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MSP's private trout stocking…

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Our private trout stocking experience…

This weekend a friend and I stocked trout in the Cheat River here in WV, a place we consider a little bit of Heaven on Earth.   I was going to do this in the "What did you do today to prep?" thread, but thought it was better suited to its own discussion.   We plan on doing this as an ongoing effort until one of two things happen.   Either the trout stay, thrive and we start to catch them over the next few years.   Or, we never see them again :).

I hesitate to put too much information for OPSEC reasons.  Unless you are from here it is probably too much information anyway.  I figure for the sake of contributing to the community, it would be beneficial to track at least the highlights. 

A little background...

My friend and his family own land on the Cheat River.  It is a great stretch of water (80 miles) that I’ve been fishing most of my adult life.   The confluence is comprised of the “5 Forks of the Cheat”, all of which are rivers (streams) that the State has adopted for trout stocking. 

Most of the state sponsored stocking is in rivers where trout do not naturally reproduce.  It is done for the sake of tourism and to benefit the resident sportsmen who enjoy fishing.  The state however regards the Cheat as not suitable for stocking.  Trout are sensitive fish and require cool clean oxygenated water.

Prior to the mid-1980’s (I’m told) this part of the river had a natural thriving brown trout population.  Without getting into the politics of it, the Cheat was impacted by pollution during the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Primarily acid rain, mine drainage and a general neglect destroyed this beautiful river.  Most of the trout had all but disappeared.   

Over the last 25 years though the river has come back to life.   There is a healthy smallmouth population, along with several other panfish like rockbass, sunfish, and bluegill.   There are at least two kinds of chubs including fallfish, which I find have similar feeding habits as trout.

It is not only the main tributaries that support trout.   Many of the cold mountain streams running into the Cheat are home to the native brook trout (our state fish).  Over the last few years, we’ve found our opinions at odds with the State biologists, who refuse to admit the river is healthy enough for trout again.  After one particular informal discussion at an outdoor expo, it seemed that we’d never see the state adopt this river for its stocking program.

We are not alone…

While the effort this weekend was solely a personal and private undertaking, there are at least two active groups that subscribe to our general opinion of the Cheat’s trout worthiness.  One of these groups, a not-for-profit, has been stocking parts of the Cheat for the last 12 years.

My friend did some research.    After calling the relevant State agencies, he found no rules or regulations forbidding private citizens from stocking the river.   So long as we purchased the fish from a State approved hatchery, nothing was keeping us from buying, transporting and putting the fish in the water by his property.

The following are pictures from our first attempt….enjoy!


My friend converted a 55 gallon drum into a live well for the back of his truck.   

He put in an aerator, attaching it to a medical grade nebulizer  to provide fresh oxygen to the water.

And we have a working live well for a pickup...


We purchased fish from a private hatchery near Franklin, WV.   This was a cool old place, been there for 60+ years.

Each of the runs had different sized fish

We chose 10" brown trout for our project.   They came from this run here...

Even though this place is 60+ years old, it reminded me a lot of the aquaponics systems folks are building.   Here you see that they have a solids reservoir that dumps into limestone (gravel) filtering and the water is recirculated back up to the head of the system for reuse.

I asked about the solids and if they use them for fertilizer in gardens.   The guy gives the stuff away, I may get some of the "green sludge" this spring for my garden.

Interesting, I believe that is illegal to do in Oregon.


Here are our trout, hard to see I know

We netted them up and moved them to the truck.


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