State proposes 3-month ban on trout fishing

State proposes 3-month ban on trout fishing

HARTFORD, Conn. Fishermen are resisting a proposed state ban on trout fishing for three months in the summer at three trout lakes.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is floating the proposal to help fishermen catch more large trout. Fishermen say there are more effective ways to fix the problem.

Anglers also say that stopping trout fishing during summer would be difficult to enforce and drive more people away from the sport.

During the summer, stress from warm surface water, improper release and hooking are contributing to a high trout mortality rate, said William Hyatt, director of the inland fisheries division at the DEP.

The proposal calls for banning of downriggers and lead core lines, which are fishing devices that allow anglers to reach deep for the trout. The plan also calls for fishermen to release all trout caught during the banned period, which extends from June 15 to mid-September.

The DEP plan is in response to complaints by fishermen about floating dead fish and state data that shows trout will survive better and grow larger if the lakes are closed during the summer, Hyatt said. Fishing and conservation organizations have endorsed the proposal, he said.

One angler said the plan is unworkable.

“You can’t fix fishing by not fishing,” said Mary Hammond, owner of the Crystal Lake Bait and Tackle Shop in Ellington. “You can’t keep making it more complicated and harder to follow and still attract new fishermen or young kids to the sport.”

Each year, the DEP stocks each of three lakes _ Crystal Lake, East Twin Lake in Salisbury and Highland Lake in Winchester _ with between 13,000 and 15,000 trout, Hyatt said. The three lakes have the greatest potential for trout to survive and grow to a large size, he said.

Trout require cold deep water with an abundance of dissolved oxygen. In the summer, the trout are caught in deep water and pulled up through the warm surface water, which stresses them.

Most of the fish are released back into the warm water because the DEP requires fishermen at the so-called trophy lakes to release trout that are between 12 inches and 16 inches long at some lakes or between 12 inches and 20 inches at others.

About one-third of the fish the DEP stocks in the three lakes are of that size, Hyatt said.

At a hearing Thursday about inland fisheries regulation proposals more than 30 fishermen suggested better DEP enforcement and educating anglers about releasing the fish.

“People don’t know how to handle the trout,” said Crystal Lake resident and fisherman Stephen Neptune, who opposes the DEP’s proposal. “They pull them out and got them bouncing on the bottom of the boat. ”

Another suggestion was to get rid of the size limit and reduce the maximum number of fish a fisherman can take home from five to two or three. That would reduce the number of fish that die from being mishandled and released.

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Information from: The Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

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