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BigOutdoors
09-18-2010, 06:27 AM
CT DEP INLAND FISHERIES DIVISION September 16, 2010
QUARTERLY REPORT TO THE FISHERIES ADVISORY COUNCIL
Inland Fish Management & Fish Culture��


Completed the annual summer holiday stockings of the West Branch Farmington River (West Branch Reservoir to the West Branch TMA upper boundary). Prior to the Fourth of July weekend 2,000 brown trout (12 inches and larger fish) were released. Another 2,000 large-size brown trout were stocked in the same area just prior to the Labor Day weekend.
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Completed fall trout stocking plans. Approximately 32,000 trout (15,000 adult-size rainbow trout, 14,000 trophy-size brown trout, and 3,000 yearling-size brown trout) have been scheduled for stocking this fall. Most Trout Park ponds will be stocked (Stratton Brook Park Pond and Southford Falls Park Pond will not be stocked due to their shallow, weedy condition and continuing plans for dredging). All Trout Management Areas and a number of trout ponds are scheduled for stocking this fall, with the new stocking regime (first implemented in 2009) for the Housatonic River Trout Management Area (TMA) to be completed in mid-September (3,000 Survivor yearlings, 5,000 small adult rainbows and 1,000 trophy browns). However, stocking schedules are being reassessed in light of the extended periods of dry weather and low flows being experienced. Stockings of many rivers may be delayed or cancelled, with the scheduled fish instead stocked into lakes and ponds.
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At East Twin Lake, important changes to the cold water fisheries are again being observed. Last fall (2009), for the first time in many years a substantial number of large kokanee were captured by standard trap netting operations, and it appears that large kokanee are again present in 2010. This year, anglers have reported good catches of large (16-18 inch) kokanee, and a substantial number of trophy fish award submittals for kokanee have been received. Conversely, trophy brown trout have taken a big turn for the worse, due to the collapse of their alewife forage base (possibly linked to the proliferation of invasive zebra mussels). For several years, anglers have been reporting trout in increasingly poor condition and declining catches of 20 inch (legal size) fish, and last fall, most brown trout caught in our trap nets were recently-stocked fish, not holdovers. Trap netting is again planned for this fall. However, it is apparent that the lake cannot support a trophy brown trout fishery under current conditions.
Large robust kokanee (16 inches) caught earlier this summer at East Twin Lake. More recently, kokanee have reportedly reached 18 inches in length.
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Completed most general stream monitoring (electrofishing) for small to moderate-size streams. A total of 69 streams statewide were sampled to assess water quality in cooperation with other DEP units. Another 115 sites on small headwater streams were sampled to assess species presence and abundance. Twenty five sites were sampled to assess the before and after effects of habitat alterations and contaminant impacts.
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Completed Wild Trout Management Project stream electrofishing survey (151 sites totaling over 16 miles). This sampling is to determine trends in wild brook trout and brown trout abundance, survival of stocked fry and fingerlings, and potential for wild trout management in other streams. Approximately 9,000 trout were sampled (95% wild or stocked as fry; 5% stocked as adults). Although wild trout abundance varied from stream to stream, brown trout stocked as fry contributed greatly to semi-wild trout populations in nearly all 30 miles of stream seeded with fry each spring. Some populations are expanding, but wild brook trout in many sampled streams have shown only limited recovery from previous weather-related declines. The hot, dry summer of 2010 may severely impact brook trout expansion and survival of trout in many streams statewide (especially in smaller streams that went dry this summer).


