The bucket sloshes and kicks a little as it’s being carried from the truck to the Black Moshannon creek.
The contents — a mass of wriggling trout — are soon dumped into the cold, clear water. They sit stunned for a moment, but soon scatter to the deeper parts, where they likely will be caught.
Stocking the streams and lakes of the state is as much a time-honored tradition as fishing itself, and anglers and enthusiasts are welcome to take part. A small group gathered at the creek Thursday to carry buckets of fish that had been trucked in.
The Fish and Boat Commission has been stocking brook, brown and rainbow trout since mid-February, a commission news release said, filling 10,000 miles of waterways with about 3.2 million fish in anticipation of the statewide opening of trout season Saturday.
If license numbers are any indication, a large number of those fish will be caught by younger anglers. More than 8,500 voluntary youth licenses and more than 17,500 mentored youth permits have been sold this year, the release said.
“That’s a tremendous number of kids and their adult mentors who have already been out practicing their fishing skills this season,” Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway said in the release.
Volunteers at Black Moshannon were very open to kids fishing the waterways, one of the main reasons they volunteered to help stock. Vern Lucas Jr., 44, of Bellefonte, said he’s been volunteering for more than 20 years and enjoys seeing the creek banks fill up with young fishermen when the season begins.
“For me, it’s all about the kids,” he said. “Up and down this creek this weekend, there will be a lot of kids.”
Tyler Simcox, 22, of Winburne, worked out an agreement with the commission to take 100 to 300 fish to stock a point along Benner Run where it intersects with Black Moshannon, a popular area for young anglers.
Simcox said that when he was young, he got hooked on fishing after catching a 21-inch rainbow trout.
“If I can do that for one more kid, it’s all worth it,” he said.
The few miles of Black Moshannon creek, from the Kephart Dam north, were filled with several thousand fish, Waterways Conservation Officer Greg Kraynak said. The fish had been trucked in from the Pleasant Gap Fish Culture Station, which serves stocking points throughout the county.
The hatchery raises about 440,000 fish to be used in the stocking program, hatchery manager Jason O’Brien said. It takes about 18 months from spawning time until the fish are large enough to be added to the waterways.
Between March 1 and the first day of trout season, the hatchery allots about 250,000 fish to be stocked in Centre County, he said. Once the season begins, stocking will continue depending on how heavily the fish are being reeled in.
Another 190,000 can be stocked during season, he said.
Anglers can keep a daily combined species creel of five trout at least seven inches in length. A license is required for anyone 16 and older and a trout permit is required for trout fishing in all wild and stocked trout waters.