Stories Trout & Char

Hatchery Heroes – A Weekend of Stocked Trout

I’m one of those trout snobs that prefers the pursuit of native fish. A card carrying member of the Native Fish Coalition. If not native, then wild. And if not wild, well…

Okay, let’s get it out of the way. I fished for stocked trout last weekend. Stocker rainbows at that. You know, the “entirely synthetic fish.” Fish that are uninspiring and identical; a stream full of clones. All about 12-16 inches long and adequately chunky, with the only thing keeping them out of the cooking grease being delayed harvest restrictions.

Stocked Trout - Michael Agneta - Tenkara Angler - Rainbow Trout
A hatchery hero

But I’ll tell you, what those fish lacked in adequately proportioned pectoral fins, they certainly made up for in quantity and eagerness to take a fly.

Stocked Trout - Michael Agneta - Tenkara Angler - Tiny Pectoral Fins
A “short armed” stocker

Now some people will say that stocked trout are dumb and easy to catch, and I’d never overestimate a hatchery fish’s IQ. But let’s be honest, as long as you’re at least somewhat stealthy in your approach, those native headwater gems aren’t blueline Einsteins either. Don’t kid yourself, a wild brookie would absolutely slam a spent Marlboro lashed to a size 10 dry fly hook.

I don’t know what your opinion of stocked trout is – good, bad, or likely mixed – but last weekend they were fine by this native trout snob… and dare I say actually somewhat preferred to the undersized, wild, stream-bred bycatch that would occasionally come to hand.

Tiny wild bycatch… throw it back!

Author’s Note: Hopefully you realized my tongue was planted firmly in cheek while reading this article. Fishing should be FUN! Enjoy your time on the water responsibly fishing for whatever you find enjoyable. Except for carp, they’re gross.

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  1. To be fair and clear, wild native fish are not about snobbery, they are about conservation and responsible resource stewardship. While there are places where the damage is done in regard to nonnative fish, and can’t be undone, we should all agree that we don’t want to lose any more ground. As for stocking, again, none of us are going to live long enough to see it stopped, but I believe most of us agree that it should be far more limited and restricted than it is.

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