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Latest Bites - January 2017
Update:  Recent warm temperatures may have reduced the thickness of ice in many locations (especially where it may have been marginal already) since last week.  Please use caution and good judgement prior to going onto any ice.

Ice Fishing Report (Western CT):  I ce fishing began early (the beginning of Dec.!!) on a small number of lakes in the northwest corner.  Overall reports have been good but northern pike fishing on Bantam Lake has been nothing short of spectacular.  Numbers and sizes of northern pike caught by ice anglers have been better than we have seen/heard about for a number of years. In addition, ice fishing for the fish stocked late fall has produced good to excellent reports from Mt. Tom Pond (broodstock Atlantic salmon), Highland Lake (broodstock Seeforellen Brown Trout) and Mohawk Pond (broodstock Brook Trout).

From the east:  intermittent times of safe ice on Mansfield Hollow Lake, no significant safe ice on Coventry or Moodus.  No reports from Bigelow, Mashapaug, or Roseland Lake.

2017 Fishing Licenses:  Licenses for the 2017 season are now available through our on-line system  (mobile friendly).  100% of your investment in the license goes to support Connecticut's fish and wildlife.  A great way for you to show your support for CT's natural resources.

2017 Fishing Regulations:   There will not be any changes to the INLAND fishing regulations for 2017.  All of the inland rules and regulations for 2016 will carry forward for 2017.  Changes to the MARINE fishing regulations are expected with final determination made in late February.  Stay tuned for MARINE updates. 

FREE Ice Fishing Classes:  Ice fishing classes are underway.  Check our  schedule of events  to find a FREE family ice fishing class or ice fishing event near you!

WE NEED YOU:  Join our team of state certified fishing instructors.  Our next volunteer training class will be February 25th at our Killingworth Fisheries Education Center.  If you enjoy working with youth and families, have a strong passion for the outdoors, and would like to be part of sharing that passion and knowledge with others, we would love to hear from you!  Call Tom at 860-663-1656 or email Thomas.Bourret@ct.gov for more info.
Your Best of 2016
WOW! There were some incredible photos posted to our CTFishandWildlife Facebook page when we asked, "What was your best catch in 2016?" The collage above represents some of your best Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass.  Next month we will feature your "Best Trout". Thank you for sharing!
Let's Go Ice Fishing
GET ON THE "HARD WATER" WITH THE CARE PROGRAM!
 
No Child Left Inside Winter Festival:  Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 10 am to 3 pm at Burr Pond State Park: 384 Burr Mountain Rd, Torrington, CT 06790

Dress for the weather including waterproof and insulated footwear.  
 
The Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education program will be on hand to introduce and assist everyone who would like to learn to fish on the "hard water" (safe ice and weather permitting).  All equipment and bait will be provided at no charge. Attending a free Family Ice Fishing class will surely better prepare you, and increase your knowledge and chance at success! Be sure to dress for the weather (and add a little bit more). Please contact Tom or Justin at 860-663-1656 if you have questions.    
Be Safe!
Check the thickness of the ice.   Be safe on the ice and always check ice thickness.  Ice thickness is not uniform and can vary greatly within a water body. When starting out onto the ice, drill a hole about 3-6 feet from shore, if it is a safe thickness, continue drilling holes every 10-20 feet.  The ice thickness graphic below is from the Pennsylvania Angler and Boater Magazine (Jan/Feb 2017).  It is good practice to let others know where you are going and when you expect to return and to carry appropriate safety equipment.

Please note that while this graphic shows the thickness of ice to support a car or truck, it is strictly for illustrative purposes. It is illegal to drive a car or truck on the ice in Connecticut.
Rigging your Tip Up
Tip-ups are a traditional piece of ice fishing equipment.   A tip-up consists of a spool of line, a flag, and the supporting legs.  Bait is added to the "business end" of the line, which is dropped into the hole and then adjusted to be set just above the lake bottom. The supporting legs go across the hole and prevent the tip-up from being pulled into the water.  When a fish takes the bait and pulls on the spool, the flag is tripped and waves in the air.  "Flag Up!" is the call to action. The angler will pull the fish to the surface by hauling the line in hand over hand, an exciting way to catch a fish!

Each angler can use a maximum of six (6) devices (combination of tip-ups and jigging rods) when ice fishing.  Each tip-up must have the name and address of the angler on the device (written on the flag or supporting arms).
From Water to Table
The name "Panfish" refers to a group of small to medium-sized fish that are low in the aquatic food chain. Panfish are highly sought after by anglers seeking a delicious and healthy meal!  Panfish include Yellow Perch (pictured above), White Perch, Calico Bass, Bullhead, and the Bluegill and Pumpkinseed sunfish. Panfish can be caught in most of Connecticut's lakes and ponds year round, and are commonly caught when ice fishing.  There is no minimum size limit nor is there a limit on the number you can keep (be an ethical angler and take only those you will use).  

A quick search on the internet will get you detailed instructions (and videos) on how to fillet and cook your catch.   Here is a simple, but favorite, recipe from our staff:

6-10 Panfish (6-12 inches in length)
Flour (2 cups or so)
Salt, Pepper, Old Bay Seasoning (1/2 teaspoon or so of each)
Oil (enough to fry the fillets)

Fillet each of the fish and remove the skin
Cut the fillets into 1 inch strips (optional)
Mix the flour and seasonings in a plastic bag
Add the strips or fillets and shake
Heat oil to about 375 degrees
Add the strips or fillets until golden brown
Pat dry and enjoy!
Join Us on FishBrain

We are pleased to be on FishBrain, the most popular social media app for anglers. FishBrain is a free download for iphone and android. Users take advantage of the free angling support features (or elect to subscribe for premium features).  Follow CTDEEPFish and we will follow you back!

 
This Month's Mystery Fish
Mystery Fish Revealed
Last month's  Mystery Fish was t he Rock Bass, Ambloplites rupestris, a non-native species to Connecticut.  The Rock Bass belongs to the Bass and Sunfish family, Centrarchidae.  "Rockies" typically are dark green to olive often with large red or dark brown eyes.  These fish are most commonly found in lakes, ponds, and larger rivers where they prefer large rocky structure.  Rock Bass willingly take a variety of baits including worms, small minnows, small swimming lures, and soft plastic jigs.  The state record Rock Bass is a tie.  Both had a weight of 1 pound 3 ounces.  One was caught in Colebrook River Lake by Ernie Gonsalves (1989) and the other in Shenipsit Lake by Joseph Mankauskas Jr. (1995).

While more widespread in western Connecticut, with time Rock Bass are being found in more and more waters in eastern parts of the state.  As with all fish, the fisheries division strongly encourages anglers NOT to transport live fish from one water body to another (it is illegal). While intentions may be good, the outcomes could be bad.
Rock Bass, Ambloplites rupestris
License Fees Fund Hunting and Fishing Programs

100%  of the fees collected from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, tags, permits, and stamps goes to support fish and wildlife conservation, preservation, and recreation programs administered by the Bureau of Natural Resources (Connecticut General Statutes 26-15, 20-15(a), 26-15 (b)). 

Each time you purchase a license your contribution goes to support hunting, fishing, and open space right here in CT. 

So, the next time you see a bald eagle, harvest a white-tail, pheasant, or turkey, or catch a brown trout or striped bass, give yourself and your fellow sportsmen a pat on the back!



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