I took part in a trout stocking for the first time today, and it was a great experience! This was a stretch of the Patuxent I was previously unfamiliar with, so it was an added bonus to learn, in great detail, about a new piece of water. Anyway, here's how it works:
The truck arrives. This stretch, about 2,500 to 3,000 yards, received 500 brown trout plus 30 really nice sized ones, probably 15" and very meaty. They came from the Musky Trout Hatchery in New Jersey, and they all looked good and healthy.
We had five boxes, and brought them down to the river just below Brighton Dam. We floated the boxes in the river and brought the fish from the truck in buckets until each box had over 100 trout! As I was dragging my box behind me it occurred to me that I was holding more trout than I'll see all season. But it really felt cool to be responsible for so many beautiful fish.
We waded well downstream of easy access points before we released any trout. Then we just took turns dumping out 10 or 15 trout every hundred yards or so. It was very interesting to look at the river from the standpoint of an angler, but with an entirely different motivation. Instead of finding 'fishy' spots to catch fish, I found myself looking for really appealing trout habitat in which to hide them. Places I'd have trouble reaching with a fly rod became prime territory to release fish, especially the big ones!
Some of the wading was difficult, and we had to do some creative problem solving to get past some obstacles. Here, Carl our team leader has boxes floated to him across a pool too deep to wade through.
Nick approves of the placement of trout in this, his home water. I'd be grinning too if I was getting 530 brownies in my backyard!
It was a beautiful stretch of water. These heron nests will soon disappear behind spring foliage.
Nick again, entirely too happy. I think these last few trout are heading back to his bathtub.
This is where we got out of the river. Someone noticed this bull noticing us with great interest.
So that's it! 530 more trout for fly fishermen to enjoy, and one more of those fishermen having a better understanding of the hard work that goes into stocking these waters. I encourage anyone who enjoys stocked fisheries to find the clubs responsible for stocking them, and volunteer one day a year to help out. You'll learn a lot, have fun and meet cool people. Plus it might just be your best shot at a 100 trout day. I know it's mine!