*always check your local regulations
Wisconsin, like many other states, has a long history of stocking fish. Many folks are aware of game species stocking, but the lesser known trout stocking practice also provides lots of inland opportunities for anglers.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other hatchery agencies stock brook, rainbow, and brown trout. The trout that are stocked enter our streams and small lakes with a couple of goals: rehabilitation, remediation, research, recreation for anglers, and introduction of species in new waters. In some lakes, brood stock Brook Trout are stocked. Broodstock trout are trout that were part of the hatchery’s breeding program but are no longer viable breeders, so they’re released for anglers to enjoy.
How to Target Stocked Brook Trout
If you’re looking to target stocked trout, the DNR published documents titled “Catchable Trout” which are linked below. These detail the size, number and species of trout that have been stocked in the previous spring. This will give you a long list of lakes to check out. If you’re looking for adult sized fish, you’ll want to go to the lakes that have been stocked with broodstock. If you’re lucky, some of the other lakes stocked with fingerlings or yearling trout may be successful in growth and reproduction as well, and you’ll find yourself hooking into bigger fish.
Stocked trout seem to behave very similarly to wild trout. They can be caught with live or artificial bait, depending on your local regulations, and can be very aggressive. Brook trout tend to be found near wood or weed structure where bait and insects are plentiful. They often cruise the shoreline near shallow structure early in the morning. As they day progresses, brookies often transition to deeper water and continue to cruise perpendicular to the shore. Look for submerged structure midday, and don’t be afraid to start hole-hopping if your early morning spot shuts down. Common successful baits include ice jigs tipped with artificial imitation bait or wax worms, small spoons, and fly jigs.