WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A bump in an otherwise smooth stocking road

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: A bump in an otherwise smooth stocking road

Record-Journal

Isn’t there an old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men going astray? Even in our modern-day world, this seems to happen every now and then.

It appears to have happened this year when the DEEP Inland Fisheries made their annual channel catfish stocking. The catfish are really clean looking, light in color, and delicious eating make them a prime target for those that like to fish places like Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park. The past couple of years, the DEEP has been stocking the lake with the channel catfish and they have provided some fun fishing (and eating) for those that like to fish for them and, yes, I am one of them.

This year, however, something got a little out of kilter. Some of the catfish died after they were stocked.

Immediate concerns were that the water in Mirror Lake had taken its toll on the catfish, but after the same thing happened at a couple of other stocking sites in the state, it seems that the long trip from Arkansas by truck had stressed out some of the catfish, resulting in a small mortality.

The majority of the fish stocked did survive and there should be no qualms about a catfish fry if you are lucky enough to catch a few of these tasty fish.

Over the years, Silver Lake has also been yielding some nice-sized channel catfish, some of them over five pounds in weight. Black Pond is another local water that has been stocked with channel catfish. A couple of years ago, I caught a couple of them in the two-pound range. Believe it or not, I caught them on lures that I was trolling for trout.

The DEEP stocks both adult catfish (6,600) about 14-18 inches in length and weighing just under two pounds, and juvenile catfish (about 10,600) averaging 9-11 inches and weighing about a half–pound each.

The adult catfish provide immediate fish for the creel. The juvenile will continue to grow and provide fishing action for years to come. A reminder: When fishing Mirror Lake, there is a three-catfish creel limit.

Channel catfish have been stocked into Mirror Lake for a couple of years now, and in a recent conversation with Don Dandelski of D & D Wildlife Control, he said that he had a channel catfish at Mirror Lake that snapped his fishing line. Dandelski said he had the fish right up to the wall of the lake, but before he could get a net under it, the line snapped.

Here in Connecticut, the record for channel catfish is 29 pounds, 6 ounces, caught in Mashapaug Lake in Union. Nationwide, a couple of them have exceeded 50 pounds. One taken in South Carolina in Santee Cooper Reservoir tipped the scales at 58 pounds and is an all-tackle world record.

Of course, while I don’t expect to see anything close to that regarding channel catfish being caught here in Mirror Lake, as the years go by I do think we will see some real lunkers caught there.

Peter Aarrestad, Director of DEEP’s Fisheries Division said, “The DEEP catfish program establishes channel catfish in lakes where we know that there is sufficient habitat to support a population of large gamefish. Anglers have reported taking five-to-ten pound catfish from several of the lakes.”

The DEEP believes, and I for one agree with them, “That the combination of a popular gamefish stocked into the waters that are selected based on scientific data is a winning combination. We have had great success in using this approach to develop exciting fisheries for northern pike and walleye and now we are seeing similar results with catfish”

Each year the channel catfish stockings have gained in popularity, resulting in a daily harvest limit that will spread the quality catches among more anglers. Many of the locations stocked are part of the DEEP’s Community Fishing Waters Program. These are waters that are located in municipal parks (like Hubbard Park)  that are in close proximity to thousands of Connecticut residents.

And, like Hubbard Park, many of them are located right on bus stops for anglers willing to take a bus to fishing spots.

Over the past couple of years, Mirror Lake, along with the catfish stockings, has received some heavy stockings of trout. And if that isn’t enough to make you want to fish Mirror Lake, there are carp in the lake that easily exceed 30 pounds. The largest that I have heard of is 39 pounds.

And don’t overlook the largemouth bass that can be caught in Mirror Lake. During the recent Children’s Fishing Derby, a young lady caught one that tipped the scale at 3½ pounds.

And don’t forget the yellow perch, eels, calico bass (crappie), bullheads and sunfish that also inhabit Mirror Lake.

So you catch a catfish, then what? Tips for channel catfish and how to prepare a delicious meal with your catch are easily found with a quick internet search. The DEEP strongly encourages anglers to enjoy fishing and catching this great gamefish, but PLEASE only take those fish you intend to eat.

There is currently no minimum size for harvest. However, there is a three-fish daily limit at places like Mirror Lake that are stocked with adult catfish, and a six-fish daily limit on all other waters. The new daily harvest regulations will allow a greater number of anglers to benefit fishing for these popular fish.

Along with the 360 that went into Mirror Lake, adult catfish were also stocked into Beaver Lake Lagoon in New Haven (350) Birge Pond in Bristol (470), Bunnells Pond in Bridgeport (1,015), Center Springs Pond in Manchester (137) and Freshwater Pond in Enfield (180).

The list also includes Keney Park Pond in Hartford  (250), Pickets Pond in Derby (400), Spaulding Pond (a.k.a. Mohegan Park Pond) in Norwich (550) and Stanley Quarter Pond in New Britain (290). These counts include both adult and juvenile catfish: Lake Wintergreen in Hamden (1,870), Lakewood Lake in Waterbury (1,700).

All these bodies of water are designated as “Community Fishing Water.”

In our area, Black Pond received 670 juvenile catfish and Silver Lake got 1,450 juvenile catfish. Since this program,s inception, there have been some nice channel catfish caught in Black Pond, and for years Silver Lake harbored some nice catfish, though most of the big ones were caught during the ice fishing derbies.

That’s it, gang. Go fishing! See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving.


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