NORTH BENNINGTON -- Gary Hoag of Woodford and Jeff Dousman of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. came to Whitman's Feed Store on Saturday for a common purpose: To buy live fish.
Hoag, a forest fire warden for Woodford, has a private pond in his yard. Like he has done every other year, he came to Whitman's Feed for Art Whitman's annual stocking-trout sale. He drove to North Bennington to pick up a bag of 25 brook trout to stock in his pond for his grandchildren to feed.
Hoag said the trout won't spawn on their own in his pond because the conditions are not right; also, "otters come and eat some of the fish every year, so I have to continue restocking (the pond)."
Dousman finished having a house built overlooking a private lake in Hoosick Falls this spring. He came to Whitman's, 1873 Vt. Route 67 W., for some rainbow trout to grow large in the lake. Dousman wanted to give the opportunity to his three young boys to be able to sport fish in a lake full of recreational opportunities.
"As long as the kids are having fun I just want them to get out and have a good time outside: Put the video games down for a bit," Dousman said.
This year marks Whitman's fifth year providing the service of selling trout for stocking. He contracted out Hy-On-A Hill Trout Farm, a class "A," disease-free fish hatchery in Plainfield, N.H., which provides him with about 1,000 brook and rainbow trout a year.
Since the fish are sensitive to conditions, customers had an hour to pick up their order from Whitman's. The fish were taken out of a large tank mounted on the back of a truck with an air compressor, taken out with a net and placed in plastic bags with aerated water.
Andrew Smith of Hy-On-A Hill said that the trout farm will often stock streams and ponds for competitive derby fishing, but mostly "some people (stock trout) just to fish, some people do it just to have pets."
Smith said the farm buys fertilized eggs, hatches and raises hundreds of thousands of trout a year. Most fish Hy-On-A Hill sells for stocking are about a year old and are about six to eight inches long. Once they have room to grow, the trout can get as big as the habitat they are put in: Anywhere from five to nine pounds.
Before stocking fish in any body of water, a permit is required. Laws vary by state, but to aquire a permit in Vermont, go to http://www.anr.state.vt.us/
Contact Tom Momberg at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg