Sign of spring: The trout stocking trucks have begun to arrive
Alle-Kiski Valley anglers, children and dogs turned out Friday for the second biggest day of trout season — the first day of trout stocking.
“This is what everybody waits for,” Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission waterways conservation officer Mike Walsh said along Deer Creek in Indiana Township’s Emmerling Park. “When that white fleet of trucks start rolling in, you know spring is here.”
“It’s a surer bet than Punxsutawney Phil.”
The opening day of trout season, however, is still weeks away. It starts April 13.
Two trucks brimming with fish drove in from the Fish and Boat Commission’s Pleasant Gap state fish hatchery near State College, making deliveries at several stretches of Deer Creek, including Emmerling and spots in West Deer, and a small section of Pine Creek in Shaler.
More than two dozen volunteers, many from the Tri-County Trout Club, bucketed or float-stocked rainbow and brown trout with some trophy golden rainbows, according to Walsh.
Float stocking involves filling large containers that are usually made of wire with trout from the stocking truck. These “baskets” are then floated down the stream, usually by a pair of volunteers, who sprinkle the trout throughout the section of stream they’ve been assigned.
Such stocking spreads the trout out across a larger area, creating more opportunities for anglers.
“Without the volunteers, we couldn’t have stocked the fishes as effectively,” Walsh said.
The volunteers estimated they could have added about 5,000 trout to Deer and Pine creeks Thursday.
For Neil Gumbert, 32, of North Versailles, it was his first time stocking trout. “I want to have an idea of what they are putting in,” he said.
He has been fishing in Emmerling Park for several years. “When I throw spoons (lures), I can catch rainbows and browns all day here,” he said.
Longtime stocker Bill Grubbs, 81, of Shaler was on hand to help, although he said he doesn’t fish much anymore.
“I love to meet the fishermen, the people. It’s always fun,” he said.
And sometimes cold.
“There’s been years we’ve had to break the ice to put the fish in,” Grubbs said. “But the fish, they seemed to like it no matter how cold the weather.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .