Eagle Creek Trout Stocking Program
The Eagle Creek Trout stocking program has quickly become a favorite tradition at Moving Water Outfitters. We started this in efforts to provide a resource that would benefit local anglers, as well as the surrounding community. Now in its fifth year, the stocking has grown to be an event enjoyed by fishermen not only in Zionsville and Central Indiana, but across Indiana and neighboring states.
Eagle Creek Trout Stocking History
The Eagle Creek Trout Stocking program started in 2018 as a collaboration between the Town of Zionsville and MWO. Years 2018 through 2020 were funded through a combination of contributions from the Town of Zionsville and MWO These initial years were the foundation proving the program to be beneficial to the local community and businesses.
From 2021 onward MWO assumed all responsibility for the Eagle Creek Stocking Program. This includes holding the Stocking Permit issued by the Indiana DNR and funding the program. In 2021 MWO received a grant from Boone County Convention and Visitors Bureau to fund the stocking. For 2022 a CITU (Central Indiana Trout Unlimited) contribution and MWO are funding the initiative. This is one of the programs supported by the proceeds raised by CITU at the Fly Fishing Film Tour.
One benefit of MWO managing the trout stocking program in lieu of the Town is that taxpayer funds are not utilized. Now the folks who use and benefit from this resource are the ones who pay for it.
Trout Stocking Details
A permit is obtained annually from the Indiana DNR. Before the permit is issued, the stocking is reviewed by several parties including a DNR fisheries biologist. As part of the assessment the fisheries biologist analyses and confirms the trout stocking will not negatively impact the local ecosystem. For the permit submission process a Certificate of Health from the hatchery is required. Numerous other public (DNR) and private trout stockings have been occurring for several years throughout the state demonstrating the benefits and confirming that there are no negative impacts.
Each year in mid-November, approximately 780 pounds of fish are stocked. This averages to around 1,200 – 1,400 trout. Most stockings are done by weight, as counting each individual fish would be unnecessary stress on the fish.
The trout are stocked late fall as the water temperatures are consistently below 70 degrees. Stocking at this time also gives the trout the longest possible survival time. As with other DNR stockings, the goal is that anglers take advantage of the open season starting the last Saturday of April and harvest the trout. Once the water hits a critical temperature, the few remaining trout perish and are absorbed back into the ecosystem as food and nutrients for local wildlife. This is a relatively small portion of the stocking as most trout are harvested (removed) by fishermen before this time. We also have some reports of folks catching trout that have ventured into Eagle Creek Reservoir.
The trout are stocked in two locations in Zionsville – Turkey Foot Nature Park and Elm Street Green. These two spots allow for the trout to disperse quickly throughout all the Zionsville parks, making their way to Starkey Park. The exact timing is determined by the amount of water in the creek at the time of stocking and if we get rain immediately after. If the water is low and we don’t see much rain after, it will take them a little longer to make it to Starkey. Typically, we see them first show up there in late November to early December.
Indiana Fishing Regulations have a closed trout season starting January 1st through the last Saturday in April. This means that anglers must practice catch and release.
While the season is technically open when the trout are stocked, we encourage catch and release from time of stocking until the season opens on the last Saturday of April. This is to maximize the resource being provided until the season opener. After the last Saturday in April, we fully promote catch and keep. When the season is open the limit is 5 trout per day with a minimum size of 7”.
More information can be found through the DNR website.
Along with a standard Indiana fishing license, anglers must also purchase a trout stamp to target Rainbow Trout. Both license and stamp are available to purchase through the DNR. These can be purchased online at the link below. If you have any questions or would like help, we are happy to walk you through the process at the store.
Why We Do It
The goal of the Eagle Creek Trout stocking is to provide expanded fishing opportunities in the area during the winter. Indiana has fantastic fishing during the spring, summer, and fall but becomes limited in the colder months. Adding trout to Eagle Creek gives anglers more options for being on the water all year round. This effort is in alignment with the DNR Indiana Inland Trout Strategic Plan to “provide quality inland trout fishing opportunities statewide.”
Read more about the DNR’s Trout Stocking Plan here:
Along with the Trout specific plan, the Eagle Creek stocking also supports the DNR’s goal to increase urban angling opportunities. Eagle Creek provides an easy to access fishing location in the heart of Zionsville. The city parks provide ample parking, restrooms (at some locations), and a few bank fishing opportunities.
Read more about Indiana Urban Angling program here:
The benefits of the Trout stocking are wide reaching. Anglers are provided with an opportunity to fish in the winter months when options are limited. We have talked to anglers from across Indiana, as well as from neighboring states who make the drive to target the Eagle Creek Trout. While these anglers are in town, they visit local businesses for food, gas, and other purchases. Because Eagle Creek is accessed through the local park system, the stocking provides a chance to further leverage an important town resource during low density times.
Many local organizations benefit from the stocking, including Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Casting for Recovery, and Central Indiana Trout Unlimited. Local counselors use the trout fishing as an opportunity to meet with their clients in nature.
Eagle Creek provides easy to access fishing, making it a great place for kids and beginners. Many anglers have gotten their first casts on the creek since the stocking began.
How to Access Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek is designated a non-navigable waterway. This means that the adjacent landowners own the creek bed. Therefore, wading in private property is trespassing. All wading must be done in public stretches of the creek – all Zionsville parks. We have maps on our website that show you the boundaries of these parks: