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Chasing Rainbows Time in Tennessee

leah kirk

by Larry Woody

The TWRA this weekend begins stocking 100,000 rainbow trout in 40 locations across the state. The stockings will continue through Jan. 28. A list of trout-stocking dates and locations is listed in the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

This year as a special bonus 150 albino trout weighing up to three pounds will be included among the 8-12 inch rainbows.

There is a daily limit of seven trout, no size limit, except on certain waters such as the Caney Fork River. Detailed trout regulations are listed in the Fishing Guide.

A special trout license is required except for holders of a Sportsman’s License or Lifetime License. Anyone fishing for trout has to have the trout license even if no trout are kept.

The stocked trout are intended to be caught and kept for eating since few of the cold-water fish will survive once the waters begin to warm in the spring.

 “Culling” fish – replacing a small trout on a stringer with a bigger one – is discouraged because the released fish probably will not survive and will be wasted. Like most kinds of fishing, angling for trout can be as simple or as complicated as the individual angler chooses. Stocked trout can be caught on fly rods with flies and streamers, or on spinning tackle with a wide range of lures and baits.

Popular spinning lures include anything that flashes or flutters, including RoadRunners, miniature crank-baits, and Trout Magnets. The latter are small plastic grubs stuck on a lead-head hook and fished below a float. The flow of the current or riffle of a breeze on the surface imparts enough movement to the dangling lure to entice a strike.

In terms of baits, one of the earliest used by trout fishermen was canned yellow corn – two or three kernels impaled on a hook, weighted down with a split shot, and bounced along the bottom. Yellow corn remains an inexpensive and effective trout bait.

Another standard trout bait is salmon eggs, fished the same way as the corn kernels. Salmon eggs are more expensive than can corn, and harder to keep on a hook.

In recent years an array of commercial trout baits has hit the shelves of sporting goods stores. Some of the most popular are little marshmallow-shaped nuggets of various colors and flavors.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency restocked the pond at Shelby Park with some 3,000 trout. It is the prime time to do so as the fish thrive in cooler temperatures, and it also gives both seasoned and first-time anglers a unique opportunity.

"That utilizes the wintertime fishing holes that we stock and it gets the people out of the house and gets them acclimated and accustomed to catching trout, something, a species, they normally wouldn't be going after in this area," said Darrell Bernd.

There is a daily limit of seven, and fishers will have to get a license before heading out. The final day of the stocking is March 16.