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.