Spring is a time for us New Englanders to come out of hibernation. Time for yardwork, baseball, and of course fishing. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife was out Friday, doing its part to get anglers on the water.
MassWildlife is in the process of stocking Massachusetts lakes, rivers and streams with about 500,000 trout. While there aren’t any Auburn ponds on the stocking agenda, one of the stops is Lake Singeltary in Millbury and Sutton, just a few minutes from Auburn. On this sunny Friday afternoon, fisheries staff, several local representatives, and a number of local youngsters had the opportunity to help stock Singeltary with about 300 trout.
On hand were Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George Peterson, Jr., Acting Director Jack Buckley, State Representative Paul Frost, State Senator, Michael O. Moore, and Lori Burrows, legislative aide to Representative Joseph McKenna.
According to Representative Frost, the state fish stocking program is entirely funded through revenue generated from sports licensing. “Five dollars from every license is earmarked for these programs” said Frost. “There are no tax dollars used to fund the stocking.”
Acting Director Buckley said almost all the fish are rainbow trout, an angler favorite. “We stock some salmon in Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs” he said. “We also stock some brook and some tiger trout. We put some browns and brook trout in rivers, too.”
The fish are all good size. They range from 1 to 2 pounds, and about 14 inches, on average. “They’re really for anglers to catch” said Buckley. “These [rainbow trout] will not establish themselves in the lake and spawn. We have to stock every year to maintain a population.”
Statewide, MassWildlife stocks about 500,000 fish in the spring, and about 200,000 more in the fall. The fish are from MassWildlife’s five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland, and Montague.
The fish are transported in a large truck and are scooped up with nets into five gallon buckets. Those gathered at the state boat ramp on West Main St. in Millbury were invited to grab a bucket of fish and help to release the trout into the lake. While some of the fish looked a little lethargic when they were first released, all swam away vigorously, and could be seen jumping just offshore for some time after the initial release.
Alec from Auburn, had come to the boat ramp to fish with his father, Joe, and a friend, Matt from Hudson. They put their fishing on hold to jump in and help stock the lake with trout. Once all the fish were released, Alec was at the ready with his fly rod determined to land one of the trout. We didn’t stick around long enough to see if he had any luck, but hopefully he left some for the rest of us.