To determine potential wild trout contribution to the Housatonic River trout fishery, a number of its tributaries were included in this survey and our sampling revealed 14 previously undocumented wild brook trout populations in tributary streams which have the potential to act as nursery and spawning areas. Additionally, for the first time ever, wild young-of-year rainbow trout were found to be abundant in almost every perennial tributary to the upper Housatonic (eight streams). This widespread rainbow trout reproduction can be attributed to a private stocking of large spring-spawning rainbows, and the cool wet summer of 2009 which enhanced survival, condition, and spawning potential of these large stocked fish.
Eight sites on the Shepaug River were surveyed to assess the effects of the new higher minimum flows and to evaluate the potential for wild trout management. At the seven upper sites, 344 wild trout vs. 3 stocked trout were netted. At the lower site in Roxbury no trout were collected. The majority of the wild trout were brown trout (319), but wild brook trout (24) and wild rainbow trout (1) were also present. Most wild trout were young-of-year or age 1, however a few larger wild brown trout up to 16 inches were collected, and numerous photos of wild browns in the 19-23 inch range have been provided recently by avid Shepaug River anglers. Despite the hot dry summer, many wild trout in this river have survived and appear in good condition. Strong reproduction, good survival, and high growth rates of wild brown trout offer good potential for further enhancement.
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With the help of volunteer angler groups, five Housatonic thermal refuges were enhanced to increase trout survival through the hot summer. Work completed on the upper Furnace Brook refuge was particularly effective in providing shelter and relatively cool water for trout through the summer. A high number of mortalities were observed due to unusually hot and dry summer. River temperatures reached into the mid 80s on many afternoons. If not for natural flows, virtually all trout--even those in the most protective refuges such as Furnace--would have been lost, as under previous pond-and-release flows, very warm mainstem water would have overwhelmed the pockets of cooler water in refuges. Mortalities were also attributed to bird predation and poaching on exposed and vulnerable trout within refuges. An increased level of law enforcement helped to alleviate the poaching problem.

