Best Tactics for Pellet Heads

bakerite

Active Member
I'm wondering about your observations fishing for newly stocked fish. One of my go to lakes in NEO is stocked three times a year with 1,000 "trophies". It sits at high elevation so is a good quick summer fishing fix, close to home. Most of the other waters I fish are stocked with fry, so by the time the fish are big enough to catch they are all about the lakes ecosystem, but the stockers seem to work on their own schedule. My observations:
  • Casting and stripping or trolling seems to work better for these fish than indicator fishing.
  • When first stocked they sometimes seem to be circling the shoreline in shallow water. Maybe this is a left-over from swimming around the concrete pond. They also tend to be in groups. One of the first times I fished this lake after they started dropping in the trophies we caught them in an area the size of a typical suburban lot close to where they were stocked the day before. That day (in June) was also the largest carpenter ant hatch I had ever seen. The small brookies that inhabit the lake were going nuts, but not a rise from the rainbows.
  • Olive Careys about size 8 work great (may look like a pellet), but so do most other flies, including buggers.
  • I've caught these fish all through the water column, so I don't think they are as bottom" oriented as "wild" fish.
  • The "bite" from these guys tends to be inconsistent. Some days it's great all the day and others they seem turn on at a certain time and then it's fish after fish.
  • If there are any rises or swirls I do well casting to them and stripping back. These fish will also hit a fly several times on a retrieve.
  • I catch these fish the next Spring too, before they are stocked again. They hold over, but often lose some weight. I assume they get onto the food sources in the lake, but are oversized for the amount of habitat available. The brookies in the lake seem to do fine.
A bunch of lakes here in Washington are were just stocked this month with good sized fish. I'm wondering if anyone here is fishing for them and what works for you.
 

Kfish

WFF Supporter
I have taken my kids out to the local lakes after stockings and we always do well trolling a small black WB with a chartreuse bead head on a type 3 sinking line.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
  • Casting and stripping or trolling seems to work better for these fish than indicator fishing.
Buggers, usually black or olive, yes. We also have good luck with simple caddis pupa (a pellet?) under an indicator.
  • When first stocked they sometimes seem to be circling the shoreline in shallow water. Maybe this is a left-over from swimming around the concrete pond. They also tend to be in groups. One of the first times I fished this lake after they started dropping in the trophies we caught them in an area the size of a typical suburban lot close to where they were stocked the day before. That day (in June) was also the largest carpenter ant hatch I had ever seen. The small brookies that inhabit the lake were going nuts, but not a rise from the rainbows.
Around here they usually circle around near a contour break in a school, I watched 'em while triathlon training. We found you can figure out timing and direction. That way you can take the kids to the potty or let them throw the rock in between.
  • Olive Careys about size 8 work great (may look like a pellet), but so do most other flies, including buggers.
  • I've caught these fish all through the water column, so I don't think they are as bottom" oriented as "wild" fish.
We all start different depths each day too until we figure it out.
  • The "bite" from these guys tends to be inconsistent. Some days it's great all the day and others they seem turn on at a certain time and then it's fish after fish.
Circling?
My observations are quite close to yours, thanks for the reinforcement.
Sometimes something white, like a rubber prince nymph, is the ticket.
 

long_rod_silvers

WFF Supporter
I've had good results when the stockers don't seem to be bighting or if the morning action dies down (if there was any) by switching to attractors (boobies, blobs, etc.). Anecdotal, so take it for what it's worth. That said, I've heard Phil Rowley mention the same thing: freshly stocked lakes one of his go to methods is attractor patterns because the stockers don't know what to look for yet.
 
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Camo Clad Warrior

Active Member
I have always enjoyed going out on opening weekend and anchoring the boat just inside the "racetrack" and watching the show. Between the boat ramp shenanigans and the kids having a great time catching fish it seems to be pretty solid people watching. My favorite situation is when the kids in the other boats say something to the effect of....'What color power bait are you using dad?" Followed by the dad telling the kid to shush up and not let the lake know their "secrets". Makes me wonder how many kids grow up thinking power eggs are some sort of secret fish catching bait that no one else knows about.

Generally once anchored I will watch for fish riding and cast at them. Like said above I notice the fish are in the top 4-6 feet of water. I will cast black or olive Woolley Buggers at them and have found success.

CCW
 

tkww

Member
I'm a little familiar with the body of water you're referring to. I've never fished it right after it's been stocked though. I in my experience larger stockers disperse more quickly than smaller stockers, at least in bigger (deeper) bodies of water. And maybe "disperse" isn't the word, but that they will head deeper sooner than small fish.

  • Casting and stripping or trolling seems to work better for these fish than indicator fishing.

