MOORLAND - For anyone who thinks they might be having a strange day, imagine the adventure of the 1,500 rainbow trout stocked at Moorland Pond Friday afternoon by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
First, you get scooped out of your hatchery tank into a much smaller one atop a truck. Then, the jostling and bouncing begins. It finally ends several hours later when, suddenly, all the water and other fish around you get pulled down a long dark tube towards - the light at the end of the tunnel - that turns out to be a hole in a new pond to explore.
Ben Wallace, a fish biologist with the Iowa DNR at Lake View, helped oversee the operation Friday afternoon. This is the first stocking this year; about 1,000 were released in November.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Iowa DNR fish biologist Ben Wallace, from the Lake View Blackhawk office, uses a chain saw to cut a hole in the 15-inch-thick ice on Moorland Pond.
"They're about 12 inches long and most of them are around a half pound," Wallace said.
The fish won't waste any time giving anglers a bite.
"They're ready to take as soon as we stock them," he said.
While trout normally prefer a cold moving stream, the fish released at Moorland are not intended to establish a population, they are intended for the angling public to enjoy.
"It's a way to provide diversity and a fishing opportunity," he said. "People love it."
Wallace offered a few tips to help with the catch.
"For a lure, use anything flashy; they usually strike at silver- or gold-colored lures," he said. "It's a good idea to put a wax worm or a minnow head on the hook too."
Another key is realizing that trout have small mouths.
"You have to use small lures," he said.
Justice Miller, of Otho, was one of the first anglers to hook a freshly released trout. It was his first time fishing on Moorland Pond.
"I've been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks," he said.
Miller followed Wallace's suggestions for bait and lures, and it paid off fast.
His first bite?.
"About 12 seconds," he said.
He said he appreciated being able to land a few trout close to home.
"It saves me a three-hour drive," he said.
In addition to a regular fishing license, anglers also need a trout stamp to keep the fish. Wallace said the daily limit is five, with a possession limit of 10. For an adult fishing with a child under 16, the limits apply to the stamp, which means the pair can legally only have five trout.
The stamp endorsement is available anywhere fishing licenses are sold.
For those who would like an actual stamp, they are available.
"You can call the Des Moines office," Wallace said. "They will send you a stamp in the mail."
Of course, once you have the trout, eating them becomes the fun part.
Eric Olson, of Fort Dodge, attended the release Friday to help and take a few pictures. He's a fan of the fish.
"It's the best eating fish I've come across," he said.
His recipe: "I grill them in butter and garlic."
He cooks the whole fish, head and tail, after gutting it. He simply wraps them in foil and simmers them on the grill. He said it results in a nice tender fish that the skin just falls away from.