On Tuesday, April 16th, twenty-one students participated in the trout release at People’s State Forest in Barkhamsted.
The CHS Science Department under the direction of Benn Gawitt, Biology teacher, raised fish for release this winter into spring. Students in the SEARCH Club worked in the fall to clean and maintain the equipment for this project provided by the Farmington Valley Trout Unlimited. Equipment included a 55 gallon tank, water chiller and various chemicals and tests to maintain the necessary freshwater environment for optimal survival. In early January, approximately 120 eggs from the state DEP and secured by Trout Unlimited for school programs was introduced to the tank. The eggs hatched into alevins after three weeks in a small holding bin within the set up.
Over the last two months, the small fry were released into the full tank for continued growth and development into small trout measuring approximately 3 inches in length. Students in Mr. Gawitt’s classes, other interested science students, and the SEARCH Club have all played a role in maintaining and learning about this project. Carl Swanson, Chairman of Trout in the Classroom & Education, has been instrumental in this year’s project with continuous support and advice on tank protocols. Carl and other Trout Unlimited volunteers joined the CHS science students on release day and also led a study of the macroinvertebrates that the trout rely on for continued growth and feeding.
While we lost only 3 fish over the last months in the tank in the classroom, the odds are not great for our released trout! Carl estimates that “only a very small percentage out of the 75 will actually survive the numerous predators they face in the river.” A highlight of the day included observing two bald eagles flying overhead to observe our release!
Back in the classroom, we discovered a straggler left behind in the tank. This solo trout we will continue to watch, allow to grow and release into the Farmington River in early June, when the students return to the Collinsville stretch for our 5th annual River Study to monitor water quality.
Any students interested in joining us for the River Study, should see Mr. Gawitt or Ms. Jorgensen for more information.