LA Wildlife and Fisheries stocks ponds with non-native rainbow trout (Louisiana Weekly, January 2020)

A legendary sportsman’s paradise, Louisiana can now count rainbow trout among the fish available to catch and eat – at least during the wintertime.

On Tuesday, January 21, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Get Out and Fish! program released some 2,300 pounds of rainbow trout in freshwater lakes in Jennings, Youngsville, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Walker, Hammond, and Joe Brown Park in New Orleans. An additional 2,100 pounds of live rainbow trout were released into state ponds on January 14, for a total of 4,400 pounds of fresh food, available now for families to catch and eat.

“A truck backed up to the water and dumped a bunch of fish into the lake, from like a big tube,” said fisherman Robert Smith, who was out at Joe Brown park on Tuesday afternoon to partake of the new rainbow trout, which are not native to Louisiana, because they can only survive in cold water. Within an hour of hitting the lake though, said Smith, “They’re already jumpin’. The ones that are jumpin’ are about half a pound.”

Rainbow trout are different in many ways from Louisiana’s coveted saltwater speckled trout, which are not really trout at all, but members of the drum family. And unlike wild rainbow trout, which eat bugs and other live food, Louisiana’s new rainbow trout were raised in springwater at Crystal Lake Fisheries in Boone Township, Missouri. All the fishermen on the lake Tuesday used little plastic lures and spinnerbaits, even though these rainbow trout aren’t used to eating live food. “They’ve been raised on pellets – that’s what they feed ‘em with at the hatchery – so that’s what you use to catch them with: corn, or pellets. But in a few days they’ll be hungry, and then they’ll eat just about anything.”

Fish delivery truck driver Dan Kidderman says the trout are ready to be caught much quicker than even that: “When we deliver them, they have been kept off of feed for a few days,” he explains. “So, give ‘em just an hour to acclimate and they will bite, cause they are hungry. Guys fish ‘em out almost as fast as they hit the water. Rainbow trout are an adaptive species. They’re used to eating pellets, but when they get into the ponds and streams, left to their own devices they will go after the bugs and whatever. But really they will go after anything, even Velveeta cheese.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of this article at LOUISIANA WEEKLY…

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