You know the trout fishing season is near when the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission makes the 2017 trout stocking schedule available. And it’s available online as well as on the PFBC’s “Fish BoatPA” free mobile app that’s available for smartphone users from the Apple App and Google Play stores.
To check the schedules for you favorite waters, go to www.fishandboat.com and click on the link “Fish” in the upper right corner, then select Trout Stocking Schedules. Then find you county of choice, enter start and end dates from the calendars then press “Go.”
The PFBC says this year’s stocking lists includes the Keystone Select Trout Waters where 14 waters across the state will be stocked with 4,500 large 14-20-inch trout. And those will be stocked at the rate of 175-225 per mile.
Last year the program was launched with eight waters but this year six new waters are being added. Locally, Section 7 (1.84 miles) of Tulpehocken Creek in Berks County is part of the new waters.
The 2017 season opens March 25 for the Mentored Youth Trout Day program in 18 southeastern counties. It’s intended to encourage adults to take kids fishing. This gives youngsters a chance to catch a trout while the trout are still plentiful and without the hoards that descend upon the streams on the regional opener April 1 in these southeastern counties.
A second Mentored Youth Day will be held on April 8, the Saturday before the April 15 regular opening day of trout season.
To participate in the mentored youth program, adult anglers (16 and older) must have a valid fishing license and trout permit and be accompanied by a youth. Youth anglers must obtain a free PFBC-issued permit, or a voluntary youth fishing license ($2.90 including all fees). Both are available online at www.GoneFishingPA.com or at any of the 900-plus licensing agents across the state.
According to the PFBC, they plan to stock approximately 3.15 million trout that includes 2 million rainbow trout, 640,000 browns and 500,000 brookies with the average size being 11 inches.
In addition, the agency plans to stock about 8,700 trophy golden rainbow trout that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long. This will be supplemented by another one million trout from cooperative nurseries like our own Lil-Le-Hi Trout nursery in Lehigh Parkway and sportsman’s clubs across the state.
The PFBC notes that due to weather, water conditions and scheduling logistics, some waters may not be stocked in advance of the mentored days. And they also added that the youth program does not include fishing on special regulation areas like Catch-and-Release Fly Fishing Only or Delayed Artificial Lures Only waters.
There have been some adult trout stocking program changes and locally in Carbon County the Lehigh River near Jim Thorpe will be added to the adult trout stocking program. The area is a 3.1-mile section of the stream extending from 0.3 miles upstream from the railroad bridge at Glen Onoko, downstream to the confluence with Mauch Chunk Creek. Rainbow and brown trout will be stocked here during the preseason stocking period.
Four more waters are added elsewhere in the state so check the PFBC’s website for those areas.
Now there are also four waters that are considered Early Warning Waters of which Minsi Lake in Northampton County is affected. The PFBC says the inseason and fall stockings will be removed from this lake due to a drawdown that is occurring there for dam maintenance. However, a preseason stocking of rainbow trout will be made to provide spring angling prior to the complete drawdown.
On an up-note, the Coldwater Heritage Partnership has announced that over $72,000 in grants have been awarded to local organizations to protect and conserve Pennsylvania’s coldwater streams. The collaborative partnership is between PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, PFBC and PA Council of Trout Unlimited.
Here in our area the Lehigh County Conservation District will receive $6,775 to remove invasive plant species from the streambanks of a tributary to the Little Lehigh Creek in Emmaus and replace them with a riparian buffer consisting of native trees and shrubs.
And finally, Lehigh County Wildlands Conservancy will receive $6,800 to restore approximately 250 feet of the Little Lehigh where severe bank erosion has led to increased sedimentation, loss of a mature riparian buffer and negative impacts to fish habitat.
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.