Trout stocking efforts to begin

Commentary

While I haven’t looked at any official statistics, it seems that the weather this February was much milder than the past few years.

The past two weeks in particular offered some unseasonably warm days that just begged a fellow to pack up his fishing tackle and shake off the winter blues. I certainly did just that, making several successful trips for both trout and smallmouth bass.

Getting those days during February was a nice bonus as we make the transition to March, and hopefully, get the chance to say good-bye to winter for good very soon.

The beginning of March also ushers in the annual trout stocking efforts of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. During 2017, the PFBC will release more than 3.1 million adult trout into 722 streams and 124 lakes around the state.

Rainbow trout will comprise about two-thirds of that total with an estimated 2 million rainbows being released along with about 639,000 brown trout and 491,000 brook trout. The average size of trout stocked by the PFBC is expected to be 11 inches.

Many waterways will also receive a few of some 8,600 “trophy” golden rainbows, which are expected to average 1.5 pounds and 14 inches in length. In addition to all the fish supplied by the state, about 150 cooperative nurseries around the state operated by sportsmen’s clubs and other organizations are expected to stock about another 1.4 million trout during the coming year, bringing the grand total of adult trout released statewide in Pennsylvania this year to almost 4.5 million fish.

Of course, volunteers are welcome to help carry fish to the streams during any scheduled stocking, so if you are ready to get outside for a little post-winter exercise, come out and help with an upcoming stocking.

In Blair County, five streams are scheduled to be stocked this week. The delayed-harvest section of the Little Juniata River near Bellwood and Blair Gap Run will be stocked on Wednesday; the meeting place is the Newry post office at 10 a.m. Poplar Run and South Poplar Run will be stocked on Thursday; the meeting place is the Newry post office at 10:15 a.m. Bald Eagle Creek will be stocked on Friday; meeting place is village of Bald Eagle at 9:30 a.m.

Other preseason trout stockings in the county will continue next week. Clover Creek will be stocked on March 8; the meeting place is the Williamsburg post office at 10:15 a.m. Canoe Creek Lake will be stocked on March 9; meeting place is the Canoe Creek State Park office at 10:15 a.m. Beaverdam Creek and the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River will be stocked on March 10 starting at 10:15 from the Claysburg post office.

Canoe Creek will be stocked on March 14; meeting place is the Canoe Creek State Park office at 10:15 a.m. The final preseason stocking for Blair County will be Bells Gap Run, Riggles Gap Run and Vanscoyoc Run on April 13; meeting place is the Sheetz store off the Bellwood exit of I-99 at 10 a.m.

Most stocked trout waters also receive at least one in-season stocking some time from the opening week of the season until late May. For complete information on the preseason and in-season stocking schedules for other counties, check the PFBC website at www.fishandboat.com.

Bad weather or high water conditions may cause last-minute postponements of some stockings, so scheduled stockings are subject to change.

Stocked trout waters are closed to all fishing from March 1 until the opening day of trout season. Here in our area and most of Pennsylvania, trout season opens at 8 a.m. on April 15, while 18 counties in the southeastern part of the state enjoy a two-week head start on the rest of the state with an April 1 opener.

The Mentored Youth Fishing Days will be held again this year on March 25 in the southeast region and on April 8 for the rest of the state. To participate in the youth day, the young angler must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit at any licensing agent or online at GoneFishingPA.com and be accompanied while fishing by a mentor angler who has a current fishing license and trout permit.

Adult mentors will be permitted to fish for trout with their mentored youngster, but adults are not permitted to harvest any trout. The mentored youth may keep a limit of two trout.

A complete list of the regulations for the Mentored Youth Fishing Days can be found on the PFBC website.

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