Downstate trout season set to open with a splash
With a faint whiff of spring in the cool morning air and welcome blue skies overhead, DNREC Fisheries staff met up with a crew from Kent County Parks and Recreation to greet an unusual tanker truck from Pennsylvania at the gates of Tidbury Creek Park just south of Dover. Despite a few lingering snow drifts and more recent patches of deep, thick mud, they gathered to prepare Tidbury Pond for its annual rite of spring: the traditional Saturday opening of downstate Delaware’s 2010 trout season, this year falling on March 6.
On the truck from Richland, Pa.-based Aqua-Life were four large blue tanks carrying about 1,100 rainbow trout to be divided between Tidbury and Newton Pond near Greenwood. Veteran trout stocker Mark Zimmerman of Fisheries directed the relay race from tanks to pond, swiftly transferring nets full of frantically wriggling fish into the cool, calm waters.
Text and photos by Joanna Wilson
DNREC Public Affairs
The Fisheries crew formed a well-splashed team. With Zimmerman on the receiving end in hip waders up to chest deep in the pond, Michael Todd dipped fish from the tanks and passed them to runner Charles Miller, a process repeated at three different spots along the half-acre pond’s slightly overflowing banks. Once they were released, Zimmerman noted the fish were spreading out quickly to explore their new home.
“They look good – we have some lively fish here,” Zimmerman noted, spotting one that had already made its way through the pond from the first release point to the second.
In less than an hour, about 550 fish were released, weighing in at roughly 275 pounds, plus about 16 pounds of trophy-sized trout.
Most of the fish average 11 inches long and weigh about a half pound, while the larger trout measure 14 inches or more and weigh up to two pounds. The remaining fish were transferred from the Aqua-Life truck to a large tank in the Fisheries truck for the trip to Greenwood. Both ponds will receive a second stocking of the same number of fish on March 18.
At 7 a.m. Saturday, March 6, Tidbury Pond and Newton Pond are to open for trout fishing. Tidbury Pond is owned and managed by Kent County Parks and Recreation, and anglers are asked to be respectful of the vegetation and fences erected to protect landscaped areas.
Newton Pond, a 10-acre restored barrow pit, is owned and managed as a state wildlife area by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and features a boat ramp for small car top boats and canoes (no gasoline motors allowed), a fishing pier and plenty of shoreline access to allow anglers to spread out.
Anglers wishing to try their luck are reminded that in addition to the normal fishing license requirements, they also must purchase a trout stamp, which costs $4.20 for ages 16 and older, or a youth stamp, which costs $2.10 for boys and girls ages 12 to 15. All proceeds from trout stamps are used to purchase next year’s fish.
A resident annual fishing license, which now covers fresh and tidal waters as well as crabbing and clamming, costs $8.50 for ages 16 to 65. Anglers under the age of 16 and residents over the age of 65 are not required to purchase fishing licenses in Delaware. Delaware anglers are required to have a Fisherman Identification Network (FIN) number. Higher stamp and license prices apply to non-resident anglers.
To purchase a fishing license or stamps, or for more information about the trout stocking schedule, visit www.fw.delaware.gov or call the Fisheries section at 302-739-9914.