Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tankerhoosen River: It's A Wild Spot To Drop A Line

The Tankerhoosen River and the surrounding area remained in pristine condition, Belding donated 282 acres of land his family acquired to the State. Today, the Belding Wildlife Management Area is home to thousands of tall evergreens that Belding planted, 82 bird species, open fields and a stretch of the Tankerhoosen River that supports a healthy, self-sustaining population of wild brook and brown trout.
  1. "When we got in there and sampled that stream, it jumped out at us," Bill Hyatt, Director of the DEP's Inland Fisheries Division, said. "It was one of the best, if not the best, wild trout populations we had encountered with both wild brown trout and brook trout. There was an excellent trout population, and it was within the Connecticut River Valley that does not have as many excellent trout streams as the northwestern part of the state. It was unique for the region, and unique statewide, because the trout population was so exceptional.
  2. The state designated the 1.5-mile section of the Tankerhoosen River in the Belding Wildlife Management Area as a Wild Trout Management Area, the first in Connecticut. Now, there are 30 in three different classes, depending on wild trout abundance."Since this river is being managed for wild trout, it doesn't get the heavy, intense fishing pressure surrounding Opening Day," Hyatt said. "Instead, it gets fished at almost the same level through the spring, summer and fall."And usually, there will be only one or two people fishing the stream. Unless you really look for them, you won't find them because they're mostly fishing the downstream areas, and sometimes upstream. It's very brushy. It is hard to see people on the river. You just don't see the people out there using it."
  3. There is access from two areas, a path off Reservoir Road in the northeastern corner of the Belding Wildlife Management Area, or through a field off Bread and Milk Road, where there is parking for about 10 cars."We did a creel survey one year, and we were surprised to find that the fishing pressure is about the same as a typical, small stocked-trout stream over the course of the year," Hyatt said. "But it's spread out over the course of a whole year. So, at any given time, there aren't a lot of people out there."
  4. Route: The Tankerhoosen River begins as an outflow of Walker Reservoir in Vernon and flows west 5 miles through Vernon to the Hockanum River. There are three moderate sized ponds in the lower 1.7 miles of the stream - Tankerhoosen Lake, Dobsonville Lake and one unnamed pond near Talcottville. In the upper river, there is one small pond a short distance upstream of Bolton Road commonly referred to as the fly fishing pond.
  5. Depth: This mostly shaded stream has moderately deep pools with good in-stream trout cover consisting of mostly undercuts and tree roots. It is a moderate, 16-foot wide upland stream with a cobble/gravel bottom.
  6. Management: Most of the brook is managed for stocked trout fishing, except for the Wild Trout Management Area in the Belding Wildlife Management Area. That is restricted to catch-and-release only. In this area, wild brook trout up to 8-10 inches and wild brown trout up to 10-11 inches are common.
  7. Temperature: While starting as a warm pond outflow, its water quickly becomes cold and clear.
  8. Stocking: The river is stocked with adult brook, brown and rainbow trout, but the stream is also a significant wild trout resource. The Wild Trout Management Area is not stocked but supports a healthy, self-sustaining population of wild trout. Outside the WTMA, there is springtime fishing for moderate densities of stocked trout (1,100 a year) in the river below Tunnel Road. The stream is stocked at intermittent sections parallel to Valley Falls Road, from Tunnel Road to Tankerhoosen Lake. Walker Reservoir at the headwaters is stocked with 2,000 trout per year.
  9. Restrictions: A 2.2K section of the stream in the Belding Wildlife Management Area is managed as a Wild Trout Management Area. No harvest is permitted.

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