Two volunteers from the Ninemel Creek Conservation Council (NCCC), wearing hip wading and carrying long-hand nets, chased 800 brown trout around a shallow enclosure at the Carpenter Fish Hatchery in Brook Fish Hatchery yesterday.
Hatchery supervisor Eric Stanczyk stood at the edge of the pond shouting tips about the noise of the gushing water.
“Don’t make them smarter than you!” Shouted. “Don’t dive twice!”
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, the NCCC celebrated its 25th year of hand-stocking Ninemile Creek, using ‘floating boxes’ that are towed behind a fleet of canoes. But the first volunteers had to move all the trout from the pens into the hatchery’s transport truck – also known as the “big green trout transporter”.
Volunteers collected dozens of two-year-old trout, loads heavy enough to strain the arms of younger volunteers who loaded nets to the truck. It took about half an hour to transport all 799 fish (one of which has expired).
Stanczyk said the hatchery has already stocked trout fishing streams across the county with 64,000 rainbow, stream, and brown trout so far this year, including 19,000 in Ninemel Creek alone. Aside from a few hundred browns scheduled for the two upcoming hunting trails, this was the last of them.
The NCCC’s hands-on approach to trout stocking is less about dumping fish into the water as much as it is about encouraging community involvement with an important ecological resource, which means keeping trout fishermen happy.
“People are crazy about current these days,” said Chris Somerlot, NCCC president and water resources engineer at Brown and Caldwell, an environmental engineering firm with offices in Syracuse. “It is the most productive type of trout in the province,” he said.
A section of Ninemile Creek stocked by NCCC volunteers meanders approximately 2.25 miles from Munro Park in Camillus to the Ninemile Creek Aqueduct. Although scientific data shows that most hatchery trout typically live no more than a year, Somerlot said, “This department maintains 25% of its population during the winter.”
“This is important,” he said. “They are the smart ones.”
Maud Morris, who organized this year’s NCCC Floating Stock event, likes to believe the group offers a trout service — giving the fish a fin, so to speak, on the tens of thousands of other trout that the county puts into the creek each year to support the salmon fishing community. Spotted.
“I suppose the trout don’t care, but we pretend to care for the trout,” she said. “We dump them where they like, a quiet little place.”
The head of the hatchery, Stanczyk, takes a more practical view of the efforts of the National Coordinating Committee to Combat Desertification. Delivering the fish, he said, “drops them into the water we can’t get to by truck.” “From Camillus all the way to Amboy, there’s not much access.”
NCCC volunteers and 10 Scouts from Troop 100 in Lafayette met the Big Green Trout Hauling Machine at Munro Park in Camillus, towing canoes, kayaks, and dozens of drifting boxes to the creek’s muddy bank.
Stanczyk and his colleague, Eric Appleby, unpacked the suspended truck tanks and began emptying the bulging nets with trout into the hands of waiting volunteers, who then carried the fish down a slippery path to the trout fleet in the creek.
Soon the fleet was underway, and it was slowly gliding, one by one, over sun-drenched waters reflecting the bright green leaves of the emerging trees hanging on the banks. Floating boxes fluttering with hatchery fish on ropes attached to the stern of each boat.
Every hundred yards or so, in a shaded spot where the stream was a perfect fit, one of the volunteers dipped a net into a floating box and released some fish into their new home.
The whole operation went smoothly until one of the boats attending the stern of the fleet at a bend of the creek capsized with a rough stream, sending volunteers out to sea. Three scouts raced to the rescue and helped patch the boat. Presumably, the trout were happily unaware that their freedom was only delayed for a few minutes.
Steve Featherstone Covers outdoor spaces beyond the standard, syracuse.com And NYUP.com. Call him at [email protected] or on Twitter Tweet embed. You can also follow all our external content at newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/ Or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/upstatenyoutdoors.