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Wildlife viewing, preseason trout opportunities exist

The official first day of spring is now just one month away according to the calendar. I suppose I’m not alone in wishing some springlike weather arrives even earlier.

To help pass the waning weeks of winter, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is again offering some online livestreams for some special wildlife viewing opportunities on your computer.

Two Bald Eagle Cams are in place to watch pairs of eagles as they lay eggs and raise their eaglets. Each of the two nesting pairs have reportedly produced their first eggs.

Female eagles typically lay two or three eggs, and both the male and the female take turns incubating them. The eggs will hatch in mid- to late March The young birds will be fledged and usually start to leave the nest in June.

The Snow Goose Cam provides views of the lake at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County. Snow goose migration typically peaks at Middle Creek from mid-February to March. As many as 100,000 to 150,000 snow geese will stopover at Middle Creek most years on their way to their breeding grounds in northern Canada, along with thousands of tundra swans, Canada geese and many species of ducks.

A new webcam from a black bear den in Monroe County went online earlier this month. The adult female bear is believed to be hibernating with at least one cub. Females with cubs usually leave their winter dens in late March or early April.

The livestreams are presented by a partnership with the Game Commission, HDOnTap and Comcast Business and can be found on the Game Commission website, pgc.pa.gov. On the homepage, go to “Quick Clicks” box on the right side, and click on the link to livestream you would like to view.

While I do enjoy checking out the livestreams, I would love a break in the weather to check to some trout streams. Back in January, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced trout season this year will open statewide on April 3, two weeks earlier than the date published in the “2021 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary” book that comes with the purchase of your fishing license.

To accommodate this change, statewide stocking efforts also had to be bumped up two weeks, so all stocked trout streams were closed to fishing last Monday, Feb. 15. Fortunately for the intrepid trout angler looking for some late-winter trout fishing, we have numerous special regulation areas in our region. These designated stream sections offer a variety of preseason catch-and-release trout fishing options.

The Little Juniata River in Blair and Huntingdon counties and Spring Creek in Centre County are managed under “Catch and Release All Tackle” regulations. Both streams have remarkable populations of wild brown trout and are often rated among the best trout streams in the eastern United States.

Although no trout can be kept or killed at any time on these streams, fishing is permitted year-round with any type of tackle using artificial flies and lures and live bait. A section of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River is also included in the “Catch and Release All Tackle” program.

Canoe Creek Lake in Blair County and Koon Lake in Bedford County are designated as “Stocked Trout Waters Open to Year-Round Fishing.” Also in this program is a section of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Clearfield County.

Fishing in these waters is permitted year-round with any type of tackle using artificial flies and lures and live bait, but no trout may be kept or killed until the opening day of trout season on April 3.

Four stream sections in our area are managed under “Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only” regulations. They include 1.3 miles of Black Moshannon Creek in Centre County; 1.1 miles of Little Clearfield Creek and 1.7 miles of Sandy Lick Creek in Clearfield County; and over a mile and a half of Chest Creek near Patton in Cambria County.

On these projects, all fishing must be done with artificial flies or lures, and the use or possession of live bait is prohibited. Most DHALO areas are located on stocked trout streams that are closed to all fishing until the opening day of trout season, so be sure to stay within the boundaries of the special regulation area when fishing during the preseason. Information on the boundaries of DHALO areas can be found on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.

Fly anglers in our area have a couple of more options for early-season fishing. The famous Fisherman’s Paradise section of Spring Creek located between State College and Bellefonte is the oldest piece of special-regulation water in Pennsylvania and is currently managed as “Catch and Release Fly-fishing Only.”

About a mile of Yellow Creek in Bedford County downstream of the village of Loysburg is also under the same regulations. Fishing on either of these sections is restricted to fly tackle and artificial flies only.

These and the many other special regulation areas throughout the state will allow anglers to fish for trout between now and opening day regardless of whether they fish with flies, lures or bait.

A complete statewide listing of all special regulation areas and the specific rules for each one can be found in “2021 Pennsylvania Fishing Summary” or online at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website, fishandboat.com.

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