With balmy temperatures and blue skies fresh from last night’s heavy rain, DNREC 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 2012 trout season on Saturday, March 3.
On the truck from Mill Hall, Pa.-based Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery were four large white tanks of rainbow trout to be divided between Tidbury and Newton Pond near Greenwood. Veteran trout stocker Mark Zimmerman of Fisheries directed the relay race from tanks to pond, swiftly transferring nets full of frantically wriggling fish into the cool, calm waters.
The Fisheries crew, along with trout-dipper Anne Tomalonis of Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery, formed a well-splashed team. With Zimmerman on the receiving end in chest waders in the pond, Fisheries technician Johnny Moore darted from the truck to the pond with full nets, a process repeated at three different spots along the half-acre pond’s slightly overflowing banks.
Once released the fish spread out quickly to explore their new home. “They look good – we have some lively fish here,” Zimmerman noted, carefully checking any fish that didn’t start swimming right away. “They’ll be fine. Just have to get them moving a little.”
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. “We’ll have some citation-sized fish caught here,” Zimmerman predicted, noting that this year’s trophy-sized fish were larger than expected.
The remaining fish were transferred from the Cedar Springs truck to a large tank in the back of the 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.
Resident anglers wishing to try their luck are reminded that in addition to Delaware’s normal fishing license requirements, most anglers also must purchase a trout stamp, which costs $4.20 for ages 16 through 64, or a youth stamp, which costs $2.10 for youth anglers ages 12 through 15. A resident annual fishing license, which covers fresh and tidal waters as well as crabbing and clamming, costs $8.50 for ages 16 through 64. Anglers under the age of 16 and residents age 65 and older are not required to purchase fishing licenses in Delaware. Higher stamp and license prices apply to non-resident anglers.
Exempt persons 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 trout stamps, or for more information about the trout stocking schedule, visit www.fw.delaware.gov, or call the Fisheries section at 302-739-9914.