COOLSPRING — The mild winter weather the area has been experiencing brought out numerous anglers plagued with spring "fishing fever" who assisted with stocking of Little Sandy Creek located in Coolspring Friday.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's (PFBC) white trout trucks made their traditional run from Bellefonte to various fishing spots this past Friday with the season scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 14.
March 31, trout waters in the southeastern portion of Pennsylvania will hold their opening.
Rick Vlazak, Jefferson County waterways conservation officer, said the PFBC has instituted a change for the new season, in that each angler is permitted to have three fishing rods in use at the same time.
"It used to be only two rods per person — the rods still have to be under the immediate control of the person at the location where they're fishing," he said.
Even though snow flurries began to fly through the air Friday, Vlazak said the weather conditions have been much improved this season for the pre-season stockings.
He said if a fisherman is on the hunt for a trophy Golden Rainbow trout, several of that variety — some of which could be as long as 28 inches — will be stocked at Cloe Lake, and also at area streams and creeks throughout Jefferson County.
"I think area anglers are going to be happy to catch one of these large fish species, between the bright, golden color and the size upwards of 28 inches," Vlazak said, adding that some of the large Brown trout and Golden Rainbow trout weigh upwards of eight pounds.
He said despite the economy being up and down, a fishing license is still a great bargain.
"Especially for a family, you can go out and have a relatively inexpensive day fishing," Vlazak said, adding that the more you go, the cheaper the license is.
"We all wish we had more time to go fishing,” he said. “If you can get out after opening day, especially during the week, you should be able to find a lot of trout and places to fish, especially following the in-season trout stockings," he said.
All trout stocking information is available on the PFBC Web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .
Vlazak said the amount of fish that are being raised in the PFBC hatcheries has remained the same.
The conditions for raising trout at the hatcheries has been excellent in the past year, Vlazak said, adding that Rainbow trout is the species that PFBC raises the most.
Vlazak said Rainbow trout are the easiest to raise and grow to a larger size more quickly than Brook and Brown trout.
"Generally, we stock a large number of Rainbows in the larger creeks and lakes," Vlazak said. "However, we also stock a lot of Brook trout because it is adaptable to many of the smaller mountain streams that are located in this part of the state."
Trout that are raised in the hatcheries are fed three to five times per day, and they grow quickly.
“Trout are graded and sorted by size in the raceways," Vlazak said, adding that trout are weighed, counted and loaded into stocking trucks.
Each truck has a 1,200-gallon tank with an aeration and oxygen system and holds from 3,000 to 6,000 fish, depending on its size.
Tom Holden, Bellefonte, the driver of the one trout stocking truck that serviced Little Sandy, said he's been driving the big white truck for six years for the PFBC.
"I love to deliver trout to area streams and lakes for anglers throughout the commonwealth," Holden said. "It's a dream job, and it's something that those who like to fish for trout thoroughly enjoy.”
"We could never accomplish all of the trout stockings across the state if wasn't for the assistance of the many volunteers who carry all of the trout to the streams and lakes throughout the area," Vlazak said, adding that it also gives the volunteers an idea where the trout are going to be opening day.
He said the people who enjoy both hunting and fishing should be aware that the change of the display of their fishing license is different than the Pennsylvania Game Commission's hunting licenses.
"Those who go hunting are now permitted to carry their hunting license in their wallet and not on a back tag," Vlazak said. "Fishing licenses are not a part of that and must still be displayed somewhere visible on the angler’s body front or back."
Vlazak said he appreciates the assistance that the PFBC receives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission during the pre-season trout stocking and with enforcement throughout the trout season.
Andy Troutman, Pennsylvania Game Commission officer, assisted Vlazak by traveling with the second trout truck, which delivered fish to the state game lands and Big Run area as well.
If you don't have your fishing license, you may purchase it online at the PFBC Web site or at various locations throughout the area.
The schedule for pre-season trout stockings is continuing with stockings scheduled for Thursday at Canoe Creek in Bell Township; April 3 at Cloe Lake in Bell Township; and April 13 at North Fork and Redbank Creeks in Brookville.
Check the Web site for in-season stockings at area streams, creeks and lakes.
TROUT SEASON FACTS
• Opens: 8 a.m. Saturday April 14.
• Minimum Size: Seven inches.
• Fishing Hours: 24 hours a day, after the 8 a.m. opener.
• Creel Limits: – Regular season (opening day through Labor Day) — five combined species; extended season: Jan. 1 through Feb. 29 and -the day after Labor Day through Dec. 31 — three combined species.
• Fishing Licenses: In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers 16 and older must posses a trout-salmon stamp, or combination trout-salmon stamp and Lake Erie permit to fish for trout.