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June 19, 2003

Going Wild in Connecticut / DEPíS Wild Trout Program

Wild trout are renowned for living in clean water and pristine environments. They are treasured by anglers and non-anglers alike and are considered by many to be among natureís most beautiful creatures. In recognition of the value of wild trout as a source of recreation and as an indicator of environmental health, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently created a new program to ensure that they remain forever wild in Connecticut. Wild Trout images will be available in the Press Release (News) section of DEPís web site at

"Wild trout are an important renewable resource that add quality and diversity to Connecticutís trout fisheries," said Edward C. Parker, Chief of the DEP Bureau of Natural Resources. "The objective of Connecticutís Wild Trout Program is to identify waters where anglers will be able to find good fishing for wild trout, and to manage the fisheries and habitat so that the abundance and size of trout is adequate to support a high quality fishery. Wild trout management enables the DEP to expand trout fishing opportunities without the cost of additional put-and-take trout stocking." Trout are the most sought after species of gamefish in Connecticut, attracting more than 1.5 million fishing trips per year.

Wild "native" brook trout from the Tankerhoosen River in Vernon, Connecticut Wild brown trout from Merrick Brook in Scotland, Connecticut
Wild "native" brook trout from the Tankerhoosen River in Vernon, CT.  Wild brown trout from Merrick Brook in Scotland, CT.

Connecticut is home to two species of wild trout. Brook trout are native to Connecticut and still predominate in small, clear, cold streams. Brown trout are from Europe. They were first introduced in the late 1800ís and have become "naturalized" throughout the state. Many of our streams have subtly changed in response to farming and development and are no longer able to support large populations of brookies. It is in these waters that the brown trout has found its niche.

Brown trout from the Tankerhoosen River in Vernon, Connecticut

Age 2, age 1 and young-of-the-year brown trout from the Tankerhoosen River in Vernon, CT.

"Wild trout are esteemed because of their excellent physical appearance and high intrinsic value. Anglers and the general public recognize that wild trout are natural products of healthy stream ecosystems," said Michael Humphreys, a DEP Fisheries Biologist. "The angling public has shown a growing interest in wild trout, and there has been an increasing demand for wild trout management, particularly from organized groups such as Trout Unlimited," said Humphreys.

Studies done during the 1990ís on Connecticutís only Wild Trout Management Area (WTMA) at the time - the Tankerhoosen River at the Belding Wildlife Management Area - demonstrated that a stream managed for wild trout can sustain high quality trout fishing without stocking. The DEP expanded its Wild Trout Program to 27 areas in 2002 following the completion of a statewide survey of over 900 rivers and streams that helped identify the stateís best trout waters. Accomplishing the objectives of this program requires a flexible approach wherein fishing regulations and stocking practices are tailored to the specific capabilities of each WTMA to produce, support and grow wild trout. Consequently, some areas are managed under strict catch-and-release fishing regulations (i.e. no harvest allowed) whereas harvest is allowed on others. Some WTMAs can support a fishery based entirely on natural trout production while other areas require supplemental stocking to enhance trout populations and recreational fishing opportunities.

"Wild trout fishing is often at its best during the late-spring and early summer," said Humphreys who recommends that anglers try light colored flies or spinners fished around sunrise and sunset. A list of Connecticutís WTMAs and other wild trout waters is attached, along with the fishing regulations that apply. Anglers should consult their 2003 Connecticut Anglerís Guide for details. Fishing licenses and Anglers Guides are available at Town Clerkís offices and at many tackle stores.




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