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SPRING INTO TROUT STOCKING

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SPRING INTO TROUT STOCKING
Bay State anglers with their 2012 freshwater fishing license in hand can look forward to casting for over 522,100 feisty brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout by mid-March. These are sizeable fish; more than 73% of the fish will be 12 or more inches long. "We have some truly high quality fish this spring," observes Hatchery Chief Dr. Ken Simmons. "Growing conditions were aided by abundant rainfall, warmer than normal winter temperatures, and limited snow fall."

This year, due to the lack of snow and ice in many parts of the state, trout stocking will get underway in early March on those waters where ice and mud conditions allow safe access for the large stocking trucks. "We'll be putting out 231,000 rainbow trout that will average 14 inches or longer, and 71,000 more rainbows will range from 9-13 inches," said Simmons. "Fish will be distributed statewide throughout the stocking season by our five regional Wildlife District staff." More than 48,000 brown trout in the 12-inch category will be stocked along with another 61,000 browns in the 9 - 12 inch range. The larger water bodies will receive the larger fish and the smaller brooks and streams will receive the majority of the smaller-sized fish. Brook trout will be stocked in a similar fashion with approximately 45,000 fish measuring 9-12 inches, and more than 38,000 at a foot or more. Simmons noted that this year's crop of 2-year old brook trout production was another record high. Anglers can also anticipate trying to tame some of the 5,000 tiger trout to be released, all topping the 14-inch mark. These handsome fish, a cross between a female brown trout and a male brook trout, have become popular with folks lucky enough to hook and land one.

For a listing of trout stocked waters or details on weekly trout stocking activities, go to www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/recreation/fishing/trout/trout_stocking_schedule.htmor call the nearest DFW District office: Western-Dalton (413) 684-1646; Valley-Belchertown (413) 323-7632; Central-West Boylston (508) 835-3607; Northeast-Ayer (978) 772-2145; or Southeast-Bourne (508) 759-3406.

Freshwater anglers are reminded that the use of lead sinkers and lead jigs weighing less than one ounce, regardless of whether they are painted, coated with rubber, covered by attached "skirts" or some other material, is now prohibited. Anglers may use lead sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or more. Other examples of hooks and lures which anglers may continue to use include: buzz baits, rooster tails, metals and spoons, spinners and spinner-baits, jerk or stick baits, swim baits, lead-core fishing line, and weighted flies. Ecologically safe alternatives to lead sinkers and lead jigs (such as steel, tungsten, bismuth, copper, brass, and tin) are available from many sources and come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, weights, and sizes to meet every type of fishing need. MassWildlife has posted sources of lead free tackle at: www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/recreation/fishing/lead_free_sources.htm.