Written by Aquatic Biologist Chase Brown
Lake, pond and fisheries management is often put on the back burner during the winter months as most sport fishing becomes slow, but one species thrives in colder conditions: rainbow trout. Rainbow trout offer a fun fight on a fly or rod and reel for anglers of any skill level—and they make excellent table-fare. No matter your waterbody, rainbow trout can be stocked for fishing and as an excellent source of forage for trophy fish in search of easy meals come springtime.
Rainbow Trout Fishing in Rivers and Streams
Rainbow trout can keep fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers active in the winter and offer a unique angling opportunity at a time when native warm-water fish species are less likely to bite a hook. Riverine creeks, streams and rivers offer long stretches of fast-moving water for anglers to try their luck with a fly, while the slow deep pools within these systems allow for use of spinners and power-baits. These waterbodies are also great for wade fishing, as deep pockets of water that hold fish are generally easy to find. Water currents carry the bait right past trout, mimicking the natural movement trout see in their environment. However, not everyone has access to these fast-moving water systems. Luckily lakes and ponds are also suitable for rainbow trout stocking and fishing.
Rainbow Trout Fishing in Ponds and Lakes
Pond fishing for trout is the most predictable type of trout fishing. Since small waterbodies typically offer no way of escape for rainbow trout and other fish, most of a pond’s bank can be fished within a few hours. While seasoned fisherman may desire a more advanced fishing experience, ponds are a perfect starting place for grandchildren or beginners. Fishing for rainbow trout on larger lakes can be much more difficult. Pinpointing where a few hundred fish are located on lakes larger than two acres can take many hours of casting with little to no prevail. Supplemental fish feeding using an automatic feeder can reduce these wasted efforts. Fish feeders will help concentrate rainbow trout in one area and condition the fish to frequent that area around predetermined feeding times. During days when fishing is not on the agenda, the feeding times will keep fish on a schedule. When a fishing trip is planned, the feeding times can be reduced so hungry trout are ready to bite when fishing begins.
When Should I Stock Rainbow Trout?
Ready to get started stocking a pond with fish? It’s important to do so at the proper time. The timetable for trout stocking varies each year based on water temperatures, but typically takes place in the late summer or fall months after average water temperatures have fallen below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once stocked, trout will thrive in the water until temperatures rise above 70 degrees when spring and summer arrive.
Other Considerations when Stocking Fish Ponds with Rainbow Trout
Knowing the status of your fishery is important when considering stocking trout for forage. If trout are stocked too large they can diminish a forage fish population. Conducting an electrofishing survey provides a snapshot of the sizes of predatory fish in a waterbody and gives the best information to make stocking size recommendations for forage trout. Generally, the average rainbow trout stocking size is 1-2 pounds, with the occasional jumbo trophy thrown in the mix. Smaller trout (fingerlings) provide an excellent source of forage for large trophy fish when waters begin to warm up come the spring. During winter months, predatory trophy fish become lethargic and tend to slow down their feeding. Once waters begin to warm up again, they need to eat heavily to gain weight before spawning season. Likewise, rainbow trout begin to move more slowly, so they provide an easy meal opportunity for trophy fish.
During the winter months it is easy to forget about your waterbody. No matter what size and type of waterbody you have access to, your fisheries manager can help make it an instant fishing success. A “stock and take” style of fisheries provides months of enjoyment, memories with family and friends, and tasty table-fare. A forage stocking management plan can add quick weight to a trophy fishery and maximize fish growth in the early spring months.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management needs.
Chase Brown is an Aquatic Biologist and Regional Manager serving clients from SOLitude’s Newport News, VA office. Chase has extensive experience managing private ponds, cultivating trophy bass and analyzing fisheries data. Chase has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bridgewater College. Before joining SOLitude, Chase managed a remote weir camp for Sockeye and Coho Salmon for Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenia, Alaska, and gained additional experience with the coastal fisheries division of the Texas Parks & Wildlife.
SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty, preserve natural resources and reduce our environmental footprint. SOLitude’s team of aquatic resource management professionals specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs that include water quality testing and restoration, nutrient remediation, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, bathymetry, shoreline erosion restoration, mechanical harvesting and hydro-raking, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat evaluations, and invasive species management. Services and educational resources are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, drinking water authorities, parks, and state and federal agencies. SOLitude Lake Management is a proud member of the Rentokil Steritech family of companies in North America.