CT fishermen prepare for opening day this weekend

Harding's Trout Farm in Bethlehem were helping stock Connecticut rivers and streams. (WFSB)

Connecticut residents were getting ready for the start of the fishing season this weekend.

Eyewitness News found out how fishing in one community could come with a catch.

Opening day is this Saturday. Many local rivers, streams and lakes were stocking up on fish and the hatcheries were busy catching the orders.

"I take my son out every year,” Eric Gonzalez, of Meriden, said. “Every year the same time, and they put in some nice fish and gotta get them."

Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said they've released over 306,000 already this spring.

“Opening Day is an exciting time for Connecticut’s many trout anglers, and they can look forward to a great fishing season,” Deputy Commissioner of DEEP Susan Whalen said in a release on Thursday. “The fish are in excellent condition, our trout waters are stocked and anglers can enjoy a wide range of fishing options. Additionally, Opening Day is a special time for many families, the traditional first time to get outdoors together after winter.”

Other organizations were also stocking up as well. The Quinnipiac River Watershed Association held their annual release along the Gorge Trail on Wednesday. Seven of the 185 fish were released near the Red Bridge and Hanover Pond and they come with another catch.

The tags on the fish are redeemable for gift cards to local businesses. The gift certificates were for the following items: Southington Fishin Factory $50-gift certificate and $25-gift certificate Castello Pizza Meriden $25-gift certificate Tom's Place Meriden $15 for breakfast Village Barber Shop in Wallingford, two Free Haircuts swimming around The fish came from Harding's Trout Farm in Bethlehem.

"Our inventory remains vast from 9-inch brook trout to rainbow and brown, to 27-inch rainbow and brown,” Brian Harding with the Harding Trout Hatchery said.

Harding said he was in his busiest part of the season.

Thousands of pounds of fish are expected to be moved throughout the state in these next couple of days before opening day on Saturday. More than 200 bodies of water were expected to be stocked before opening day. But, there will be about 90,000 less trout available for stocking.

“Due to ongoing drought-related water flow issues, fiscal and staffing constraints at hatcheries and the need to complete pond repairs at Quinebaug Hatchery, we’ve had to temporarily reduce production at our hatcheries,” Pete Aarrestad, Director of DEEP’s Fisheries Division said in a release on Thursday. “We are addressing this decrease with modest reductions in the numbers of fish stocked at many areas, and by removing a number of smaller and less popular areas, mostly streams or sections of streams, from the stocking schedules.”

No matter the size, most fishermen said they were happy to see younger generations get involved in the sport.

“Just have to get the kids out, as long as they have fun it doesn't matter after that,” Gonzalez said.

DEEP officials reminded everyone that water is high in many areas, so people were advised to be mindful and use caution.

“Although the recent rains mean at least short term relief from the ongoing drought, it also means that some rivers and streams may be difficult to fish effectively or safely this weekend due to high flows,” Aarrestad said. “Anglers should definitely use extra caution if attempting to wade their favorite spots, and may need to consider fishing other locations.”

To get a 2017 fishing license, click here.

For maps on which streams and rivers were stocked, click here.

For more information on DEEP Fisheries and Wildlife information, click here.

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