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Big trout key to Yough River stocking effort

| Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

Give the people what they want, that's the thinking behind the trout stocking program run by Smithton Sportsmen and Conservation Association.

The 300-member club has put trout in the Yough River for almost five decades.

For much of that time, the emphasis was on stocking as many fish as possible.

Then, things changed.

A few years ago, the club opted for planting fewer but bigger fish, trout averaging 14 to 15 inches long.

That has proven popular.

“We're sacrificing quantity for quality. It's probably been five or six years now that we've been doing that, but the reports we get back from everyone is that they just like that better,” said club president Tom Morrisey of White Oak.

“I know I like the fight of a bigger fish, and I think I speak for a lot of other people, too.”

Each stocking also will include five or so trophy trout in the 15- to 18-inch range and occasionally one as big as 22 inches or so, he added.

The club's goal is to put $12,500 worth of fish in the river this year, starting Saturday. They will be browns and rainbows with a few golden rainbows, or “palominos,” mixed in.

The club plans to stock the river six times. All will occur before the April 12 opening day of trout season in Western Pennsylvania, with the last set for April 9.

That's a change meant to take advantage of when the club's volunteers are available and promote fishing before opening day, Morrisey said.

“I think it's a win-win,” he said. “We want to get them in, and then, if guys want to fish that area, they'll have a better shot at getting some of the fish.”

Sales of buttons — they're $10 — make the stocking program possible.

Buttons can be purchased at Gander Mountain in Greensburg or from club members on the days fish are being released.

“We're always looking for more members,” Morrisey said. “All of the money goes back into the fish, so it's a real deal.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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