The Pennsylvania mid-week trout-stocking parade is comical

Near my home here in southeastern Pennsylvania is a wonderful mid-sized stream that receives heavy stockings of trout, both preseason and in season.

A few hours ago, at about noon, the first of two inseason stockings began on this piece of water. I drove to near the first spot where the stockers always stop and parked in the lot of a doctor’s office, from which I had a good vantage point to watch for the onslaught of cars and trucks. Within five minutes, the hatchery truck marked with the unmistakable Fish & Boat Commission emblem, came down the main highway and made a right turn onto a dirt lane that leads to a farm about a quarter mile away.

I’m telling the truth here – I counted 41 vehicles besides the stocking truck and two official Fish & Boat Commission vehicles, all in a line, parade style. They followed the truck into the farm in tight formation, as if they worried about losing sight of the truckload of fish. After dumping the fish there, the truck had to come back out the same way it went in.

Except for three vehicles that stayed, the whole parade came back out the lane and merged a couple at a time onto the main highway that sees a heavy flow of regular traffic. Off they all went, headed for their next stop.

I grew up on this stream, and know just about every stopping location where the trout are released.

I moved ahead to a spot where I knew they would eventually stop. There were already four cars parked there, the fishermen from each vehicle sitting streamside – not fishing – waiting for the truck.

Soon came the parade, a few cars less, but still lengthy. Some of those people who follow are the actual volunteers who dump the fish. They placed eight buckets full of trout along an extended stretch of water here. I was handed a bucket full of fish from an elderly gentleman as I was beyond a fence he would have struggled to get past. I walked about 30 yards downstream and dumped the fish into a nice hole that runs deep and somewhat fast.

When the crew left, a couple more anglers stayed, and everyone was now fishing for the fish they knew were swimming there.

A young fellow across stream from where I sat, with camera and no rod, was the first to catch a trout, and I photographed his accomplishment. He was chumming with corn, and his luck seemed better than those I could see at other spots.

In fact, by his third fish his luck was apparently too good, because upstream anglers started to surround him, apparently believing that somehow the trout were biting at his spot, and not at the spots where they had been fishing– even though fish had been dumped right in front of them.

The young angler, who had released the fish he caught, left in apparent disgust with having been enclosed by people crazy enough to leave a spot where fish were because they saw him catch a few at a different place.

I laugh at the antics of anglers on “restocking day,” for some reason believing that fish will bite at a spot where they witness a catch, but not where they currently fish. 

But I understand well it is simply a part of the overall pageantry that is trout season around these parts. I know that eventually the crowds will thin until the stream will once again become quiet, free of the horde that now walks its banks, its steady flow southward the only sound to be heard. 

 

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