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MailTribune.com
  • 'Legal' trout begin at 8 inches

  • Reading the fish-stocking schedule that you printed in the Mail Tribune has me wondering how big the different categories of trout are. I know you fishermen all lie, but can you tell me what a "legal" is?
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  • Reading the fish-stocking schedule that you printed in the Mail Tribune has me wondering how big the different categories of trout are. I know you fishermen all lie, but can you tell me what a "legal" is?
    — John F., email submission
    Calling out the collective honesty of the not-so-crack Since You Asked staff might not be the brightest way to entice us to find answers to your questions, John.
    Just because SYA lifers like to wet a line does not make us suspect in the how-big-is-your-fish department — most of the time.
    Knowing you don't trust us, we went right to the source — Dave Pease, the manager of Cole Rivers Hatchery, where the vast majority of stocked Rogue Valley rainbow trout are born and reared.
    "Legals" carry that moniker because they are at least 8 inches long — legal size to be kept — when they are released, Pease says. The fish average three to a pound and run anywhere from 8 to 11 inches long, he says.
    We know it sounds like a stretch, but the next step up in stocking size are the "larger" trout, which average about a pound and 13 inches long, Pease says.
    The "trophy" class of stocked rainbow trout are about 15 inches long, and their average weight is just 0.2 pounds larger, he says.
    And, of course, there are the "illegals," or trout stocked smaller than the 8-inch minimum length. Those are typically called "fingerlings," with the majority of them stocked at about 3 inches long.
    Fingerlings are stocked in places such as Diamond Lake in the spring to take advantage of the good food sources there to grow to legal length by the end of summer.
    Fingerlings stocked in the fall at places such as Howard Prairie Reservoir are about 5 inches long, Pease says. The fall fingerlings are larger to give them a better chance of escaping illegally stocked bass there that prey on the small trout during warmer water months.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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