Completed collection of pike fingerlings at spawning marshes (June – early July). Total statewide production of fingerling pike (10,757) was lower than project goals (15,700 fingerlings per year). Low production was due to substantial flooding of the spawning marshes that occurred in late March/early April, which allowed an unknown number of juveniles to emigrate out of marshes. Fingerling production at each marsh was as follows: 341 (averaging 4.5 inches) at the two Bantam Lake marshes; 9,277 (averaging 4.3 inches) at the two Haddam marshes, and 1,139 (averaging 4.5 inches) at the Mansfield Hollow Reservoir marsh. The fingerlings that were collected were stocked into Bantam Lake (341), Lower Connecticut River (1,682), Pachaug Pond (3,751), Quaddick Reservoir (1,696) and Winchester Lake (1,703).
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Developed and implemented a new drawdown scheduling procedure at the Haddam and Mansfield marshes resulting in a record drawdown time of 14 days as opposed to the average 38 days. This enhancement freed up seasonal employee time to work on other projects.
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Two managed marshes located in Wyantenock SF (Kent) have been offline due to leaking dykes and failing water control structures. All permits necessary for construction to begin on these structures were filed and
approved during the summer of 2010, with actual construction slated to begin in 2011. The Wildlife Division’s Wetland Habitat and Mosquito Management (WHAMM) personnel are also scheduled to begin work in mid-September to control an invasive plant (Phragmites) at these two marshes located. This will be the first of a three-year program to eliminate this highly invasive plant.
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Completed the summer portion of roving angler surveys of nine lakes. These surveys will provide data relevant to the Bass Management program (Moodus Reservoir, Pickerel Lake, Gardner Lake and Mansfield Hollow Reservoir), the Walleye Management program (Gardner Lake and Batterson Park Pond), the Channel Catfish Management program (Silver Lake, Black Pond, Quonnipaug Lake, and Lower Bolton Lake), and the Northern Pike Management program (Mansfield Hollow Reservoir). Surveys will assess angler catch, effort and attitudes related to these special management programs. Surveys at the Channel Catfish Management lakes will provide the first assessment of the fisheries created by the channel catfish stocking program initiated in 2007.
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Measured largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at bass fishing tournament weigh-ins at Gardner Lake (2 tournaments), Mansfield Hollow Reservoir (7 tournaments) and Lake Lillinonah (6 tournaments). Data will be analyzed in conjunction with creel surveys and bass population sampling (electrofishing) that occurred in 2010 at each of the lakes.
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Stocked approximately 5,000 walleye fingerlings into Batterson Park Pond. This is the first time since the walleye project began (1993) that IFD has had the opportunity to stock small (~2 inches) fingerlings in the summer rather than standard large fingerlings (~5 inches) in the fall (several states have found that small fingerlings stocked in the summer survive and grow better than larger fall-stocked fingerlings). West Virginia’s DNR generously provided DEP with fish that were surplus to their needs, and on June 4th, CT and WV staff met in PA to transfer the fish (average 2.0 inches; range 1.25 to 3.5 inches). Short term survival of these fish will be assessed by electrofishing this fall.
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Deployed a total of 74 temperature recorders. In western CT they were placed at 31 locations within the mainstems of the Housatonic and Shepaug rivers, and at the confluences of all major tributaries to the upper portions of these rivers to determine potential for enhancement of thermal refuges for trout. In eastern CT, 30 recorders were deployed in streams within the Scantic and Podunk river systems for thermal mapping, 7 were placed in wild trout streams, 2 on the Moosup River to assess a dam removal project and 4 others on miscellaneous sites. Recorders will be retrieved and data downloaded in September. These data will be very useful in documenting the effects of the unusually hot, dry summer on water temperatures, and should contrast sharply with data collected in 2009, a cool wet summer.
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Collected trout and white suckers from the Little River-Oxford twice to assess possible contamination from a spill of approximately 15 gallons of PCB oil from a transformer. The river was posted against fish consumption. Results of fish testing are pending.
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BigOutdoors
09-18-2010, 06:27 AM
Collected dissolved oxygen and temperature measurements at eleven lakes including several important trout lakes in August. Thermoclines were detected at lower depths than typical due to this summer’s abnormally hot weather. However, a layer of cold oxygenated water persisted in Beach Pond, Highland Lake, West Hill Pond, Squantz Pond, East Twin Lake and Quonnipaug Lake. Lakes where “trout water” was lacking included Gardner Lake, Candlewood Lake and Black Pond (Meriden).
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Completed 2010 water chestnut survey/removal activities. Beginning in 2005, Inland Fisheries (IFD) staff and DEP Geological Survey staff have collaborated to survey the mainstem CT River and associated coves from Hartford to Essex for the highly invasive water chestnut. US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff coordinate and lead water chestnut control activities from Hartford north into Massachusetts including major infestations on the Hockanum River and several other sites in the Hartford area. Both DEP and USFWS found (and removed) more plants than in 2009, possibly due to better growing conditions in 2010 (lower flows, early start to the growing season and more sunny days). DEP IFD staff also again located and removed plants from the confluence of the Still River and Lake Lillinonah, where plants have been found and removed annually beginning in 2006 (although its abundance appears to be decreasing).


Diadromous Fisheries Restoration
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Captured 4 Atlantic salmon at the Rainbow Fishway and 1 at the Leesville Fishway. Fifty Atlantic salmon have returned to the Connecticut River to date number, compared to 76 in 2009.
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Electrofished the Hammonasset, Eightmile, and Farm rivers to assess sea-run brown trout stocking survival and found that survival was slightly lower, most likely due to the record number of 90 degree days recorded this year. Shunock River and Latimer and Whitford brooks will be sampled in September.
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Electrofished yellow eel index sites in the Housatonic, Natchaug, and Scantic river drainages. These sites, located in tributary streams, allow staff to compare local American eel densities with the number of dams above Long Island Sound where each site is located. It will also allow staff to monitor the progress on re-colonization as efforts to improve passage for American eel at these dams continues.
A pair of amorous sea lampreys nesting in the Salmon River.
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Conducted a lamprey nest count in the Salmon River and Eightmile River watersheds to determine the number of adult sea lamprey that passed through the fishways this spring. Migrating lampreys cannot be counted at these fishways so a nest count is conducted to track the run size year after year. From nest counts, the 2010 estimated numbers of lamprey passed was 856 at Salmon River and 488 at Eightmile River. These numbers were down slightly from recent years.
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Provided technical assistance to the Avalonia Land Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy for planning a future fish passage project involving two dams on Anguilla Brook in Stonington.
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Continued to work with other DEP units in preparation for the fall construction start of the Tingue Dam fishway (Naugatuck River), which received a NOAA grant with economic stimulus money. Considerable staff time was also spent assisting various partners on developing plans for future fishways at many other sites.
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Fishways were closed between the end of June and mid-July. During the summer shut-down period, staff performed necessary repairs and upgrades to state-owned fishways and assisted others in the repairs to municipal and privately-owned fishways:

