Friday, August 5, 2016

Gravel Pit Rainbow Trout

The Pond at Sunset

There is a gravel pit near my home where I do a lot of my shooting. It's large enough to offer ranges of up to 400 yards with good high banks for safety.

One part of the pit is a lot deeper than the rest, and it used to form a sandy basin.  Decades ago the owner had dug an extra deep portion into the basin where he hit ground water.  Initially, there was only a small amount of water, but over the years the water table rose until it filled the deepest hole in the basin.  It created an 80 yard long by 20 yard wide pond within the basin.  For years it was a favorite swimming hole.

Then, amazingly, the water table began to rise even more until the pond overflowed and filled in the entire basin.  It formed a sand bottom lake 320 yards by about 80 yards.  Today, the average depth is about 5 feet, but the original hole where ground water was first struck is at least 12 feet deep.  That makes a 12 foot deep channel about 80 feet long in a 320 yard long lake.

The First Trout
I was snooping around the pond after a target shooting session and it dawned on me that the pond may make good rainbow trout habitat.  It's been around long enough to have loads of snails and other water critters, and abundant water plants. I asked the owner for permission to stock trout, and this spring I ended up stocking the basin with one hundred 4 inch long rainbow trout.

They have thrived.  In three months some of the fish have grown to almost a foot in length, and they are active and healthy.  On quiet evenings after a windy day, the surface of the water is constantly being broken with jumping fish, some launching completely into the air.

I thought I'd try catching a few to see how large they actually were, but the task proved tricky.  I tried everything to entice bites, but they were too focused on surface feeding to do much more than follow my jigs and lures to shore.  I finally tried worms suspended beneath a bobber, and the fun began. I managed to hook three in short order.  The largest was about 11 inches in length ... an amazing increase in size from the little fish I had put in just 90 days ago.

I'll leave them alone for now; until fall ... then the fun will begin.  I'm thinking ice fishing will be a must as well.  Any fish that aren't harvested will likely die over winter ... likely by February, so my goal is to catch every last one.  I've got lots of friends willing to help.

Smoked trout is one of my favorites ... I can hardly wait.

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