Stocking of creeks means it’s almost trout season

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Sam Caldwell of Lycoming Creek Anglers, drops fish into a tank during trout stocking along Loyalsock Creek on Tuesday.

Sunlit, early spring days fuel the passions of many eager to head back on the water, fishing for trout.

Perhaps the next best thing, before the official opening of trout season, is feeding the fish to the many rivers and creeks still swollen by snowmelt that roar across the landscape of central Pennsylvania.

On a chilly late March day, some two dozen volunteers, many shaking off the last remnants of cabin fever, met with the state Fish and Boat Commission to help toss trout into Loyalsock Creek and its tributaries.

“It’s springtime,” Jim Kendter, of Montoursville, said. “This is an annual rite of spring.”

Wearing boots and bundled in layers to keep warm, Kendter is an avid angler who often fishes Loyalsock Creek.

Showing up to help stock one of his favorite streams with trout is an activity that he says helps get him “out of the house.”

Each year, the state Fish and Boat Commission stocks thousands of miles of streams throughout the late winter and spring, often with help from volunteers.

“When they can’t do it, they will lose fish,” Sam Caldwell said.

That’s why Caldwell, secretary-treasurer, Lycoming Creek Anglers, helps out along with other members of his club.

The organization, which has its own trout nursery near Ralston, met up with the Fish & Boat Commission at the Pier 87 Restaurant along Loyalsock Creek to lend a hand.

The club has its own vehicle to transport the trout to some of the stocking spots in the Loyalsock Creek watershed.

“We’ll take around 1,000” trout, Caldwell said.

Most of the stocked trout on this day were rainbows, with some browns and even a few large palominos.

The first stop on the stocking list was the Hidden Valley campsite a few miles north of Pier 87.

The trout are scooped from the vehicle’s holding tank and placed in buckets for volunteers to toss into the creek.

“We didn’t know how many people would be here to stock,” Carl Gearhart, of DuBoistown, said.

Gearhart, a Loyalsock Creek Angler member, said he has helped with stream stocking in the past, but never Loyalsock Creek.

Among others showing up was Brad Hill, of Old Lycoming Township, who said he was surprised at the numbers of volunteers.

“They don’t need my help,” he said with a grin.

Statewide, some 3.2 million adult trout are being placed into 707 streams and 127 lakes open to public angling.

They include approximately 2.1 million rainbow trout, 640,000 brown trout and 440,000 brook trout.

The average size of stocked trout is 11 inches.

Trout season begins Saturday, April 13 for most of the state’s streams.

But, selected counties in the state’s southeastern and southcentral regions kick off the season March 30.

The trout stocking schedules for locations and dates of interest are at www.fishandboat.com.