Tuesday, February 7th, 2023
Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Pennsylvania bulking up popular trout-stocking program

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Anglers will have additional opportunities to catch 14- to 20-inch trout this season after the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announced Tuesday, Jan. 24 at its quarterly business meeting that it is adding six new waters to the popular Keystone Select Stocked Trout Program.

“The Keystone Select Program has proven to be a big hit with our customers,” PFBC Executive Director John Arway said. “It added an element of excitement to trout fishing and has helped establish the waters as destination fisheries, drawing anglers from all over and providing economic boosts to the local communities. Adding these new waters will make 2017 an even better fishing season.”

The six new waters include:

  • Berks County, Tulpehocken Creek, Section 7 (1.84 miles)
  • Cambria County, Chest Creek, Section 3 (1.80 miles)
  • Fulton County, Big Cove Creek, Section 3 (.93 miles)
  • Luzerne County, Harveys Creek, Section 4 (1.70 miles)
  • McKean County, Kinzua Creek, Section 4 (2.29 miles)
  • Venango County, Oil Creek, Section 7 (1.55 miles)

The original eight waters include:

  • Chester County, Middle Branch White Clay Creek, Section 3 (1.67 miles)
  • Dauphin County, Wiconisco Creek, Section 3 (.74 miles)
  • Lackawanna/Wyoming Counties, South Branch Tunkhannock Creek, Section 4 (.99 miles)
  • Lawrence County, Neshannock Creek, Section 3 (2.67 miles)
  • Lycoming County, Loyalsock Creek, Section 5 (1.49 miles)
  • Potter County, First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek, Section 4 (1.67 miles)
  • Somerset County, Laurel Hill Creek, Section 3 (2.33 miles)
  • Westmoreland County, Loyalhanna Creek, Section 3 (1.67 miles)

Under the program, approximately 4,500 large trout will be distributed among the 14 waters. The trout will be stocked at a rate of 175 to 225 per mile, which is comparable to the numbers of similarly sized fish in Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters.

The waters are regulated under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only regulations, which provides the opportunity to catch these fish multiple times. Under DHALO regulations, waters are open to fishing year-round, but anglers can harvest trout only between June 15 and Labor Day and the trout have to be a minimum of nine inches. For the rest of the year, these waters are managed on a catch-and-release-only basis and the creel limit is zero. Tackle is limited to artificial lures and flies.

The large trout will be stocked during the preseason and in-season spring stocking periods to coincide with the period of peak angler use. Both of these stockings will include a number of these larger fish. The PFBC website or FishBoatPA app should be consulted for the actual stocking dates.

Also Tuesday, commissioners proposed easing regulations and removing the closed season on smallmouth and largemouth bass in the middle and lower Susquehanna and lower Juniata rivers, allowing anglers to practice catch-and-release fishing for the popular species from May 1 through mid-June. Harvesting would still be prohibited throughout the year, and tournaments would remain banned during the bass spawning period from mid-April to mid-June period, like all other waters of the Commonwealth.

A closed season for all bass has been in place since 2012 on approximately 98 miles of the Susquehanna River from Sunbury downstream to the Holtwood Dam and on 31.7 miles of the Juniata River from Port Royal downstream to the mouth. It followed action in 2011 which imposed catch-and-immediate-release regulations on the same sections.

Surveys conducted from 2013-2016 revealed increasing numbers of adult smallmouth bass compared to severely reduced numbers collected from 2005-2012. The proposed regulation change will be open for a 60-day public comment period after it is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Three public meetings also will be held during the comment period to solicit input. If approved on final rulemaking, the proposed changes would take effect in 2018.

In other trout-related action Tuesday, the board:

  • Adopted a regulatory amendment which places catch-and-release regulations on Glade Run Lake in Butler County for all fish except trout. The PFBC will begin re-establishing warm and coolwater fisheries in 2017 by stocking forage fish and gamefish. This process will continue for several years. Adult catchable trout will be stocked beginning in spring of 2017.
  • Approved a final rulemaking order which opens Harvey’s Lake in Luzerne County to year-round fishing but prohibits harvesting trout from March 1 to the opening day of trout season. Under the current regulations, the 658-acre lake is closed to all fishing for a two-week period from April 1 to the opening day of trout season. Trout harvest is permitted at all other times of the year. A number of area residents have asked to open the lake to year-round fishing, as it supports excellent fisheries for numerous species. The change will take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
  • Added 99 waters to the list of wild trout streams, revised the section limits of seven waters, and removed one water. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
  • Added 26 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
  • Approved a proposal to continue stocking Section 4 of Bald Eagle Creek in Centre County, which is classified as a Class A wild trout stream. The 5.72-mile section begins in the Borough of Milesburg and extends to the inlet of Foster Joseph Sayers Lake and is extremely popular during the traditional spring stocked trout season. It also receives a significant volume of cold water from Spring Creek and therefore supports a robust wild brown trout population and year-round fishing opportunities for wild brown trout and stocked fingerlings and adult stocked rainbow trout.
  • Approved a grant of up to $115,000 to the Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited for a habitat restoration project on Snitz Creek, Lebanon County. The stream suffers from bank erosion and heavy sedimentation with limited instream habitat for fish. The project will include stabilizing streambanks to reduce erosion, installing instream habitat structures to provide cover and resting areas for trout, removing invasive plant species, and installing fencing and a cattle crossing to control livestock movement in the stream.

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