This year’s season for trout in Connecticut is sure to be an interesting one. As everyone remembers, we had a very severe winter in 2011 and were hit hard with several heavy snow storms. As a result of this, last year’s trout season was affected by overflowing waters with strong currents that unfortunately swept many a trout away out of our local waters. In 2012, we’re facing the quintessential “be careful what you wish for” situation. Due to our extremely mild winter, our local rivers, streams, brooks, and ponds are much more shallow than usual since there was very little by way of melted snow or ice to bolster their reserves.
This reversal of fortunes will have its negative effects on trout season, since more shallow waters mean that the trout will have an easier time seeing fishermen and may be a bit tougher to catch as a result. However, the Department of Environmental Protection has already released 376,000 trout in CT this year and will have released 600,000 before this year’s trout season is over.(1) This, in addition to the wild trout that were already present, means that trout season here in CT is not in serious jeopardy. In fact, the DEP expects this trout season to be an excellent one, since the trout living in shallow waters have migrated to deeper areas and this will lead to higher populations in those areas. Additionally, it will lead to local anglers leaving some of their traditional fishing spots and finding new ones that are sure to be bursting with fresh trout for the catching.
Creatures of habit need not worry though, since water levels in lakes and brooks in state parks “aren’t in too bad of a shape”(2) according to the DEP. Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout, and Lake Trout are currently in high numbers at such locations as Black Rock Park of Watertown, Chatfield Hollow State Park of Killingworth, Valley Falls Park of Vernon, Southford Falls Park of Oxford, and many other local state parks as well.(1)
Trout fishing has traditionally been a favorite outdoor family activity during spring in Connecticut for generations. Local bait shop owners have noticed that it seems to be making a big comeback as of late. James Orifice, owner of Jimmy O’s Bait and Tackle of Bridgeport reports that despite the troubles trout fishermen might face this season, there has been somewhat of a renewed enthusiasm for the sport, owing to the troubled economy and relative cheapness of fishing as a hobby, which is a great form of release and escape, as well as an inexpensive way to spend a fun morning or afternoon. As Mr Orifice puts it, “Fishing is a stress reliever. People are realizing we are in a financial crisis, and they’re living within their means.”(2)
There are four varieties of trout that are common to catch here in CT – Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Lake Trout, and Brown Trout. Rainbow Trout is known for its pink flesh and somewhat gamey flavor that makes it a favorite among freshwater fish connoisseurs. They typically begin their lives in shallow brooks and streams, but leave for deeper lakes when they mature. However, they do come back to the more shallow waters to spawn. Brook Trout are usually found in colder waters that have shady areas with lots of tree coverage and moderate currents.(3) There typically the easiest trout in CT to catch as they just can’t seem to resist live bait. Brown Trout are found in a wide range of water temperatures and prefer more mild currents. They are generally the toughest trout to catch as they are more timid than their bolder cousins. Lake Trout, while more plentiful in the Great Lakes region tend to populate more shallow waters here in Connecticut and are a coveted target of fly fishermen. Their rich flavor and flaky flesh make them a hit on most anyone’s dinner plate.(3)
We’ll close by serving up a quick and easy trout recipe courtesy of What’s Cooking America?that you’ll be sure to love. This recipe shows how sometimes the simple dishes are the best ones, as it is easy enough for even the most inexperienced of cooks to prepare. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Scale your trout, remove the gills and entrails, and bones, and then clean it under cold water and dab dry with paper towels.
2. Make a few diagonal cuts on the body of the fish and then roll it in a combination of flour, salt, and black pepper.
3. Lubricate a frying pan with melted butter and then put in the trout, cooking it for 5 minutes on each side until a golden color is achieved.
4. Check to see if it is cooked thoroughly by pressing a fork into the thickest part of the fish. If the flesh is opaque, moist, and flaky, it is most likely done. If you have a meat thermometer, check to see if the temperature is at 140 degrees.
5. Serve and enjoy, along with lemon wedges if desired.(4)
With your new and improved knowledge base of trout in Connecticut, you’re now ready to hit the local brooks, rivers, ponds, and streams to haul in your catch and bring it home for an unbeatable meal. Of course, if you don’t have the time or if you’re not an avid fisherman, worry not, because you can stop in to our Old Saybrook seafood market any time and pick up some delicious fresh trout at prices that will leave both your stomach and wallet full and happy.
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Fishing: 376,000 Trout Stocked For Connecticut’s Opening Day
Hartford Courant, April 23, 2012
With Rivers Low, Anglers Await First Day of Trout Season
Connecticut Post, April 19, 2012
Connecticut Trout Fishing
All About Fishing
Pan Fried Trout Recipe
What’s Cooking America?