Cleveland Metroparks Winter Trout Stocking 2019

HINCKLEY, OH – This week I had the opportunity to observe a few Cleveland Metroparks trout stockings.  This was the final of two rounds of winter trout stockings that occurred at Wallace, Shadow, Judge’s, Ledge, and Ranger Lakes.  I suppose I will state the obvious, now is the time to get to any of these lakes for this awesome annual fishing opportunity.  Along with the sheer numbers of fish, there are some exceptional individual specimens that are worthy of trophy status in anyone’s book.  If you read this post in it’s entirety, I will elaborate more on that.

Owen and Michael all smiles despite the actual hard work it takes to do the stockings

A net full of memories waiting for skilled (or lucky) anglers!

They make it look effortless, but that can is HEAVY  (I was happy to be the photographer!)

I was surprised that the stocking of trout actually was quite laborious.  It involved manually netting the fish and then lifting them into a large rubber trash can. After that, the trash can full of fish and water has to be carried down to the water for the release.  I’m certain many of you assumed that it was just a tank that pulls up to the lake with a giant hose that shoots them in.  I myself, assumed that from media I had seen online, and from watching an ODNR stocking some years ago at Swanton Reservoir in Northwest Ohio.  While it does seem like ‘fun’ work, it truly was work.  I only assisted on a couple trips down to the water and my back let me know it was work!

What a beautiful Brown Trout

An equally stunning Brook Trout

An eager Brook Trout didn’t need dumped, it jumped to its new home

There wasn’t a single fish that I observed that wouldn’t have put a smile on a fortunate angler’s face, but there were some that would be extremely special catches.  This included some Brown and Brook Trout, some Golden Trout (only at a few locations, not all lakes), and some of all species that were substantially large.  While my personal target would be these special species stocked in lower numbers than the Rainbows, a giant Rainbow would certainly be exciting!  I am always impressed by the overall quality of trout that the Cleveland Metroparks stock, and this round was no exception.  I pray some of these fish have a future encounter with me in the coming weeks.

I remain grateful to the Cleveland Metroparks for their efforts to provide recreational opportunities.  Specifically, their associates like Michael and Owen who carry out the mission so well.  They are not simply astute and credentialed in their chosen field, but passionate fisherman too.  I am certain this contributes to how these lakes are managed so successfully.

I hope all of you get a chance to target these fish and feel free to shoot me an email about how you do or leave a comment.  Don’t forget to visit the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Blog to get fishing related news and view some of the catches.  Finally, please consider making a donation to the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund if you want to make a monetary gesture of gratitude – that also helps continuation of programs like these trout stockings.

First fish of 2013, Brown Trout

CWF2013JAN1browntroutIt would have been fun to chase big fish in the big rivers, but reports of ice shelves and slush diverted me to the small water. I tried to be enthusiastic for what the day might hold but admittedly I had low expectations. I was fishing a stretch that I hadn’t fished in years. I decided I would float a black hair jig tipped with two waxworms, an old standby that gives me confidence when I’m not sure what to use. As I meandered from pool to pool, I came across one that just looked too good not to hold fish. I decided I would invest a good portion of the morning camping it, and after 30 minutes I finally saw my float doing a bit of a dance. Over excitement can be an angler’s demise, and I lost the fish as it was just tapping at the offering. For the next hour, I worked the same pool hoping for another opportunity. I was just about to move on when my float turned sideways and then disappeared into the stream. I lifted the rod and felt a small spirited fish on the other end.

As I brought the fiesty fish to the net, I was amazed to see it was a Brown Trout. A very nice surprise for my first fish of 2013. After a few photos, the fish was returned to the water. It was just a single fish, maybe all of 12″ long, but I was thrilled. One part of me just wanted to leave after catching the gem, another part of me begged “more, more!”. The latter won.

I left that pool, convincing myself I had conquered the best prize in it. A few minutes later I was working the tailout of a long riffle when my float bounced a few times. I wasn’t used to the new drift and wondered if the jig was just bouncing on some rocks. This happened on several drifts and I finally told myself that I was setting the hook the next time it ‘hangs up’. The next time the float made the slightest deviation, I lifted the rod and felt a very similar sized fish. As I netted the fish, I saw the more expected Rainbow Trout. It was a rather homely trout that screamed of hatchery, but a second trout nonetheless and an excellent way to bring in the new year!