Once they've settled in, indicators do work, at least in the early season. Later in the season the midges really thin out and I've not had great luck with indicators, even w/ balanced leeches. However I'm talking about using a slip indicator and fishing 20'+ feet down. But right time and place, I've had some crazy-fast action for a couple of hours when the hatch is coming off.

  • I've caught these fish all through the water column, so I don't think they are as bottom" oriented as "wild" fish.
Having run a fishing buddy in there, I can tell you that they are bottom-oriented. Not all of them, obviously--they'll come up to eat midges and callibaetis. But most of the fish I've marked were in the bottom third. Of course the narrow cone of the fishing buddy wouldn't likely mark shallower fish unless I was right on top of it. But it matches my experience of having more luck after a long count-down (sinking line) than a short countdown. But again, I'm rarely there right after they're put in.

I will say that my marking tends to show them in areas or groups, with the fish being less casually spread out. Not sure if that's a hatchery hang-over, a topographical or food-related result, or just fish being fish.
  • The "bite" from these guys tends to be inconsistent. Some days it's great all the day and others they seem turn on at a certain time and then it's fish after fish.
Agreed. Not sure what that's about, or that it's related to them being stockers. But that lake is moodier than many, IMO.
  • I catch these fish the next Spring too, before they are stocked again. They hold over, but often lose some weight. I assume they get onto the food sources in the lake, but are oversized for the amount of habitat available. The brookies in the lake seem to do fine.
I was under the impression that the ones that are ~2" longer than the others were carryovers. I haven't noticed any weight loss myself, just that the fish come in two distinct sizes.
A bunch of lakes here in Washington are were just stocked this month with good sized fish. I'm wondering if anyone here is fishing for them and what works for you.

I do think stockers prefer a little motion, at least early on in their habituation. I will run a larger fly followed by a much smaller, drab fly--get their attention with one and get their commitment with the other. And yes, Carey's work there (and elsewhere). In general I've had more luck with a smaller fly in shallower water.
 

ribka

Active Member
san juan worms, micro eggs under a bobber. Colors don't seem to matter too much but if not getting bites switch colors
 

MelW

Certified Curmudgeon - GET OFF MY LAWN!
1) Go to the nearest trout hatchery.
2) Buy a couple handfuls of their pellet feed,
3) Check your fly tying material for chenille that is the same color as the pellet food.
4) If you don't have the right color chenille head for your nearest fly shop and buy some.
5) Tie some "pellet" fly's that are the same shape and size as the pellet food.
6) Put your pellet flies and the remaining pellets in a sealed container and let the fly's absorb the scent.
7) Go fish.

I have no personal knowledge if this is effective:D
 

bakerite

Active Member
I'm a little familiar with the body of water you're referring to. I've never fished it right after it's been stocked though. I in my experience larger stockers disperse more quickly than smaller stockers, at least in bigger (deeper) bodies of water. And maybe "disperse" isn't the word, but that they will head deeper sooner than small fish.
Lots of good observations in this post. I’m going to make a few comments specific to this fishery.

Once they've settled in, indicators do work, at least in the early season. Later in the season the midges really thin out and I've not had great luck with indicators, even w/ balanced leeches. However I'm talking about using a slip indicator and fishing 20'+ feet down. But right time and place, I've had some crazy-fast action for a couple of hours when the hatch is coming off.
I will give this a try. I have caught some in twenty feet of water fishing leeches straight down.
Having run a fishing buddy in there, I can tell you that they are bottom-oriented. Not all of them, obviously--they'll come up to eat midges and callibaetis. But most of the fish I've marked were in the bottom third. Of course the narrow cone of the fishing buddy wouldn't likely mark shallower fish unless I was right on top of it. But it matches my experience of having more luck after a long count-down (sinking line) than a short countdown. But again, I'm rarely there right after they're put in.
I catch and fish deep in late July and august, about the time my wife is swimming up there. However I catch a lot of fish in the top 5 feet of 20+ feet of water
I will say that my marking tends to show them in areas or groups, with the fish being less casually spread out. Not sure if that's a hatchery hang-over, a topographical or food-related result, or just fish being fish.

Agreed. Not sure what that's about, or that it's related to them being stockers. But that lake is moodier than many, IMO.
It is much moodier than the other lakes in the area. Sometimes I wonder if the stickers turn on at what would be dinner time at the hatchery.

