On April 5 there was a line of parents and their children lapping Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, half an hour before a fish stocking event would begin. Five or six trout were also being placed into bright blue buckets from a large truck with the words “Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery” backing into the docks.
This gathering marked the third annual FishStock in collaboration with the villages of Manlius, Fayetteville and Minoa, in addition to other community organizations.
It gives children the opportunity to “adopt” a trout and then release it into the lake.
Grace Kritz was one of the volunteers at the event. Her job was to welcome people in and direct them to wherever they wanted to go.
“This is probably one of the most hectic events I’ve helped out with, but it’s a fun time,” Kritz said.
How the event worked:
Wait in line and obtain a wristband good for one free trout per child.
Walk over to the truck where workers from Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery load the trout into buckets.
Be guided to the docks to toss the fish in before a volunteer would walk by and collect the empty buckets to fill them up again.
Families could go into the Education Center to learn about trouts and enter a fishing gear raffle.
Carpenter’s Brook Fish Hatchery has been the sole supplier of trout for Green Lakes. It is a county-run facility that produces over 100 miles of water with trout throughout Onondaga County, hatchery superintendent Eric Stanczyk said.
“Last week we put 2,500 trout into Green Lakes for the start of trout season and for this event we brought 1,200,” Stanczyk said. “We’ll put around 6,000 total in the lake throughout the trout season.”The event was timed right after the start of trout season which was on April 1. In honor of it being trout season, professional fishermen were in attendance guiding the children through their fear of holding the fish.
They all said they attend every year as a way to give back to the community.
All of the fishermen would use the exact same method to get the children comfortable with the trout. First, they would hold the fish themselves and talk about how soft the fish’s skin felt, then they’d move their finger right to the fish’s mouth to show them that they won’t get bitten. They’d use some moments as a learning opportunity. If the fish started to flop around, the fishermen would explain that the trout are not getting any air and need to be in the water to breathe, so they need to be quick when dealing with them.
Green Lakes park manager Ben Morse said the lake does not naturally reproduce a lot of fish which is why it needs to be constantly replenished for those who want to come to the lake and fish for recreational purposes.
“The less fish in the lake, the more regulations we have to put on our local fisherman,” Morse said.
For the fish that aren’t caught during trout season, they typically swim upstream to spawning areas in the late winter or can be eaten by other animals such as water snakes, mink, kingfishers, osprey or herons.
Kritz said this was her first time attending FishStock and she had never seen the park as busy as it was.
“It’s a great all-round event in order to allow fishermen to fish and help the trout population,” Kritz said. “Trout are valuable to our ecosystem and we don’t want them to be extinct.”