The COVID-19 pandemic has created many changes in our outdoor world and I, for one, have to wonder if they will be for the best or come back to bite us in the butt in the future.
One of the most confusing changes has taken place with Connecticut’s opening day of trout fishing. There was a time when trout season would open on the third Saturday in April. It was recently changed to the second Saturday in April.
And then COVID-19 reared its ugly head and many lives and outdoor sports witnessed a change that no one saw coming. Just about all outdoor and indoor sports were affected, but it was the one regarding fishing for trout in Connecticut that has remained the most confusing.
Last year, to get folks into the outdoors and away from crowds, the opening day of Connecticut trout season was eliminated by Gov. Lamont and folks could fish for trout in the stocked waters on a year-round basis.
Gone were the get-togethers and campouts many trout fishermen looked forward to every year. Many times, opening day would be the only time that some friends had a chance to get together. It was almost like a yearly party.
I fished the Quinnipiac River just about every opening day and, as I made my way to my favorite fishing spot, there were places along the river that had tents pitched by overnight campers who wanted to ensure their favorite spot. Some of them had camp fires going to ward off the morning chill.
One of the advantages of opening day was that the season closed at the end of February and the DEEP Inland Fisheries could stock inland waters with trout, and this gave just about everyone an equal chance to catch a trout or two.
Now, don’t get me wrong, at the time I, too, thought that doing away with opening day during the COVID-19 crisis was a good idea. It brought a lot of new fishermen out of their homes in search of activity. One only had to look at the hiking trails in our area to see how the pandemic got them into the outdoors.
And this was a good thing.
However, it left many trout fishermen confused as to what to expect this year and in coming years regarding our trout fishery.
I asked some of the more knowledgeable trout fishermen I know if there was going to be an opening day for trout this year and none of them had the faintest idea.
I got in touch with Mike Beauchene, a supervisor of the Fisheries Division and he did come up with some answers, but there are still some changes that have to be brought out to the public.
The first question I asked: Is there going to be an opening day for trout fishing this year?
“No, not in the traditional sense,” he replied. “Some waters, seasonal and Trout Management Areas, will reopen to harvest on the second Saturday in April.”
My next question: If yes, does the taking of trout cease at the end of February?
“No but we are proposing this in our forthcoming regulations change package. Public comment will be open soon; public hearing March 16 at 6:30 p.m.”
My next question: In year-round fishing spots like Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park and Hanover Pond, is there a time period when caught trout have to be returned to the water unharmed?
“No!” Beauchene answered.
So there you have it ... for now.
I would STRONGLY recommend that you get a copy of the 2022 Connecticut Fishing Guide when it comes out. There will be some changes that all fishermen should be aware of.
For years now, trout stocking methods have changed. There was a time that when many spots were going to be stocked, it was done with a boat. I can remember when places like Black Pond would be stocked by boat with a game warden in attendance.
As a youngster, I was invited one time to get in the stocking boat at Black Pond to help stock the trout. It was a learning experience. The Black Pond Boat Livery run by Eddie Holmes was then in operation and I rented a boat figuring I would have my limit in no time.
Results? One trout caught that day.
As in just about everything, the stocking of trout has changed and much of it is now done from the shoreline. I have no problem with this, but it does seem the trout remain schooled after stocking.
Some fishermen wonder why the DEEP does not come out with a regulation that would close any waters other than trout parks the day that they are stocked.
This might even result in some free manpower for the trout stocking because those that stocked would have to wait till the next day to fish.
Oh well, just a thought.
From where I sit, I think the DEEP Inland Fisheries has done a very good job of stocking trout and doing its best to make some excellent trout fishing for just about everyone. Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park is one example.
The warm weather is coming along with open trout waters, so get your 2022 fishing license and stop over to your local tackle shop like the Fishin’ Factory in Milldale and get ready for some early trout fishing.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders, wherever they may be serving our great country.