I was under the impression that the ones that are ~2" longer than the others were carryovers. I haven't noticed any weight loss myself, just that the fish come in two distinct sizes.
If you fish after ice out you will catch some skinny ugly fish and some that make it through the winter pretty well. If they did well you would catch some 20”. A brookie over 10 inches is a trophy in that lake. There are a couple of other area high lakes with both species, but wild fish. In both the brookies are fatter and get bigger than the bows



I do think stockers prefer a little motion, at least early on in their habituation. I will run a larger fly followed by a much smaller, drab fly--get their attention with one and get their commitment with the other. And yes, Carey's work there (and elsewhere). In general I've had more luck with a smaller fly in shallower water.
I do think stockers prefer a little motion, at least early on in their habituation. I will run a larger fly followed by a much smaller, drab fly--get their attention with one and get their commitment with the other. And yes, Carey's work there (and elsewhere). In general I've had more luck with a smaller fly in shallower water.
 

tkww

Member
I will give this a try. I have caught some in twenty feet of water fishing leeches straight down.
Black, chrome, or brown. Doesn't have be be small--I think I generally use #14s. The midges in there are good-sized. I haven't figured out how to master the callibaetis hatches in there yet.
I catch and fish deep in late July and august, about the time my wife is swimming up there. However I catch a lot of fish in the top 5 feet of 20+ feet of water
And you know, part of this might be that I simply haven't spent as much time fishing shallow. I will say that I've seen it get pretty hard to release them come August. Much time above the thermocline and it's it's just feeding the ospreys or baldies. Granted they're stockers so I haven't really felt bereft over it, but I've been trying to get their earlier in the season.
It is much moodier than the other lakes in the area. Sometimes I wonder if the stickers turn on at what would be dinner time at the hatchery.
Interesting. I haven't tried the others in the area. Though a half-way decent brookie might make me reconsider.
 

Rocking Chair Fan

No more hot spotting
Best tactic to catch pellet heads? Let them acclimatize to their new environment . They will spread out more and be at various depths so it is easier to catch them
 

MD

WFF Supporter
I'm wondering about your observations fishing for newly stocked fish. One of my go to lakes in NEO is stocked three times a year with 1,000 "trophies". It sits at high elevation so is a good quick summer fishing fix, close to home. Most of the other waters I fish are stocked with fry, so by the time the fish are big enough to catch they are all about the lakes ecosystem, but the stockers seem to work on their own schedule. My observations:
  • Casting and stripping or trolling seems to work better for these fish than indicator fishing.
  • When first stocked they sometimes seem to be circling the shoreline in shallow water. Maybe this is a left-over from swimming around the concrete pond. They also tend to be in groups. One of the first times I fished this lake after they started dropping in the trophies we caught them in an area the size of a typical suburban lot close to where they were stocked the day before. That day (in June) was also the largest carpenter ant hatch I had ever seen. The small brookies that inhabit the lake were going nuts, but not a rise from the rainbows.
  • Olive Careys about size 8 work great (may look like a pellet), but so do most other flies, including buggers.
  • I've caught these fish all through the water column, so I don't think they are as bottom" oriented as "wild" fish.
  • The "bite" from these guys tends to be inconsistent. Some days it's great all the day and others they seem turn on at a certain time and then it's fish after fish.
  • If there are any rises or swirls I do well casting to them and stripping back. These fish will also hit a fly several times on a retrieve.
  • I catch these fish the next Spring too, before they are stocked again. They hold over, but often lose some weight. I assume they get onto the food sources in the lake, but are oversized for the amount of habitat available. The brookies in the lake seem to do fine.
A bunch of lakes here in Washington are were just stocked this month with good sized fish. I'm wondering if anyone here is fishing for them and what works for you.
Perfect timing on your post,

There's such a lake not too far from where I live that was stocked with a gazillion one pounders before Thanksgiving. I'd been contemplating going but figured it would be a shit show so I left it on a back burner.

Today was my 'Saturday' and I was gonna go somewhere, but the rivers were blown and I'd been rather indecisive the past couple days. To make it even better, I got recalled to work last night after some knucklehead decided to fire his pistol downtown and I didn't make it back to bed until after 3. I was feeling kinda groggy this morning and wishin' I hadn't eaten so many smoked almonds with my customary 'help me sleep' beers when I saw your post and figured the fish gods were sending me a sign.

I'd never fished this lake before and I had the whole thing to myself, except for a few bank fishers. It took a little while to find where they were hanging out and what sort of presentation they preferred, but after that I caught enough fish to make me happy.

The even more crazy thing was, I learned this lake is in the flight path of a military base and today was fly your jet day. I've never fished with earplugs before but damn, the 'sounds of freedom' are pretty friggin loud when they're only about 500 feet overhead. I swear my raft and the water were vibrating at times. The fish could have cared less, though...I guess they've gotten acclimated to their new surroundings. ;)

Like you noted, the fish seemed to be throughout the water column but not very many showed themselves on the surface. Overall, I did the best toward the bottom in 11-15 feet of water. Some liked a deep lazy rowing troll, but the majority were had with an irregular speed retrieve....but this was more likely due to a hand retrieve being my preferred method of lake fishing.

I was using a type 6 full sink line and olive hale boppish type leeches with either an orange or maroon bead head. I'm no great fly fisher but this worked for me.

Thanks again for shoving me out the door by starting this thread :)

Mike d
 
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