Since I was undertaking my second trip to the hatchery, I served as the experienced tour guide as we snooped around. When we approached the first run filled with golden rainbow trout, I carefully watched my wife’s and daughter’s faces to study their reaction. I quickly saw the same look of wonderment and revulsion that I must have displayed when I first peered at these fish. We walked along a few runs and watched crowds of fish shadow our progress. After a bit, I suggested we pop into the visitor’s center so I could point out the display fish that inspired my book’s title. I was devastated when I saw that it was no longer perched above the doorway to the main display area. I looked through the passageway and noticed that someone had done a little rearranging.
The visitor’s area was mostly as I had remembered it, but a few new displays were obvious. I was slightly relieved to see that my favorite orange fish was part of a large display of game fish on one wall. It was now labeled along with the other species. A little surprisingly, it was labeled a palomino trout. I knew that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission liked to call its orange fish, palomino trout. More shocking to me was another orange display fish labeled as a golden trout. There was a slight difference in coloration, probably because the golden trout was a more pure strain of gold fish. However, for all intents and purposes the purebred and half-bred looked about the same to me. I must admit that in the world of lumpers and splitters, I am definitely a lumper at heart. The state can call these fish what they want, but to me they are both the proverbial golden goose of trout because of the images of dollar signs they seem to conjure in fisheries manager’s heads. We eventually left the building and went back outside to see more orange products.
We walked along outside and watched for other strange color variations. A few blue and silver rainbows swam by. We eventually saw the hopper truck come by to perform one of the many daily drive-by pellet shootings. The feeding frenzy I described in the book was repeated each time the pickup drove along and sprayed the next run with pellets. Soon the truck drove past my daughter and I and came to a stop. I figured the jig must be up and somehow the hatchery staff had identified me and linked me to my still unpublished book. Instead, a very nice man stepped out of the truck and asked my daughter if she wanted a handful of pellets to feed the fish. We thanked him for this very nice gesture, grabbed some pellets and went off on our own foray to instigate frenetic fish feeding.
We eventually set up some photo opportunities with my daughter seeding the water with the reconstituted remains of marine fish while I shot photos of the congested congregation of rainbows. We spent perhaps a half of an hour in total taking in the sights before we decided that we better continue our journey to the Rockies. For the next few hours we replayed some of the scenes we had seen as we tallied the miles to our ultimate destination.