The Stocking Truck

When I was 13 I had one of my more miserable years fishing. I was getting hung everywhere I cast, I was always in the right place at the wrong time, and I was catching squat. Everything about fishing was a royal pain, and as much as I hated how my season was going I was determined to figure things out.

One day I was fishing a local trout stream. I had the Cellar Hole all to myself. It was a riffle-pool combination with a big deadfall on a 45- degree angle. There was a cobble and rock bottom, an enormous stand of pines and some Spruce. It smelled as perfect as it looked. I had it all to myself.

For about an hour I heard an unusual bang, bang, bang up the dirt road. It wasn’t continuous, but it went on for a bit, stopped, then started again, then stopped, and finally I saw what it was: the stocking truck!

The truck banged around until it parked on the other side of the bank from me. Bucket after bucket of trout were tossed into the pool and I could see them all stacked up like cord wood. I could barely contain myself and remember thinking that my luck finally was about to pay off. It didn’t. Freshly stocked fish have about as much interest in eating as a person at the end of a Thanksgiving Day meal. No, my luck didn’t turn that day, but a few days later when I went back it did for sure.

In a perfect world our rivers, streams, and ponds would be chock-a-block with fish to catch. Stocking fish has become a way to supplement some depleted fisheries, and is handled by the state agenciesthat manage the bodies of water in your state. Stocking and other state fishing-related projects/activities, like river clean-ups, and habitat improvement, are funded through the sale of fishing licenses, boat registrations and other related equipment sales. All the more reason to purchase your fishing license this season – it helps stocks your favorite lakes and rivers.

Trout is typically the primary species that gets stocked, but they are one of many. Minnesota and Wisconsin stock a tremendous amount of muskie, largemouth bass, even steelhead. Nebraska stocks largemouth bass, Arizona stocks catfish and bluegill, and Florida stocks a variety of species including striped bass.

State fish and wildlife agencies don’t just stock quantities of fish; they also stock quality. In some areas, fry and fingerlings are added to the ecosystem. In other stretches, trophy-sized fish make the grade. The combination of size and numbers is a powerful one, and I’m convinced that the catches I made in the days following the stocking at the Cellar Hole kept me focused on what has become a life-long pursuit.

Many states stock the local lakes and rivers on a schedule, usually in the spring and fall, though some stock year-round. To find your state stocking schedule, click here and choose your state.

Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at