A spring tradition: opening day of trout season

With the statewide trout season opening next Tuesday, April 1, the next few days will be critical in determining what anglers will encounter when they hit their favorite trout stream. The month of March has been running 10 to 15 degrees below normal and that would usuallly mean stream levels will be lower and fishable. The zinger is that we've had a lrage amount of rain fall this month, which has kept water levels high, despite the colder temperatures.

The latest extended weather forecasts are indicating our temperatures are supposed to rise, at least reaching near or slightly above normal for the date. If those hold true, opening day just might be bearable, while stream levels may be near normal for this early in the season unless the rainy pattern hangs on. However, like most opening days, stream water temperatures are apt to be cold regardless of the water level, making the trout lethargic.

I don't think opening day has the same impact it once did, although along the major, more popular flows, such as the Otselic, Genegantslet and Upper Chenango, the angler traffic should be heavier than elsewhere. As usual, the DEC will not be stocking any trout prior to opening day due to the high mortality the hatchery-reared fish often incurr when water temperature and levels are severe. I tip my hat to the Department for waiting, as it's senseless to dump delicate trout into waters only to see many die due to shock or be swept away by abnormally strong currents.

DECís fish stocking efforts for catchable-size trout generally begins in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and western New York, followed later by stocking in the Central region, Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, the DEC plans to stock 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in almost 300 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,100 miles of streams across the state. Spring stockings will include 1.7 million brown trout, 415,000 rainbow trout and 143,000 brook trout. DEC will again include 2-year-old brown trout in the spring stocking program averaging 12-13 inches in length, with some as large as 15 inches. Approximately 96,000 of these larger fish will be stocked in lakes and streams throughout the state.

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