|Many grabbed a line and many grabbed a pole...
...and off they went to the old fishing hole:
When the truck carrying four silver tanks from a Pennsylvania trout farm arrived at Tidbury Pond in Dover at noon March 6, dozens of anglers of all ages were waiting on the banks, fishing rods and nets at the ready, fishing licenses and trout stamps clipped to caps, and lunches and tackle boxes packed for the official start of the 2008 trout season.
“The trout are hungry and ready, and will make for fine eating,” Wildlife Biologist Mark Zimmerman told the crowd of eager anglers as he waded into the pond to release nets full of wriggling fish.
At the truck, retired Fisheries veteran Michael Todd dipped out the fish and handed filled nets to staff member Bob Wallace. Wallace hustled the nets to Zimmerman, who scrambled up the bank in his waders to meet him, turn and plunge back into the cool water, where he deftly tipped out the dark, shiny fish a scene repeated at several spots around the edge of the pond.
Photos and text by Joanna Wilson
Zimmerman, who has stocked Tidbury each spring since 1993 and worked in the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s trout stocking program since the 1980s, paused several times and studied the water with a practiced eye. “They’re doing fine,” he said, as some swished by.
By the time Zimmerman and his team drove back out the winding entrance road to the Kent County-owned park, next stop Blockhouse Pond in Lewes, several happy Tidbury anglers had already caught dinner. A similar scene waited in Lewes behind Beebe Medical Center.
“I have never seen a turnout like this,” Zimmerman said after completing the two stocking stops. “But these are very sought after, fancy table fare.”
Each pond was stocked with approximately 550 rainbow trout, average size 11 inches and weighing about ½ pound each. Some “trophy-sized” rainbows weighing 2 pounds and measuring well over 14 inches also will be included. Stocking will be repeated Thursday, March 20 with the same number of fish in each pond.
On 10 separate dates beginning in late March, more than 31,000 trout will be stocked in six designated trout streams in northern New Castle County: White Clay Creek, Christina Creek, Pike Creek, Beaver Run, Wilson Run and Mill Creek. All of the streams will receive a heavy stocking just prior to the April 5 season opener. Trout stocking will continue on a regular weekly basis through Thursday, May 1
“The trout season in these ponds begins the moment the fish hit the water,” said Program Manager Craig Shirey, noting the program is “put and take,” since trout are cold water fish and can only survive for a limited time until normal summer water temperatures exceed the trout’s temperature limit. Fishermen usually keep what they catch, with a daily limit of six trout each.
Shirey said the Division expects the fish will prove to be the same high quality as last year. “We’ve contracted with the same hatcheries as in the past. All of the fish that were delivered last year from central Pennsylvania were in really good shape and even though the cost has increased significantly, anglers should enjoy the same level of success with the same number of fish,” Shirey said.
From 2005 to 2007, the cost of trout for the program remained at approximately $42,000, Shirey said, noting the Division paid $2.10 per pound of rainbow trout and $2.45 per pound of brown trout, including delivery. The bid price for the same number of pounds for 2008 increased by more than 100 percent to $93,000, with growers citing increased feed and energy costs along with impacts caused by the drought in 2007. Price per pound more than doubled, to $5 per pound for rainbow trout and $5.65 for brown trout.
Fisheries biologist Mark Zimmerman stocks ainbow trout into
Tidbury Pond in top photo as eager anglers await the "Go Fish"
command. When they got it (bottom photo), they were quick to
ring the pond and bait a hook.