Broken Bow Stocking Program Clarified by Rob Woodruff – Pat Waters

| October 7, 2013

Oklahoma fly fishing the Lower Mountain Fork

Oklahoma fly fishingThere is currently a lot of misinformation circulating about the Trout stocking program on the Lower Mountain Fork River. A year ago the hatchery supplying Rainbow Trout changed from a privately owned hatchery in Missouri (the same one that supplies the Trout to the Guadalupe River) to one in Nebraska. This summer the stocking frequency changed from every other week to once every three weeks. For the details on the changes, and why; I asked Lower Mountain Fork River Foundation President Pat Waters to outline the facts. His reply is below.
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From my (Woodruff) standpoint as a fly fishing guide and avid fly fisher with more than 20 years’ experience on the river, here are my points:
1) Only the frequency of stocking has changed. The actual amount of fish (by weight) stocked in a year has increased slightly.

2) The Rainbow Trout from the Nebraska hatchery look better and definitely fight harder than the previous fish did, especially when newly stocked.

3) The fishing is very good and has remained so throughout the change in stocking frequency. In addition to fewer days with freshly stocked trout, the “new” Trout don’t seem to hang around the stocking point in big clusters and quickly spread out in a more natural population distribution. Regardless of the stocking frequency, The Lower Mountain Fork and Spillway Creek support a healthy population of Trout, both hold-over stocked fish and wild fish, at all times all year. Anglers who have learned to find the fish at locations other than just the main stocking points are going to do well on any given day. Those anglers who only know how to follow fresh stocking truck tire tracks to the fish are going to struggle.

4) The Trout from the Nebraska hatchery don’t seem to be as gullible when first stocked as the fish from the Missouri hatchery. This means that some flies and presentations don’t work as well as they once did. Those same flies and presentations probably didn’t work as well on off stocking weeks in the past. Flies that match the natural foods, when presented properly, will still catch Trout.

5) All of the changes only apply to the stocking of Rainbow Trout in the river. The stocking of Brown Trout follows a different system and is unchanged.

Rob Woodruff

Stocking Contract Changes
As many of you know, there was a contract problem earlier this year between the ODWC and the new hatchery that got the contract last year to stock our river. Inevitably, there are questions and there is misinformation and incorrect assumptions roaming around out there. Let’s clear up some of these and explain how the stocking has worked this past summer.

The ODWC had to renegotiate a 6-month contract with the hatchery due to an oversight. At the same time, a problem arose with the heat and transporting the trout all the way from Nebraska. The solution came in that the hatchery would start to stock every three weeks instead of every other week. The money saved on fuel on these trips would go towards ice to help the trout survive and a slight increase in the number of trout delivered. This has worked well although there were a few other small problems that popped up and are being corrected.

So, although they are stocking less often, the same “number”, or more, of trout are still being put into the river annually. I have checked this, both from the ODWC and from the hatchery personnel. Period.

Now, I put the word number, above, in quotes because that is how we always talk but that is not the real way the contract works. The contract has always been for pounds of trout and then there are sizes of trout that can be purchased. The contract is for so many pounds. And then within that, it is stipulated that the trout will be split into size percentages. An example is that 90% of the trout will be 12”-14” and the other 10% will be over 14” – or something along those lines.

In the past, the stockings had gotten so consistent that a“number” of trout started to get thrown about. Even if you go to the ODWC it will state the number of trout. Since most of the stocked fish are less than one pound it always looks better to give a number rather than a weight. And the number is a guess too. They guess how many trout are in a net and multiply that by the number of nets that go in the truck. They don’t actually count the fish- 1, 2, 3…. At the same time, the new hatchery is putting in a percentage of bigger fish – as most of you can readily attest to by what you have been catching – or breaking off. This increase in size, therefore, leads to a smaller number of fish to maintain the correct pounds of fish we receive by contract.

The bottom line of all this is that there was a decrease in the number of stockings per year by 1/3. But there was an increase in the poundage of trout we get per year and there was a small increase in the size of the trout we are getting in each stocking.

So, by weight we are getting more trout. By the numbers of trout, it may be a bit more, a bit less, or about the same.

Patrick Waters, LMFRF

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Category: Fishing Reports, Fly Fishing for Trout, Oklahoma Report, Science and Environmental, TECHNICAL, Technique

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