Stocking up!

Updated: Jul 8

Releasing trout into DC area waters

volunteers ready to release fish

For those of you who read my blog you know I love that I can find several viable waters for good fishing within 20 to 30 minutes of my home and the more adventurous the water the better. So imagine my delight when asked recently by local representatives of Trout Unlimited to participate in the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries trout stocking of one of my favorite urban fishing holes!

getting instructions on where and how to release the fish

According to the DGIF website, the Department stocks over 1.2 million catchable-size trout in more than 180 waters from October to June. On the day that I participated in the stream stocking, the targeted waters were Holmes and Accotink creeks in Fairfax county, which receive approximately 2,100 fish each season over three stocking intervals (as per the DGIF representative who orchestrated the stocking on that day).

The trout stocking schedule for the State of Virginia is updated daily on the DGIF site ( and a useful interactive map is available to identify the State’s trout waters.

According to the DGIF, there are five cold water facilities that are engaged in trout production, from hatching to raising to stocking sizes. The DGIF representative that guided our stocking expedition mentioned that the trout we were stocking were sourced from the Montebello Fish Cultural Station in Nelson County. I haven’t visited this facility but apparently it is a popular attraction and worth the trip. I will make sure to feature this in an upcoming blog post!

buckets of trout

There is nothing exotic or scientific about trout stocking in these two urban waters. The stocking vehicle arrives carrying oxygenated tanks of fish in the flatbed of the truck, which are scooped into large plastic buckets. The volunteers then walk the buckets to the deeper pools of the stream and dump the trout into the water. In a few cases, we had to help the fish recover from the long journey by holding the fish in the water until they are rejuvenated by water flowing over the mouth and gills.

coaxing the trout into the new habitat

Once the word is out that these waters have been stocked, online fishing forums begin buzzing and local anglers converge on Holmes and Accotink in impressive numbers. Both creeks span a reasonable distance, so hunting down the fish is not a foregone conclusion. But having witnessed the size of these trout, the reward is worth the effort.

I thoroughly enjoyed the expedition and urge my blog readers to consider volunteering to help the DGIF with its stocking program. It is only a few hours of time and can be an enjoyable and educational outing for both younger and older anglers.

It is worth re-emphasizing that I was an unpaid volunteer for this excursion. I am not being compensated for this blog post.