When I was 13 I had one of my more miserable years fishing. I was getting hung everywhere I cast, I was always in the right place at the wrong time, and I was catching squat. Everything about fishing was a royal pain, and as much as I hated how my season was going I was determined to figure things out.
One day I was fishing a local trout stream. I had the Cellar Hole all to myself. It was a riffle-pool combination with a big deadfall on a 45- degree angle. There was a cobble and rock bottom, an enormous stand of pines and some Spruce. It smelled as perfect as it looked. I had it all to myself.
For about an hour I heard an unusual bang, bang, bang up the dirt road. It wasn’t continuous, but it went on for a bit, stopped, then started again, then stopped, and finally I saw what it was: the stocking truck!
The truck banged around until it parked on the other side of the bank from me. Bucket after bucket of trout were tossed into the pool and I could see them all stacked up like cord wood. I could barely contain myself and remember thinking that my luck finally was about to pay off. It didn’t. Freshly stocked fish have about as much interest in eating as a person at the end of a Thanksgiving Day meal. No, my luck didn’t turn that day, but a few days later when I went back it did for sure.
In a perfect world our rivers, streams, and ponds would be chock-a-block with fish to catch. Stocking fish has become a way to supplement some depleted fisheries, and is handled by the state agenciesthat manage the bodies of water in your state. Stocking and other state fishing-related projects/activities, like river clean-ups, and habitat improvement, are funded through the sale of fishing licenses, boat registrations and other related equipment sales. All the more reason to purchase your fishing license this season – it helps stocks your favorite lakes and rivers.
Trout is typically the primary species that gets stocked, but they are one of many. Minnesota and Wisconsin stock a tremendous amount of muskie, largemouth bass, even steelhead. Nebraska stocks largemouth bass, Arizona stocks catfish and bluegill, and Florida stocks a variety of species including striped bass.
State fish and wildlife agencies don’t just stock quantities of fish; they also stock quality. In some areas, fry and fingerlings are added to the ecosystem. In other stretches, trophy-sized fish make the grade. The combination of size and numbers is a powerful one, and I’m convinced that the catches I made in the days following the stocking at the Cellar Hole kept me focused on what has become a life-long pursuit.
Many states stock the local lakes and rivers on a schedule, usually in the spring and fall, though some stock year-round. To find your state stocking schedule, click here and choose your state.
Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com