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Stocking trout in Cowanshannock Creek kicks off season

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 11:05 a.m.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader
Jerry Spanbauer, left, of McKeesport assists Adam Harpster of the state Fish and Game Commission in netting and bucketing trout that will be carried to the Cowanshannock Creek for stocking on Wednesday. April 3, 2013.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader
Bob Hawk, left, of Rayburn Township, Wes Crissman, of Valley Township, Brent and his dad Mike Ingram ,of Rayburn, who is filling the float net during the stocking the Cowanshannock Creek. April 3, 2013.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader
Larry Kladny Sr., left, his son, Larry Kladny Jr., of Valley Township and his son, 3-year-old Josh Weyer, came out to Cowanshannock Creek to help out in the trout stocking. April 3, 2013.

Thousands of brook and brown trout found a new home in Cowanshannock Creek on Wednesday, just 10 days before trout season officially opens across the state.

The fish, averaging 11 inches, were trucked in on a clear, cold morning from Benner Spring Hatchery in State College, Centre County, for the preseason stocking.

According to Mike Walsh, a Fish and Boat Commission's waterway conservation officer from Allegheny County, each of the two trucks were able to hold up to 3,500 fish.

“About a half-dozen or more will be in the 5-to-6-pound range,” said Walsh.

That was just what Shawn Kurtz of Springdale wanted to hear.

He had driven up to Armstrong County to join local volunteers as they transferred buckets of trout from the trucks to the creek.

“I want to see some big brookies go in,” said Kurtz, who was wearing hip waders and a bright orange hooded jacket.

Kurtz said Cowanshannock Creek is one of his favorite places to fish and he plans to camp near Buttermilk Falls during opening day.

Larry Kladny Jr. of Valley had taken the day off work and had brought his son Josh Weyer, 3, and his father Larry Kladny Sr., to help him carry buckets along the Rayburn section of the creek.

Josh stood on the river bank next to his dad and dipped his hand in the bucket to touch one of the trout before it went out into the Cowanshannock. He will be fishing this year using the new rod and tackle box which he got on Easter, said Kladny Jr.

Further down the creek Bob Ashley of Rayburn waited to load his float with trout to disperse at intervals.

Throughout the late morning clouds rolled in and brought snow flurries with temperatures hovering near the mid 30s.

“I've stocked in all types of conditions. Today is probably one of the better days,” said Ashley, noting that trout don't like warm water.

According to Walsh, water temperature at the Rayburn section of the creek registered at 38 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday.

Mike Ingram of Rayburn has been volunteering with trout stocking for more than 20 years and said Cowanshannock Creek is one of the most beautiful waterways in the area, especially along Buttermilk Falls where it nears the Allegheny River.

“I've seen this creek hold trout from year to year,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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