There may have been some skepticism regarding the abbreviated trout stocking that I heard about and mentioned in my previous column.
In case you missed it, I was informed that certain streams in Lehigh County will only get one in-season stocking that took place within the last two weeks. Some anglers couldn’t believe it, so I was able to contact Mike Parker, PF&BC Communications Director, who issued the following statement:
“We continue to stock trout every day across the state, 7 days a week. Due to the accelerated stocking schedule we are operating under, many waters will only receive pre-season stockings this year. That means that all of the fish that were allocated for a water, both pre-season and in-season, will be combined into a single stocking or two. The same amount of fish will be stocked, just not spread out over the season. I cannot provide any information about specific waters, but overall, this is our approach. Since March 17, we have been operating under the accelerated schedule, without volunteer assistance, in an effort to get our fish stocked before any of our employees became sick or further restrictions were placed on fishing. At this time, we have stocked about 2.25 million trout across the state. That is compared to 1.7-1.8 we stocked by the statewide opening day of trout season last year. There are plenty of fish to catch.”
So that official announcement should put the so-called rumor to rest.
LEHIGH RIVER TROUT STOCKING
In past years, the Lehigh River Stocking Association (LRSA) would stock trout in portions of the Lehigh River the week after the state trout season opener. If tradition holds true for this year, considering the early state opener, LRSA could stock next Sunday (April 12).
STRIPED BASS FISHING CHANGES
For anglers who pursue the hard fighting stripers in the Delaware River, Delaware Estuary and West Branch Delaware River, be aware there has been some significant changes.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced changes to Striped Bass fishing regulations within the aforementioned waters. And the reason for the new rules is because harvest and delayed mortality of caught and released striped bass have reduced the coastal population below levels needed to sustain recreational angling experiences. Due to the negative impact on the fishery, harvest and terminal tackle restrictions are needed to help rebuild the coastal stock.
In accordance with a fisheries management plan adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC), the Striped Bass Management Board intended to reduce fishing mortality by 18 percent. As such, PFBC will change minimum size requirements and slot limits for harvesting Striped Bass in the Delaware Estuary, Delaware River, and West Branch Delaware River, and have enacted a mandatory circle hook requirement for anglers using bait while fishing for all species within the Delaware Estuary. These changes are effective beginning April 1, 2020.
These regulation changes, tackle and registration requirements do not apply to inland populations of Striped Bass or Hybrid Striped Bass.
Under the new minimum size limits, anglers will be permitted to harvest one coastal striped bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches in the Delaware Estuary (from the Pennsylvania line upstream to Calhoun Street Bridge) during the periods January 1 through March 31 and June 1 through December 31. During the period from April 1 through May 31, anglers may harvest two Striped Bass daily that measure at least 21 inches but less than 24 inches. In the Delaware River (from the Calhoun Street Bridge upstream) anglers will be permitted to harvest one Striped Bass per day that measures at least 28 inches but less than 35 inches year-round.
To further meet the requirements, the PFBC will require anglers who use bait to fish in the tidal Delaware Estuary, including tributaries from the mouths of the tributaries upstream to the limit of tidal influence, to use non-offset (in-line) circle hooks. The use of non-offset (in-line) circle hooks is required over offset circle hooks because of their proven ability to hook fish in the mouth, simplify hook removal, and reduce injury to the released fish. Therefore, to address targeted and non-targeted Striped Bass release mortality, the circle hook requirement will apply to anglers targeting any fish species with bait in the tidal Delaware Estuary. This measure offers added protection to adult Striped Bass on the spawning grounds during spring and year-round protections to resident juvenile Striped Bass caught by anglers targeting other species in the tidal reach. For the non-tidal Delaware River, non-offset (in-line) circle hooks are strongly recommended when anglers target any species with bait.
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.