This Friday, it will be April. Eight days after that, Vermont's trout season opens. And the weather's getting nicer every week. So it's time to start planning your Release Days.
Most schools schedule their Release Days for the last two weeks of May or the first week of June. A few go earlier, but those three weeks tend to be a time when you can count on the weather: it won't always be sunny, but it probably won't be too cold.
Depending on what you plan to do at your Release Day--more on this in my next post--you might also want to schedule a back-up rain date. It's not that you and your students can't have a very successful Release Day in the rain, but a downpour could "dampen" most people's spirits, and raging torrents because of days of heavy rain would pose serious risks.
Most schools transport students to Release Day using school busses. If that's going to be the case for you, you may need to get your reservation in ASAP and perhaps even schedule your release around the availability of transportation.
A final consideration is the availability of volunteers. Most schools plan Release Days that include a variety of in-stream or stream-side fieldwork activities. In almost every case, it's helpful if not necessary to enlist the help of parents, co-workers, Trout Unlimited members, or other community volunteers. You wouldn't want to schedule your Release Day at a time when the volunteers you need can't attend.
Remember that Tom Jones of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department needs to approve your release site. Normally that is done in the fall as part of the process of requesting eggs. If for some reason you did not request his approval, you can contact him at email@example.com.
Depending on where your school is located, you may have several fabulous release site options close by or you may have no good options without traveling a distance.
What's the perfect release site? I often describe it as "skinny water," a small tributary brook that's just big enough to support trout and the bugs that will sustain them but small enough so that nobody, not even your most over-eager young student, can get into trouble.
Here is my wish list of the ideal characteristics of a great release stream:
Here are a few more examples, these of somewhat larger streams, with students (and others) in them.
Finally, if you're having trouble finding a good release location, ask for help, either from (a) stream-fishing-inclined parents or community members you know, (b) your area Trout Unlimited TIC liaison, or (c) me.
The next blog post will address the who and the what of Release Days. Stay tuned!
Joe Mark, Lead Facilitator, Vermont Trout in the Classroom
In June 2012, I retired after 40 years in higher education, having spent the last 32 years of my career as dean at Castleton. One of the first things I volunteered to do in retirement was to work with Jim Mirenda to help the Dorset School, where his kids and my Vermont grandkids attend, start a TIC program. Gradually that commitment grew into my current role, which is both demanding and highly rewarding.