Trout fishing in Virginia is often times an under discussed opportunity for fly fishermen and spin cast alike. Most anglers don’t realize that Virginia offers over 3,500 miles of trout streams. Through partnerships with private landowners, corporations etc., the Department of Game and Fish have been able to build a robust program for trout stocking.
Catching stocked trout isn’t necessarily a difficult task, but they can be quite skittish, especially once introduced into a new environment. Usually the trout need a brief moments to acclimate to their new surroundings. The other challenge is that stock trout are raised on a pellet based diet. While they still will be opportunistic when it comes to grass hoppers and other insects, the vast majority of their diet is still a trout pellet.
However, trout are still trout, they can and will quickly adjust to their environment. When fishing for trout, ones recently released will respond better to a food source that splashes the surface – think about pellets hitting the water. They may not initially recognize a subsurface worm drifting through is also a food source.
Another major difference is that stocked trout are accustomed to people, especially when people are providing food. From this perspective, stocked trout are much less shy about people than wild trout. Stocked trout are still trout, they still instinctually will chasing down fleeing food, not just pellets thrown in at the hatchery. For trout fishing stockers, anglers should still stick with the idea of remaining hidden and not lining trout.
It wont take long for stocked trout to realize they are also fair game for a wide variety of predators. Stocked trout that have been recently released (within the last 48+/- hours) will still tend to school together. But as more predators (other than just people) pressure these fish, they will become more much more shy. Stocked trout in a lake or reservoir will adjust differently than those in rivers and streams due to their ability to push deeper and avoid pressure from the edges.
Over time, fishing for stocked trout will adjust to more closely match those of wild trout. Trout will key in on structure including large boulders and blow downs, adopting feeding patterns similar to wild trout as well. Stocked trout will slowly stop swimming in schools especially with more competition for food.
Virginia trout anglers can see what specific bodies of water have upcoming stocking programs. These include the following trout waters:
|Lake Thompson (Fauquier Co.)||April 17, 2019|
|South River – Ridgeview Park & Grottoes Park (Augusta/Rockingham Co.)||March 29, 2019|
|Jackson River – Hidden Valley (Bath Co.)||April 19, 2019|
|North River – Upper & Gorge (Augusta Co.)||March 27, 2019|
|Mint Springs Lake (Albemarle Co.)||March 23, 2019|
|Rural Retreat Pond (Wythe Co.)||April 13, 2019|
|Barbour’s Creek (Craig Co.)||March 30, 2019|
|Middle Fork Holston River (Smyth Co.)||May 25, 2019|
|South Fork Powell River (Wise Co.)||May 4, 2019|
|Roanoke River (Roanoke City)||May 4, 2019|
|Pigg River (Franklin Co.)||March 23, 2019|
|Liberty Lake (Bedford Co.)||April 13, 2019|
For a better understanding of trout fishing in Virginia, the following map will help you understand various regulations, as well as wild trout waters throughout the state. There is also an interactive map on DGIF’s website.