May 15, 2013 —
About 100 fifth graders swarmed onto an inviting parcel of land in Jeffersonville alongside the pleasantly babbling Callicoon Creek on May 10 to release trout fingerlings into the creek.
The students took turns carefully placing a hand over a cup with a few ounces of water to prevent the tiny fish from jumping out. The students walked to the creek, released the fingerling into the water, and watched as the fish quickly swam away toward shelter. The students have raised the fish since last fall.
But releasing the fish was just one experience for the students, who were also exposed to other information about trout and their environment. At one station, they learned about the types of insects that hatch nearby, and which the trout feed on. At another, they learned about tying flies.
At one of the stations, Andy Boyar, supervisor of the Town of Highland, was one of several instructors teaching the students to cast a fly fishing line.
The event is sponsored by The Upper Delaware Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) and The First National Bank of Jeffersonville. Boyar, who is a member of the TU chapter, said the day is meant to expose children to experiences that might stay with them. He said, “You put the trout in the stream with the hope they will grow into big trout; the concept here is you start with the little ones (children) and hope that they will grow up to be good caretakers of the streams and land.”
Pam Reinhardt, the Trout in the Classroom coordinator for TU, said the program is national and it starts with delivery of tanks to the participating schools in October, with each tank containing about 100 eggs. The students then raise the eggs and fish. She said, “They monitor the water, the acidity, they check the temperature.” She said this year was extremely successful. “All five tanks have hatched at least 25 eggs, and the fingerlings are anywhere from an inch and a half to two and a half inches.”
She said the fish grow a few inches longer each year, and eventually some may be caught by anglers. But, she said, “This is not encouraged as a stocking program. We’re here to teach the life cycle of a fish and how the environment affects the life cycle of a fish.”