Stocked vs. Overwintered Trout

So, how can you reliably distinguish between a relatively recent stocked fish and one which has over-wintered ?”   Colin was asked to explain and has done so below together with a photo to illustrate….

These two fish, both caught on Lavender Lake should help show the differences.  The trout on the left is a touch under 3lb, and the other is a little over 2lbs. But notice the size of each’s tail and eyes..

The one on the left has smaller tail and eyes than the other, but a deeper belly – and this is the newer fish.  The full tail, larger eyes and slimmer belly of the other indicate a fitter fish, having had to find its food and develop a better tail in getting it.  This is the over-wintered fish, which after cleaning and gutting weighed the same as its newer, fatter cousin !