Streams stocked and ready for anglers
Trout stocking on area streams traditionally hasn’t begun each year until March 1.
This year, due to the fact that Saturday’s trout season opener for the entire state comes two weeks earlier than it normally does — falling this Saturday, April 3 — preseason stocking also began two weeks earlier, in mid-February.
And according to Sean Sauserman, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission waterways conservation officer for Blair County and parts of Huntingdon County, this year’s preseason stocking schedule concluded March 25 and went off without a hitch.
“All the fish are in,” Sauserman said in a recent telephone interview. “There was some snow and other hurdles in the beginning, but we stocked everything.
“Although we started stocking two weeks early, on Feb. 16, the opening of trout season has also been moved up two weeks earlier, so we have the same amount of time to get the fish in the water from the time the preseason stocking begins until the time it ends. Everything went OK.”
Last spring, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, volunteers were not permitted to assist Sauserman with the trout stocking.
This year, Sauserman has again had access to volunteers, most of which have been doing the trout stocking for many years.
“We’ve had volunteers the whole time this year,” Sauserman said. “We tried to use a core group, requiring them to wear a mask, but anybody who was willing could participate.
“The same people who are stocking this year are the ones who have normally stocked when we stock,” Sauserman added. “We had no volunteers last year. This year, volunteers are allowed to come out. Basically, it’s been the same crew the whole way through.”
Some volunteers assist in stocking streams in certain parts of Blair County, and other volunteers assist in stocking streams in other parts of the county.
“I might have one or two guys who help me with the northern streams in the county, like the Little Bald Eagle Creek or maybe the Vanscoyoc Run (in the Tyrone area), and Bells Gap Run (near Bellwood),” Sauserman said. “And then I’ll have people who will come down and help me when I do North and South Poplar Runs (near Newry), and the Frankstown Branch (of the Juniata River).”
The inseason stocking for Blair County streams will continue until May 3, and Sauserman said that any volunteers who want to assist are welcome.
“Any time anybody wants to come out and stock and has an interest in a special waterway, they can log on to the pafishandboat.com website to see the dates that the stream is being stocked,” Sauserman said. “Occasionally, there are some changes to the schedule, so they need to go back and review it.”
Sauserman also said that there is an app that can be downloaded from the website on to a phone. The app is readily accessible, and provides stocking information for waterways throughout the entire state.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission doesn’t often decree that trout season will open on Easter weekend, but there are two schools of thought about that. One view holds that the weekend is traditionally for family gatherings, and people may be less inclined to want to go out fishing. The other view is that some people may be more inclined to get outside, because it’s a holiday weekend, and some folks may also be off work Monday and enjoy three straight days of trout fishing.
“I have zero opinion on that, to be honest,” Sauserman said. “I don’t know how (the start on the Saturday prior to Easter) is going to affect things.”
The weather can also be very dicey here throughout the first three weeks of April.
Creg Strock, the owner and proprietor of the Aquatic Imitations fishing shop two miles east of Hollidaysburg, said that the water temperature is colder in early April than it is in the middle of the month.
“The water temperature is not going to be as warm as it would be in the middle of April,” Strock said.
“And (the weather) will be chillier. It’s going to be different, to say the least.”
Saturday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the high 50s, with Easter Sunday’s highsexpected to reach the low 70s.
That’s after a Thursday forecast calling for temperatures that won’t get out of the 30s, with a probability of light snow.
“This time of year, it could be 70 degrees on (this year’s opening day), and two weeks later, when the season would normally start, it could be 20 degrees and raining or snowing,” Sauserman said. “Or vice versa.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that we have good weather, so people can get out there and enjoy the day,” Sauserman said.