Is the gear ready? Do you have your license? Have you made the plans to meet up with family and friends? Opening day of trout fishing season is Saturday, April 21st and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has the state’s rivers, streams, lakes and ponds stocked and ready.
Since mid-February, approximately 376,000 trout have been released into over 100 lakes and ponds and 200 rivers and streams throughout Connecticut and are now awaiting the state’s many anglers. DEEP’s spring trout stocking effort will continue through the end of May and when completed, DEEP expects to have stocked over 600,000 catchable size trout.
“Opening Day is an exciting time for Connecticut’s many trout anglers, and they can look forward to exceptional fishing this season,” DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. “The fish are in excellent condition, nearly all of our trout waters are stocked and anglers can enjoy a wide range of fishing options. Additionally, Opening Day is a special time for many families, the traditional first time to get outdoors together after winter.”
Among the best places for families to fish on Opening Day are the designated Trout Parks. “Trout Parks are easily accessible, have picnic areas and other amenities nearby, and are stocked frequently so that there are plenty of trout for children, families, and novice anglers to catch,” said Bill Hyatt, Chief of DEEP’s Bureau of Natural Resources. “And as an added feature, families will be able to help stock trout at eight of the Trout Parks on Opening Day. We have found that these stockings are a real highlight for many families.”
All eleven of the Trout Parks have already been stocked by the DEEP. The areas that are scheduled to be stocked again on Opening Day are Black Rock Pond (Watertown), Chatfield Hollow State Park (Killingworth), Southford Falls State Park (Oxford), Stratton Brook State Park (Simsbury), Wharton Brook State Park (Wallingford), Mohegan Park Pond (Norwich), Valley Falls Park Pond (Vernon) and Great Hollow Pond/Wolfe Park (Monroe). All the remaining Trout Parks will be re-stocked shortly after Opening Day.
DEEP has again stocked the managed Community Fishing Areas at Keney Park Pond (Hartford), Lake Wintergreen (Hamden), Bunnells Pond (Bridgeport), Mohegan Park Pond (also managed as a Trout Park) and Upper Fulton Park Pond (Waterbury) with trout for Opening Day. Begun in 2006 as part of the “No Child Left Inside®” initiative, Community Fishing Areas are intended to enhance fishing opportunities in Connecticut’s major population centers.
Among the fish released this spring are 600 surplus Atlantic salmon broodstock. These fish were stocked into Long Pond (Ledyard/North Stonington) Crystal Lake (Ellington), Mount Tom Pond (Morris/Litchfield/Washington) and Nells Rock Reservoir (Shelton). Regulations for broodstock Atlantic salmon stocked in lakes and ponds are the same as for trout, except the creel limit is one fish per day. Anglers should be aware that the salmon being released this spring are smaller (1-2 pounds each) than the broodstock salmon typically stocked in the fall (3-20 pounds each) and thus may more easily be confused with brown trout.
This spring a number of anglers have expressed concern about low stream flows. A warm winter with little to no snowpack and a very dry March and early April have left flows in many streams well below typical April levels. “With only a few exceptions, we’ve stocked all the waters scheduled for stocking before Opening Day. However, should flows continue to decrease, there could be a number of changes to our in-season spring stocking schedules. Rain is forecast for this weekend and beyond, so hopefully conditions will improve sufficiently,” said Peter Aarrestad, Director of DEP’s Inland Fisheries Division. Anglers will be able to find updated trout stocking information (including any changes) in DEEP’s “Weekly Fishing Report” which will be available at www.ct.gov/deep/fishing beginning next week.
Four areas typically stocked in the spring have not been stocked this year. In central Connecticut two smaller streams, Parmalee Brook (Durham) and Laurel Brook (Middletown) were not stocked this spring due to insufficient flows. In western Connecticut, Enders Pond was not stocked this spring due to washout of its dam. In eastern Connecticut Wyassup Lake is drawn down significantly for dam repairs and has not been stocked. Beachdale Pond is drawn down for dam repairs, making the launching of trailered boats very difficult, but has been stocked and shore fishing access is available. Additionally, anglers should be aware that a number of lakes that underwent draw downs this past winter, including Gardner Lake and Highland Lake, are not yet fully refilled due to low inflows.
DEEP would also like to remind anglers that it is illegal to have a campfire in DEEP State Parks and Forests except in specially designated areas with fire rings. The prolonged dry spell has elevated forest fire danger risk in Connecticut and DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Officers will be strictly enforcing Park and Forest Regulations pertaining to illegal campfires during the upcoming Opening day weekend. PLEASE BE CAREFUL (for the current conditions and more information on how you can prevent forest fires go to: DEP: Forest Fire Danger Report).
Many trout fishing areas do have special regulations, including Trout Parks (which have a two trout per day creel limit), Trout Management Areas, Trophy Trout Streams, Sea-Run Trout Streams and Wild Trout Management Areas. Anglers are advised to consult the 2012 Connecticut Angler’s Guide for the current fishing regulations that apply to the waters they plan to fish. The 2012 Angler’s Guide is now available at more than 350 locations statewide, including town halls, bait & tackle shops and other vendors selling outdoor equipment, DEEP facilities, and commercial marinas and campgrounds.
DEEP would like to remind anglers that they can now access maps of all of the state’s trout streams and rivers showing the many stocking and access points on the DEEP Fisheries web pages (www.ct.gov/deep/fishing). These maps are just one of several ongoing projects to improve electronic communications with anglers.
Anglers can purchase their fishing licenses online or at participating town halls, DEEP field offices and fishing tackle vendors. Both the Angler’s Guide and the online licensing system can be accessed on the DEEP website at: www.ct.gov/deep/fishing.