Many people who go fishing for trout in water bodies such as reservoirs often wonder how long do stocked trout live. This is probably because man is naturally a curious being, and often ponders about his impact on the world around him.
People usually stock trout in bodies of freshwater for various reasons that range from ecological benefits to supporting recreational activities. It’s, however, the latter which is the main reason why lakes and reservoirs are amongst the water bodies that are regularly stocked with trout.
When looking at the larger picture of stocking trout in a water body, one can’t help but evaluate how long the stocked trout specimens live in a particular body of water.
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How Long Do Stocked Trout Live
In order to gauge how long do they live in water bodies such as lakes and streams, the fishing community looks to the scientific explorations conducted to shed light on this mystery.
The curiosity regarding stocked trout lifespans arises when incidents come where fishermen and anglers manage to catch the same trout multiple times in a week with the help of lake trout lures.
The Famous Four-Year Study
One of the most prominent explorations based on scientific research is the famous four-year study conducted in 2018 by the American Fisheries Society. The Society initiated their research on the main question itself ‘how long do stocked trout live?’
The study was conducted after stocking a lake with trout during the spring and autumn seasons, only allowing harvesting during the summers. This gave the chance to recreational fishermen and anglers to fish without having an immediate effect on the stocked trout.
The time was enough to give stocked trout the chance to make it through the days without fear of being caught. The researchers made use of various tracking devices to keep tabs on the stocked trout.
When it comes to how long do stocked trout live, the research demonstrated that 60 out of 100 don’t make it past the first week.
This is because other than humans there are other creatures in the waters that feast on freshly stocked trout. Animals that prey on trout range from fish eagles, ospreys, blue herons, and even raccoons!
Stocked Trout and Their Survival in the ‘Wild’
It depends primarily on how well they are able to defend themselves. Stocked trout usually grow up in fish farms where they receive an ample supply of food regularly, for which they don’t need to put in much effort to attain.
Moreover, stocked trout don’t have the survival skills needed to ward off predators and find good hiding spots. The fact that they don’t usually move much after being stocked just makes them easy food for the other predators.
The trout in the wild have also gone through a series of natural selection which made them extremely suited to a particular water body. Stocked trout who grew up on the farm don’t get the opportunity or the need to do so, which hinders their ability to mesh well into their introduced environment.
Stocked Trout Water Movement
When it comes to judging trout health, one of the most important things to consider how far do stocked trout move.
Once a water body is stocked with trout, the trout generally prefer to stay in the place they are left for a while before they start moving around.
The normal time duration varies from fish to fish, though it has been observed that brown trout can take up to seven days before they start moving, whereas rainbow trout start their movements much sooner, in around three days. Once the trout get moving they are able to cover vast distances within the water body.
Since how long do trout live depends on the moving state of the trout itself, this reduces the chances for the fish to survive due to their prolonged inactivity which causes predatory animals to attack and devour them.
Do Stocked Trout Multiply?
As mentioned before, when trout are stocked in a water body, they usually don’t tend to live more than a week. This makes many people curious about whether do stocked trout reproduce.
Though stocked trout can essentially spawn, they are often hindered due to various different factors and external conditions.
Here’s a quick list of the kind of challenges that trout go through that hinder their natural reproductive processes.
Devoted Fishermen and Anglers: When some fishing fanatic hears about a stocked lake, it becomes hard to stop them from going fishing. One of the prime reasons that deters trout multiplication is the fact that people catch them before they get a chance to spawn!
Lack of Movement: Trout don’t tend to move much after being stocked. Moreover, trout are mostly stocked in water bodies like lakes that don’t have much water movement. Trout prefer spawning in deeper waters and where there is a substantial current, both of which aren’t exactly present in the usual places where trout are stocked.
Genetics: One important thing to consider is how stocked trout are usually hatched in incubators in laboratory conditions. The way they are bred artificially dictates their sterile states, making it very hard for them to actually reproduce. Despite being healthy, stocked trout don’t face the urge to mate.
Is It a Good Idea to Go Trout Fishing Immediately After Stocking?
When it comes to catching stocked trout with a trout rod, there isn’t much that can be more exciting.
If you’re wondering how long do rainbow trout live, you have probably been wondering if you can go fishing immediately after the water body is stocked. The answer is ‘yes’!
It’s actually recommended that you go fishing immediately after a water body is stocked in order to get the most out of your fishing trip and then make some fillets from your catch!
It’s not hard to imagine why people ask themselves this question? After all, this question is very relevant to a successful fishing experience.
Stocked trout usually live about a week after they are stocked as they lack the necessary skills to survive the waters and all the various predators around
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go and fish!
Stocked trout live much longer than you think. Rivers and lakes are loaded with food. They are swimming and eating machines. Over fishing and environmental changes have the biggest effect on they’re survival.
Hey Tony question when N J has there drought did it hurt the lake trout population my dad an I use to fish that reservoir for years then you start working 12 + hrs day an marriage and all of a sudden you live in Florida and it’s 40 years later also personal best brown trout 3.5 lbs how long do you think it was stocked at spruce run reservoir to get to that size.
Thanks Dave Deimel
As I have caught many over the winter planters here in Oregon. I find your tale of a week to be in fact weak. And the planters I’ve gotten the same day or week they were planted are some and have little fight in them. I’m also sure that a 40 % servile rate is true but the numbers stocked make over winter servile more likely.
Hi I have caught many hold overs that are very large. I feel that a lot of stocked trout live for years after being planted. It certainly depends on the strain and the hatchery as some produce much healthier fish.
You really didn’t answer the question. How long can the other 40% live?
Hey Tony. I enjoyed your article referencing “How long do stocked trout survive”. In general I agree with you comments, however I disagree with one notation. Stocked rainbow and brown trout will usually begin feeding 2 hours after they are released from net or holding tank. They require some time to become acclimated to the new environment. water temperature etc.. I have witnessed this on several occasions. 2 hours they turn right on. Before that usually no bite.
Stocked trout in in Lake Michigan live on and on
William V Lardieri
In NJ I’ve caught stockers all year long. In the summer months I look upstream where the constant cooler temperatures of underground springs and deeper pools are. Last fall the day before closing for fall stocking I caught and released a large extremely colorful rainbow with pristine fins. This lead me to believe the fish has either evaded fisherman and wild animals for quite some time. I believe the fish may have been born in that stream due to it’s untouched fins and natural bright coloring. Farm raised, pellet fed fish are usually caught looking dull in color from it’s diet and the pristine fins very possibly means it wasn’t raised in a crowded tank where they bite each others fins to pieces. I’m no scientist, this is simply an opinion based on my experience over the last 30 years of covering every possible inch of the local stocked streams.
David W Salo
This article refers to “catchable” size trout. The intention is to provide instant gratification for anglers. I prefer the “put (in the waterbody), grow and take (or release)” stocking method. Fingerlings are released into nutrient rich waters that allow fast growth. A 4 inch fingerling can easily grow to 12 or even 16 inches in a year. The result is a “semi-wild” fish that feeds on natural food, not purina trout chow. A higher quality fish in all respects.
What about high dams that that produce cold tail water streams? They are sometimes required to stock because they have changed the nature of the stream making colder and more inhospitable to existing species but not trout. Sipsey Fork, about 14 miles of cold tailwater below 100ft Smith Dam, is part wadable and part floatable in North Alabama and is a rear round trout only fishery is one example.
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