Wishin’ to be fishin’: Trout season officially opens

DOVER — Anne Tomalonis hauled more than 600 pounds of fish south to Delaware on Thursday morning.

The annual downstate trout season opening was less than 48 hours away and she had work to do.

Arriving from the Loch Haven, Pennsylvania area in a truck, Ms. Tomalonis stopped at Tidbury Pond south of Dover just before noon and delivered more than 300 pounds of rainbow and trophy sized rainbow and brown trout.

Fish net-wielding Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife staff was waiting to transfer the trout from truck to water.

The Cedar Springs Trout Hatchery truck continued south toward Newton Pond in the Greenwood area for another fish drop.

Sam Johnson, DNREC biological aide, releases trout into Tidbury Pond in Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“When the weather breaks and first stocking goes into the water, it’s exciting,” Ms. Tomalonis said. “We reallly didn’t have a winter this year, though.”

The 12-to-20-inch trout became targets for hooks, lures and bait at 7 a.m. this morning when the season officially opened.

Officials expect the trout to last for the next six weeks or so in diminishing numbers as they are taken from water to skillet.

A second stocking will take place in a couple weeks.

Last year, anglers reportedly began taking spots near the pond at around 5:30 a.m. as the parking lot filled up before dawn.

Two trout in a net at Tidbury Pond in Dover.

Wearing shorts and a light shirt, 35-year Fish and Wildlife biologist Mark Zimmerman seemed positively giddy about the annual tradition.

“I’m always in an upbeat mood,” Mr. Zimmerman said, noting that trout stocking elevated his happiness even higher.

Volunteer Mike Todd, now retired, said he liked “to see the guys” he worked with at DNREC during the drop.

“This really is a lot of fun, yes it is” he said.

The warmer winter means the cold water friendly trout won’t survive quite as long as they would during a chillier season.

According to Mr. Zimmerman, he believes the fish enjoyed their new freshwater experience. Like most people, he said facetiously, the trout must fell that “Even though it wasn’t a cold winter, it’s time get out and enjoy things.”

Fish and Wildlife mandates that anglers must have a trout stamp through April 1, can begin 30 before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset, and follow a catch limit of six trout daily.

Michael Todd (DNREC retired) hands DNREC biological aide Sam Johnson a net full of trout at Tidbury Pond in Dover.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife has budgeted approximately $79,000 for this year’s trout stocking, covering Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties.

The contract with the supplier requires state waters receive:

Spring:

Pond stocking of rainbow trout: 1,250 pounds of 12- to 13-inch fish (approximately 2,000 fish)

Pond stocking of trophy rainbow or brown trout: 64 pounds of 14-inch minimum fish (approximately 50 to 70 fish)

Stream stocking of rainbow trout:  13,350 pounds of 12- to 13-inchs fish (approximately 21,000 fish)

Stream stocking of trophy rainbow or brown trout: 1,032 pounds of 14-inch minimum fish (approximately 900 to 1050 fish)

Fall:

Stream stocking of rainbow trout: 1,000 pounds of 12- to 13-inch fish (approximately 1,600 fish)

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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