The much-awaited trout season kicks off April 3. This statewide weekend opener has seen a change from past years regional openers. Perhaps it may be for the better in that local streams may be less crowded as some anxious anglers from the northeast would travel down here to fish in the southeast. Then when the northeast opened, some southeast anglers would travel to the northeast to fish for that season opener.
According to the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, they will have stocked a total of 4,220,945 trout in streams and lakes. That breaks down as 293,420 brook, 686,080 brown, 2,214,700 rainbow trout. Within that, 11,943 trophy (golden rainbow) trout, weighing an average of 1.5 pounds, will also be stocked in streams and 1,930 in lakes.
You may have noticed the smaller number of brook trout stocked. The PF&BC says it’s because that they found over time that in 300 streams statewide, brookies were leaving and/or dying at a high rate in some streams prior to opening day, while rainbow trout were more likely to survive and remain in the streams after stocking. As was the case, brookies could be stocked in waters that were more acidic plus the commission feared that introgression of hatchery genes and the possibility if disease into wild fish, would reduce the fitness and negatively impact wild brook trout populations over time. Added to that,
the PFBC says rainbows often perform better in a hatchery environment as they have better growth rates and are less susceptible to some pathogens and parasites than brook trout.
Fisheries managers often would use more rainbows during preseason and a mix of rainbow and brown trout during inseason stocking. The idea is that rainbows are often easier to catch in colder spring water temperatures than brown trout.
If you have children and want to introduce them to fishing, you may want to head up to the Trexler Zoo (formerly Trexler Game Preserve). In the Jordan Creek there, behind the zoo and upstream above the ford, the commission heavily stocked a long portion of stream intended for children. It’s a great place as kids will most likely catch a trout or two. And while there they can also pay a visit to the zoo.
Another good place is Leaser Lake at the dam area and parking lot where there’s a dock to fish from that allows fishing slightly deeper water and extends casting distance. And if no kayakers or canoers are using the handicap loading ramp nearby, you may want to try there as that too extends casting distance a bit. And if you need bait enroute there, you can get it and terminal tackle at Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy located a block off Route 100 at 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield.
Keep in mind the Lehigh River will likely be stocked the week after the trout opener. Stocking customarily starts around the pavilion on Canal Street on the Northampton side, and goes upriver to the falls and beyond.
For three hours on April 17, South Whitehall Township Parks and Recreation is hosting a Youth Fishing Derby beginning at 9 a.m. at Covered Bridge Park, 2465 Wehr Mill Road, Allentown. The derby is for youths ages 15 and under with registration beginning at 8 a.m. This event is for youths only as no adults are allowed to fish for some of the 1,000 trout to be stocked in that portion of Jordan Creek. Prizes will be awarded for each age group of under 4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-15. Check South Whitehall Township’s website for further rules and regulations.
If you get your limit of trout and want to continue fishing, there are reports from the Delaware River Shad Fishing site that shad have started their way upriver as Delaware River water temperature this week was a somewhat favorable 47.8 degrees. Two anglers posted that they boated three shad and another boat beside them boated two. So, they started their upriver spawning run.
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.