Indiana trout season begins as homeschoolers stock Potato Creek

One net at a time, biologist Tom Bacula lowers a few rainbow trout from the back of his tanker truck to his young helpers — a group of homeschool kids — who then walk the fish to Potato Creek.

Kids linger a moment, enjoying the slimy flip-flopping in the net. Then turn it over. Pop. Splash. The trout sit in the newly clouded stream for a bit, then wiggle away.

Afterwards, a preschool-aged girl looks up to Bacula, who’s seated on top of his emptied tank and poses, “Why did you put the fish in the water and not take them out?”

Later, as the families banter with him in a Q&A, one of the homeschool moms asks more specifically, “Why is it important to stock the fish?”

April Rollf and her kids, Jonah and Lily, carry a net with rainbow trout to help stock Potato Creek on April 28, 2022, at Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty.

Bacula, a fish management biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, explains that most of the state’s fish reproduce on their own because they have the right habitat for it. That isn’t the case for these trout, who will live only in the creek here at Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty. Trout need clean, cold-water streams, and they don’t do well here in August heat waves, he says.

“How long do the trout live?” one older girl asked.

“Most of the trout will live three weeks because anglers will catch and eat them,” Bacula replied, noting that the state’s stocking program supplies fish for people to catch.

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