Published on January 14, 2020

Fishing is better with kids and a pond stocked with rainbow trout

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

This time of year, Texas Parks and Wildlife stocks neighborhood ponds, lakes and rivers with an amazing little cold-water fish – the rainbow trout. They do it to have safe winter fisheries. Rainbows are a great way to teach children how to fish – they have no fins, teeth or toxins than can injure a child. An extra plus is the bait is not yucky, or stinky.

You can catch rainbows with marshmallows, and corn – or prepared baits that look like marshmallows. And if you use short shank #8 hooks and ultra-light tackle, the fish can put on quite a show once they are hooked. They often take a run or take to the air – exciting to catch.

They are also good to eat.

Roy and I have followed the pond stockings for years and have fished for them in all different bodies of water. For years when we were younger, we made the 5 ½ -hour trip and tent-camped in freezing (literally) winter weather to catch fish in a clear-moving water river, the South Llano. They are more of a challenge to catch in moving water, and I think they even taste better cooked over a campfire on a cold night. But I digress.

Texas Parks and Wildlife publishes a Rainbow Trout Stocking Schedule each year around the end of November. The list tells you where (what city and body of water) and when, how many trout will be released and from what hatchery they originated. You can call the hatchery to make sure the stocking is on schedule.

Anglers will need a freshwater fishing license, but youth under 17 years of age do not require a license. Anglers are allowed 5 rainbow trout a day – no size limit. If you are fishing, especially with kids, take along a hand towel to be able to hold on to the fish once catching one. They are so slick and strong that most people cannot hold on to them without the towel in order to get the hook out.

Rainbows live year-round only below the dam on the Guadalupe River, and there are some additional restrictions if you fish for them there.

Brazoria County is only getting rainbow stockings in two parks this year: Centennial Park Pond in Pearland (1,650 fish stocked 1-22-20); and First Capital Park Pond in West Columbia (500 fish stocked 12-11-19). Usually, Brazoria County also gets rainbows in Resoft Park (between Pearland and Alvin on Hwy. 35.) We received no fish there this year since the county parks department is sculpting and deepening the bottom of the pond.

Resoft is where Roy and I had one of our more memorable rainbow trout fishing trips. When we lived in Houston, we could leave work, go directly to Resoft Park, catch our limit of trout and be home in time for the nightly news.

One Saturday when we were there, we put out 2 rods each, and as soon as we got them set, the fun was on. We quickly had to go to only one rod. Man, were they biting! And jumping!

There was a family next to us renting the pavilion to celebrate a birthday. They had several children, and three of their boys went fishing. They all had tackle large enough to catch whales – not rainbows. Two of them took off around the pond, but the third boy stood there and watched us catch fish after fish. He was handicapped with physically visible issues, and he could barely grasp his rod.

We were close to our limit when Roy asked the young man if he would like to catch a fish. He was quick to say yes. So, Roy walked back to the pavilion with him and asked his father if it was alright, and he gave his consent. The first thing we did was let the young man pick up the next rod that bent. The rainbow was hooked, and it put up quite a show jumping. Roy held the rod for the young man while he laboriously reeled in the fish. Seeing the look of pride on his face was worth a million bucks.

Roy asked him if he wanted to eat the first fish he ever caught, and he replied that he did. Roy cleaned the fish, and his father cooked it for him on the pit. His dad was proud. Now we were at our limit, but … the fish were still biting. We asked the young man if he wanted to catch a limit of trout. He said he did, and Roy showed him how to bait the hook and put it in the water. The fight was on again. Success again.

We helped the young man catch his limit in about five minutes. As we put the last fish on the stringer, his cousins came by. They had been skunked, and tauntingly asked our fishing friend if he had caught anything – they just KNEW he hadn’t. The young man replied that he had and pulled up his stringer. You could have knocked his cousins over with a feather as they chewed on their humble pie.

I’ll never forget the smile on that young man’s face – he had done something his cousins couldn’t. He had success at doing something – maybe for the first time in his life. Then he had trout for dinner, and Roy and I left Resoft with our limit of fish that day - and much more.

For more information about rainbow trout stockings, visit: https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/management/stocking/trout_stocking.phtml

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)