They look like stockers becuase they are stockers.
GREY COUNTY - The biggest, fattest brook trout an angler's likely to see are being stocked in Grey County streams and ponds this week as part of a new provincial project to encourage family fishing.
These are fish of more than one pound on average -- double the size of brook trout that those who wet a line in Grey County are used to -- and some will tip the scales at more than two pounds, said Jody Scheifley, a biologist with the ministry in Owen Sound.
“There's few places in the province that you can catch brook trout this big. Like the fishing here will be -- you know people go to Algonquin Park and these remote areas only hoping to catch a brook trout this big,” Scheifley said.
MNRF staff on Wednesday picked up a load of brook trout from the Chatsworth fish hatchery and dropped some into Holstein Pond, then released the rest in Durham pond.
Saturday is the start of trout fishing season from Tobermory to Lake Erie – a short but joyful time for those who like to fish for brook, brown and rainbow trout. The rainbows are all “in thick” in the rivers and tributaries right now having returned to spawn, he added.
Some anglers will stake out their favourite spots just after midnight Friday, Scheifley said. But no special equipment or secret fishing spot are needed to catch the 8,500 brook and brown trout released this week. They'll be plentiful and they will be hungry, Scheifley said.
They're bred and stocked under the MNRF's new Urban Fishing Initiative, which aims to bring great fishing closer to people in urban environments. Grey County is the only place in Ontario where these brook trout and browns are being released of this size.
There'll be a fishing derby at Flesherton Pond from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to coincide with the opening of the trout season Saturday. Breakfast and lunch will be available at the fire station, with additional parking behind Flesherton Home Hardware and the Flesherton Family Practice.
There will be prizes and an entry fee of $5 per person, $20 per family with proceeds to beautify Flesherton. The event is being put on by Grey Highlands, its local improvement committee, the MNRF and sport fishing volunteers, who will demonstrate fish cleaning.
Kids don't need fishing licences and adults who are only supervising but not fishing can do without them too. But if adults are fishing they'll need a fishing licence.
Urban for purposes of this stocking program in this part of Ontario means the hatchery fish will be released at Bell's Lake, Flesherton pond, Durham pond, Holstein pond, Allan Park Conservation Area and brown trout of one pound on average, will be set loose in the Saugeen River below the dam in Hanover.
These water bodies were selected because there are no native brook trout in them and they're close to populated areas, Scheifley said.
Ministry records back to the 1920s show brook trout have been stocked in local waters, Scheifley said. But never have the stocked fish have been of this size. Instead of raising the fish for 14 months in the Chatsworth Fish Culture Station, this time they stayed 28 months.
He said the habitat doesn't allow them to get this big locally. These stocked fish are a Nipagon-Hill's Lake cross brook trout which don't tolerate warmer water, he added. After two or three weeks, as water temperatures rise, the fish won't want to bite.
Unlike other MNRF initiatives, these fish aren't put there to help establish a local population. They're stocked purely to be caught quickly.
“It's encouraging that outdoor activity, that getting outside, enjoying the resource,” Craig Todd, MNRF's link between sports clubs and other partners. “So we put 'em in, we want them taken out.” They're good to eat too, he said.
The money for this stocking program comes from part of angler licence revenue. By encouraging more fishing by stocking jumbo brook trout, the ministry is also encouraging more licence sales, Scheifley said.
The project is confirmed to continue locally for four years, with the number of fish released climbing by 2,000 to 10,500 brook and brown trout by 2019, he said.
According to information Scheifley provided, the Urban Fishing Initiative supports a recreational fishery enjoyed by nearly 1.5 million licensed anglers annually and contributes about $2.4 billion to Ontario's economy each year.