I can’t resist starting this week’s column off with a “What were they thinking?” comment. This one involves DEC’s decision to stock trout in the Otselic River on April 1, the opening day of the trout fishing season. The impact of this, at least in my mind, generates images of a circus-like atmosphere, with anglers casting their offerings to the stocked trout as soon as they’re released into the river. Maybe DEC should consider just “selling” the trout right off the hatchery truck via a $2 donation fee per trout, the proceeds of which would go to the Conservation Fund.
Another negative factor in this decision is its effect on the Chenango County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs’ ability to entice enough volunteers to help stock since many are also avid trout fishermen who may chose to fish that day rather than help with the stocking. And while I understand that stocked trout are generally released to eventually be caught by anglers, does it have to be within minutes or seconds after they’re released into their destined waters? Many states prohibit fishing in stocked waters for at least 24 hours after hatchery-reared trout are released there.
This situation brings to mind another unsavory scene I’ve witnessed in past years that dealt with the stocking of state-reared pheasants during the open season. There seemed to be a small group of “hunters” who somehow learned the scheduling of the trucks carrying the pheasants and would either follow it or be waiting for it to arrive. This group became commonly referred to as “the chicken truck chasers.” And that nickname was not intended to be a compliment. With the opening day trout stocking of this year, the “hatchery truck chasers” won’t have to chase, as the truck will deliver” the goods” right to them.