Completed the replacement of the internal wooden baffles in the Leesville fishway (Salmon River, East Haddam). This was the third and final year of a project to replace all the internal wooden structure in fishway.

Replaced the wooden walkway at the Rainbow fishway (Farmington, Windsor).

Removed a steeppass unit of pre-fab fishway from Lower Pond Dam on Joshua Creek in Lyme. Continued problems with beavers at this site made operation of the fishway impossible. The removed fishway section will be used to improve fish entry into the Mary Steube Fishway, in Old Lyme.

Assisted The Nature Conservancy with flood repairs to the Low Dam Fishway (Saugatuck River, Weston) and the Grossman Dam Fishway (Aspetuck River, Westport).

Improved the access path to the Lees Pond Dam Fishway (Saugatuck River, Westport);

Assisted new staff with the Town of Greenwich perform the seasonal removal and maintenance of the electronic fish counter at Mianus Pond Dam Fishway (Mianus River, Greenwich). Staff from The Nature Conservancy who are responsible for the fish counter at the Wood Dam Fishway (Saugatuck River, Westport) also attended this ‘workshop’ to learn about the proper procedures for winterizing this equipment.


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Installed the interim eel pass inside the Rainbow Dam Fishway. This eel pass is designed to pass eels during the summer when the fishway is closed (July – September) and was removed early this year due to a drawdown of Rainbow Reservoir. This year it passed nearly 500 eels upstream of the 60 foot dam. It will be re-installed next July.
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Inspected two new eel passes that were completed this summer. Firstlight Power Company completed the installation of an interim eel pass at Stevenson Dam on the Housatonic River. While some ‘fine-tuning’ may be necessary, it has already collected a number of eels, which are unable to surmount the tall dam. Migrating eels are trapped, counted, hand carried, and released upstream of the dam. The CTDEP/Inland Water Resources Division completed a re-building of the spillway of the Lake Forest Dam in Bridgeport over the summer. A full-length eel pass was incorporated into the design of the new spillway. The final product looks very good but it has yet to be tested since the dry conditions have prevented the lake from re-filling and spilling down the spillway.

