I just finished up with a casting clinic and anglers are stopping in to tell me that they can see trout all over the place but they won’t take anything. It’s part of a common phenomenon that happens three times a year on the Little Schuylkill and various other streams throughout the state…. it’s stocking time.
Imagine if someone came into your house threw a bag over your head, tossed you in the back of a van. and then after a few hours bouncing around in the back of that van took the bag off your head and threw you over a guard rail and took off. Is eating going to be the first thing on your mind? Recently stocked trout take time to adjust to their new environment and should be given some time to do so. Some adjust faster than others and some just swim away. You have to consider that up until now that fish has been living in a still water environment, cruising around looking for food that inevitably comes at the same time each day, in the same size, shape and color. Now all of the sudden this trout is faced with a fast current and it must learn to find food on it’s own. They’re just like all of the non-outdoors type people that you see on the TV show Survivor, it takes them time to adjust and learn where and how to find food.
So how can I catch them. Personally, I try to avoid streams after recent stockings but if I want to take a niece or nephew out and try to help them catch some trout I know after a few days of adjustment time I can probably get a few fish to cooperate by keeping these things in mind:
1. They’re still looking up. Most of the food they’ve eaten up to this point has been in the form of a pellet. They will often key in on surface offerings but can get confused in the fall when a lot of leaves are on the surface. Try black or other colors that make your fly stand out and don’t be afraid to give it a twitch.
2. Movement. It will take fish time to adjust to holding in one place and allowing food to come to them. Whether you are fishing on the surface or sub-surface, giving your fly some movement will make it stand out.
3. Hit the slow stuff. Until they get used to the current, trout may hold in slower water when available. If fishing sub-surface don’t forget to use a strike indicator in slower water.
So to recap, when fishing in recently stocked streams keep in mind that the trout may not have adjusted to their new surroundings and the difference between catching fish and not is going to be figuring out where they’re holding and figuring out how to make your fly stand out from everything else drifting past them.