Just last week we were slightly pounded by a norâ€™easter that dumped quite a bit of snow in parts of the state. Heavy rain and wind caused power outages in parts of Bristol and surrounding towns. As I compose this weekâ€™s journey, we are poised to receive yet another wintry visit this week. Hopefully, this will be the end of it and spring will arrive in a couple of weeks.
As we approach the spring season, many of us start making our annual preparations for the opening day of fishing season, which is on Saturday, April 14. Respooling, oiling fishing reels, patching up those old leaky waders and restocking the tackle box are all part of the tradition.
One additional thing to mention for this season is the state has approved and will enact a new regulation. Along with the purchase of your fishing license, anglers will now be required to buy a Trout Stamp. This $ 5 additional fee is meant to provide extra revenue for the Department of Fisheries so they can continue to provide all of the services - stocking programs habitat conservation and so on.
Although senior citizens can get their fishing license issued free of charge, they will still be required to purchase the trout stamp. For the angler who fishes any of the TMAs - trout parks, Wild Trout Areas or one of the Atlantic Salmon Broodstock areas, namely the Shetucket or Naugatuck rivers - will have to buy the stamp.
The regular price for an inland fishing license is $ 28 and $ 32 for an all-waters license. An actual stamp will not be issued to the buyer but will be reflected on your license. Anglers who strictly fish catch-and-release areas only, or waters not stocked with trout, will not be required to buy the stamp. But for $ 5, Iâ€™d advise people to buy it anyway to avoid any issues down the road.
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of our states foresters, Jerry Milne. He is one of three foresters who manage about 75,000 acres of forest in western Connecticut. Timber harvesting, wildlife habitat conservation and public recreational uses are just some of duties that foresters are tasked with.
The biggest challenge facing our foresters today is vandalism on our state lands. Illegal dumping is probably the worst but they also have to deal with ATV riders who severely damage the land by creating trails or destroying existing hiking trails, turning many into mud bogs.
Illegal target shooting is also another problem with state land boundary signs being a common target. Jerry urges people to be active in reporting illegal activity. Be a good witness and get a description of the violator, license plate number, type of vehicle involved, etc. You can report any wildlife violation by calling 1-800-842-4375. All calls are confidential.
Jerry has also reached out to me to perhaps call for volunteers to help repaint state forest boundaries in a section of Mattatuck State Forest in Plymouth and Thomaston. All materials and maps will be provided by Jerry. You can contact him at Gerard.Milne@ct.gov or you can get in touch with me through the Bristol Press or New Britain Herald and I can contact Jerry for you or your group. This could be a wonderful way to connect with the outdoor world.