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|
|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|
|E.T. Mahoney SP||Century Link||2,000|
|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|
|Fremont||Fremont SRA #2||4,000|
|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|
|Columbus||Pawnee Park West||1,500|
|West Point||West Point||900|
|Kearney||Fort Kearny SRA #6||1,200|
|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|
|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|
|Harrison||Gilbert Baker WMA||600|
|Chadron||Chadron State Park Pond||500|
|Scottsbluff||Scottsbluff Zoo Pond||900|
|Bridgeport||Bridgeport N.W. Lake||1,400|
|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|
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!