Earlier this month, I joined a group of two dozen volunteers who assisted the DEC in stocking 2-year-old brown trout in the St. Regis River. The volunteers represented various groups including the Parishville Sportsmens Club, SLC Fish Advisory Board, Federated Sportsmens Clubs of SLC, FISHCAP, Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam, and Fort Drum.
Stockings took place at four designated sites along the St. Regis River where DEC personnel netted fish from the trucks holding tanks and handed volunteers five-gallon buckets full of lively trout. Individuals then walked up and down the streamside where they dumped their buckets of fish.
The days stocking efforts left me with three distinct impressions.
One was the cooperation between DEC staff and the private sector. Another was the sense of joy participants experienced when placing fish into the river. The third, and perhaps most-striking impression, was how four locations along the river were instantaneously transformed into fantastic fishing spots because several hundred, 2-year-old brown trout were now swimming in the waters of each site.
TWO-YEAR-OLD BROWN TROUT
In 1997 the DEC began a two year, experimental stocking program when 90,000 2-year-old brown trout were placed in 168 waters across the state. Based on the favorable responses of anglers during that two-year period, the experimental program became a staple of DECs annual stocking efforts, and 2012 marks the 16th year of placing 2-year-old fish in state waters.
Two-year-old browns range in length from 12-15 inches, and their angler appeal stems from the fact that the 2-year-olds have four times the bulk of juvenile trout. Also, unlike yearling trout that tend to congregate near stocking sites, 2-year-old fish disperse more quickly and more widely.
Also, these larger trout acclimate almost immediately to their new water conditions, and they set up in the very best holding spots. In addition, mature browns display a wary nature. These factors, along with a catch-and-release ethic on the part of many anglers, combine to help fish survive early-season pressure so a good percentage of these 2-year-old browns remain available for summer anglers.
STOCKINGS BY COUNTY
Seven Franklin County flows receive annual stockings of 2-year-old browns. The Chateaugay River (Town of Chateaugay) receives 400 trout, and the Little Salmon River (towns of Moira and Bangor) is stocked with 150 fish as is Little Trout River (towns of Burke and Constable).
The Salmon (Town of Malone) and St. Regis (Town of Dickinson) rivers see significant stockings numbering 1,300 and 1,000 browns, respectively. Trout River (Towns of Constable, Malone, and Bellmont) receives 400 trout, while the Saranac River (Town of Harrietstown) receives 250 fish. Physically-challenged anglers might want to try the Malone Village Pond, a site that receives 100 mature browns.
Only one water in Herkimer County sees a stocking of 2-year-old brown trout, and that water is West Canada Creek (Towns of Fairfield, Herkimer, and Newport) where 1,360 fish are placed.
Two Jefferson County flows receive annual stockings of mature browns. The Black River (Town of Watertown) sees a dumping of 1,400 trout while Sandy Creek (Town of Adams) gets 380 fish.
Black River (Towns of Leyden and Lyonsdale), Crystal Creek (Town of New Bremen), and Otter Creek (Town of Greig) in Lewis County are stocked with 750, 250, and 250 large browns, respectively.
The stocked waters in St. Lawrence County are the Oswegatchie River (Town of Clifton) and the St. Regis River (Town of Lawrence). There are 340 big browns placed in the Oswegatchie and 730 in the St. Regis.
For a complete list of DEC trout stockings, visit www.dec.ny.gov.
Monday: Public comment period on five-year deer management plan closes.
Monday: Lisbon sportsmens club hosts trap and skeet shooting at Pray Rd. property at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday: SLC Fish Advisory Board meets at Canton Boces at 7 p.m.
Saturday: Cape Vincent Chamber hosts spring fishing derby (654-2481).
May 31: Spring turkey season closes.
June 1-2: Redwood Fire Hall hosts bowhunter education course (Register at 785-2533).
June 2-3: Hendrickson Hatch Fly Fishing Tournament on Salmon River in Malone (www.HendricksonHatch.org).
June 3: Waddington F&G Club hosts Childrens Fishing Derby (388-4251).
June 23-24: Free fishing days in New York State.