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Cold-weather anglers get chance for trout

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2002

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will stock more than 79,000 trout as part of its Late Winter Adult Trout Stocking Program, said Dan Tredinnick, press secretary.

"It promises a flurry of fishing activity for anglers looking for some cold weather fun," he said.

In this district, "ice fishing is popular on certain lakes," said Gary Smith, southwest region fisheries technician. He pointed out Virgin Run Dam and Laurel Hill Lake as two favorites.

"At the most," Tredinnick said, "our surveys show that 20 percent of licensed anglers are ice fishermen."

The late winter stockings include 50 waters in 33 counties.

The stockings, which began the week of Dec. 31, will continue through February.

Rainbow trout comprise the bulk of the fish, with 60,055 set for release. There are 11,375 brown trout and 7,720 brook trout included in the stockings.

"All fish harvested from the affected waters are subject to Extended Trout Season rules," Tredinnick said. "Trout must be a minimum of 7 inches in length, and no more than three per day may be taken."

Waters included in the winter program are open for an additional month of fishing.

"Trout angling is permitted in March on these waters while most other trout-stocked waters close to fishing at the end of February in preparation for the traditional opening day of the season," Tredinnick said.

Here's a schedule of upcoming stockings for counties of interest, with the week of the release listed:

Jan. 13, Chapman Lake, Warren County; Jan. 27, Cumberland County, Laurel and Opossum Creek lakes; Feb. 3, Cameron County, Stevenson Reservoir; Clinton County, Kettle Creek Lake; Fayette County, Dunlaps Creek Lake, Virgin Run Dam; Lycoming County, Little Pine Lake; Somerset County, Laurel Hill Lake; Somerset-Fayette counties, Yough Tailraces; Feb. 10, Mercer County, Shenango River.

Feb. 17, Beaver County, Raccoon Lake; Blair County, Canoe Lake; Cambria County, Dumans Dam and Lake Rowena; Erie County, Lake Pleasant and Upper Gravel Pit; Greene County, Duke Lake; Washington County, Dutch Fork Lake; Feb. 24, Allegheny County, North Park Lake; McKean County, Bradford Reservoir 3; Tioga County, Beechwood Lake and Lake Hamilton; Venango County, Justus Lake; Washington County, Canonsburg Lake; Westmoreland County, Donegal, Keystone, Mammoth, Northmoreland and Lower Twin lakes.

STATE PCB STUDY

Well, you can cross off PCBs in the feed as causing problems for the trout in Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission hatcheries.

In fact, the study conducted by the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University showed consumption advisories would not be warranted for hatchery trout fed a standard diet of commercially available fish food over a period of months.

All recreational-caught sportfish are subject to the state's one-meal-per-week consumption advisory, which covers mercury and other contaminants, Tredinnick said.

The study, spearheaded by Dr. Robert F. Carline and funded by the Fish and Boat Commission, is part of the agency's ongoing research into the low levels of PCBs found in its hatchery trout.

The study, at the Benner Spring hatchery in Centre County, checked the relationship between known levels of PCBs in fish food and the resultant amount found in adult trout of the size stocked.

The study also looked at the possible contribution of PCBs from water, the amount of PCBs retained by trout as a result of various exposures and looked for any seasonal variation in the PCB levels found in hatchery fish flesh.

The core experiment involved feeding trout a variety of diets, each with different, known levels of PCBs. The trout were tested at regular intervals to determine how much of the PCBs in fish food was assimilated.

"The fish fed the standard feed to stocking size had such low levels of PCBs that no additional consumption advisories would be warranted using Great Lakes Fish Consumption Advisory Protocols," Tredinnick said.

According to executive director, Peter A. Colangelo, "The Fish and Boat Commission sees this study as an important step in advancing our understanding of PCBs in hatchery fish. This is a complicated area involving many variables."

For instance, trout at the Huntsdale hatchery in Cumberland County have slightly higher levels of PCBs than found at the other trout-producing stations.

"Extensive testing on water sources, feed, soils and facilities have not led to any conclusions about why there are slightly elevated PCBs levels at Huntsdale," Tredinnick said. "Something else is going on."

Pennsylvania is the only state to regularly test hatchery fish for PCBs and apply the Great Lakes Consumption Advisory Protocols to the results.

"The testing of Pennsylvania hatchery trout over the last three years has confirmed that these fish are safe to catch, safe to handle and safe to eat in moderation," Tredinnick said.

"Although a handful of samples of trout have, in the past, showed levels of PCBs for which low-level consumption advisories were appropriate, the reported levels have remained far below the action levels set by the federal Food and Drug Administration for PCBs in fish sold as foodstuffs in interstate commerce," he said.

