WV Wildlife: Stocking Trout in the Winter

Rainbow, Golden Rainbow, Brown and Brook trout will all be stocked during the winter months across select streams and lakes. (WCHS/WVAH)

The New Year is here!

And that means that thousands of rainbow, golden rainbow, brown and even some brook trout will be finding new homes across our streams and lakes soon.

These fish, which are raised at hatcheries across the state by our West Virginia DNR, will be stocked all the way through the end of May.

And stocking is a whole lot more than just dipping and tossing, too--especially this time of the year, when the weather can be downright frigid and treacherous.

Mark Scott, a Fisheries Biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says the days can be long, too.

"You drive hours to get to the hatchery to pick them up, and then you drive hours to the water you're going to stock--so, they're typically long days", said Scott.

There are many different types of transportation to stock these fish--sometimes even by foot--but the large DNR hatchery trucks are usually the most preferred when it comes to stocking a large number of trout.

Regardless of which type, the method remains the same--a lot of hard and meticulous work.

"We use oxygen diffusers, which produce fine bubbles and a mist of pure oxygen--which keeps them kind of happy. We control our oxygen here. We've got the agitators for the bigger fish, like the rainbows. We use the flow through agitators, which pull water out and spray it out to keep like a current moving. Keeps oxygen mixed in the water well", said Scott.

Hatchery workers even have a ‘solution’ to keep the fish relaxed on their long and, sometimes, bumpy trip.

"Add in some additives--some stress relievers, some salt mixes that relieve the stress on the fish and help promote their slime coat so that they stay happy and don't get injured".

Cleaning the trucks, or any of the stocking tanks and nets, is really important, too. To cut back on diseases and invasive species from spreading--fisheries biologists make sure to hose down and sterilize all of their equipment.

"It's a little bit of a process, but it's very rewarding when you see--now with social media-- a lot more pictures. Somebody caught it and I go, that's the one we stocked. That's one of our babies”, said Scott.

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