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Planting, fishing on the Mill April 29

The Nutmeg and Mianus chapters of Trout Unlimited will gather to celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees along the Mill River in Fairfield Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The project is the latest step in Trout Unlimited’s ongoing rehabilitation of the Mill River, a stream that is home to native brook trout and wild brown trout. Invasive flora has been removed, and native species are being planted along the banks.

Donuts and coffee will be provided.  Please bring a shovel.

Friends, kids and anyone who wants to help may attend.

Register below in “Leave A Reply” by sending us your Name & Email Address and stating April 29 Planting Volunteer in the Comments Box.  You can also register at mianustu.org. 

All Volunteers are asked to register to help with food counts and planning.  After registering watch your emails for any additional information and where to meet.

Feel free to take a fly rod to fish the Mill with us after planting is done. 

We look forward to seeing you there and come back to this site often for more of our fun events.

Kayak fishing for trout topic April 18

Every angler has seen that trout that’s on the far side of water that’s just too deep to wade, and just out of reach of the longest cast.

Kayaks have brought those trout, usually big ones, into reach for anglers who choose to use them, and members of the Nutmeg Chapter of Trout Unlimited will learn how at their next meeting Tuesday, April 18, at Port 5, 69 Brewster St., Bridgeport.

Guest speaker Jesse Roche will teach us how to get started in kayaking and how to use that to reach places we need to get to catch elusive trout.

Roche brings with him eight years of kayaking, as well as a lifetime on the water and outdoors. He comes from a nature -oriented family. From his grandfather, a forrester, and grandmother an Audubon Society member, to his parents, both always outdoors, and father, who worked for years in marine sciences. Instead of Disneyworld, Jesse’s family spent summers in the wilderness of the Minnesota, on boundary waters in an Old Town canoe, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He wouldn’t trade it for anything.

After 10 years as a radio personality on 97.7 WCTY FM, he now produces and hosts Fishing Today a weekly radio program on 1310 WICH AM in Norwich as well as a podcast on wich.com.

“It’s basically NPR for fishing,” Roche said. “I try to be information and news-oriented. It’s a lot of fun because both myself and the listener can learn new things about fishing every week.”
Jesse is also involved with the New England Fishery Management Council, serving his first term as a recreational fishing panelist. There he and other representatives from our New England states set up the framework for new fishery regulations.

“I am very conservation oriented. Preserving our fishery means a lot to me,” Roche said. “I look forward to spreading that philosophy as a member of the Black Hall Outfitters Fishing team”

The meeting will also feature a look at opening day weekend and Nutmeg’s Trumbull stream cleanup, and plans for an April 29 planting along the Mill River at the Fairfield-Easton border on Congress Street.


Mill River planting postponed

Pat Fowler presents a grant from Orvis to Nutmeg TU President Charles Petruccelli and Treasurer Phil Jacques.

Pat Fowler presents a grant from Orvis to Nutmeg TU President Charles Petruccelli and Treasurer Phil Jacques.

The Mill River planting project scheduled for May 22 has been postponed to Saturday, June 4, at 8 a.m.

Thanks to retail grants from Orvis and Patagonia, Nutmeg TU has the funds to proceed with the planting of indigenous plant species along the Congress Street section of the Mill River in Fairfield.

If enough volunteers step up, Nutmeg TU will be able to clean the area as well. Those who can help are asked to email Ed Grzeda at eegrzeda@gmail.com.

Those who attend should dress appropriately — long sleeves, long pants, boots, work gloves, hats, etc. There is poison ivy on the site and biting insects and ticks are possible.

Please be careful while parking and walking on Congress Street. It is an autobahn, lots of German cars traveling at unlimited speeds.

Refreshments will be served.

What makes the Mill River so special and a history of Nutmeg TU’s work and its current status.

Trout fisherman in Eastern Fairfield County are very fortunate to have the Mill River in Easton, and Fairfield, Connecticut. The river is a tail water of the Easton Reservoir. For approximately one and a half miles it runs cool and free to Lake Mohegan in Fairfield. More than half of it is bordered by town property or parks, state forest, or open space. Only a quarter mile is bordered by private property on both sides.  The cold water releases from the dam keep this section below sixty degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.  Thus the stream supports wild populations of brown and brook trout. It is one of eight Class 1 wild trout streams in Connecticut and one of its most urban.

It is unique amongst the Class 1 streams for it flows into an approximately thirty-acre pond ‘Lake’ Mohegan, an old gravel pit which has a maximum depth of thirty-five feet. Brown trout in the stream over the years have dropped down into the lake and put on weight and size. Lake Mohegan is located completely within a wooded open space owned by the Town of Fairfield, which does not allow boats on the Lake, making for some quite remarkable fishing in the fall, when these large browns make their spawning run.

The Nutmeg Chapter (217) of Trout unlimited members understand how fortunate we are. We have wild trout fishing all year long minutes from our homes, thirty minutes at most for our chapter members. The Mill is the crown jewel of our local streams, however, we know we need to protect, restore, and improve it for it to support the ever increasing fishing pressure. Furthermore, we continual advocate for the river whenever it is threatened. We understand this is our responsibility as a conservation organization.

