- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Standing on the frozen Dillon Nature Center pond watching more than 600 trout pour into the frigid waters, Richard Potter tells it from his stomach’s point of view.

“You know the saying - a hog farmer doesn’t eat pork,” he said.

Not that it is really a saying, but Potter admits you can give him catfish or bass, but he really doesn’t care for trout.

“I mess with them all day long,” he said, a job he has had for more than five years. And by the end of a day of hauling trout across the lower Midwest, he doesn’t want to see one on his dinner plate.

Kansas, not fortunate to be graced with mountain streams, isn’t a mecca for trout. Moreover, the summers are too hot to sustain this species of fish all year long.

Yet there are plenty of opportunities to find them each winter in several of the state’s waters thanks to the work of Potter and others who help stock them in several lakes and streams across Kansas.

From Nov. 1 through April 15, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stocks rainbow trout in selected waters across the state, said Jeff Koch, a fisheries biologist with the agency. Trout are a cold-water fish, meaning they are active in the colder temperatures of winter.

Trout don’t survive well in waters over 65 degrees, he said.

The program is one of the more popular ones the department offers, Koch said, bringing many winter anglers to the shoreline.

“I would say out of anything I do throughout the year, the people waiting for the trout stockings are the most vocal and passionate,” he said.

Dillon Nature Center is a hot spot for locals wanting to fish for trout, said Mary Clark, the center’s director. Even on arctic days like last week’s cold blast, the dedicated will drill holes in the ice off docks and drop a hook.

Fishing on the ice, however, is not permitted.

Clark also said the north end of the nature center’s lake is spring fed and doesn’t always freeze over, making it a good place to winter fish, as well.

Kanopolis’ seep stream below the lake is another popular place to fish for trout because it is one of the few places in Kansas that has more of a stream setting.

Koch stocked 2,000 fish there last week.

“It is more of a natural setting - as natural as it can be below a giant man-made dam,” he said, noting the area has diverse habitat and an area open only for fly fishing.

At Dillon Nature Center, fish stocking has been intermittent due to issues with a previous trout supplier. Missouri-based Crystal Lake Fisheries, the company Potter works for, began delivering trout to the eastern half of Kansas in late December, Koch said.

Other stocking areas include the Webster Stilling Basin, the Cedar Bluff Stilling Basin, Lakewood Lake in Salina, Scott State Fishing Lake and Pratt Centennial Pond. Sedgwick County’s Vic’s Lake will be stocked with more than 14,000 trout this season.

On this morning, no one was braving the temperature, which was 7 degrees at 10 a.m. Thursday, with a wind chill of zero.

Except, that is, for Potter, who pulled his truck up late in the morning, filled with 4,000 pounds of fish. This, however, was his last load, after stocking ponds in Wichita, as well as El Dorado State Park’s river area.

He stepped out onto the 5-inch-thick ice near a hole that Koch had broken earlier in the day and dropped a white plastic tube. Soon, trout began pouring into the pond.

He coaxed the fish under the ice to deeper waters before heading back to Missouri. He’d be back in two weeks with another load, he said.

___

Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide