Once again, kudos to Pennsylvania’s Fish & Boat Commission
I finally got around to doing some serious angling last week on a local stocked trout stream that sees some of its headwaters a few hundred yards from my home.
Heading to the stream on a few mornings well after the sun had risen, I found that just about every spot I stopped to cast my assortment of lures for the fish that remained had few other anglers. In most cases, there were none.
Fishing was just short of fantastic, at least in terms of having plenty of strikes and hook-ups. There certainly wasn’t a lack of action, and I was sure that the horde of anglers that had encircled each and every inviting slow pool and faster moving glide for the first week of the season had left a good number of trout for my enjoyment.
This stream makes a long run – at least 16 miles – from its headwaters to where it finally empties into the Schuylkill River at Pottstown. Stocking occurs at two different stretches, with a couple of miles in the middle off limits because of property owners’ refusal to allow angling.
There is very little in public land that receives stocked fish on this stream, which means the water open for fishing is mostly comprised of private land that does, thankfully, allow fishing.
I’ve been on this stream since I was old enough to ride a bike safely, and then allowed to peddle streamside. I always thought how wonderful it was to go to this stream and be able to fish, and if lucky enough, catch some trout. But in truth, it took me a long time to realize just how lucky I was, and still remain so.
Within the past 20 years, I came to realize the enormous effort required of field personnel of the Fish & Boat Commission to visit the huge number of homes of the people who own the land through which the stream flows, just to secure open water for stocking each and every year and giving anglers a beautiful place to fish within a countryside setting.
Not all anglers are mindful of their litter, and I’m sure these officers visiting some of these land owners have to be accomplished at the art of “excellent verbal exchange” to keep this water open, because I’m certain there are some heated land owners they have to face.
The simple truth is that this isn’t the only stream that runs through private land that is stocked with trout. It happens all across Pennsylvania, and the effort required to keep streams small and large on private land open to public fishing is just as considerable at each and every place.
Of course, it’s not only trout fishing, and places to fish for them, that comprise the full of the Fish & Boat Commissions work load. Clean water, water resources, wild fish, amphibian habitat and their continued existence, reptiles, invasive plants, mammals and insects, environmental issues and helping species on endangered lists are just a few of the things for which these people are responsible.
Ever since I became fully aware of the work these dedicated professionals do, I’ve been thankful that they exist. For every fish I catch, I utter quick words of gratitude. Every time I wade a stream with clean water or float my boat on a clean lake, or even drive past some type of spring seep, stream and river or still water body, I think of the commission and the work its employees perform for the benefit of everyone and everything – because without water, nothing lives.
I owe them much.