It’s that time of year. Time to get out the fishing pole and head on over to your local pond or stream and start casting your line. In Massachusetts, spring is also the time when local rivers and streams are stocked with fish, much to the delight to anglers.
Massachusetts Wildlife operates a fish stocking program, putting trout and other fish in various locations to keep populations healthy. Anglers stalk the state website, waiting for the “word” that their local fishing hole has been visited. During the first week in April, the Shawsheen River and Strongwater Brook were stocked with rainbow trout in Tewksbury.
In Wilmington, Silver Lake and the Ipswich River received their rainbow trout around the same time. Trout stocked are 12 inches in length or longer. Fish hatcheries are open to the public to visit and see fish at different stages of development, but tours are self-guided.
According to the Massachusetts Wildlife fish stocking program, “close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow, and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from MassWildlife’s five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland, and Montague. These fish, coupled with the more than 65,000 fish stocked last fall, will provide some excellent fishing in the coming months”.
The fish stocking program is dependent on conditions such as snow and ice levels and water chemistry. If you are age 15 or older you must have a fishing license in Massachusetts in order to cast your line. Minors are free but must obtain a license. Licenses may be obtained online through the MassFishHunt system or in person at a licensed vendor such as retail stores or MassWildlife offices.
Massachusetts has an active fish conservation program, tracking where fish are and are not found and adjusting policies to help keep population healthy. For example, boating, hydropower, and chemical composition from runoff can impact fish habitats. The state monitors cold and warm water locations and also manages fish which migrate from freshwater to saltwater via fish ladders throughout the state.
MassWildlife’s fishing related webpages are loaded with interesting information such as the best locations to find a trophy fish, best catch and release locations, and lists of record fish catches. Visit mass.gov and search for “fish.”