It's nearly that time, friends, when in mid-November the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department releases it's stocking list of dates, locations and the number of fish to be stocked in lakes and rivers across the state. Since my junior high school days, this has been a highlight of every year.
You get the list, now for many years available online, but used to you'd have to mail off for it or luck into a copy at a sporting goods store. You'd then start dreaming of all the trips you want to take fishing for stocked rainbow trout.
You can literally travel all over Texas to catch stocked trout in all of the locales they are stocked in. The earliest stockings happen out West, then in Central Texas and the Hill Country.
One of my favorite spots is the Lake Meridian State Park. Just a grand facility, with some great views from the trails and drives and campsites in the park. They have a great covered facility near the lake, and if the weather's right (cold, windy and drizzley), it's nice to have a little shelter from the elements. Of course, this particular combination of weather almost always results in frisky fish and good fishing for me, so I'm willing to bundle up and do some hardcore cold weather fishing.
Meridian is a nice little town, located a short drive northwest of Waco. As I said, the State Park is gorgeous, and I camped there for a weekend back in January of 1985. I got to watch them stock the trout the next morning, and that was a pretty cool thing to see. I've seen the actual stocking a few times and it is really an astounding operation.
There's some nice restaurants in Meridian and I'm sure there is some reasonable lodging either there or in the nearby towns.
When I traveled there in 1985, it was a total spur of the moment thing. I was in Austin visiting some fishing friends, and we were debating whether to head to The Guadalupe or the Blanco Rivers. We were listening to a fishing show on AM radio and heard them talking about Meridian, so we took off at about 3 a.m. the next morning and cruised to Meridian. We got there before daybreak, just in time for the hatchery truck to arrive.
Later that day in town, I had some trouble with one of my spark plugs. There was a full service station still there back then, and he sold me some like new wires that he had just exchanged in a car like mine for some fancy colored wires. He charged me like $5 bucks labor and gave me the plug wires for free and got my ride running right. So since that act of generosity, I've had a special place in my heart for Meridian.
It's in Bosque County, and it's worth a visit, even if you're not going trout fishing.
I'll be writing more about some favorite trout tactics of mine for stocked rainbows in Texas in future posts. Get ready, fisherman, the trout are coming.