The Long Island trout stocking list is out and a number of lakes, ponds and streams are scheduled to get their initial stocking prior to this Saturday, and other waters prior to April 1. With flounder season not kicking off until April 1, many anglers have filled the void by targeting trout during the early part of the season. In the past, flounder were the primary target of Long Island anglers as early as mid-February, with St. Patrick’s Day considered the unofficial opening of the winter flatfish season. Combined with the opportunities presented by Connetquot River State Park’s winter long season and holdover trout from last fall’s stocking, there are plenty of opportunities to bend a rod until the first stripers work their way into our local waters.

There are plenty of other reasons why the freshwater side of things garners so much attention early in the season. First, it is far less weather dependent than most saltwater fishing. It can snow, the wind can blow and it can be brutally cold, but the fish will still bite and the water can never be too rough. Also, you don’t need a lot of time to hit a local pond or lake. I have a lake near my house that I’ll fish for as little as fifteen or twenty minutes while waiting for my pizza order. Preparation is minimal so you go at the drop of a hat with a simple selection of tackle and fish as long or as little as your schedule allows.

For these early season trout, a 5 to 6-foot ultralight rod and matching reel spooled with 4-pound test will cover most bases. A handful of lures consisting of gold and silver spoons, a couple of trout spinners, and a couple of 1/8 or 3/16 ounce marabou jigs (I prefer black) should put you into some fish. If you prefer baitfishing, a small bobber and a pack of size 6 baitholder hooks is as simple as you can get. Every tackle shop stocks nightcrawlers or trout worms this time of year, or you can go with a jar of Berkley Trout Bait. If you’re into flyrodding, black, black/yellow, olive or grey wolly buggers with a bead head always seem to get the job done.

If you are looking to shed that final layer of the winter blahs and maybe tune up your fishing skills, give this early season trout fishing a try. Some of the fish being stocked are not your typical run of the mill hatchery trout, but two year old browns ranging from 12 to 15 inches. For a copy of this year’s stocking schedule, call 631-444-0280.