By Leann Austin firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: March 31, 2009
RANDOLPH - Anglers know that April 1 isn't just a day for pulling pranks. It's the first day of trout season in New York state and the Division of Fish and Wildlife at Randolph's Fish Hatchery is gearing up for the day that brings out anglers of all ages to creeks, lakes and streams in the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany region.
In September and the beginning of October, the eggs are brought inside and placed in incubators. Around the first of the year, the eggs are all hatched out, according to Barry Hohmann of the New York State Fish Hatchery. The streams are stocked with brown, brook and rainbow trout starting the second or third week of March and stocking continues through April, May and the first week of June.
Once the fish in the outside ponds are stocked out, the smaller fish inside are moved out in their place. This is the time of year to see the most fish at the hatchery, Hohmann said.
By May, thousands of fish have been moved out. The majority of the fish are stocked in the waters of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, with some going to Wyoming and Erie counties. The vast majority stays in the Southern Tier, Hohmann said.
There are 75 streams stocked by the fish hatchery and most of them are done twice and some three times. The department stocked 250,000 trout this spring. In the fall, they will stock the bigger breeders after they have taken their eggs. The crew will take up to five million eggs. The small fish inside are fed for 10 hours continuously, while the larger ones outside are fed twice a day. The brown trout are placed under cover, gradually reducing the amount of daylight to which they are exposed. Then when the covers are removed, the fish believe it's time to breed again out of their season. The large breeder fish are taken to the lakes only because they are too big for the streams to accommodate.
Randolph's Fish Hatchery is one of 12 in New York state - not all of which are trout hatcheries. Hohmann said Randolph's hatchery supplies a lot of the other hatcheries with eggs. The eggs are taken twice from the breeders and then they are stocked out. The average size of a stocked fish is 8-10 inches. The majority of those stocked are brown trout. The department works on the ''Put-Grow-Take'' strategy, said Hohmann. They hope that the anglers will catch the fish, and some will hold over and have time to grow in the streams where they are transferred. Another small group may also breed in the streams.
The streams are surveyed in July and August by the fishery crew out of Allegany during the worst possible conditions in the summer, to see if that particular stream is capable of supporting the fish. The theory is that if the stream can support the fish during the worst possible time of year, it can support them year round. Once the steams are surveyed they put in a recommendation to the hatchery as to how many more fish the stream could support. They report the amount of wild fish already in the streams, the water temperature, and conditions.
The fish hatchery has three trucks on the road every day at this time of year, in preparation for the first day of trout season. Each truck holds six 250-gallon tanks; each of which holds approximately 1,000 fish per tank, depending on the size of the fish. The fish are sampled and weighed by displacement.
The Randolph Fish Hatchery is funded by the purchase of conservation licenses and is open to the public. Tours are given all year. There is someone on the grounds to answer questions between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Anyone interested in booking a tour for their group, club, troop or organization can contact the Fish Hatchery at 358-4755.
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