Mark Forster trout fishing
Mark Forster casts his fly rod while fishing for trout at Holmes Lake on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by Dylan Widger.

Anglers around the state will have the ability to target trout this fall as rainbow trout are stocked in waters across the state.

During October, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission stocked rainbow trout in ponds and creeks across the state. The stocking, which takes place in the spring and fall each year, releases thousands of rainbow trout in different popular fishing waters in both urban and rural Nebraska.

According to Daryl Bauer, fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the commission spread out stocking locations to allow most people the chance to target the fish. 

“We’re trying to keep them spread out, so it’s close to just about everybody,” Bauer said. 

He said the stocking rates for each body of water are affected by how heavily the lakes and ponds are fished.

“Some of the more heavily populated areas, obviously they’re going to fish them out sooner and we’ll stock a few extra in those waters,” Bauer said. 

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission receives trout eggs from western states where natural trout are more common. Over the course of almost a year, the trout are raised to around 10 inches long, or what Bauer referred to as “catchable size,” in rearing stations located around the state. Once they reach the proper size, they are then transferred by truck to lakes and ponds across the state. Due to the nature of the fish, they can only be stocked during cooler months when the water temperature is appropriate for the trout to survive. 

Trout 300x225 - Fall trout stockings offer angling opportunities across the state
Rainbow trout of approximately 10 inches are being stocked in lakes and ponds around the state throughout the month of October. Photo courtesy of Daryl Bauer, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Bauer said the fish don’t have a long life expectancy since trout fishing is popular in stocked areas and since the lakes and ponds are not cold enough year-round to naturally sustain trout.

“For most of these fish, it’s more like a few weeks,” Bauer said. “Maybe if they’re lucky, a few months.” 

The goal of the program, Bauer said, is to have a somewhat easy fish to catch for anglers of all ages and experience.

“These are hatchery fish. Wild fish is a little bit different,” Bauer said. “These are not the smartest fish in the world. They are relatively easy to catch.”

The trout quickly adapt to searching for food in the ponds and will eat a variety of things, including bait, corn and nightcrawlers, according to Bauer. 

Mark Forster, program lead for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a non-profit that focuses on fly fishing programs for disabled veterans, spent the afternoon of Oct. 23 at Holmes Lake in Lincoln fishing for trout. He said that although he may not be who the fish are intended for, he still enjoys the experience.

“These fish probably aren’t stocked here for guys to go out and fish with their fly rods for, but they still are fun,” Forster said. “The fish will bite on nearly anything.”

Forster set out around the lake with his fly rod and a purple fly.

“[The trout] aren’t used to natural feeding patterns,” Forster said. “They don’t have a set food source. Anything that looks like food, acts like food and tastes like food, they will eat.”

Bauer said that the commission hopes the opportunity to get out and target an easy-to-catch species attracts more anglers to the sport.

“We hope that we’re getting beginners taking advantage of it,” Bauer said. “We hope that they get hooked on fishing.”