OUR CONSERVATION PROJECTS
From the East Village to West Yellowstone: Restoration of the Historic Trout Hatchery at Connetquot State Park Charles Neuner
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website states that brown trout were first stocked in Michigan, in the Pere Marquette River, in 1883. In fact, brown trout were first introduced into streams on Long Island nearly twenty years earlier by a pair of business partners from New York City. In 1864, James Boorman Johnston, the son of a prominent New York businessman, and James Ramsbottom, a noted fish culturist from England, partnered in an attempt to raise brown trout (Salmo trutta), as well as Danube River salmon (Hucho hucho) and European charr (Salvenius alpinus), at a commercial trout hatchery that they built on Tenth Street in Greenwich Village, with the intention of supplying New York City restaurants with fresh salmon and trout. The hatchery on Tenth Street was not performing as expected, so the following year, they purchased land on the Connetquot River at Snedecor’s Inn, an area on Long Island located in what is now Connetquot State Park, and moved their hatchery operation there, along with the surviving fingerlings and parr. The brown trout that Mr. Johnston and Mr. Ramsbottom released into the Connetquot River in 1865 were the first brown trout in U.S. waters. Snedecor’s Inn eventually became the Southside Sportsman’s Club, which later became the Connetquot River Club, which then became what is today Connetquot State Park. During this time, the trout hatchery and buildings were moved and rebuilt several times, and today, there remains an example of a trout hatchery as it was built in the early 1900s.
TGF does not promote the stocking of trout in rivers where native trout can thrive, nor does TGF endorse the arbitrary stocking of nonnative species, but in light of the historic significance of the hatchery in Connetquot State Park in introducing what is arguably the most predominant trout species in the United States, and considering the importance of the hatchery in educating park visitors about trout and cold-water fisheries, TGF is assisting in its restoration. The hatchery was built in the 1800s, and you can see remains of the old gaslight fixtures on the ceiling. The very first brown trout eggs to arrive in the New World spent time here on their trip to the hatchery at Cold Spring Harbor and then on to the hatchery at Caledonia. (There are indications that the first brown trout in the United States may have been stocked on Long Island prior to the eggs being shipped to Caledonia.)
TGF has provided funding for the purchase of modern fiberglass egg-rearing troughs to replace the older wooden ones currently used at the hatchery. The wood troughs were becoming difficult to maintain, and the wood itself made it difficult to disinfect the troughs effectively, which is necessary to prevent the spread of Myxobolus cerebralis (whirling disease), infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN), and other aquatic pathogens. The new egg troughs will also provide a more predictable outcome when raising the eggs, making the size, number, and species of the trout being stocked easier to plan and project. Trout are among the things that biologists refer to as “nonstockpileable resources.” Once hatched, trout cannot be stored indefinitely, and fluctuations in hatching mortality can result in more or fewer trout than anticipated or required. The excess trout are often then stocked when and where they would not otherwise be.
By modernizing the hatchery, aquaculture as a process becomes more predictable, and its use in managing sections of the river for native trout will be enhanced because it will be easier to hatch and raise just the amount of trout required for a more natural and balanced fisheries program. Theodore Gordon Flyfishers is happy that we have been able to assist in the restoration of the historic trout hatchery at Connetquot State Park, and we endorse its use in managing sections of the Connetquot River as native brook trout fisheries.