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Power plant proposal threatens fish habitat

Ron Merly of Nutmeg TU has written an essay for the Connecticut section of On the Water Magazine expressing opposition to a proposed power plant in Oxford. There is still time to speak out and stop it.

Click here to read more.

Environmental issues put rivers at risk

Ron Merly, holding a nice Atlantic salmon from the Naugatuck River, says, “Do not let the state take this fishery from us!”

Ron Merly, holding a nice Atlantic salmon from the Naugatuck River, says, “Do not let the state take this fishery from us!”

The trout season has officially ended except for the designated TMAs. Opening day has been switched to the 2nd Saturday in April this year so mark your calendars. A few of the open areas on the Farmington have been producing some beautiful browns for those fishing nymphs in these very cold temperatures however most of the state’s streams remain icy or slushy.

The Kensington Hatchery is up on the block for the third time so write letters immediately. The comment period is nearly over. The Kensington Hatchery produces all of the eggs used in SIC and TIC and is the only hatchery in the state capable of raising Seeforellen brown trout and Atlantic salmon. The loss would be a travesty for Connecticut’s fisheries and would also set precedent for more cuts to the state fisheries rather than increasing monies allocated to DEEP.

While you are writing, you might consider writing the Connecticut Siting Council in opposition of an enormous power plant that is proposed very close to the Oxford Airport. This plant will save the average Connecticut customer within a 10 mile radius of the plant approximately $35 annually as most of the power will be sold to residents in R.I. and Mass. The cost of this plant will be six trout streams, the lower estuary of the Housatonic and Long Island Sound.

The proposed Towantic Power Plant will draw more than a million gallons of water annually from the Pomperaug River which is formed by the Nonewaug and Weekeepeemee Rivers as well as Sprain Brook. Currently, these streams run very low during summer months. The plant will be built right near the headwaters of the Little River which is right on the fringes of over development as it sits. All four of those streams contain wild and holdover trout. The grey water or outflow from the plant is proposed to release all of this very warm and not very clean water into the Naugatuck River upstream of where a 6.5 million dollar fish bypass was recently completed. The Naugatuck flows into the lower estuary of the Housatonic a relatively short distance downstream. The estuary contains the largest wintering over populations of striped bass in the northeast. This would be a huge step backward for Connecticut as the Naugatuck and Housatonic have come such a long way ecologically.

Remember, there has been nothing invented by humans since the dawn of time that does not break or fail. what will happen when this plant breaks or fails. Would the damage take decades to repair itself or will the damage be permanent?? Either way, this is not good for Connecticut.

– Ron Merly

Fishing report: Anglers being iced

Ron Merly with a common sucker caught while salmon fishing on the Naugatuck River.

Not much to report this time around. Ice is the game as there is not a whole lot of open water in the state right now. Shelf ice is prevalent along the banks of many streams if they are not frozen over. The Housy is running around 700 but the water is very cold and the fish are in their dormant cycle. The Farmington is slushy unless you are up in Riverton. Much of the Naugatuck River is frozen over or slushy making Altlantic salmon fishing very difficult. If you are fishing along the ice shelves, be careful! It is difficult to land fish unless you are right near the edge and this is where the ice is thinnest.

Connecticut is blessed with many fishing opportunities as well as excellent fisheries management. Pending as of this writing are a new state record for walleye, which was hauled through the ice with the fish weighing more than 15 pounds, as well a pending world ice fishing record for carp, which was pulled through a hole on the lower Housatonic River.

The state record for brown trout may have been broken this year as well. If it was, it was broken by a hatchery raised breeder. The state released a lot of large breeder seeforellen brown trout up to 25 pounds into some of our lakes this past fall which has caused much controversy. The issue being that the current state record, although a seeforellen, was stocked into the Saugatuck Reservoir at 8-12 inches long and learned to survive and grew to the more than 18 pounds that it was when Tony Urbanawiecz pulled it out of the res. The current fish was a hatchery raised fish which was used to being fed in a tank; Big difference. Anyway, Tight light lines for those who get out there. Looking forward to some warmer days myself.

– Ron Merly

Good fishing rings in 2015

Nutmeg TU member Jim Lynch recently caught his first Atlantic salmon.

There are still a good amount of peanut bunker out in the harbors and anglers are catching the occasional striper and yet, the better action has been in the lower estuary of the Housatonic. Atlantic herring have arrived in good numbers and those can be caught using a sabiki rig on an ultra-light spin fishing set-up. Herring are an excellent food source as well as being great striper bait.

The upper Housatonic has been blown out due to all of the rain in recent weeks and is now coming back down to a fishable level. The Farmington continues to give up a steady number of larger rainbows and browns which have been bulking up for the winter months. The Atlantic salmon fishing in the Naugy continues to thrill anglers and I recently fished there with fellow Nutmeggers John Kovach and Jim Lynch, who caught his first Atlantic Salmon.

John Kovach and I also joined Mianus T.U. at their annual New Year’s outing on the Norwalk River for some fly fishing. Despite the cold temps, more than 30 anglers showed up and many browns and bows were caught in a few different sections of the Norwalk. A few holdovers and some beautiful wild browns. I started the New Year off with a 6 inch wild Norwalk River brown and that was a great start to the year!!

Tight lines!

Ron Merly