Tag Archives: hatchery issues

The 2015 Comeback of the Connetquot River

The first trout I ever caught, in upstate New York, came courtesy of the New York DEC stocking program. The first trout I caught on fly came courtesy of the fish hatchery at the Connetquot River. I spent a lot of time in the  1990s learning how to fly fish by targeting those stocked trout.

Brown Trout Underwater

Though I agree with everything Kirk Deeter wrote in his Fly Talk post about hatchery fish, I was sad when the Connetquot hatchery closed in 2008. And I am happy with the report from Andrew Cuomo’s office that the hatchery is reopening in 2015.

I’ve listened to others mock the Connetquot for it’s prior reputation as a trout fishing fantasyland, and I’ve written about my own conflicted thoughts about it here before.

And of course you can take it deeper and delve into why growing trout in a hatchery only masks the larger problem about why wild trout populations in the region would be unsustainable. That is all true.

swirling rainbow

But for all that it is and isn’t, the Connetquot is an excellent resource as well as a learning ground for teaching angling ethics and stream stewarship. The place demands it, and the threat of a year-long or lifetime banishment for violations is not a vacant one. (Read about the rules and etiquette on the Long Island Trout Unlimited site.)  I look forward to taking my daughters.

More on the Connetquot Matter

Brookie Underwater

Of interest mainly to people in the NYC Metro:

My buddy Stefan wanted to find out more about the Connetquot and forwarded me this email response he got.

On Behalf of Ronald F. Foley, Regional Director, LI Region March 25, 2009
Dear Mr.REDACTED :
On Behalf of Commissioner Carol Ash, I am writing in response to your e-mail of   March 19, 2009 concerning the Connetquot River State Park Preserve Hatchery.
Trout in the Connetquot River and hatchery have tested positive for Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN).  We are working closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to address the matter.
No trout will be hatched or raised in the hatchery this coming season in order to give us time to both develop a long-term strategy, and to implement immediate tactics to decrease the virus throughout the hatchery and the river.  However we ultimately resolve the IPN issue, the park preserve will remain open to fishing, riding, hiking, birding, nature walks and all the programs and activities the public has come to enjoy.
IPN is not a simple condition and there is no simple answer that comprehensively addresses the complex impacts IPN presents to the natural ecosystem of the watershed, to everyone’s satisfaction.  We will do our very best to achieve the state’s objective to eradicate IPN in the Connetquot River and our hatchery, and to continue to provide world-class fishing, as well as the opportunity to visit and witness the operation of our 19th century hatchery.
Connetquot River State Park Preserve, its buildings, grounds, the river and the hatchery are “a jewel for all to enjoy”.  Our goal is to ensure that the park and the experience will continue for generations to come.
Sincerely,
Ronald F. Foley
Regional Director
Long Island Region

Bad Hatchery Craziness

This Ken Shultz article came out just before the NY State DEC discovered IPN.

The Connetquot represents in one localized microcosm the best and the worst of a hatchery sustained fishery. On the one hand, a stream this close to such high population density could never support pure wild fish with unrestricted access to them. Operating a stream on a pay-to-reserve English beat system with a carefully managed stocking program allows for solitude rather than shoulder to shoulder and the chance to fish larger than normal brown, brook, and rainbow trout.

On the other hand, it is not reality.

On the one hand, the big sea runs and the cagey eight-pound holdovers with the hooked jaws exist in numbers not seen in normalcy.

On the other hand, the fish just out of the hatchery will hit a cigarette butt.

On the one hand, the state park encasing the stream is well protected and maintained and offers sanctuary for deer, wild turkey, fox, osprey, even bald eagle. The fishing is restricted to fly only, with barbless hooks. Rules violations result in banishment.

On the other hand, the catching can be so prolific it becomes a numbers game.

And then you have the bizarre scene now where in order to save the river, the trout must be killed. The hatchery had to close its doors and dump 80,000 fish into the river. Since January 1st there’s been a 10-fish a day bag limit. It’s been pretty fished out.

Some really big browns–feral holdovers that shed their hatchery dumbness years ago–are still left. Some guy pulled a 30-incher out last week. Of the few fish we saw caught, we estimated one to be 7 pounds and the another probably four.  They were not released.

It’s bittersweet.