DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
LLANO — While it’s not quite on the largemouth bass’ level for size and popularity in the Lone Star State, the cold-water loving rainbow trout gets a bit of the spotlight every year thanks to a winter stocking program by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
PHOTO: The cold weather on Jan. 15 didn’t keep Scott Williams from enjoying some rainbow trout fishing on the Llano River. As part of its winter stocking program, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department released about 800 rainbow trout in the river at Leonard Grenwelge Park in Llano. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton
And anglers fording the Llano River at Leonard Grenwelge County Park can take part in the action. TPWD stocked about 800 rainbow trout at the park Jan. 15. The park is located east of the Texas 16 bridge on the south side of the waterway.
“This is great,” said Scott Williams who braved the cold weather after the release. “My son and I came out last year, and we really enjoyed it. These are fun fish to catch.”
Williams, who lives in Round Rock, was in Llano County visiting relatives when he decided to wet a line after the trout release.
“The rainbow trout-stocking program is quite popular,” Larry Hodge of TPWD said. “It’s something different, and anglers like it when they can catch something different.”
The parks department stocks more than 250,000 hatchery-raised rainbow trout in more than 100 sites across Texas. The locations are chosen for several reasons, but primarily because of accessibility.
“We want to put (the trout) where people will go fishing for them,” Hodge said.
Rainbow trout are typically found in cooler regions where the water temperatures don’t climb above 70 degrees. The fish will live for several months in Texas before those temperatures hit that mark.
“That’s why we encourage people, when they catch the trout, to take them home and eat them,” Hodge said. “As well as being a great sport fish, they’re great to eat.”
The stocking program also is a great opportunity to introduce children to fishing.
“The trout usually are fairly easy to catch, which makes it a great fish for kids,” Hodge said. “They’re also a very pretty and colorful fish, which is another reason kids like them.”
But he wouldn’t go as far as guaranteeing any catches.
Trout don’t require lots of expensive equipment to catch them. Hodge said children can start with a basic, closed-faced spinning reel with a line, hook and bobber. A good choice for bait is a kernel of canned corn.
“These are hatchery-raised fish, so they’re used to eating food that looks like the corn kernel.”
Other non-corn selections for children’s hooks include the Berkley PowerBait Trout Nibbles, which come in an assortment of colors.
And it’s not just a kid’s fish. All level and ages of anglers can enjoy a little Texas trout fishing.
“Fly fishers love the trout,” Hodge said. “We have several of the ponds (at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens) stocked with trout. And the fly fishermen tell me that the trout may have been raised on the hatchery food, but it doesn’t take them long to learn to hit a fly.”
Even small spinner baits and jigs can be effective.
Other area locations TPWD stocked trout include Blanco State Park in Blanco; the LBJ State Park & Historic Site between Johnson City and Fredericksburg; the South Llano River State Park in Junction; and the W.M. Brook Park in Lampasas.
Anglers 17 and older and born after Jan. 1, 1931, must hold a valid Texas fishing license to fish public waters. There are other exemptions, as well, including fishing in state parks. For complete rules and regulations, go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us.