Inside the box: Pens full of rainbow trout placed at Englebright |

Inside the box: Pens full of rainbow trout placed at Englebright

How do you get 2,000 pounds of fish into pens out on the docks? You move the pens to the fish. The Skippers Cove team moved four pens to the launch ramp to receive the trout from the DF&W truck.
Submitted by Denis Peirce |

Some of the most cost-effective and successful projects in the fishing world occur with the initiative of the private sector.

The excellent kokanee fishing we enjoy in many of our lakes is a direct result of the public-private partnership of the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), along with two organizations, Project Kokanee and Kokanee Power. Another example is the pen raising of trout by marina operators on many of our lakes. Locally, Collins Lake and Lake Englbright are currently hosting these projects.

The concept is to grow the fish from modest size up to a sizable catch. This is not practical within the hatchery system on a large scale.

Large fish take more room and a lot more food, both of which are at a premium in the DFW system. It is most efficient to raise trout to the 8- to 10-inch size for planting.

The pen projects utilize empty boat slips during the off-season. This is the time of year when the water temperature is conducive for trout to thrive near the surface.

The fish are fed through the winter and in the spring. As the water temps are rising and demand for boat slips resumes, the fish are released in to the lake.

On Tuesday of this week, the pen project at Skippers Cove on Lake Englebright received this year’s crop of rainbow trout.

This is the third year for this program, which has been funded by Nick and Lisa Rogers, who own Skippers Cove. For the first two years, the trout were purchased by the Rogers from the Mount Lassen Fish Hatchery.

This year the fish were supplied from the DFW hatchery near Nimbus Dam in Rancho Cordova. Englebright has been allocated 8,000 pounds of trout for this season, and the 2,000 pounds delivered this week for the pen project are estimated to be 4,800 fish.

In the previous two years of the pen project, there were 600 fish housed in the four pens. These fish arrived at two to four pounds and more than doubled in size during their five-month stay in the pens. It took 33 bags of food to achieve this growth rate.

This year, with 4,800 fish, the food requirements have been estimated at 80 bags and the growth rate will not be known until late March, when the fish will be released. Currently, these trout are being fed six times per day. It will take some time to determine how much and how often to feed.

The project this year is being funded by Skippers Cove along with two major sponsors, the Lake Wildwood Fishing & Hunting Club and the California Inland Fisheries Foundation (aka Project Kokanee). Skippers Cove is also relying on a raffle to help fund the project. To date, the prizes include a house boat rental on the lake and a day of guided fishing on the lake, provided by Rick Kennedy (

Drop by Skippers Cove to get a ticket and support this project.

Denis Peirce writes a fishing column for The Union’s Outdoors section and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. Contact him via his website at

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