Hundreds of rainbow trout in Georgetown's Blue Hole Park spur fishing frenzy
Cheers erupted as Bryan Norris pulled his black Ford F-350 truck into the parking lot of Georgetown's Blue Hole Park on Friday morning. Trailing the truck was a large, silver rectangular box, with the words "A.E. WOOD FISH HATCHERY" etched onto the back.
A small crowd had gathered along the banks of the South Fork of the San Gabriel River to watch Norris — a fish hatchery technician with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department — stock the water with 1,500 rainbow trout.
Norris is in Georgetown as a part of the department's rainbow trout program. Every year, the program stocks thousands of the fish in bodies of water across the state. This particular batch of trout came from the department's A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery in San Marcos.
"It gives anglers in Texas an opportunity to catch fish ... that they otherwise wouldn't normally be able to [catch] here in state," Norris told KUT.
The department began stocking the fish in other parts of the state in November and will continue the process until March 3.
Rainbow trout are not native to Texas, and according to a press release from the department, the species is also "unable to survive in Texas after winter."
Therefore, anglers are "encouraged to keep up to their daily bag limit of five trout."
One of those in the crowd on Friday was 42-year-old Ray Valdez. He had the first catch of the day.
"It feels pretty good, but, I mean, I usually just release 'em back, have fun," Valdez said. "(I'll) keep a couple for the skillet and maybe have a nice meal tonight with some rice and some trout."
The Georgetown native said he has been coming to the annual stocking of rainbow trout in Blue Hole Park since he was 14 years old.
More recently, he has also made sure to include his children in the tradition.
"I got an 18-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old," Valdez said. "Every one of them has come out here to fish every time when they dump them in."
Sometimes, he said, that even means pulling his children out of school.
"I used to sign out my oldest son," Valdez said. "It was his therapy, and we'd come fishing."
More locations participating in the rainbow trout program can be found on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website.