Nutmeg Trout Unlimited works to protect and conserve local waters

Trout Unlimited’s Nutmeg Trout Chapter members were at the Mill River in Fairfield this week helping to protect the soil around the river from invasive species and erosion. Nutmeg Trout volunteers, with the help of some Boy Scouts, planted trees and shrubbery along Congress Street in Fairfield as part of Nutmeg Trout’s ongoing effort to protect local waters.

Nutmeg Trout is the eastern Fairfield County chapter of Trout Unlimited. Its mission is to conserve, protect and restore coldwater fisheries and their watersheds, particularly in local rivers such as the Saugatuck, Mill, Aspetuck, Pequonnock and Far Mill. Trout Unlimited members and volunteers abide by the motto: “If you take care of the fish, the fishing will take care of itself.”

The planting was only the most recent part of an ongoing Nutmeg Trout project. The project began with the removal of invasive Japanese knotweed from the target property. Then, last June initial plantings took place. The recent planting will be followed up with further cleanups and studies on how the project impacts the problems with the Mill River banks. If the project succeeds Nutmeg Trout anticipates taking the same methods to other area rivers.

Nutmeg Trout’s Mill River cleanup and planting was made possible through the support of donations from Orvis of Darien, Patagonia, Newman's Own Foundation, and Oliver’s Nursery of Fairfield. Thanks to all involved, especially to Nutmeg Trout’s project chair, Phil Jacques. Thanks too to Oliver's Nursery of Fairfield for their assistance in selecting and placing the plants so they can best protect the river.

According to planting project chairman Phi Jacques, “Our local rivers are in danger of invasive species, like kudzu and knotweed, taking hold.” Invasive plants take hold in our soil and choke out the natural trees and shrubs. Invasive weeds grow much faster than plants like dogwoods and azaleas, that are natural to our region. The weeds close off access to our waterways both for fishing and our wildlife. With the destruction of the natural flora by invasive weeds the soil around rivers loses its hold. The soil is then washed into the waterways reducing available oxygen for the fish.

Nutmeg Trout meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Port 5 Navy Veteran's Hall on Brewster Street in Bridgeport, at 7 p.m. Meetings are free and open to the public.

This month's meeting, on Nov. 15, will include presentations on Outfitting Your Fishing Gear Inexpensively and A Guide to Underwater Photography. Both programs are being presented by Nutmeg Trout Co-President Jerry Goldstein. Goldstein, a fishing and conservation enthusiast, found that the use of underwater photography enhanced his fishing and understanding of natural ecosystems.

Through his second presentation that night, on Outfitting Inexpensively, Goldstein seeks to expand Nutmeg Trout’s base of fishing enthusiasts by guiding those interested in taking on the sport how to find entry level inexpensive equipment to get them started. “Once people take on the sport of fishing they better learn how essential it is to protect our ecosystem. Providing entry level inexpensive means of bringing in new people to the sport is a plus all around. After we get them started they can always gear up to more expensive and fancier fishing product. We just need to get their hands on that first rod and reel.” While fly rods can run hundreds to thousands of dollars, Goldstein will be showing alternative fly fishing rod and reel combos that can purchased for under $25. For those interested in kayak angling, Goldstein also will show where to find bargains on kayaks and equipment.

There also will be an update on Nutmeg Trout's Trout In the Classroom (TIC) program. TIC is a unique Trout Unlimited environmental education program geared towards teaching school kids the life cycle of trout and the importance of raising and restocking trout in our waters. Students in grades K through 12 raise trout eggs to fry in their classrooms, study local stream habitats, and release the raised fish in state-approved streams near their schools. The program helps to foster a conservation ethic and a growing understanding of ecosystems.

Nutmeg Trout also hosts monthly fishing trips. This month Nutmeg Trout members enjoyed fishing off of Pennfield Reef and fly fishing at Devil's Glen in Weston. Members participated in catching and releasing fish using techniques learned through attendance at the many Nutmeg Trout presentations at monthly meetings.

In December Nutmeg Trout will have its annual holiday party. The party will include fly tying demonstrations and an elimination competition for the best fly tying.

For more information, or to join the Nutmeg Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited, visit Reservations are requested for the December meeting. Nutmeg Trout invites the public to join them at a meeting or future fishing trip outing.