May 5, 2012
Brown trout pour into
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Willet Rod and Gun Club volunteer Tom Warner helps the Department of Environmental Conservation stock brown trout Friday in the west branch of the Tioughnioga River in Homer.
PREBLE — For many Cortland area residents, the warm weather means it’s time to break out the rod and reel and head down to the nearest fishing hole.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and six local sportsmen were out Friday morning stocking Cortland County’s waterways with brown trout.
The annual stocking keeps the local fish population healthy and the local anglers happy.
The volunteers were all members of the Cortland County Federation of Sportsmen.
Bert Abdallah, a member of the McGraw Sportsmen’s Club, helped lug piping and directed traffic while the trucks unloaded the trout.
Helping the department unload the fish is a good thing to do and it helps local fisherman,” Abdallah said.
“I’ll fish anywhere there’s water,” he said. “Anywhere I can catch a fish.”
Over a six-week period this spring, the department will stock more than 21,000 rainbow and brown trout in the area’s rivers, lakes and ponds.
All of the fish come from the Salmon River Hatchery in Altmar.
The group met Thursday morning at Denny’s Mountainview restaurant in Preble and set out to stock more than half a dozen locations.
The first stop was Dwyer Park at Little York Lake in Preble. After that there were stops at both branches of the Tioughnioga River as well as a stop at Merrill Creek in Marathon.
Jeff Robins, a senior aquatic biologist, Brian Boyer, a fish culturalist and Jeff Dallas, all employees of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, drove three trucks with more than a dozen 250-gallon fiberglass tanks.
Each tank was brimming with yearling-brown trout, 6 to 8 inches long.
Don Jones, of McGraw, started helping stock the streams after he retired.
“I’ve been doing this for 19 years,” he said. “Ten thousand fish, now that’s a lot of fish.”
The trucks and their holding tanks were escorted down the county highways by a small caravan of pickup trucks.
At each stop, one truck would pull ahead and the driver would flag oncoming traffic to slow down.
The others would help unload the fish while the last driver, usually Abdallah, warned oncoming drivers at the other end.
There were two ways to unload the fish into the water.
If the truck could get close enough, an 8- to 10-foot plastic tube, about 7 inches in diameter, was attached to each tank and the fish simply drained into the water.
If not, or if they were on a bridge, either Boyer or Dallas dipped large nets into the tanks and tossed the fish in.
The drop, over 15 feet in some cases, did not hurt the fish, Dallas said.
“They’re pretty hardy fish,” he said.
That hardiness is one of reasons the state likes stocking brown trout, Robins said.
“They can survive in temperatures where other trout might not be able to,” he said. “There are also wild ones and we try to support the wild populations.
The vast majority of the 10,000 fish will also stay in the area.
“They’re not going to swim much farther than Marathon,” Robins said. “They’re not migratory, if anything they’ll swim upstream because it feels better on their gills.”
The state will also stock more brown trout next Wednesday.
Those fish will be older and larger, 12 to 14 inches long, Robins said.
The department will stock an additional 1,900 trout in Padget and Sargent ponds in Preble and Truxton this fall.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe