Echo Park anglers await the first truck load of trout

Trout season arrives in Echo Park on the back of a truck. The truck carries an aerated tank of cold water filled with trout that have spent almost a year growing from eggs at the Ventura County Filmore Hatchery operated by the California Department of Fish & Game. The vehicle travels down the 5 Freeway before arriving at Echo Park Lake, where, if the water is cold enough and other conditions are just right, the trout weighing a half-pound and more are released. One hatchery employee said the trout could arrive at Echo Park Lake this week, but he made no promises. In fact, the department never publicizes the exact date a lake will be stocked to avoid a run on the fish, said department spokesman Harry Morse. “We do not ever publish exact times since it can create a crowding problem.”

The trout survive better in cold water and are released, or as the department says “planted,” beginning in the early fall following the planting of catfish in the warmer months. The department has already stockedtrout in some of Southern California’s bigger lakes but the water at the smaller lakes – including Belvedere, Echo Park, Hollenbeck and Lincoln Park – takes longer to cool down down for trout. Some anglers prefertrout because they tend to put up a bigger fight than catfish but others say the catfish are meatier. Whether it’s catfish or trout, word spreads quickly when the lakes are stocked. Here are some other urban fishing facts provided by Morse in a Q & A:

A: 1-5,000 depending on the size of the water. Trout are stocked depending on the size of the water and the fishing pressure. Each manager makes these decisions.

Q: Have the state budget cuts reduced the number of fish that are stocked?
A: We have re-allocated some stocking and had to reduce others.

Q: How long do the fish usually last in these waters? Are they safe to eat?
A: Most are caught with in 1-3 months. They are safe to eat.

Top photo by Velo Steve/Flickr

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