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Traditionally, neither hell nor high water can keep fishermen away on Opening Day of the trout season here in Connecticut.
Such was not the case in the Meriden area. I woke up about 4 a.m. to the sound of a heavy rain beating on our windows and “almost” said the heck with it and went back to sleep.
But I’m an old fogey and tradition has always been a part of my life, so I hopped out of bed and hit the road to check on our early fishermen.
I was amazed at what I did not see!
There was no one at Baldwin’s Pond and then a trip up to Black Pond revealed no where near the number of fishermen who generally show up there for the opening of the trout season. Usually, they are parked on the side of Route 66, but not that morning.
But I do have to give credit to some of the gang at Black Pond because I could see some lanterns glimmering in the morning rain along the mountain shoreline, and I do know that some of them stayed the night to ensure their fishing spots.
Next, I hit Mirror Lake at Hubbard Park figuring they would be wall to wall with all of the trout that have been stocked there. Wrong again. There were two — yep, you read it right — two fishermen on the whole of Mirror Lake.
The Quinnipiac River did show a number of fishermen in the usual “hot spots,” but again the numbers were down and I began to wonder what ever happened to the tradition of Opening Day of trout season?
So, I decided to take a run down to Wharton Brook on the Wallingford/North Haven line and was pleasantly surprised by the number of vehicles in the parking lot. One young fisherman said that the Wharton Brook fishermen were having the most luck using nightcrawlers and garden worms.
Many of the adults had some youngsters with them and this is what a trout park like Wharton Brook is all about. The kids were waiting for the DEEP Inland Fisheries stocking truck to show up. Maybe this is the kind of action that now draws attention to fishing.
I returned to Mirror Lake later in the morning and was delighted to see more fishermen as the weather was beginning to turn sunny and warm.
It was around noon when I started to fish Mirror Lake and, in a short matter of time, I landed four nice rainbow trout on a lure.
I’ve been telling you for the past couple of years that Mirror Lake has been heavily stocked by the DEEP, but I guess many of our local fishermen let some rain take away what was once a tradition, and I am talking about Opening Day.
One of the regulars on the Quinnipiac River, Tom “Farmer” Barry, said he caught two nice rainbows, but the water was really discolored from the rain and it made fishing difficult.
Local sportsmen Kyle Cooney and his son Brayden hit my old hot spot on the Q River and said they had absolutely no action at all. The water was running fast, high and very murky.
I say kudos to those hardy fishermen who braved the nasty weather on Opening Day and helped keep the tradition intact.
However, I am a bit disappointed in the light turnout for this grandest of fishing days and I do hope this is not a measuring stick on future opening days. And anyone beefing about the $5 trout stamp as being the reason you stayed home, shame on you!
That being the case, for Opening Day of trout fishing still has a mystique that cannot be denied, especially after the arrival of spring here in Connecticut.
The DEEP Inland Fisheries had already stocked over 315,000 trout for us and there are still more to come. By the time the spring stockings are complete, over 507,000 trout will have been stocked for some lucky anglers.
For the life of me, I cannot figure why Mirror Lake was so lightly fished. The fish that I caught were lively and in beautiful shape and coloring (rainbows) and put up a fight that would do any angler justice.
But on top of that, because Mirror Lake is now designated as Community Fishing Water, it is also stocked with channel catfish that are excellent table fare. From some reports I have been getting, some of these channel catfish are getting pretty big in size.
I have seen some carp fishermen in Mirror Lake and who can blame them or anyone, for that matter, for wanting to catch a freshwater fish that can reach well over 30 pounds?
Yep, you read that right: over 30 pounds. I have personally seen them caught. So far they have all been released back into the lake unharmed. Who knows how much larger they will get?
Regarding the Trout Stamp, anglers ages 16 and older are reminded that they may need to purchase a Trout & Salmon Stamp. This stamp is required to fish any designated Trout Management Area, Wild Trout Management Area, Trout Park or Atlantic Salmon Broodstock Area and for anglers harvesting trout or salmon anywhere throughout the state.
The money goes into designated funding, and the way our state is going, it is vital to maintaining our trout fishing heritage.
On Opening Day, 44,100 brook trout (10-11 inch), 2,000 brook trout (12-14 inch), 165,000 brown trout (10-11 inch), 8,100 brown trout (12 inch), 78,800 rainbow trout (10-12 inch), 19,500 rainbow trout (12-14 inch) and 1,150 surplus broodstock (3-10 pound trout all species) were stocked by the DEEP Inland Fisheries.
That’s it for now, gang. God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.