Fish & Boat Commission to curtail fall trout stocking — it is about time!

Mark NaleFor quite a few years, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission has been stocking trout in lakes and streams during the autumn. About 150 waters are scheduled to be stocked this fall. Water temperatures and the weather are usually perfect for trout fishing, but angler use has been low — very low.

Therefore, I was pleased to read the story in the Sept. 28 issue of Pennsylvania Outdoor News announcing that the agency intends to reduce by 50-70 percent the number of waters stocked in the fall of 2013.

My experiences with freshly-stocked fall trout have been, to say the least, disappointing. On one Centre County stream, my daughter and I parked at a known stocking point and proceeded to run into two camouflaged wood duck hunters. I apologized for intruding on their hunt, and although they were very gracious, I’m sure that we ruined their morning as they had ruined ours.

On another stream, I could see a school of 30 to 40 newly-stocked trout from the bridge where I had parked. Many casts using my preferred method of fishing yielded a strike or two, but no trout. Closer inspection revealed that the trout were more interested in spawning than eating. This is not to say that I couldn’t have caught several by dropping an earthworm into the school, but the point is that there were no other anglers on the stream even trying to catch the trout.

On another October morning, I saw several people unsuccessfully fishing a small, fall-stocked state park lake. As I learned later from a local Trout Unlimited member who fished there, almost all of the newly-stocked trout immediately swam up a feeder stream (presumably to attempt to spawn).

By the way — I catch lots of trout in the fall, but almost never freshly stocked fish, because I no longer visit those waters on the fall stocking list.

In the past, I fully supported the Fish & Boat Commission’s autumn trout-stocking experiment, but it clearly has not been successful. I would recommend that the agency try another strategy with the fall stockings that will remain for 2013. Why not announce stockings with news releases — including photos of big trout being stocked? Heck – maybe the commission should buy a newspaper advertisement or two. Maybe it would be worth the overtime pay to stock the fish on Saturdays, so that school students could help.

Although I question his use of the word “resource” to describe this situation, I think the commission’s Tom Greene said it best. “…We’ve got to stop wasting the resource.”

Categories: Pennsylvania – Mark Nale

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