Trout do bite the same day they’re stocked. Many hatcheries stop feeding trout a few days before they stock them. Once they hit the water, they look for anything that resembles food. They’ll eat trash, worms, insects, smaller fish, and crustaceans. Anglers can easily catch trout the day they’re stocked.
Growing up, my brother and I would check the stocking schedules of local lakes and streams and try to meet the trucks at the water. We’d help with the stocking, and as soon as we finished, we’d toss in our bread and worms and wait for strikes. Within minutes, we’d have our limit for the day. It taught me a great deal about trout fishing.
Newly Stocked Trout Bite
The stocked trout bite is hard to predict. The bite depends on when they’re stocked, what type of water they enter, and their appetites. More often than not, trout start feeding immediately as soon as they enter the water.
Most stocked trout only eat the pellets fed to them at the hatcheries. When they enter their new waters, they are likely hungry and don’t see any pellets. They haven’t eaten for a few days and want to fill their stomachs.
Many trout start their lives in new water by feeding on the bottom. They do a good job of finding nymphs and crustaceans crawling near rocks and aquatic vegetation. While looking for food, they’ll accidentally pick up cigarette butts, trash, and random flashy lures stuck at the bottom.
When we’d clean the recently stocked fish we caught, we’d find all sorts of interesting things in their stomachs. There was a mix of insects and random things a well-adjusted trout would never eat.
If the trout don’t feed right after they enter the water, wait until the evening or the following morning. It gives them a few hours to acclimate to their new homes and look for food options. Some recently stocked trout sit in shock while they adjust. Their appetites change, and they’re stuck in a cycle of stress until they get their bearings.
Eventually, their instincts kick in, and they feed on normal food in traditional places. While they make mistakes along the way, the same-day stocked trout don’t take long to behave like wild or native trout.
Be prepared to change your plans when fishing for same-day stocked trout. They may look at your bait and swim everywhere except towards it. On other days, you can’t do anything wrong. Whatever you throw, they want to eat.
Catching Newly Stocked Trout
I’ve experimented with a multitude of ways of catching stocked trout. I threw live bait, lures, bread, corn, and flies as kids. Be prepared with numerous methods and techniques when fishing for stocked trout on the same day. Don’t expect the one method that usually works to continue working. The more prepared you are, the better your chance of landing newly stocked fish.
Look For Them in Traditional Areas
You’d be surprised how quickly stocked trout move towards the “traditional” fishy areas.
If you’re fishing a river or creek, look for stocked trout in pools, under cut banks, in seams, and in eddies. They’ll fluctuate to areas where they don’t have to exert much energy to find food and fight the current. Any sort of structure or cover that provides a break from the strong current is what they want.
If you’re fishing lakes, look for cover, structure, and changes in depth. Rock piles, fallen trees, or aquatic vegetation are great places to start. They don’t want to stay exposed. Even though they’re not used to predators, their instincts kick in when they move into large bodies of water like lakes.
They stick together and sit near as much cover and structure as possible while adjusting.
Have Various Baits and Lures
Some days, corn and bread are exactly what the trout want. The bread and corn represent the pellets that the stocked trout usually eat.
On other days, you’re going to have to use live bait. Worms and minnows attached to hooks and bobbers do the trick. While stocked trout aren’t used to eating live bait, their instincts can’t help but cause the trout to feed on them. Let the activity and scent of the live bait do the work, and wait for the trout to take your bait.
Finally, make sure you have flashy flies and lures. Bright pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, whites, and blues work well. Also, some tinsel and other flashy materials attract the attention of the curious stocked fish.
They don’t know any better on the day they enter the water, so anything that’s flashing and moving is what the fish want.
Know When to Give the Fish Time
Some days, you’ll run into stocked fish with no interest in you. While they may not bite the same day you fish for them, they may bite the following morning. In my experience, stocked trout that don’t bite on the day they enter the water almost always bite the next day.
Stocked trout always provide anglers with challenges. When you fish for them on their first day, you never know exactly what they will do. It seems like every batch of stocked trout are different. If you have the proper bait and understand where they’re holding, you can land them.