With mild temperatures and a bit of sun peeking through the clouds, DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries staff met a large truck from Pennsylvania yesterday at the gates of Tidbury Creek Park just south of Dover. They lost no time getting to their task – to prepare Tidbury Pond for its annual rite of spring, the opening of downstate Delaware’s 2013 trout season on Saturday, March 2.
On the truck from Mill Hall, Pa.-based Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery were four large white tanks of rainbow trout plus a few golden trout to be divided between Tidbury and Newton Pond near Greenwood. Veteran trout stocker Mark Zimmerman of the Fisheries Section directed the relay race from tanks to pond, swiftly transferring nets full of frantically wriggling fish into the cool, calm waters.
The Fisheries crew formed a well-splashed team. While Fisheries aide Bob Wallace and volunteer Mike Todd dipped fish from the truck tanks, Zimmerman and Fisheries aide Alex DiJohnson darted from truck to pond with full nets, a process repeated at three different spots along the half-acre pond’s slightly overflowing banks.
Once released, the fish quickly disappeared into the waters of their new home. “Usually there’s a few fish that don’t start swimming right away and need a little nudge. Today, when I went back to check on them, I didn’t see a single fish. I’ve never seen that before,” Zimmerman said. “The water’s nice and cold, and these are some lively fish!”
In less than an hour, about 275 pounds of fish were released, plus about eight trophy-sized trout. Most of the fish averaged 11 inches long and weighed about one-half to three-quarters of a pound, while the larger trout measured at least 14 inches and weighed two pounds or more.
The remaining fish were transferred from the Cedar Springs truck to a large tank in the back of a waiting Fisheries truck for the trip to Greenwood. Both ponds will receive a second stocking of the same number of fish in two weeks.
At 7 a.m. Saturday, both Tidbury Pond and Newton Pond will 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 borrow 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. Both ponds are temporarily closed to all fishing until trout season opens Saturday morning.
Those wishing to try their luck are required to purchase a resident annual Delaware recreational fishing license, which covers fresh and tidal waters as well as crabbing and clamming. A resident annual license costs $8.50 for ages 16 through 64. Persons under the age of 16 and residents age 65 and older are not required to purchase fishing licenses in Delaware. For non-resident anglers age 16 and older, a Delaware fishing license costs $20.
In addition to Delaware’s fishing license requirements, most trout anglers also must purchase a Delaware Trout Stamp, with the exception of anglers younger than age 12 and resident anglers age 65 and older. For residents age 16 through 64, a trout stamp costs $4.20. For residents age 12 through 15, a youth trout stamp costs $2.10. For non-residents, a trout stamp is required for all anglers age 12 and older and costs $6.20.
Exempt anglers may purchase fishing licenses and trout stamps if they so choose to help support fisheries management and Delaware’s trout stocking efforts. All proceeds from trout stamps are used to purchase next year’s fish.
To purchase a fishing license or stamps online, click License. Complete Delaware fishing information is available in the new 2013 Delaware Fishing Guide, available on the Fisheries website at www.fw.delaware.gov/fisheries, or in printed form at license agents throughout the state.
Logo courtesy Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control