From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos
Now that the temperature has started to fall and ponds have begun to freeze, it is time to celebrate the things that make life in New England so enjoyable. While some do not look forward to the colder weather, seasonal change is something that many other parts of the country never get to experience. From the summer heat to the cool and colorful autumn, Connecticut has a little bit of everything, including the sometimes brutally cold and snowy winter. After months of relatively mild winter temperatures, the many bodies of water that dot our landscape are starting to freeze over. If this continues, it will be a great time for some ice fishing.
Along with skiing and snowboarding, ice fishing is a fun activity that can get you out of the house during the winter. If you remember last year’s remarkable amount of snow that snarled traffic and delayed schools throughout the state, this winter seems pretty mild by comparison.
There are a few things you should know before trying it out. Whenever dealing with ice, safety is of utmost importance. First, make sure the ice is between four and six inches thick. It is likely to be cold, so it is important to bundle up. A winter coat, knit hat, gloves and sturdy boots can make the experience more enjoyable – and warmer too. Once you are ready to venture out, you will need an ice chisel or ice augur to cut through the ice and make a good fishing hole. While you may use a normal fishing rod, there are two traditional methods of ice fishing, including the ‘tip-up’ for larger fish and the ‘jigger’ for smaller fish. As with fishing in general, it can be frustrating if the fish do not bite. In my experience, just getting outside and connecting with nature is rewarding enough.
Residents of our state may purchase an inland fishing license from their local town clerk or from a participating business. Expiring on December 31st, fishing licenses must be renewed each year. At a cost of $28, they are required for anyone over the age of 16. While lakes and ponds are open year round, rivers and streams are only open from 6:00 a.m. on the third Saturday of April to the last day in February. This means that they are closed for about two months, while the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection stocks many bodies of water with fish. In past years, nearly 390,000 trout have been stocked by opening day with a total of 680,000 stocked by late May. It is a pretty incredible operation.
There are a number of different types of fish that you may be able to catch, including trout, northern pike, yellow perch, sunfish, chain pickerel, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Each species has its own regulations on minimum length, where and when it may be caught and how many may be kept. Whether you decide to venture out for some ice fishing, skiing or snowshoeing, I hope that you make the best of this winter weather. For more information on fishing in our state, please visit the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at www.ct.gov/deep/fishing.
The legislative session is only a couple of weeks away. When we are not in session, I wanted to share these interesting topics with you. It is my hope that you have enjoyed reading my columns in recent months. Now that we will be returning for session, I will provide my thoughts on proposed legislation, committee activities and other happenings around the General Assembly to keep you informed of the laws that may affect you in the future.
Sen. Witkos (www.SenatorWitkos.com) represents the 8th Senate District, including the communities of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. He can be reached by phone at 1-800-842-1421 or by email at Kevin.Witkos@cga.ct.gov.