Sunday, September 16, 2012

Debate Over Changing Trout Program Coming To Pittsburgh

By Bob Frye Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Trout that won’t stay put in flowing waters might affect what happens to those in still ones.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has spent a lot of time in recent years studying the issue of “trout residency.” It’s been trying to find out whether trout stocked in streams prior to opening day are still there weeks later when anglers can actually fish for them.
Fishing Loyalhanna Creek in Southwest PA
The answer sometimes has been no.
The best way to address that is by stocking problem streams as close to opening day as possible, said Dave Miko, chief of the commission’s division of fisheries management. But that’s not always possible.
That’s where the lakes come in.
There are almost four dozen impoundments statewide managed under the early-season trout stocked waters program. That includes North Park Lake in Allegheny County; Brady’s Run and Raccoon lakes in Beaver; Duman Dam and Lake Rowena in Cambria; Dunlap Lake and Virgin Run in Fayette; Bessemer Lake in Lawrence; Laurel Hill in Somerset; Canonsburg Lake in Washington; and Upper and Lower Twin, Northmoreland, Donegal and Keystone in Westmoreland.
They get stocked with trout in January or February, remain open to fishing throughout March, then close for the first two weeks of April, when they get their final preseason stocking.
Stocking them that late doesn’t make sense, said Leroy Young, director of the commission’s bureau of fisheries.
“Those fish in lakes aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “We’re tying up a lot of truck trips for lakes that are closed systems when we need them to address streams with residency problems.”
The solution that will be put before commissioners when they meet in Pittsburgh on Oct. 1 and 2 is to remove those lakes from the early-season program and open them to year-round fishing, instead. They still would get stocked with as many fish as ever, Young said. But they would get their preseason fish earlier in spring so that problem streams could be stocked later.
“We really think this would improve catch rates for more anglers over a wider area and is the best use of angler dollars,” Miko said.
This idea was pitched before, in 2008. The board didn’t go for it then, concerned that too many trout would die from catch-and-release fishing and that opening-day crowds at lakes would suffer as a result. The commission hasn’t seen either problem at other waters already open to year-round fishing, though, Young said.
“This is a relatively minor change that can really help us,” he said.

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