HCE staff completed annual fish population monitoring in Leadmine Brook, Ashford relative to an Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture Project designed to remove twin culverts that block upstream passage for native brook trout. Culverts will be replaced with a clear span timber bridge during the summer of 2011. This restoration action will reconnect lost access to over 1.05 miles of upstream brook trout habitat. Project partners in addition to the DEP and Town of Ashford include Yale University and Thames Valley Chapter, Trout Unlimited.
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HCE staff in concert with DEP Forestry and per recommendations from a DEP timber harvest plan, selectively felled 3 mature, hardwood trees into Babcock Pond (Colchester) to enhance fish habitat. Specifically, the fish community utilizes these coarse woody habitats for cover and feeding purposes.
Example of tree felled into Babcock Pond to enhance fish habitat.
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HCE program proposal entitled, “Moosup River Fish Passage and Restoration Project” was awarded 1.5 million in monies from the Millennium Power Partners, LLP power plant project in Charlton, MA per mitigation requirements of a DEP 401 water quality certificate. This restoration project to be implemented over a 10 year period includes removal of 6 barriers to upstream fish passage that will reconnect fish habitats and restore connectivity within 6.91 miles of the Moosup River. The project will be implemented through a partnership developed between American Rivers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Additionally, in August, the first barrier (a cast iron pipe crossing the streambed) on the Moosup River was removed by the Town of Plainfield. Funds for this project came from a Natural Resource Damage Assessment settlement at the nearby Yaworski Lagoon Superfund Site.
View of Moosup River Dam No. 3, example of barrier targeted for removal
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Staff provided guidance on the design of three shorefront fishing facilities: (1) a former industrial site on the West Branch of Stamford Harbor will be redeveloped with a mix of private and public facilities, and the conceptual plan calls for converting an existing 135 ft long berthing pier to a fishing pier; (2) the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited is working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to restore a one mile section of the Norwalk River in Wilton, and is considering including a handicap accessible fishing platform; and (3) the DEP Boating Division is planning the replacement of the Horse Pond fishing platform in Salem.
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HCE staff directed a ConnDOT contractor in the removal of a low head dam and the removal of the associated concrete structures along the Mill River (Easton) within the Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area. The work was performed by ConnDOT as mitigation for the rehabilitation of the Route 59 bridge spanning the Mill River downstream on the Easton/Fairfield town line. The low head dam was replaced with a vortex rock weir, which will serve to prevent head-cutting of the river channel, will provide for unrestricted upstream fish passage (specifically for brook trout and brown trout), and create a self-maintaining scour hole providing critical habitat for adult-sized trout. The river banks were re-graded after removal of the concrete structures. Large diameter boulders were placed along the river bank toes of slope and randomly scattered within the river channel to provide cover for trout and cobbles were placed within the river channel to enhance habitat for aquatic insects and juvenile trout. Riparian vegetation, consisting of grasses, shrubs and trees will be established as a final site restoration measure. The Aspetuck Land Trust, Town of Easton, and the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited collaborated in this project.
Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education and Constituent Services
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Completed 51 Summer Fishing classes for 1,522 youth in camps across the State. Classes were held in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Britain, Torrington, Bristol, Norwalk, Portland, Hamden, West Haven, Meriden, Fairfield, Killingworth, New Haven and Middletown. This summer CARE staff developed two new, innovative, interactive games that focused on predator-prey relationships and reducing non-point source pollution. Students also learned about aquatic ecology, fish adaptations, fish identification, and basic fishing skills. Every class concludes with a fishing trip!
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Taught over 1,500 additional students at summertime events. These ranged from 4-meeting courses in classrooms to half-day clinics on the water. Volunteer instructors donated 500 hours of their own time this summer providing families with many, different opportunities to learn more about water, fish, and fishing.
D. River bank restoration following the removal of concrete structures.
B. Vortex rock weir replacing the former low head dam.
A. Concrete structures along the Mill River associated with the low head dam prior to removal.
C. Concrete structures along the Mill River associated with the low head dam prior to removal
A.
B.
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Introduced over 340 No Child Left Inside Great Parks Pursuit participants to fishing at Day Pond State Park. Seventeen Certified CARE Instructors volunteered over 100 hours of their time. Most families who tried their hand at angling were rewarded by catches of bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, black crappie, largemouth bass, or chain pickerel! All participants were able to get their fish filleted and cooked by CARE Instructors while they wait.
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Partnered with Middletown Community College to begin work on a new Ice Fishing in Connecticut DVD. This DVD will replace the home-made 20 year old VHS tape we currently use to introduce novice ice anglers to this wonderful winter sport. This project will be completed in time for 2011 CARE Family Ice Fishing courses, and will be available for viewing on the DEP website.
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Hosted a CARE Certified Instructor Inservice training this past July at Winding Trails Environmental Center in Farmington. The 48 attendees learned all about fish habitat enhancement work from fisheries habitat biologist Don Mysling, and specifically about the enhancement measures that Winding Trails is implementing on the 8 acre Walton Pond project. Everyone also had the opportunity to take part in fisheries management work by pulling a 200 foot seine net or electrofishing Walton Pond. This Inservice training provided our volunteer staff with knowledge and experience they can now take into their aquatic education classes.