WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Thousands of salmon and trout have been stocked in the North Country following the completion of a state-run program.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the success of a collaborative Fish Pen Rearing Program in the Black River Bay.

Specifically, fisheries and staff in the DEC Region 6 released 50,000 Chinook salmon and 10,000 steelhead into the Bay in early May 2021.

According to Region 6 Regional Director Randall C. Young, releasing these species will enhance local fisheries in the North Country.

“Working with DEC fisheries experts, angler volunteers provided daily care for the fish and pens to support this innovative program, and undertook feeding, cleaning, recording mortality, and monitoring fish health,” said Young. “Chinook salmon growth was larger than the expected target size for release and Steelhead growth was the exact size targeted for release. We anticipate that pen-rearing will improve returns of Chinook and steelhead to the Black River and enhance the fishery.”

This program is conducted in partnership with Navy Point Marina in Sackets Harbor and volunteer anglers from the Henderson Guides Association.

Navy Point Marina used a crane to move the pens into the water and will store the pens during winter months. Volunteer anglers helped care for the fish prior to the stocking effort.

“The project helps the fish to have a better chance at survival,” noted Henderson Harbor Guides Association President Fred Kucik. “They are imprinted to come back to the Eastern Basin of Lake Ontario. Fisherman can enjoy better fishing in the future and better odds at catching a Chinook salmon or rainbow trout.”

Future pen rearing efforts will be lead by angler volunteers, the Navy Point Marina and DEC Region 6 Fisheries staff.