The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has begun “preseason” stocking with the first of about 290,000 trout in Maryland waters statewide.
This stocking will help coldwater hatcheries reduce overcrowded fish densities caused by record drought conditions this year. The first preseason stockings will be allocated to impoundments, special management, and delayed harvest streams providing ice fishing and catch-and-release fishing opportunities through winter and into the spring.
“Nearly 40% of all freshwater anglers fishing in Maryland take advantage of the trout stocking program to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends and the opportunity to take home a delicious trout dinner,” said John Mullican, director of DNR’s Freshwater Fisheries and Hatcheries Division.
Sustained drought has resulted in historically low water flow at the spring-fed Albert Powell Hatchery and Cushwa rearing facility in Washington County. To compensate for the lack of water, the hatchery closed two of 19 outdoor holding areas called raceways and monitored water conditions closely to ensure the survival of the maximum number of trout.
The state’s hatcheries are raising more than 290,000 brown, golden rainbow, and rainbow trout, which will be stocked in more than 119 locations across 19 counties during the 2024 spring season. The annual stocking program will be completed in three rounds – preseason from now through February 2024, followed by two rounds of spring stocking, March 4 to 29 and April 1 to 26.
Once stocking is complete, DNR will provide updates on its website and via email bulletin and social media. Anglers may also call 800-688-3467 for a recorded weekly update (usually updated on Fridays) when stocking is in process. Stocked locations that fall under a closure period are not included in the daily updates but will be announced before opening day on March 30, 2024.
The trout stocking program is supported by the sale of nontidal fishing licenses and trout stamps as well as funding through the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program.