Spring 2017 trout stocking and opening for downstate ponds

DOVER – The Division of Fish & Wildlife today announced that Delaware’s spring 2017 downstate trout season will begin Saturday, March 4 with the opening of two downstate ponds stocked with rainbow trout, provided pond ice conditions do not prevent stocking or fishing. On that date, Tidbury Pond near Dover in Kent County and Newton Pond near Greenwood in Sussex County will open for trout fishing beginning at 7 a.m.

“As in past years, we plan to stock these ponds before opening day, and we plan to do a second stocking later in the month,” said Fisheries Administrator John Clark. “We will include trophy-sized trout again this year as an added attraction for trout anglers.”

Trout anglers planning to fish the waters of Tidbury and Newton ponds will want to note Fish & Wildlife regulatory requirements:

· A trout stamp is required to fish these ponds from the first Saturday in March through April 1, unless otherwise exempted by law.

· Following the opening day 7 a.m. start, trout fishing at these two ponds is permitted one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset, unless otherwise restricted by area rules.

· The daily possession limit is six trout.

· Both ponds are closed to all fishing for 14 days prior to the season opening, with this restriction in effect from Saturday, Feb. 18 until opening day March 4.

“These rules serve several purposes,” said Michael Stangl, Fisheries program manager. “Closing these ponds to all fishing for two weeks before the season provides a better opportunity to complete our stocking and eliminates incidental trout hooking mortality by anglers fishing for other species. In addition, the closure gives stocked trout time to adjust and spread out in their new waters. The pre-season closure also eliminates any unlawful harvest prior to the opener and improves fair access to the fishery.”

Each pond will initially be stocked with more than 300 pounds of 12- to 13-inch rainbow trout. “Trophy-sized” rainbow and brown trout – weighing 2 pounds or more and measuring more than 14 inches – also will be stocked. Plans call for stocking to be repeated Thursday, March 16, with the same amount of fish in each pond.

Tidbury Pond is owned and managed by Kent County Levy Court, Department of Parks & Recreation, and anglers are asked to be respectful of the planted vegetation and fences erected to protect landscaped areas. No boats of any type are permitted in Tidbury Pond.

Newton Pond, owned and managed by the Division of Fish & Wildlife, will be stocked for the ninth year. The 10-acre borrow pit site was restored using Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration funds and opened for its first trout season in 2009. The pond features a boat ramp for car-top boats and canoes (with no gasoline motors allowed), plus a fishing pier and plenty of shoreline access to allow anglers to distance themselves from others. Clark stressed “car-top boats only,” since the ramp at Newton Pond was not designed or constructed for heavy vehicles with boat trailers, and vehicular traffic is blocked from using the ramp. Boat anglers are urged to exercise courtesy and caution while operating near others fishing from the shoreline.

With the exception of the two-week closure preceding trout season, Newton Pond is also open for catch-and-release fishing for bass and bluegill. Although barbless hooks are required at Newton Pond throughout the year, they are not required from the opening day of trout season through April 1 while fishing for trout. “Beginning March 4, trout in both ponds will be fair game, and we encourage anglers to keep these trout up to the limit of six,” Clark said, noting that trout are a cold water species and can only survive while water temperatures in the ponds remain cool.

Upstate, trout season will open at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, April 1 in six designated trout streams in northern New Castle County: White Clay Creek, Christina Creek, Pike Creek, Beaver Run, Wilson Run and Mill Creek, which will all be stocked with thousands of rainbow and brown trout just prior to the season opener. Stocking in the spring will continue on a regular weekly basis in some streams through Thursday, April 27. For more information, click http://de.gov/troutstocking.

A Delaware fishing license is required for most anglers fishing for trout. A resident annual fishing license, which covers fresh and tidal waters as well as crabbing and clamming, costs $8.50 for ages 16 through 64. Persons under the age of 16 and residents age 65 and older are not required to purchase fishing licenses in Delaware, although exempt persons may purchase fishing licenses and trout stamps if they so choose to help support fisheries management and trout stocking efforts. For non-resident anglers age 16 and older, a Delaware fishing license costs $20.

Both resident and non-resident anglers age 16 and older are required to obtain a Delaware Fisherman Information Network (F.I.N.) number. The free number is included as part of a Delaware fishing license purchase. License-exempt anglers, including Delaware residents 65 and older, may visit www.delaware-fin.com or call 800-432-9228 toll-free to obtain their free F.I.N. number.

In addition to Delaware’s normal fishing license requirements, most trout anglers also must purchase a Delaware trout stamp. For residents age 16 through 64, a trout stamp costs $4.20. For residents age 12 through 15, a young angler trout stamp costs $2.10. Resident anglers younger than age 12 or age 65 and older are not required to purchase a trout stamp. For non-residents, a trout stamp is required for all anglers age 12 and older and costs $6.20.

All proceeds from the purchase of Delaware trout stamps are used to help purchase next year’s fish for stocking. The popular fishery also is supported by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration funds generated from anglers purchasing fishing equipment.

“Since the price of trout is not expected to decrease in the immediate future, the Fisheries Section is hoping plenty of anglers will come out this season to help support the program,” Clark said.

Delaware fishing licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, and by license agents statewide. To find a participating agent, or to purchase a license online, visit Delaware Licenses. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call 302-739-9918.