CRAIG CO., Va. -

Time for outdoor activities is just around the corner.

One of the most popular spring and summer activities in Southwest Virginia: trout fishing.

It's March at the Paint Bank Fish Hatchery in Craig County.  Hatchery Manager Brian Beers says it's the busiest time of the year.

"We stock about 125,000 fish a year, probably 85,000 pounds worth and produce 140,000 pounds of fish a year.

Beers says the state's trout stocking season runs from October to May and it has been happening for 90 years.

Vic Dicenzo is part of a group at Virginia Tech who studies the trout stocking program in Virginia and its benefits both socially and economically.

"Trout fishing is a huge part of the lifestyle and the recreational pursuits of people, particularly in Western Virginia," Dicenzo says.

It's not just the folks at the hatchery, it's law enforcement, the conservation police officers that have an enormous role in stock trout management in Virginia and then a lot of biologists that secure the sites and things like that," Dicenzo added.

So here's how it works up at the Paint Bank Hatchery.  There are dozens of what are called speedways on site, those are long, concrete tanks where the fish are stored.

Around 7:30 most spring mornings,, the crews extract the fish, weigh them and then load them onto a truck.

As for where the fish are going; it's a big, important secret until 4 o'clock the same afternoon.

"We keep it a secret because it makes it very hard to stock, and if everyone knew we were coming, we would not be able to find pullovers on the stream, places to catch, things like that," Beers said.

Part of the reason they don't publicize where the fish are being stocked in advance; eager fishermen like Sheldon Horne, "My heart, my heart always pounds when I see the truck," he said.

The hatchery stocks in nine counties.  When trucks leave the hatchery, it only goes so many directions.

Without fail, almost everyday, there are spotters who find the truck, start following it, and start calling.

"They'll park, sit, wait, in the cell phone technology era, if they see and know where we're stocking, they'll call their friends and stuff of that nature," said Brian Beers.

Sheldon Horne says he doesn't follow the truck every day, and stumbled upon it today.

But sure enough, as soon the truck carrying the fish got to the stocking location along the Roanoke River Greenway, at least a dozen people were waiting.

"I will tell you.  A lot of people thinks with us following the trucks that we're catching all the fish. We're not. I'm not! I am not catching all the fish," said Sheldon Horne, who took up trout fishing four years ago after he retired.

As for how the rest of the fisherman communicate, we're told there's a facebook group and regular communication about the stocking location of the day.

"Hey look, 99.9% of these guys are good guys and this is what they do, this is what their enjoyment is. I'm not gonna fuss about it," said Ernie Palmer who helps stock the rivers and streams with trout.

In most cases, a Game Warden with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries monitors the drops to make sure everyone stays safe.

The fish are put in nets and literally hurled into the water.

With admirers on land and in water, these trout are a hot commodity.

For these fishermen and women, not a bad way to spend a hot day.