Although the opening of trout season is more than a month away for most of Pennsylvania, the huge task of stocking trout in hundreds of waterways around the state is already well under way.
During 2013, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will release about 3.2 million trout including scheduled fall and winter stockings, into 733 streams and 124 lakes. Rainbow trout will comprise more than half of that total with an estimated 1.84 million of that species being released along with about 837,000 brown trout and 509,000 brook trout.
Many waterways will also receive a few of some 8,500 so-called trophy golden rainbows, which are expected to average 1.5 pounds in weight and 14 inches in length.
Cooperative nurseries around the state operated by sportsmen's clubs and other organizations are also expected to stock about another 737,000 trout during the coming year, bringing the grand total of trout released statewide in Pennsylvania this year to almost 4 million fish.
Streams in Blair County that have been stocked last week so far include Canoe Creek, Beaverdam Creek and the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River.
Upcoming preseason stockings for Blair County are the delayed harvest section of the Little Juniata River near Bellwood and Blair Gap Run on March 11; meeting place is the Sheetz store off the Bellwood exit of I-99 at 10 a.m. Poplar Run and South Poplar Run will be stocked on March 13; meeting place is the Newry post office at 10:15 a.m. Bald Eagle Creek will be stocked on March 15; meeting place is village of Bald Eagle at 9:30 a.m. Clover Creek will be stocked on March 18; meeting place is the Williamsburg post office at 10:15 a.m. Bells Gap Run, Riggles Gap Run and Vanscoyoc Run will get fish on April 11: meeting place is the Sheetz store off the Bellwood exit of I-99 at 10 a.m. The final preseason stocking for Blair County will be Canoe Creek Lake on April 7; meeting place is the Canoe Creek State Park office at 10:15 a.m.
Most waters stocked with trout also receive at least one in-season stocking. For complete information on the preseason and in-season stocking schedules for other counties, check the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website at www.fishandboat.com.
Of course, volunteers are always welcome to help carry fish to the streams during any scheduled stocking.
Here in our area and most of Pennsylvania, trout season opens at 8 a.m. on April 14, while 18 counties in the southeastern part of the state enjoy a two-week head start on the rest of the state with a March 30 opener. The Fish and Boat Commission will also be testing a new program this spring with a Mentored Youth Trout Day on March 23 from 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. This event is designed to help introduce youngsters under the age of 16 to fishing by giving them a special day to fish a week before the regular season opener on 12 designated lakes in southeast Pennsylvania.
To participate the young angler must register online at Fish and Boat Commission website and be accompanied while fishing by a mentor angler who has a current fishing license and trout permit.
Both the young angler and the mentor angler are permitted to fish on the youth day with a daily creel limit of two trout each. If this pilot program proves successful, it may be expanded to other areas of the state in future years.
Canoe Creek Lake, Duman Lake and Lake Rowena are now classified as approved trout waters open to year-round fishing. While most streams and lakes stocked with trout are closed to all fishing from March 1 until the first day of trout season, fishing is permitted during this period on those three lakes, but no trout may be kept or killed until the regular trout season opens.
In addition, many miles of streams throughout our region are managed under various special regulations that permit catch-and-release trout fishing year-round. See your 2013 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary handbook for details on these opportunities.