Ask Outdoors Girl

February 20, 2011

Chad O. Hardy asks: Will the Department of Natural Resources ever restock rainbow trout and hybrids again in Prettyboy Reservoir?

Don Cosden, Chief of Inland Fisheries, replies: The white bass-striped bass hybrid is a great sport fish. Unfortunately not 100 percent of them were sterile and research has shown that hybrids could breed with striped bass. So fear of genetic contamination in our wild striped bass populations led us to ban the use of hybrids in Maryland except for entirely landlocked aquaculture ponds that have no outfalls and no chance of escape.

As for trout in Prettyboy, our initial reason for stocking there was to create a holdover population that would thrive and grow in the lake. That never happened, possibly because the thermocline is just too small and restrictive during the summer. In addition, large impoundments aren't great for put-and-take fishing because you get a smaller return to creel for a given number of trout stocked than you get in streams and small impoundments. We had already discontinued stocking at Prettyboy when our hatchery production was cut because of whirling disease. We are unlikely to start stocking those impoundments again unless we find ourselves with surplus production.

For the spring trout season, we will be stocking 325,000-plus fish. We've managed to keep the number stocked consistent since 2007 by purchasing trout from local suppliers, but this is still below our rate of 400,000-plus fish before shutting down Bear Creek and Mettiki hatcheries and the net pens. We are producing a limited number of fish at Bear Creek now and are looking into a system that might produce disease-free fish at Mettiki again. But getting back to that previous stocking level is at least a few years down the road.

If you have an outdoors question in search of an answer, email candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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