Times were tough when I entered the writing world.
Fresh out of college and broke as can be, I cooked my kidney beans and Vienna sausages by putting the cans directly on the burner. (A tip for you bachelor gourmands without pans: take the label and the lid off the can before applying heat.)
I inherited my granny’s cast-iron skillet on the next trip home, but I wanted to cook something other than canned mystery meat in it. That’s when I started fishing for trout.
Trout come in three flavors in Kentucky: rainbow, brown, and brook. Each year, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service release more than 725,000 rainbow and brown trout into the state’s rivers, streams, and lakes.
Although Kentucky annually stocks some 4.5 million fish—a number that does not include newly hatched fry being stocked—the majority of these fish measure less than a few inches. Not so for trout.
“The rainbow trout that we stock in Kentucky are a decent size, big enough to put in the frying pan,” says Jeff Ross, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s assistant fisheries director. “We found that we get the biggest bang for the buck by stocking fish in the 8- to 10-inch range.” Nowadays, nearly a third of the trout stocked in Kentucky wind up in the Cumberland River, downstream of Lake Cumberland’s Wolf Creek Dam.
Since I lived in Somerset at the time, I discovered that I could grab some fresh 5 a.m. doughnuts at a Jamestown gas station and be fishing in the tailwater in less than an hour. With just a couple pats of butter melted in Granny’s skillet, I ate fresh trout nearly every weekend for five years.
Back then, Kentucky had a limited number of places where you could catch trout. Today, Kentucky stocks trout in 29 community lakes, 13 reservoirs, 14 tailwaters, and 44 streams.
Dane Balsman, Kentucky’s urban fisheries biologist, says trout fishing is wildly popular in the community lakes. “Trout are a novelty among urban anglers—people may not have the opportunity otherwise to fish for them,” Balsman says. “They are also an easy-to-catch fish.”
Anglers catch trout on salmon eggs, worms, in-line spinning baits, dough bait, and even kernels of corn.
Fisheries biologist Dave Dreves notes that many fall trout stockings begin in September, and accelerate into October when water temperatures start to cool. “When it starts getting cold and nothing else is biting,” he says, “you can still go out there and catch trout.”
LEARN WHEN AND WHERE trout are being stocked by visiting www.fw.ky.gov. The Web site also includes stocking numbers by searching for keywords “trout waters” and locating the “2010fishingguidetroutwaters.pdf” to download.
A 2009 Trout Streams Classification PDF report is located under the Fishing & Boating tab, under “Where to Fish,” which explains the trout program in Kentucky and ratings for where to likely find trout.