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Latest Bites - February 2019
Ice Fishing  season is in full swing here in Connecticut (view our ice fishing video). Ice fishing is a great way to spend time outside during the cold winter months getting fresh air, exercise, and maybe even a meal or two! Get started ice fishing safely and successfully at one of our FREE Learn to Ice Fish Classes.  View out our schedule for a class near you (schedule is updated frequently, so check back often).

2019 CT Fishing Guide is due out mid-March.  The March publication time-frame is due to CT having a combined freshwater and saltwater guide AND the federal process for determining saltwater regulations is usually not complete until late February.  

Trout Fishing (and all fishing in some waters) closes on February 28 except for our extended Trout Management Lakes (see details below).  For the remainder of trout waters, this closure allows DEEP Trout Hatchery staff to stock in preparation for Opening Day - 6:00 am on April 13, 2019.

2019 Fishing Licenses are on sale now.  100% of your investment in licenses, tags, permits, and stamps comes to the Bureau of Natural Resources in support of Fisheries and Wildlife programs.  
Trout Fishing in March
CT Trout Management Lakes
Fisheries will be stocking  eight lakes that are open to trout fishing through March with a total of 4,000 trout (2,000 Rainbows and 2,000 Brook Trout).  These fish average 16 inches in length and are being produced specifically for these lakes that have a daily creel limit of one trout with a 16 inch minimum length during the month of March.    

We plan to stock these waters early in March to provide quality fishing.  We have recently stocked Crystal Lake (Ellington) and Highland Lake (Winchester) to provide a boost to ice fishing. Both of these lake s will be stocked again in early March.  Check out our stocking video from Highland Lake.
 
The eight lakes we will be stocking are: Crystal Lake, Highland Lake, Squantz Pond, West Hill Pond, East Twin Lake, Amos Lake, Quonnipaug Lake, and Rogers Lake.  

Candlewood Lake will be the only March season trout lake not getting stocked (too large for the number of fish we have available).
2019 Fisheries Jobs 
Calling all Fisheries majors - come join our team and gain some valuable work experience! The Fisheries Division currently has several seasonal job opportunities available for 2019.  Visit the State of Connecticut JobAPPs page for more information about each of the positions and to apply.

We are looking for folks to work on our:

  • Nighttime lake and pond electrofishing crew
  • Pike and Walleye Management Projects
  • River and Stream fish community monitoring
  • Fishing Education program
2018 TOP ANGLERS 
YOUTH FISHING PASSPORT 
Congratulations to the Youth Fishing Passport Top Anglers; Samantha, Austyn, and Kiera.  Samantha logged ten species while Austyn and Kira each caught nine species from our Fishing Challenge List.  Each will receive a fantastic set of fishing related gear and items for their effort. We would love to see you as our Top Angler for 2019!  

The fishing challenge is open to all DEEP Youth Fishing Passport holders ( renew or register).  Participants are challenged to catch as many different species from the official list as possible (during a calendar year).  

To receive credit for your catch email a photo and your Youth Fishing Passport ID to mike.beauchene@ct.gov or try out our new online project in INaturalist (this is independent third party software and registering for a free account with parental permission is needed to take advantage of this app).
Samantha with a Yellow Perch.  According to Sam's dad Jay, she was totally into trying to catch the next species on the list - what a great way to spend some quality time together!  Samantha's official catches were Porgy, Fluke, Bluefish, Blue Crab, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Chain Pickerel, Northern Pike, and Yellow Perch.  While catching these she also landed Black Sea Bass, Sea Robin, White Perch, and a Tench.
Austyn with a couple of nice striped bass.  Austyn's mom say that he can't get enough fishing (especially on charter boats). If the day was 28 hours long, Austyn would be fishing 29 hours!  He has aspirations of fishing professionally some day.  Austyn's official catches were Fluke, Porgy, Northern Pike, Channel Catfish, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Largemouth Bass, Brook Trout, and Smallmouth Bass.  While fishing for these Austyn also caught Black Sea Bass, Dogfish, and American Shad.
Kiera with a stocked broodstock Atlantic salmon caught in the Shetucket River.  Kiera is dialed in to the Fishing Challenge and has already caught and submitted her first fish for 2019, another broodstock Atlantic salmon.  Kiera's official catches were the Atlantic Salmon, Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed, Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Porgy.  She also caught a Dogfish and Rock Bass. 
This Month's Mystery Fish 
Email your guess to DEEP.inland.fisheries@ct.gov 
The Trout and Salmon Stamp
With approval by the Legislative Regulations Review Committee on February 27, 2018, Connecticut has a Trout and Salmon Stamp.  100% of the money invested in this stamp is guaranteed to support fisheries programs.  Please visit our FAQ page or email deep.inland.fisheries@ct.gov with questions.  A summary is provided below.

Anyone age 16 or older including everyone who is age 65 or older who chooses to do one or both of the following must purchase a trout and salmon stamp:

1. FISH in one of the following areas:  Trout Park, Trout Management Area, Wild Trout Management Area, or a Broodstock Atlantic Salmon Area.

2. HARVEST (keep) trout, Kokanee Salmon, or Atlantic Salmon anywhere in the state (except for waters stocked at no expense to the state).

The fee is $5.00 for age 18 and older and $3.00 for those 16-17.  The stamp is good for the calendar year (expires on December 31).

The Trout and Salmon Stamp will print on your fishing license as an additional privilege.
Mystery Fish Revealed
Last month's  Mystery Fish  was the Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax).  Rainbow Smelt (aka Mooneye, Frost Fish, Ice Fish) are native to coastal waters of northeastern United States from Virginia through the Canadian Maritimes and inland along the St. Lawrence River to Lake Superior. Through introductions, the range/distribution of Rainbow Smelt has expanded to many inland waterways throughout the US, including a few Connecticut lakes. Historical records indicate that smelt were stocked into at least 12 Connecticut lakes between 1914 and 1976, but only four, West Hill Pond, Colebrook Reservoir, West Branch Reservoir (aka Hogsback) and a privately owned drinking water supply reservoir, developed self-sustaining populations.

Anadromous (live in salt water and spawn in fresh water) smelt populations have been an important cultural feature in most northeastern coastal communities providing not only dietary sustenance, but as coastal smelt populations grew, large recreational ice fisheries along with commercial fisheries developed quickly for this popular fish. Today, the anadromous smelt populations are at best a mere fraction of their historic levels and are considered extirpated or at extremely low population levels anywhere south of Massachusetts. The rapid decline in coastal smelt populations is thought to be largely attributable to loss of suitable spawning habitat; changing oceanic conditions (e.g., increasing water temperatures and predation); and possibly fishing pressure. A similar decline and disappearance of smelt was also experienced at West Hill Pond in the early to mid-1990's. 

The population of smelt in West Hill Pond that stemmed from the initial and subsequent stockings grew sizeable enough to support a popular winter ice fishery, and also provided ample forage for the lake's trout population. When the smelt population was at its peak in the 1970's - 1980's, it was not uncommon to see lanterns illuminating the lake's frozen surface on a winter night as Connecticut anglers attempted to catch their limit of this tasty fish.
License Fees Fund Hunting & Fishing Programs

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!

You are making a difference and we thank you for your support!
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