This topic in general gained the most steam in the last month after an administrator from the Connecticut DEEP Facebook page stated, “A good debate and discussion. Many states struggle with the same issue. For now DEEP will be keeping the process the same. Meaning, yes, one of these fish could be the new state record fish...”. The current state record brown trout is 18 pounds, 5 ounces caught by angler Tony Urbanowicz from the Saugatuck Reservoir in 2011, and there are many fish that were stocked in the last month that eclipsed the 20 pound mark with the overall average right around 15 pounds. The regional magazine, On The Water did a quick write up on the subject which got an abundance of replies by anglers from all over with varying degrees of receptiveness to the notion that the next potential record could come from one of these hatchery raised leviathans.
If you recall back to 2009 there was an equally intriguing story line that unfolded on Diefenbaker Lake in Saskatchewan Canada involving the pending record rainbow trout. The Konrad brothers have the knack for catching big fish. That particular trout was a triploid also raised in a hatchery, which the prior record was caught in the same lake in 2007 by the brother of the new record holder. Both fish were over the 40 pound mark but due to the nature of the catch and how they entered that particular body of water, were scrutinized by many as to the validity of rendering them "World records" as many felt they should have their own category as they are a genetically altered strain of fish. I am not 100% certain on the back story on those fish, if memory serves me an entire hatchery of these triploids were released into that lake. Are brood stock in the same category? Good question. Personally, I don't see that a fish raised in the hatchery to monstrous proportions only to be released for a few days in the wild should qualify as a new record.
Judging by the number of responses online I'd say many feel the same way. Maybe we need to speculate some sort of a system be instituted for these types of catches; something along the lines of what many sportscasters have proposed for those suspect record holders in the steroid era of Major League Baseball. You know, maybe add an asterisk to the record if it was confirmed to have grown in the hatchery to monstrous proportions. Maybe we just designate an entirely different category to them exclusively. I suppose that would suffice, but some checks and balances would have to be put in place to validate the assumptions made on the status of those pending records. Something along the line of scale sampling quickly comes to mind, or maybe some other means of verification. I can't say for certain as I'm not a fisheries biologist, but something of the sort would be a high priority. I mean god forbid somebody actually caught a real monster in the wild that just happened to have grown to that size on its own, granted there are some very easily distinguishable things that most people can use to identify those types of fish; clipped adipose fins, die marks if any, missing fins and damaged tails, heck sometimes even the color of the fish can help. You could easily see how problems could arise in either scenario.
I honestly do not know what the answer is in this situation, it is a bit controversial and is a great topic of debate. What I do know however, regardless of whether or not these fish account for any new state records, they have many people excited and interested in going fishing. I think overall that is the most important aspect of these fish that many of us are being a bit shortsighted about.
For many of us, they would in fact be a fish of a lifetime regardless of their origin. What makes me smile the most, is not too far from where I live these opportunities are there, and that just maybe, somebodies child will actually be fortunate enough to hook into one of these fish. The rewards for our youth are what intrigue me the most if you look at it from that perspective. These fish have the opportunity to change kids lives, I know if one of my daughters hooked one of these fish they'd be hooked for life. I think we all need to sit back and take this for what it is, another great reason to build excitement about our sport and get young people into the sport. I think we as a whole have a duty to ensure that the next generation of anglers keeps the torch lit. In the end, we all should be thanking the DEEP for these types of angling opportunities regardless of your stance on the other topics.