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Q & A
Where to Fish Opening Day
Question
Trout season is just around the corner and I have to make a decision. I am deciding between two streams to try for opening day. The first stream is stocked with 6,000 trout. Another is stocked with 700. My question is: Can I assume that the fishing will be better at the first stream since there are more fish being stocked there? (When I say "better," I mean are my chances better to catch a fish?)
Answer
You have posed a variation of the question just about every trout angler has pondered at some point in time: "where's the best place for me to fish?" For as many times as we've been asked the question, there's still no one single right answer. There are so many variables that affect fishing success, that the question is impossible to answer with a reasonable degree of certainty. Resource factors such as stream size, flow rates and relative water clarity play a part. So do things like fishing pressure. It's usually the angler him- or herself that determines success more so than the specific waterway. Fishing skill, fishing method and amount of time spent on the water are the best predictors of angling success.

Trout stocking numbers alone only tell part of the story. The Commission allocates trout to stream sections on the basis of a resource classification system. Based on the information collected from our stream examination surveys, we evaluate the biological, chemical, physical and social attributes of a stream section. Under this system, stream sections are placed into one of 11 specific stocking categories. Stream sections with similar attributes are placed into the same stocking category and treated the same in terms of stocking rates (number of trout stocked per acre) on a statewide basis. So a big stream in a rural area with limited angler access may get 3,000 fish. Meanwhile a smaller stream near a population center with plenty of easy access may get 1,000 trout. Although the total number of fish is higher for the first stream, the second stream is actually stocked at a higher rate proportionally.

Keep in mind that higher stocking rates do not always translate into a better chance of success. Individual angler success may be more related to selecting the type of water that is most compatible with your fishing skills. This is where you have to decide what type of stream to visit. Factors such as the size of the stream may come into play, as you may be a person that tends to do better on a smaller stream or you may like moderate to larger size streams. You might want to consider location as well. The number of other anglers likely fishing a highly stocked stream near an urban area might not have as much appeal to you as a small headwater stream in a remote woods with fewer anglers to compete with.

Ultimately, you will have to be the one to decide which type of experience that you want to fish on opening day. Most of all, remember to have fun when you are out there on opening day. Its a great time of the year to enjoy outdoor recreation.

For help deciding on where to fish be sure to check out our Regional Information/Guide page.

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