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April 19, 2011

DEC to Stock Trout in Oswego County Streams in May

By Spider Rybaak

Many of Oswego County's pristine rivers and streams, like the Salmon River, are stocked with brook, brown and rainbow trout in the spring. (Photo by Jessica Burt, Oswego County Tourism Office.)

OSWEGO COUNTY -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that it'll be stocking roughly 12,300 brown, brook and rainbow trout into Oswego County's streams in May.

Known as the premier salmonid fishing destination in the entire Lower 48 States, Oswego County didn't get that way by chance. It did it through the tireless efforts of the New York State DEC, the most productive and cost-effective arm of the state bureaucracy.

While our trout and salmon are totally capable of reproducing naturally on their own, a little bit of human intervention goes a long way. You see, the environment presents all kinds of hazards to young trout in their bid for adulthood.

Indeed, danger starts right when the eggs are laid, before some can even be fertilized. The female drops her load in gravel as the male stages a little ahead of her, spraying his milt over the area. The current sweeps the milt to its target, but some of the eggs are invariably missed, never getting fertilized. And those that do are preyed upon by everything in the drink, from crayfish and minnows to trophy steelhead.

The few that are lucky enough to make it beyond sac-fry stage, becoming little salmonids, run a dangerous gauntlet of predators ranging from larger fish, including their parents, to fowl like mergansers and blue herons. Some studies indicate that of the thousands of eggs that a pair of adults fertilizes, only two reach maturity to start the ball rolling all over again.

Faced with those odds, it doesn't take a fish biologist to realize that a naturally reproduced trout is rare, particularly in the narrow confines of brooks and creeks. Without the DEC stocking these "skinny" streams, their trout would only be available to extremely skilled anglers with loads of time on their hands.

In the interest of providing leisure anglers with good chances of catching trout big enough to fight back when hooked, the NYS DEC releases trout into Oswego County's largest and most accessible streams.

At least one year old, these fish run eight to nine inches long. In addition, some two-year-olds, and even surplus brood stock, are often thrown into the mix to spice things up a bit.

There are a couple major reasons Oswego County gets stocked in May, which is relatively late.

Jim Everard, an Aquatic Biologist 1 for NYSDEC Region 7, explains: "Since hatchery personnel can't be every place at once, and because of weather conditions, we start stocking in the southern part of the region and work our way north."

The county is etched in a fabulous web of streams and five of the easiest to reach are stocked. They include Black Creek in Scriba, the Salmon River and North Branch of the Salmon River in Redfield, Rice Creek in Granby, and the West Branch of Fish Creek in Williamstown.

You'll find public fishing access on Harvester Mill Road and County Route 47, Caster Drive and Abes Drive in Redfield; at County Routes 22 and 48, Sheepskin Road, Bridge Street in Altmar and at the mouth of the Salmon River, and along Route 13 in Williamstown. For detailed maps of public fishing areas visit the DEC Web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/62477.html. Also, look for non-posted land and bridge crossings along these streams.

All the other blue squiggles you see on the map contain wild trout, or fish stocked in past years. Tributaries to Lake Ontario up to the first barrier impassible by fish are stocked on their own schedule.

Without a doubt, Oswego County is the most fishermen friendly piece of New York State. Not only because of world-famous spots like Lakes Ontario and Oneida and the Salmon and Oswego Rivers, but also for all the lesser brooks and creeks that water this wonderful fishing destination.

For current fishing conditions and visitor information, go to visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-4FUN (4386).

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