Posted by: Tom Keer
March 20, 2013

Tom Keer

The Stocking Truck

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 or at

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