You just landed a 22-inch rainbow trout that ate a Green Drake dry fly after a perfect cast and drift. But there’s a dirty little secret. Truth is, six months ago that same fish was living in a rearing pond eating pellets.

So our question today is … Is stocked river fishing no better than shooting big game inside a tall fence? Is it a “real” achievement to land such fish on the fly? Or is it some ugly form of manufactured fantasy? We will say, contrary to the high fence hunting environment where all it takes to “score” is a straight shot, stocked fish of any size inevitably display some wild characteristics, and hooking them in the mouth isn’t always easy.

Moreover, the truth is not everyone has the means to go chase wild Alaskan rainbows (or browns in Argentina, Joey) at some high-dollar lodge on a whim. Like it or not, people can learn – and have fun – chasing stocked fish on the fly … Is that all wrong?