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A Fish Tale: MOSES Scientists Key to the MassWildlife Fish Hatchery & Stocking Program

IB ImageAs far as anglers are concerned, it is “reel” good news when 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout are stocked in rivers, streams, lakes and ponds throughout Massachusetts.

Each year, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife) oversees the state’s trout stocking program, a coordinated effort to raise and release hundreds of thousands of fish into roughly 500 rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. The Bay State began stocking its waterways with fish in the 1870s.

Raised at one of five fish hatcheries in the state, stocking runs through the spring months. MOSES member Ken Simmons, Ph.D., chief of hatcheries for the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, explains, “Without the stockings, there would be fewer trout to catch. Natural trout reproduction just can’t keep up with angling demands. By stocking our waterways, we provide enhanced recreation for all who fish in Massachusetts.” The stocking program is funded by the sale of state sporting licenses and federal reimbursements from taxes paid on sporting tackle. Annually, more than 500,000 people fish the state’s waters and visit the hatcheries.

(Pictured above (left to right): Joe Dorant, president, Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists, with fellow MOSES members from the Division of Fisheries & Wildlife: Steve Hurley, Southeast District Fisheries manager; Adam Davies, fish culturist and Sandwich Hatchery manager; and Ken Simmons, chief of hatcheries.)

The stocking total for spring 2016 was close to 500,000 fish: 89,580 brook trout; 265,050 rainbow trout; 129,630 brown trout; and 2,900 tiger trout. The fish vary in size from 9-18 inches, depending on their age. Simmons points out, “More than half of our stock average over 14 inches in length, with the majority at least 12 inches long.” Fall stocking season begins around the last week of September and is completed by the second week of October depending on water temperatures. Fall 2016 will see more than 60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer stocked in Massachusetts water bodies. As was the case with the 2016 spring season, anglers will be able to view daily stocking reports and search by water body or town. The interactive stocking map can be found here: Mass.gov/Trout

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