To help meet this responsibility Spring 2013, our chapter developed, and started acting on a prioritized Mill River Improvement Opportunity list. First on the list was improvement of the ‘Congress Street’ section of the river. Paralleling, then running under, the Merritt Parkway you can see GE World Headquarters from this section. (I did mention it was an urban stream.) The Fairfield Town property was unmanaged open space, frequently used as an illegal dump site. It represented approximately three acres of riverside which has about three eighths of a mile of underutilized fishing access. Two acres of which is a sandbar. The plan is to clean up the site, remove the invasive species, Japanese Knotweed, Flying Euonymus, Japanese Bar Berry (one of the deer tick’s favorite habitat), primrose, and honeysuckle. Then replant the site with native species of bulrush, mountain laurel, rhododendron, dog wood, grasses, and under story trees to hold the sand bar and banks. Thus providing a more diverse environment and more welcoming environment for native fauna.

This project grew from a request in 2013 for permission and support from the Town of Fairfield for a massive cleanup of this section. Besides the illegally dumped rubbish and the usual fisherman trash, there was the litter from the nearby gas station and rest area on the Merritt Parkway. The Conservation Departments Manager of Open Space gladly agreed to haul away the collected rubbish. He also asked if we would be interested in undertaking the removal of invasive plants and replanting the site with native species.  Given the site provided some of the most level access to the river, the less agile or young children could easily access the river here, right from one of the areas main side roads.  We realized it was a great place to start our first major project of the last few years. So in the Spring 2013 we started our improvement project with the major cleanup.

Following the cleanup we formed a Mill River task force which put together a plan to get the invasive species under control.  After researching removal of Japanese Knotweed and reviewing the site the task force realized to be effective we would have to clear all the Knotweed from both sides of the river. The work area grew from three acres to five and a half acres, with the additional acreage on private residential land. This increased the amount of administrative preparatory work to get all the permissions lined up. But we did it.  We started June 2013 with Japanese Knotweed cutting and bagging work sessions every weekend of the month. We successfully cut out all the knotweed.

From our research we also realized we would have to spray the knotweed to get it under control. In discussions with the State DEEP Invasive species experts and the Nature Conservancy in Weston, CT.   we found a licensed environmental engineering firm to do the spraying. We contracted for three sprayings performed Fall 2013, Spring 2014 and Fall 2014. In the Fall of 2014 the Open Space Manager sent me an email telling me the site was ready for planting. Since then we have continued to cut the remnants to keep the knotweed under control. And of course we have continued our annual spring cleanups of the area.

Now that we have the site preparation complete, we have scheduled a planting for Sunday, May 22, 2016.  For those of us involved from the start this planting has been a long time coming.  If you have time available that Sunday, please come, help with this conservation project.  If you are unable to help with the planting but want to support our improvement efforts on the Mill River you may donate to the Nutmeg Chapter (217) of Trout Unlimited by check or through our website. For those interested in donating go to http://www.nutmegtrout.org/get-involved/donate/ and click the Donate Button on the Right side of the page.

New life along the Mill River

Great day down on the Mill River Saturday, Oct. 6. We started at 8:30 a.m., finished up around 12:30 p.m. and had perfect weather for planting.

Tom Johnson helped restore native habitat to the Mill River Oct. 6. Roughly 15 folks attended, evenly split between volunteers from TU and ALT. From TU, we had myself, Ron Merly, Bob Campbell, Alan Boyd, Rich Rosen, David Winkelmann, Nick Campofranco and John Kovach. From ALT we had Bob Fatherly, Tom Johnson, Wendy Macbeth, Donna Naser, and Stuart Richardson. (My apologies if I neglected to mention anyone.)

Dave Anderson from New England Wetland Plants was also there. He supplied all of the plants and volunteered his time to help with the planting.

We started the day by splitting into two groups, one for invasive removal and one for planting.  As the day progressed it became all hands on deck for planting. We planted 450 trees, shrubs and plants!

Notable species include (common names): Tulip poplar, sycamore, witch hazel, hornbeam, red-osier dogwood, gray dogwood, silky dogwood, arrowwood viburnum, swamp rose, buttonbush and several species of willow.

Additionally, we were able to preserve several pre-existing American beech, sassafras, black birch and spice bush saplings that would have likely been overcome by all of the invasives.

The area looks great, albeit a little barren, but I fully expect it will start to fill out come spring as many of the species begin to take root and expand their profile. Visitors to the area will note a large amount of deer fencing erected around the perimeter of the main

planting area. This is designed to limit both human and wildlife traffic and hopefully give the plantings an optimal chance for survival.

Going forward we will need to monitor the progress of the plantings and continue to work on the invasive removal. One obvious thing was that the wild grape, multi-flora rose and Japanese barberry continue to remain heavily rooted in the area and several plants had bounced back from our May removal efforts. We will probably need to get a small group out there again in the spring to keep it clean.

Feedback on the project and the results are appreciated. I hope this is the first of many steps in our Mill River Improvement Project.

Many thanks to all those who participated and I look forward to working with everyone again on the next event.