GAME LANDS BILL

Robert J. Sousa, chief of the Division of Federal Aid for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has informed the Pennsylvania Game Commission that if House Bill 2181 becomes law that the state "would be declared ineligible to participate in the federal aid in the Wildlife Restoration Program."

"In fiscal year 2001, Pennsylvania's Wildlife Restoration apportionment amounted to almost $6.8 million," Sousa said.

The bill proposes the multiuse use of games lands for recreation opportunities.

It stresses "outdoor tourism is Pennsylvania's second largest industry with significant revenue derived from the tourism use of public lands."

According to a commission spokesman, "The bill would subject the secondary use of games lands action by the Game Commission to the Regulatory Review Commission, which could cancel it."

In a letter to the Game Commission, Sousa said, "Our opinion is that this proposed legislation, if adopted, would result in the Game Commission losing control of its capital assets and would be a violation of the Administration Requirement, Federal Aid in Fish and Wildlife Restoration Acts."

He added: "It would impose undue restrictions on the Game Commission in carrying out its responsibilities for administer wildlife programs.

"Second, it would impose multiple recreational-use opportunities on state game lands that were purchased or managed with Federal Aid funds or with funds derived from hunting-license revenues. State game lands must continue to serve the purpose for which they were required and remain under management control of the Game Commission," he said.

PHEASANT HUNT

Chances for a private pheasant hunt are being offered by the Mount Pleasant Area Swim Team Parents Club.

The hunt for four persons will be held at the Lucky Buck Hunting Preserve near Saltsburg. The winner will have one year from Feb. 28 to choose a date for the hunt.

In addition, the ticket winner also will receive four Charles Daly 12-gauge pump shotguns.

Tickets are $10 each and contain two numbers. The winner will taken from the three-digit Pennsylvania lottery number drawn Feb. 28.

The raffle ticket is the organization's only fundraising vehicle this year because the high school swimming pool is under construction. All proceeds from the raffle are used to pay for swimmers' meals at the year-end banquet and awards.

Tickets are available from any swim team parent. Information is also available by contacting the club's vice president, Patti Peirce at 724-593-6184.

DOE HARVEST DOWN

West Virginia's antlerless deer harvest of 63,458 did not please Division of Natural Resources officials.

"For the second consecutive year, antlerless deer harvests have fallen short of the projected kill needed to meet management objectives," said Curtis Taylor, Wildlife Resources Division chief.

"We are disappointed."

The kill in 2000 was 63,987. The record was set in 1999, when 93,879 deer were taken.

"Considering the fact that the buck harvest increased (99,609 this season as compared to 2000's 88,981), the shortfall in the antlerless deer harvest makes next year's need for increased antlerless harvest more urgent in order to maintain quality deer and a healthy deer population," Taylor said.

Preston County topped the antlerless kill with 3,067; followed by Ritchie, 2,772; Jackson, 2,652; Roane, 2,574; and Lewis, 2,551.

Monongalia County checked in with 2,223, as compared to 2,364 the previous season.

Preston County's doe kill in 2000 was 3,464.

SPIKE BUCKS

One of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's studies concerns the measuring of antlers.

"From the Antler Measurement Study, the Game Commission has demonstrated that age and nutrition have enormous impact on the size of antlers," said Jerry Feaser, press secretary.

There were 256 bucks measured in Pike and Wayne counties, with 31 percent of the yearlings being spikes.

"None of the older bucks were spikes," Feaser said. "Some 54 percent of the 2½-year-old bucks in Pike and Wayne counties had 8 or more points."

MARYLAND BEARS

Maryland Department of Natural Resources has appointed a 12-member Black Bear Task Force.

The group will contribute to the development of a revised bear management plan. The previous plan was adopted in 1992.

The members include: Nancy Railey, Garrett County real estate agent; Brad Fratz, Garrett County Emergency Management; and private citizens Peggy Gosnell of Accident and George Falter of McHenry.

The bear season in Maryland is closed at the present time.

THE ERIE REPORT

John Bowser, western Erie County waterways conservation officer, reported some open water Wednesday on Lake Erie tributary streams.

"Three guys caught nice steelheads Tuesday at Manchester Hole on Walnut Creek," he said.

Outlook for the weekend is uncertain.

"We're going to have two days of thaw," he said, "then a return to snow."

RECORD DEER KILL

Ohio's primitive deer hunters took 22,513 deer during the Dec. 27-30 season.

That tops the previous season record of 15,289.

An estimated 90 percent of the deer were taken by muzzleloader hunters.

Ohio's archery season remains open through Jan. 31.

COYOTE SEMINAR

Wind Ridge Sportsmen's Club, Greene County, will hold a Coyote Seminar 7 p.m. Saturday. Tom Bechdel will be the speaker. A donation will be accepted. More information: 724-428-4813.

SUNDAY: Ohio officials eye rebound of lake sturgeon.

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