Farmington River sampling, stocking, and spawning, or: we really, really need rain

Yesterday’s rain was nice for the garden, but it was statistically insignificant for the Farmington River. Our favorite trout water continues to be battered by low flows (60cfs out of the dam as of this morning) and unseasonably warm temperatures. If you decide to fish, please use common sense.

To the trout: DEEP crews sampled the river last week. They extracted 99 browns from the permanent TMA for Farmington River Survivor Strain broodstock. These aren’t all necessarily big, wild fish — the goal is genetic elasticity, so there is a mix of sizes covering both wild and holdover fish. I spoke with Fisheries Biologist Neal Hagstrom today, who said there were “a fair number of wild fish. The holdover Survivors didn’t look as plump as I would have liked, but not as bad as I had feared.”

In past years, the post-spawn Survivor Strain broodstock have been reconditioned, then returned to the river. But Neal told me there is some discussion about keeping those fish in-house for genetic insurance until flows become more stable. (If I may editorialize, that sounds like a damn good idea.) There is also concern that the current low flows will inhibit natural spawning this fall. Likewise, a spike in flows would be bad, as it might cause the fish to create redds in unsustainable locations. How this all will play out, only Mother Nature knows.

Once water temperatures enter more trout-friendly strata, the DEEP will restock the lower river with yearling trout (7″-9″). “Hopefully, this will help rebuild the lower river trout population,” says Neal.

Kudos to the DEEP for everything they do for the trout and the river. 

Likewise to the MDC, who have done everything they can to maintain flows. Let’s not forget that the MDC’s first priority is to supply potable water to the community. That we still have cold water and healthy trout in an officially severe drought is a blessing.

So, go out and do a rain dance when no one’s looking, and remember — it’s only stupid if it doesn’t work.

Hang in there, dude. Help is on the way.

Brown release



8 comments on “Farmington River sampling, stocking, and spawning, or: we really, really need rain

  1. Bob says:

    Thanks for the updates and insight. I’ve been doing a rain dance for a while now, guess I better dance harder. Or better.

  2. Rowan Lytle says:

    I’m cautiously optimistic.

  3. joseph ganun says:

    It’s also only stupid if you are sober when you do it. The native americans who actually performed rain dances were likely high on juniper or peyute ( spelling ?).
    The Beaverkill and Willow are in the same position without a dam release to count on, although the drought seems more severe in CT.There was not much snow pack anywhere last winter, so we started with a weak base to begin with. My question as a relatively new long rodder is what if we don’t get the rain relief, or worse, what if we get a frosty winter with little relief. I assume the CT and NY rivers have been through this before.

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks for the update, I wish the state had kept the thermal refuges CLOSED until the danger passed.
    I believe they are only off limits until the 15th of September, now the Yahoo’s who don’t care will have a field day.
    I do hope I’m wrong.

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