The statewide opening day of trout season is two weeks away and, if you are like me, you are anxiously awaiting April 15.
Our local waters have had good flows, and recent rains should help keep them that way. Other areas of the state have experienced low water. I discovered this the hard way earlier this year when a friend and I drove southeast to fish Cumberland and Franklin County streams. We ended up motoring back here to find enough water to catch a few wild trout.
“The opening day of trout season is always a big event that anglers and their friends and families look forward to each year,” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway said. “It’s a way to kick off spring and start another season of fishing and creating memories.”
Arway’s agency has been busily stocking streams since the beginning of March. About 3.1 million hatchery-raised trout have been — or are scheduled to be — stocked in more than 720 streams and 120 lakes open to public angling. According to the Commission, this includes about 2 million rainbow trout; 640,000 brown trout and 500,000 brook trout. The trout range in size from just over 7 inches to over 20 inches, with an average length of about 11 inches.
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In addition to these rainbows, brooks and browns, the agency will stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. PFBC cooperative nurseries, run by sportsmen’s clubs across the state, will add another 1 million trout to waters open to public angling.
Two local cooperative nurseries that stock area streams are the Three Point Sportsmen in Clarence and the Bald Eagle Sportsmen, located just across the Centre/Blair County line near the village of Bald Eagle. Three Point raises and stocks about 23,000 trout, while the Bald Eagle club raises and stocks over 35,000 trout — including larger 2- and 3-year-olds. Cooperative nurseries receive trout fingerlings from the Commission, and then volunteers feed and care for the fish for at least 10 months before distributing them to area streams.
Sixteen Centre County streams including Black Moshannon, Bald Eagle, Pine and Penns creeks are on the stocking list, as are Poe Lake and the Seven Mountains Boy Scout Pond. Philipsburg’s Cold Stream Dam was also included on the stocking list, but it is empty as of this writing. According to the PFBC, the stocking of adult rainbow trout will resume in this 9.9-acre impoundment following the completion of maintenance repairs to the dam structure — likely next year.
Other than Cold Stream Dam, there are no changes to Centre County stockings. However, three nearby streams have changes.
An in-season stocking will be added to the 3-mile section of White Deer Creek in Union County, extending from the I-80 Bridge (West-bound lane) downstream to the mouth. Formerly, this section of stream had been stocked on a preseason-only basis. Brook trout and brown trout will be stocked.
Increased landowner posting has caused large sections of two Clearfield County streams to be removed from the stocking list — a four-mile section of Hockenberry Run and a 4.3-mile section of Little Clearfield Creek.
Included with this year’s stocking lists are the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters. This program was launched last spring with eight waters and, this year, six new waters have been added. These 14 waters across the state will be stocked with 4,500 large trout, ranging from 14 to 20 inches. These stream sections fall under the Commission’s Delayed Harvest All Tackle regulations. Unfortunately, there are no Keystone Select streams in Centre County.
Stocked trout fishing actually began in 18 southeastern counties Saturday, with their regional April 1 opening day. Local anglers can enjoy an early family outing during the Mentored Youth Day on April 8.
“The mentored youth program has been very popular from the moment we launched it in 2013,” Arway added. “It encourages adults to take kids fishing, to show them that fishing is fun, and to promote active, outdoor recreation.”
All stocked trout waters, except those with special regulations — such as Catch and Release Fly-Fishing Only — are open for Mentored Youth Day. Check the stocking schedules to make sure that the water is being stocked prior to April 8.
To participate in the mentored youth program, adult anglers (16 years or older) must have a valid fishing license and trout permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain either a free PFBC-issued permit or a voluntary youth fishing license (only $2.90, including all fees). Both are available at http://www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the more than 900 licensing agents across the state.
Consider purchasing a voluntary youth license. For every youth license sold, the PFBC receives about $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration fund. This program provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells. All revenues earned from a voluntary youth fishing license are dedicated to youth fishing programs.
Helping with or just watching your favorite stream getting stocked usually raises preseason anticipation. Most of Centre County’s waters have yet to be stocked, so there are lots of opportunities to see where the trout are released — including two stockings set for an upcoming Saturday.
Big Poe and Little Poe creeks, as well as Poe Lake and the Seven Mountains Boy Scout Pond, will be stocked Wednesday. Black Moshannon Creek is scheduled to be stocked Thursday, and Standing Stone Creek, Cold Stream and Mountain Branch onFriday. Eddy Lick Run and the South Fork of Beech Creek will be stocked on Saturday. Six Mile Run is scheduled for stocking April 10, Pine Creek and White Deer Creek on April 12, and Wallace Run on April 13.
Check the Commission’s website, www.fishandboat.com, for stocking times, meeting places and updates.
Barring some unforeseen event, I will be enjoying the opening day of trout season on Bald Eagle Creek with my daughter and her husband. I wish you all good fishing — and throw a few trout back for me.
Mark Nale, who lives in the Bald Eagle Valley, is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. He can be reached at MarkAngler@aol.com