With the first day of trout fishing season just over a week away, trout stocking is in full swing.
Trucks filled with thousands of wriggling brown, brook and rainbow trout from hatcheries are pulling up to lakes and streams around Warren County - and the rest of Pennsylvania where volunteers are eager to get the fish into the water.
Trout season opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 13.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
Ron Gourley of Meadville tosses a bucket of trout into the stream below Chapman Dam on Thursday. Conservation officers talked about safety to the volunteers before heading out to the streams, and instructed them to throw the fish out into the center of the stream. Opening day for trout fishing in most of Pennsylvania is Saturday, April 13, and anglers are expected to crowd trout waters. Trout season for a portion of southeastern Pennsylvania opened on March 30.
Brook trout, Pennsylvania's official state fish, are the only trout species native to Pennsylvania's streams.
John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, said the opening day tradition is as much about gathering with friends and family as it is about fishing.
The creel limit is five fish, combined species, at least seven inches long. However, the limit for the Allegheny River from Kinzua Dam to the confluence of the Conewango Creek is two fish at least 14 inches long. For anglers over the age of 16, a fishing license and either a Trout Salmon stamp, or a combination Trout Salmon and Lake Erie Permit is required.
Stocking in Warren County started on March 13 and will continue on selected streams until May 28.
During a stocking on West Branch of the Tionesta Creek below Chapman Dam on Thursday, Lynda Madrigale was carrying buckets of trout to the stream. She said, "I've never done this before. We are from Erie, and my husband asked me if I wanted to ride along, so I said sure. It's so beautiful here."
For fishing in general, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Sportfishing Association estimate fishing and fishing-related activities generate more than $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania's economy each year, and the Center for Rural Pennsylvania projects the positive economic impact at $4.7 billion.
Eight of the 15 state fish hatcheries combine to produce some four million adult trout annually. Stocked into the waters of the Commonwealth, these trout support fishing activity that generates some $500 million in economic activity each year.
Locally, Courtney Harriger of the Clarendon Service Center said he "...is usually busy for a month or so. Having Chapman Dam just down the road helps, too."
At Peterson Hardware in Sheffield, Harold Schopper said, "There is quite a rush for the first two weekends. (Fishermen) are elbow to elbow down by the boat launch on the West Branch of the Tionesta."
John Papalia, executive director for the Warren County Council on Tourism, said, "From a tourism standpoint we are very excited for the opening day of (the) season. With ample amounts of trout water in our county it is (a) tremendous draw for fishermen. Each year there are hundreds of people staying in our county helping to provide a boost to our tourism-related business."
For the first time, anglers can now purchase multi-year fishing licenses, including a resident three-year license for $64.70 or a resident five-year license for $106.70.
A single-year resident license is $22.70. Resident three-year and five-year trout permits cost $25.70 and $41.70, respectively. A single-year Trout Salmon Permit costs $9.70.