Randolph Hatchery Plays Key Role As Trout Season Begins

Four young friends display just a portion of the 12-15 inch brown trout they caught on opening day of trout season Saturday. From left are Toby Gifford, 12, of Frewsburg; Carter McKotch, 14, of Lakewood; Zachary Gifford, 13, of Frewsburg; and Austin McKotch. 10, of Lakewood. P-J photo by Deb Everts

RANDOLPH — There is prime trout fishing in Western New York, thanks to the Randolph Fish Hatchery that keeps the area’s streams and lakes stocked with brown, brook and rainbow trout.

Richard Borner, fish culturist and hatchery manager, said they did quite a bit of stocking during the first couple of weeks of March. He said they stocked all the manmade lakes — Case, Harwood, Allen, Quaker, and New Albion — with a combination of brook and brown trout.

On Friday, hatchery staff stocked 50 “brookies” into Paisley Pond, in East Randolph. Borner said the pond gets a small shot of brook trout a couple of times a year.

“It’s something local that we do,” he said. “It’s a nice place for kids and families to go because it’s a little easier to fish. Brook trout are a nice fish for a ‘put-and-take’ kind of situation. We put them in there (in Paisley Pond) because they are fun for the kids. They are a little bit more aggressive than brown trout and they will be caught.”

According to Borner, brook trout require the cleanest and highest water quality of all trouts. He said they now stock most of their brook trout in area lakes and don’t stock them in Allegany State Park much anymore. They’re trying to restore the “heritage strain,” he said, which are the wild brook trout, and they don’t want to mix them.

Borner said workers from the Randolph hatchery will be in the Dunkirk area this month where they will stock roughly 36,000 brown trout into Lake Erie.

“We stock right to the end of May,” he said. “Most streams get two increments of fish but, sometimes throughout the course of the spring, we’ll do three different stockings on a stream. That’s all set by the Regional Biologist of Allegany.”

Fisheries Biologist Scott Cornett, Department of Environmental Conservation Region 9, said the number of trout stocked is based on habitat, food supply and streams and it doesn’t change much from year-to-year. He said the DEC conducts surveys to determine how many trout are stocked.

Anglers, students and members of Trout Unlimited often volunteer to meet a truck laden with trout from the Randolph Fish Hatchery. Borner said students from Randolph, Ellicottville, Ashville BOCES and Ellicottville BOCES, as well as McKinley High School, in Buffalo, volunteer regularly at numerous times throughout the year.

“We had several tours last fall during our ‘egg take season’ when we’re taking eggs. A lot of these school groups also help us stock in the spring,” he said. “I know McKinley helped Barry (Hohmann) on the Cattaraugus Creek just the other day, and Ashville BOCES helped stock Goose Creek in Chautauqua County.”