Someone mentioned in my smoke trout thread that stocked trout die if not harvested. I've heard this before.
That got me to thinking, is this nessesarily true? OK, everything eventually dies, so let's get that out of the way now. But, is it unreasonable to assume a stocked trout will not live a year or two (possibly longer) if conditions dictate?
Here on the Cape for instance. We've got prime conditions for trout to not only holdover, but thrive. Clean, cold water, with very deep holes to seek cooler water during the summer months. Many of these ponds have herring runs, providing incredible forage in the fall as the fry drop back.
Back in my ice fishing days, I used to catch remarkable browns and rainbows through the ice at John's pond. Many over 20", and football-like in appearance since they were still gorging themselves on 2-3" herring fry still trapped in the lake.
Several times over the years, I've been bored, and gone trout fishing well in advance of the trout truck rolling, and caught rainbows over 24" and browns over 4 pounds.
IMO, I think more trout survive in the ponds than we realize. They simply become 'feral' if you will. They revert to their wild ways, and become extremely selective and reclusive.