally-reproduced rainbows and brown trout swimming in the creek.

But seriously, freshwater trout is one of the tastiest, healthiest fish you can include in your diet.

Freshly caught rainbow trout fillets have tender flesh and a mild, somewhat nutty flavor. The color and flavor of the flesh of trout depends on its diet and freshness. According to Daryl Bauer, Fisheries Outreach Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the state’s hatchery-reared trout tend to be quite colorful and may have a reddish or orange tint to their flesh as a result of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that is an ingredient in their trout feed and one that is derived naturally from aquatic insects and crayfish. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Eating trout is not only great for the taste buds, but it has been shown to improve human health in a variety of ways.

Consider that a cooked serving of a farm-raised or hatchery-reared rainbow trout contains approximately 981 milligrams of the omega-3 fatty acids. This amount far exceeds the minimum requirement per day (300-500 milligrams) established by the World Health Organization. In fact, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and certain types of cancer. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may also help prevent neurological disorders like dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

Did you know that trout consumption also lowers serum cholesterol and triglyceride values thereby helping prevent or decrease coronary heart disease? It does. Also, trout is an excellent source of easily digestible protein, both in quantity and quality. The protein of trout contains all nine of the essential amino acids required for human intake and ranks second only to egg protein in quality. The American Heart Association and the Harvard School of Public Health both agree that trout’s relatively low-fat and cholesterol content make it a good protein to substitute in your diet for meats like beef, pork and lamb, which contain significantly higher amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.

The American Heart Association goes on to say that a heavy fish diet to include trout is better than a strictly vegetarian diet in reducing fats in the bloodstream and lowering the risk of a heart attack.

If you are counting calories, an average serving a trout has about one-third to one-half the calories proportionally of most meat cuts. Besides the reduced-amount of calories, that average serving of trout fulfills the USDA’s guideline for a person’s daily intake of animal protein. Trout fit perfectly in a diet that includes alternative proteins like soybean and wheat as well.

If compared to beef, pork, lamb and even chicken, fish like trout is an equal or better source of vitamins, principally A, D, B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. It is also a significant source of Pantothenic acid, phosphorus and potassium. Regarding calcium content, that of trout is eight times greater than that of beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

A trout also has low sodium content, unless, of course, it has been smoked and/or salted. Individuals who have high blood pressure or cardiac issues are encouraged by physicians and dieticians to eat fresh fish such as trout because of its low sodium level.

Trout also contain valuable micro minerals — zinc, copper, iron, manganese and selenium. One of the more recently discovered trace minerals that is essential for humans and helps in the prevention of some forms of cancer is selenium. Health care professionals are suggesting an increased diet of selenium, and guess what? Trout possess a higher volume of that than nearly any other food!

Keep in mind that you can maximize trout’s health benefits by choosing low-fat cooking methods like broiling, grilling, baking, poaching or steaming instead of frying or deep-fat frying. But there is one cardinal rule for cooking trout and not ruining the healthful benefits of it: Never, ever over cook it! Remember the more time between catching and cooking trout, the more the flavor suffers and nutrition can be comprised.

Rainbow trout sauteed with hazelnut crust. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Honestly, you really can’t go wrong with dining on trout! Studies show that it is also among the safest fish to consume as it contains relatively low levels of mercury and PCBs, or not at all. Presently, there are no fish consumption advisories for trout in Nebraska waters. Nebraska’s hatchery-reared and stocked trout are produced in an ecologically responsible, ethical manner in good water.

Nebraska’s stocked, skillet-sized rainbows are essentially farm-raised versions that are reared in spring water or well water. The trout are closely monitored, fed a fortified diet and are extremely healthy fish upon release.

Here 10-12 inch rainbow trout are being stocked in the waters of the East Branch of the Verdigre Creek trout stream in northeast Nebraska. The trout were raised nearby at the Grove Trout Rearing Station. Photo courtesy of NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Be reminded to fish for trout in Nebraska waters, there are regulations that apply.  You will need a current, valid Nebraska fishing permit, possibly a state park permit and to adhere to the legal trout limits, of course! You can access that information and acquire permits on www.OutdoorNebraska.gov You’ll want to check out our new Nebraska Trout Slam challenge there, too!

Noah Wagner and Mary Miller of Omaha, NE pose with a nice-sized, fall-stocked rainbow trout caught in Omaha’s Fontenelle Park Pond. Photo by Greg Wagner/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Why not prepare to get some fresh air, have fun fishing and eat healthy by enjoying a scrumptious meal of stocked rainbow trout that you have caught!

Rainbow trout with the crankbait lure and spinning rig used by the angler to catch it. Photo by Daryl Bauer/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Communications and Marketing Specialist and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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