Trout stocking winds down
by Bob Fala
The annual trout stocking season closes out with the Memorial Day weekend. But, the fishing for them doesn’t have to. In fact, the tail end of May and the month of June can make for some crowd free trout angling for sure. Reason being, much of the competition is diverted by Little League Baseball, spring gobbler hunting, rapidly growing lawns and so on. So don’t give up quite yet.
Periodic high waters during the in-season stockings help to spread the fish out and about. These fish can then find their own niches or feeding stations to reward those that work a little harder than just fishing at the stocking points. Those that fish only stocking days or points have come to be known somewhat negatively as “truck followers.”
The truck following sort get a lion’s share of comments at the annual public meetings. Opponents seem to want something done ranging the gamut from nighttime or Saturday stockings only to complete closures of any stocked stream on the day of the planting. They’re also clamoring for more delayed harvest and catch and release streams. This nagging issue is one that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
The bottom line is that trout anglers need to become more like their bass angling brethren who all but universally practice catch and release as a rule. Aggravating the truck following for trout is the widespread use of cell phones which were relatively uncommon not too many years back. “Hey Joe, they just dumped a load at the so and so bridge, call Billy, Bob and Ernie.”
Trout on the other hand are not like bass and many of the spring put and take waters are just that. The trout are meant to be harvested since they won’t likely survive the summer heat anyway. However, a limit of four would be a nice compromise to spread the resource out for the weekend folks or to just plain give someone else a chance. DNR might have missed a nice opportunity to do that when the limit used to vary between four and six.
It could have been standardized to four per day instead of the present six. Recent comments I’ve got are varied. Some say that those fish aren’t put out there not to be kept! Others have stated that the truck followers are greedy and just can’t stand to see someone else catch something. Still others have indicated that folks shouldn’t be eating so many fish from certain waters per the fish consumption advisories and that even hatchery fish can have issues there as well.
Some of the best angling experiences have come from waters that are known to contain advisories for dioxin as in Virginia’s James River and the Shenandoah River of eastern West Virginia for bass. McDowell County’s Elkhorn Creek has become a trout mecca because folks just won’t eat them for sanitary sewer issues. Some folks can resist the excellent angling however and have resorted to doing so wearing rubber gloves!
Just some trout angling food for thought or better yet make that angling more for recreation than food. There is a balance here that anglers should use their best judgment. There is some wiggle room for more catch and release as well as the stated lower limit. Yet, you shouldn’t feel guilty for keeping some trout are likely not going to survive the heat of summer from the many lakes and warm water streams that are literally put and take fisheries.
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