Sunday, February 17, 2013

‘Other’ Trout Provide Opportunity For Pennsylvania Anglers

By Bob Frye Pittsburgh Tribune Review

You might call these the “other” fish.

Sure, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks trout. It plans to put about 3.2 million in waters around the state this year.

But that number's been declining and figures to go down again after the commission closes two hatcheries late next year.

There are other trout out there, though, thanks to the efforts of local sportsmen. Clubs are again this year raising money and buying fish to stock in the Yough and Kiski rivers and in Upper and Lower Twin lakes, while cooperative nurseries are stocking streams ranging from Montour Creek in Allegheny County to Blackleggs Creek in Indiana.

That's tradition for many.

Smithton Sportsmen and Conservation Association has been stocking the Yough for decades. This spring, it will put about $13,000 worth of rainbow, brown and occasionally golden palomino trout in the river, from the Smithton bridge upstream about 1.5 miles to Jacobs Creek.

In keeping with what fishermen seem to want, the bulk of the fish will be between 12 and 14 inches, with some in the 16- to 18-inch class mixed in.

“The last couple of years we've tried to go with quality over quantity. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback over that,” said club president Tom Morrissey.

West Newton Sportsmen's Association is likewise hoping to stock $12,000 worth of fish this year. Most will be rainbow, brown and palomino trout, and most will go in the Yough River.

But the club, under the direction of president Paul Angelcyk, is offering a couple of twists. It may stock a few catfish in the river, too, and some of its trout are headed for Sewickley Creek.

“We put some in there on a trial basis last year, and everybody seemed to really like it, so we're going to do it again,” said stocking committee member Gary Allen.

The effort to stock the Kiski River resulted in about $5,000 worth of trout released last year. The goal is to do at least as well again this year, said Neill Andritz of The River's Edge in Leechburg.

“The river's come a long way,” he said this past week, while exhibiting fishing kayaks at the Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show. “People can't believe how good it is.”

At Twin Lakes, the fishing association plans to do three stockings this year, one on opening day of the season, one in May in conjunction with a fishing derby and one in the fall. Approximately $6,000 worth of fish will be stocked, as last year, said club treasurer Lloyd Ohler. As in the past, the browns and rainbows will be 14 inches and longer, and about 50 will be tagged for prizes each time.

“None of the tags are worth less than $15, so you at least get the cost of your membership back if you get a tagged fish,” Ohler said.

Just where the one million trout raised by cooperative nurseries are headed is a little harder to pin down. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission provides those clubs with fingerling trout to raise and requires that all be stocked in waters open to public fishing.

“But at a lot of these clubs, the volunteer pool is one or two people deep, so we don't require them to do more work and advertise where they put their fish,” said Earl Myers, leader of the commission's cooperative nursery unit.

The agency is investigating the idea of putting stocking details on its website in the future. For now, anglers can call the agency to get them in touch with those clubs, Myers said.

So, there are trout out there. Anglers just need to get after them.

“Send people down our way,” Morrissey said. “The river could use some more fishermen.”

• Smithton Sportsmen sells $10 buttons to raise money to buy trout. They're available at Gander Mountain in Greensburg or at River conditions permitting, trout will be stocked at the ballfield in Smithton at 9 a.m. on March 16, 23 and 30 and April 6, 10 and 20.

• West Newton Sportsmen also sells $10 buttons to support its efforts. They are available at Youghiogheny Canoe Outfitters, Williams Ace Hardware and other businesses. River conditions permitting, trout will be stocked in the Yough near the canoe shop at 1 p.m. on March 16, 23 and 30 and April 6 and 20 and at 6 p.m. on April 12. Fish will be put in Sewickley Creek at 1 p.m. on April 27 and May 11 at the Apples Mill Bridge.

• Memberships in the Twin Lakes Fishing Association are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 8 to 15. A membership is needed to redeem a tagged fish. They're available at the boathouse by the lower lake.

• The Stock the Kiski effort also is supported by button sales. Buttons are available at The River's Edge in Leechburg and at other businesses along the river.

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