Sunday, February 19, 2012

Commission Prepping For Trout Stocking

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One popular lake is coming back on board. Another is offering different services.
More fish in more water in some places. Less fish in less water in others.

Those are some of the changes anglers will encounter when they go trout fishing this spring.
Opening day in Western Pennsylvania is April 14. The effort to get trout stocked kicks off much sooner, though. March 1 is when trucks will begin rolling away from Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission hatcheries with loads or brook, brown, rainbow and trophy golden trout.

The commission is on track to raise about 3.2 million trout this year, said Tom Greene, the commission's cold water unit leader. "A little over half of those will be stocked prior to opening day and probably 92 to 95 percent will be in by Memorial Day," he said.

About 8,500 of those fish will be trophy goldens, or palominos. Fifty-eight percent will be rainbow trout, 26 percent browns and 16 percent brooks. Most fish will average about 11 inches. 
One of the places those trucks will be visiting for the first time in several years is North Park Lake. Drained, dredged and now refilled, it will again get rainbow trout this year.

The Allegheny County-owned lake was stocked with adult and juvenile largemouth bass, bluegills, white crappies and channel catfish last fall, and it will get more of those again this year. But its return to the list of trout-stocked lakes is the highlight, said Rick Lorson, the commission's area 8 fisheries manager in Somerset.

"We're certainly glad to see that because it supplies some of the highest number of anglers in the state," Lorson said. "Its return will be good for those folks in that area."
Another nearby lake, meanwhile, will see changes.

Westmoreland County has operated a boathouse offering bait and snacks for sale and boats for rent at Northmoreland Park, located near Vandergrift, for the past 15 years. It's not going to open this year.
Decreasing demand for its services, which led to annual losses of about $9,000, are behind the decision, said Greg McCloskey, director of public works for the county.

"We wanted to stop the bleeding as far as monetary losses go," he said. The county is sensitive to the needs of anglers, though, and is exploring a couple of options with them in mind, he added. The county is in talks with a company that could offer bait for sale in vending machines. It's also considering the idea of allowing anglers to use their own boats on the lake, and perhaps even moor them there, as is done at other commission and state park lakes, such as Donegal, Somerset and Laurel Hill.

"I actually think people will be more excited if they're able to use their own boats than the way things have been," McCloskey said.

A few places across the region will see changes in how many trout they get and where.
Piney Creek in Somerset County will be stocked just once this year, in preseason, because of newly-encountered problems with posted property, Lorson said. Previously, mit was also stocked in-season. Middle Creek, also in Somerset, will see a light reduction in the number of fish it receives, also because of posting.

Posting is also the reason why a section of Mill Run in Fayette County that flowed into Quebec Run is being removed from the stocking list altogether, Lorson said.

The commission is adding a section of Clear Shade Creek upstream of the delayed harvest area to the stocking list, though, with a corresponding increase in the total number of fish stocked, Lorson said. The removal of a water supply dam paved the way for that, he said.
All in all, things seemed largely ready to go when it comes to trout, Greene said.

"It's been a good water year, for sure, so if we don't run into any bumps, it should be a good year," he said.

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