MERIDEN — The Quinnipiac River Watershed Association rang in the spring season with its annual trout stocking on Tuesday night.
With an assist from local families and supplier Harding Trout Hatchery, the QRWA made its way to the Red Bridge and deposited 86 fish representing three species of trout.
The QRWA further built on what Harding Trout Hatchery owner Brian Harding called a nearly 30-year partnership between himself and the group.
Harding said he developed a bond with the QRWA and the greater Meriden area, which is rekindled through friendly exchanges each year at the trout stocking.
“It’s great to see some familiar faces and know people are doing well here,” Harding said.
After the release, the Quinnipiac River now has an additional 30 brook trout, 30 brown trout and 26 rainbow trout ranging from 14-24 inches.
QRWA board member Peter Picone said the organization intentionally sought out large trout when restocking the area, hoping to excite prospective anglers with the potential to reel in a hefty catch, particularly after the group suspended the event for three years due to COVID-19.
“These are really large fish,” Picone said. “The smallest is 14 inches and the largest is 24, so we’re trying to get everybody excited about fishing in the Quinnipiac River here.”
The largest of the fish, a two-foot-long Rainbow Trout, was released with a $50 bounty up for grabs if caught.
Picone said five other fish were tagged by the QRWA with prizes from nearby businesses awaiting residents who manage to hook them.
South Meriden’s Quinnipiac River restocking is known as a family affair, with parents and guardians bringing young children along to catch a glimpse of the trout and try their luck at catching a fish of their own.
Laura Sullivan, who arrived at the Red Bridge alongside her husband, parents and three sons, said her family made a tradition out of stopping by the trout stocking.
Her eldest son caught his first fish at the event several years beforehand.
Sullivan said her family grew fond of the trout stocking thanks to the novelty of watching the very fish they attempt to catch find their way to the Quinnipiac River.
“Just knowing that we put the first fish in, and then being able to try to catch it,” Sullivan said.
“The boys love it. I love it. I’d go by myself.”