Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

NY: High waters, flooding stall fishing up north

Hatcheries scramble to get trout stocked

Albany – You know it’s been a tough spring to be an angler when the
state’s fisheries manager says he was “0 for April.”

“I think I got out once for about a half hour. That’s it,” said
DEC Fisheries Bureau Chief Phil Hulbert. “The weather has been
horrible.”

A late winter and rainy spring made for miserable conditions for
anglers and state stocking crews.

Many trout streams in the northeastern part of the state were at or
above flood stage for a week or more in late April and early
May.

And the high water wasn’t just confined to streams. Lake Champlain
hit record levels in early May, and high water canceled a pike
tournament and prompted boating advisories around the state.

Hardest hit was DEC’s Region 5, where heavy rains the last week of
April combined with runoff from snowmelt to push many streams over
their banks.

The DEC and numerous other fish hatcheries delayed trout stocking
on many streams because of cold water, and the rain added another
obstacle to planting trout.

“The weather has set us back,” Hulbert said May 5. “It’s mostly
been a problem in regions 5 and 6. The rest of the state hasn’t
been as bad.”

Rich Preall, a DEC aquatic biologist in Region 5, said regional
staff had been able to stock trout streams in the northernmost part
of the state, where the rain wasn’t as heavy.

But washouts and flooding limited access to a number of waters in
Hamilton, Essex, Clinton, Franklin and Warren counties. And
persistent rain grounded DEC staff that stock remote trout ponds
via helicopter.

Jeff Inglee, manager of the Warren County hatchery, which stocks up
to 25,000 brook and rainbow trout in waters in the county each
year, delayed its stocking of some waters by two to three
weeks.

And that was after flooding on the Hudson River overwhelmed one
hatchery trout pond and several hundred trout escaped.

The high water corresponded with the first weekend of walleye,
northern pike and pickerel season, and the closure of state boat
launches on Lake Champlain forced the cancellation of a pike
tournament on the lake, and boating advisories on lakes around the
state.

Organizers of a popular opening-weekend walleye tournament on
Oneida Lake nearly had to move their event to shore when boating
restrictions were placed on the lake. But they were lifted the day
before the tournament.

The DEC put out a statewide advisory to anglers on May 6 warning of
high water and debris in lakes and rivers.

So what awaits trout anglers later this spring, when high waters
recede?

Hulbert said mature trout are resilient and can find places to wait
out high, fast water.

“The older fish are pretty adaptable,” he said.

Some fry might be displaced, but the biggest impact could be if the
weather warms too much before trout stocking is done.

Taking trout from cold hatchery waters and putting them in warmer
streams could stress them, Hulbert said.

“We have fish and we need to get them stocked in the next week or
two,” he said May 5. “We’ll do the best we can to adjust.”

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