Outdoor Articles

Stocked Trout Versus Native Trout

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Trout Fishing

As as avid trout angler for more than 20 years, I feel it’s important to make a distinction between stocked trout and native trout. Many anglers call a trout a trout and to me this isn’t at all the case. Most of the trout that are caught in this country have been placed there by our government for our enjoyment. These trout weren’t born, as nature intended, in the waters that they’re caught out of. They were born in a glorified aquarium, and then “stocked” or placed into any number of bodies of water. These trout that are placed in any number of bodies of water are stocked trout. On the other hand trout that were born naturally, the way nature intended and then grow up in said water are native trout. For my purposes a trout that is stocked and then survives naturally for 4 or 5 years, then becomes a native trout as well. Stocked “fingerlings” that then grow up into catch able trout would obviously be considered native in my twisted world.

The stocked trout that I personally have a problem with are the “finless wonders” that get stocked throughout the entire country. These are the trout that have grown to catch able size in tanks and are then released to be caught. Since these trout are raised in tanks with thousands of other trout, their fins get rubbed off, thus creating “finless wonders”. To me this is tantamount to those “hunting preserves” on which animals are released, with the express purpose of being killed by some jag-off. The only difference is that in the case of these stocked trout, they’re fish instead of animals, and I’ve been known to be the jag-off!

In all seriousness, that’s the difference and when you catch both a stocked trout and a native trout and hold them side by side, you can definitely tell the difference. The native trout are much more beautiful and their colors are much more brilliant. In my humble opinion, native trout fight much harder than stocked trout as well. Large native trout are much more difficult to entice into biting as well. All in all when compared equally, in terms of beauty, fight, challenge to catch, and of course taste, native trout are hands down my favorite of the two.

And, just for reference this is coming from an angler who doesn’t wave feathers back and forth in an attempt to catch trout. My mentor had a real disdain for flea flicking and I carry on that torch! I attempt to catch these beautiful fish the way God intended, with a set of gang hooks and live bait. This doesn’t change the fact that I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the beautiful creature known to all of us as the trout. No matter what, don’t forget what Steven Wright said of all of us anglers, “There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore looking like an idiot.”


Trevor Kugler is co-founder of JRWfishing.com and an avid angler. He has more than 20 years experience fishing for all types of fish, and 15 years of business and internet experience. He currently raises his three year old daughter in the heart of trout fishing country…..Montana!

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