As harsh and unrelenting as this winter continues to be, turning the calendar page to March brings at least a glimmer of hope that something resembling spring can't be too far off now.
I've never been that intrigued by any weather folklore, so I certainly put no faith in the lion-lamb metaphor attached to this month. But one thing is certain about the beginning of March: we now only have about six weeks until the opening of trout season. The first week of March also ushers in the huge task of stocking trout in hundreds of waterways around the state before opening day.
During 2014, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will release about 3.2 million adult 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 836,000 brown trout and 507,000 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 and 14 inches long. In addition to all the fish supplied by the state, 150 cooperative nurseries around the state operated by sportsmen's clubs and other organizations are expected to stock about another 737,000 trout during the coming year, bringing the grand total of adult trout released statewide in Pennsylvania this year to almost four million fish.
In Blair County, three streams are scheduled to be stocked next week. Clover Creek will be stocked Thursday, and the Williamsburg post office at 10:15 a.m. is the meeting place. Poplar Run and South Poplar Run will be stocked on Friday, and that meeting place is the Newry post office at 10:15 a.m. The other preseason stockings for Blair County include Canoe Creek on March 12; meet at the Canoe Creek State Park office at 10:15 a.m. for that stocking. Beaverdam Creek and the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River will be stocked on March 15 starting at 9:15 from the Claysburg post office.
The delayed-harvest section of the Little Juniata River near Bellwood and Blair Gap Run will be stocked on March 18; meeting place is the Sheetz store off the Bellwood exit of I-99 at 10 a.m. Bald Eagle Creek will be stocked on March 19; meeting place is village of Bald Eagle at 9:30 a.m. Canoe Creek Lake will be stocked on March 29; 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 10; meeting place is the Sheetz store off the Bellwood exit of I-99 at 10 a.m. Bad weather or high water conditions may cause last-minute postponements of some stockings, so scheduled stockings are subject to change.
Most waters stocked with trout 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.
Volunteers are always welcome to help carry fish to the streams during any scheduled stocking and may be even more important this year. All the snow and ice still on the ground will make most stocking efforts more difficult than usual, so extra help will probably be worthwhile.
Here in our area and most of Pennsylvania, trout season opens at 8 a.m. on April 12, 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 29 opener. Last year, the PFBC tested a Mentored Youth Fishing Day on 12 waters in southeast Pennsylvania. That program proved successful, so the second Mentored Youth Fishing Day will be held again this year on March 22 for 12 waters in the southeast and on April 5 for 29 waters around 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. 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.
A complete list of the regulations and all the designated waters for the Mentored Youth Fishing Days can be found on the PFBC website.