BENNINGTON -- For the first time, a section of the Walloomsac River has been stocked with about 1,000 "trophy" trout.
Fisheries Biologist Chet MacKenzie, of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the fish were raised at the Bennington Fish Hatchery on South Stream Road and recently put into the Walloomsac between the former Vermont Tissue Dam and the Vermont/New York border.
Trophy trout are two-year-old fish about 14 inches in length. The proposal, MacKenzie said, was to stock 750 trophy-sized rainbow trout, and 250 brown trout.
Being stocked with trophy fish means that section of river is under some new regulations, according to a release from the department. There is no longer a size limit on the trout that can be taken out, but the catch limit is now two per day. The normal limit is 12, but no more than six can be accounted for by a combination of brown and rainbow.
Trout season opened April 12, and ends Oct. 31, however catch-and-release with artificial flies or lures will open on this part of the Walloomsac until the end of the year, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The trophy trout stocking program is not new, but this is the first time it has been done on this stretch of river, and the plan is for the practice to continue, said MacKenzie.
"I think it's a great program, and it's a great way to have someplace you can go for trophy fish," said Chris Bates, host of Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped, a radio show on WBTN 1370 AM.
A number of factors go into deciding where to stock fish, be they yearlings of eight to 10 inches, or trophy fish. MacKenzie said rivers with low natural trout populations that receive high pressure from anglers are highly considered for stocking operations. He said this part of the Walloomsac has many access points for anglers to take advantage of, so it can be inferred that it's used for that purpose often.
These trout are not expected to survive the winter, said MacKenzie, as the environment is not ideal for them. "They're there so people can catch them," he said.
Monte Walker, supervisor at the Bennington Fish Hatchery, said the trout being stocked are also sterile. They were stocked at different points along the river, and have likely dispersed by now. Walker said these particular fish were two and a half years old, and most were at least 15 inches long.
Looking at how much is costs to raise them, the state spent about $10 on each fish, he said.
The Bennington hatchery has raised trophy fish before to be stocked elsewhere in the region.
"The trophy rainbow and brown trout stocked in the Black, Winooski, Lamoille, East Creek, Missisquoi, Walloomsac, and Passumpsic Rivers, as well as Otter Creek, provide exciting fishing for many anglers of all ages and skills," said MacKenzie in a release. "Large two-year rainbows will also be stocked in selected lakes and ponds to provide excellent fishing opportunities."
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