Anglers encouraged to check requirements before fishing
The Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife this week announced that its spring 2016 downstate trout season will begin Saturday, March 5, with the opening of two downstate ponds stocked with rainbow trout, weather permitting. On that date, Tidbury Pond near Dover in Kent County and Newton Pond outside of 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 ply the waters of Tidbury and Newton ponds should note Fish & Wildlife regulatory requirements:
• A trout stamp is required to fish the 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 the two ponds is permitted a half-hour before sunrise to a 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 the restriction in effect from Saturday, Feb. 20, until opening day, March 5.
“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 those who are 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 harvest prior to the opener and improves fair access to the fishery.”
Each pond will initially be stocked with about 300 pounds of rainbow trout, with an average size of 11 to 13 inches. “Trophy-sized” rainbows — weighing 2 pounds or more and measuring well over 14 inches — also will be stocked. Plans call for stocking to be repeated Thursday, March 17, 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 being asked to be respectful of the vegetation and fences erected to protect landscaped areas. No boats of any type are permitted in Tidbury Pond.
Newton Pond, owned and managed as a state wildlife area by the Division of Fish & Wildlife, will be stocked for the eighth 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 emphasized the restriction of “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 being 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 opening day through April 1 while fishing for trout. Beginning March 5, trout in both ponds will be fair game, and we encourage anglers to keep these trout up to the limit of six,” Clark continued, 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. on Saturday, April 2, 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.
All of the streams will receive a heavy stocking just prior to the season opener on the first Saturday in April. Trout stocking in the spring will continue on a regular weekly basis in some streams through Thursday, April 28. For more information, click http://de.gov/troutstocking.
In addition to Delaware’s normal fishing license requirements, most trout anglers also must purchase a Delaware trout stamp. 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 added.
Delaware fishing licenses are sold online, at the licensing desk in DNREC’s Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, and by license agents statewide. For additional information on Delaware fishing licenses, call (302) 739-9918.