By John Crooks
With another long and brutal winter hopefully pretty much behind us, many Pennsylvania anglers are already looking ahead to our state’s trout season opener. As in the past several years, opening day of trout season will vary by region. For trout anglers fishing in the eight-county Northwest region, opening day is April 12.
In certain other regions, opening day is earlier, so check the 2014 Fishing Regulations book for the area you plan to fish. As in last year, fishermen will have a choice between buying a one-year, three-year or five-year fishing license.
With a long winter winding down, trout season may seem like a long way off, but the annual preseason stocking of area trout streams begins locally on Saturday. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is moving ahead with plans to begin stocking trout in designated Pennsylvania trout waters.
Waterways Conservation Officer Terry Crecraft offered a list of preseason and in-season trout stockings. Beginning Saturday, with the stocking of Oil Creek East Branch and Five Mile Creek, the big, white stocking trucks will become a familiar site on Pennsylvania’s roads.
Trout from the Corry hatchery will be released locally.
The Fish and Boat Commission is again requesting help in the release of these trout. Volunteers should meet on the dates and times listed to begin the “bucket brigade.” For those of you not familiar with the bucket brigade, it is a term used to get trout from the stocking truck to the stream. Volunteers carry five-gallon buckets of water and fish to the stream to be released.
The system, while simple, is very effective. It makes believers out of those fishermen who claim the streams aren’t being stocked, and it also serves as a good way to learn where area trout streams are and what they look like. It will also help you to decide where to fish on opening morning. Seeing is believing; you’ll know the trout are there!
Those interested in joining the bucket brigade are asked to arrive prior to the listed meeting times to ensure that the convoy doesn’t leave without you.
When you arrive at these meeting places, look for a big, white Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission truck that has a water tank containing thousands of fish. Also look for Crecraft’s vehicle, which is a marked Waterways Conservation sport utility vehicle.
Normally, about 15 to 20 other cars and trucks are pulled over to the side of the road near the white truck and Crecraft’s vehicle, waiting for the convoy to head to the stocking site.
Helping the Fish and Boat Commission release trout is good therapy after months of cold weather and cabin-fever-related ailments. Locally, thousands of rainbow, brown, palomino and brook trout will be released, both before and during season, into 57 different lakes and streams in northwest Pennsylvania.
Cochranton-area resident John Crooks is a longtime outdoors writer.
2014 Crawford County preseason trout stockings
Date, water area, meeting place and time
Saturday, East Branch Oil Creek and Five Mile Creek, Clear Lake Dam Breast at Route 77, 9 a.m.
March 14, Muddy Creek and Sugar Creek, Little Cooley at Route 77, 9:15 a.m.
March 15, Oil Creek, Centerville Post Office at Route 8, 9:30 a.m.
March 20, Caldwell Creek, Grand Valley at Route 27, 9:30 a.m.
March 22, Woodcock Creek, Saegertown Post Office at Route 6, 9:30 a.m.
March 25, Pine Creek, Grand Valley at Route 27, 9:30 a.m.
March 28, Little Sugar Creek, Cochranton Post Office, 10 a.m.
April 8, Thompson Creek and McLaughlin Creek, Hydetown at Route 8, 9:30 a.m.
April 11, Conneaut Creek, Dicksonburg Road at Route 18 by the creek's bridge, 10 a.m.
2014 Crawford County in-season trout stockings
Date, water area, meeting place and time
April 15, Woodcock Creek, Route 408 and 77 intersection, 9:30 a.m.
April 18, Conneaut Creek, Dicksonburg Road, Route 18, 10 a.m.
May 5, Muddy and Sugar Creek, Little Cooley, Route 77, 9 a.m.
May 6, Caldwell Creek, Grand Valley, Route 27, 9:30 a.m.
May 8, Oil Creek, Centerville Post Office, Route 8, 9:30 a.m.
May 12, Pine Creek, Grand Valley, Route 27, 9:30 a.m.
May 13, Oil Creek, Clear Lake Dam Breast, Route 77, 9 a.m.
May 14, Thompson Creek, Hydetown, Route 8, 9:30 a.m.
May 21, Little Sugar Creek, Cochranton Post Office, 10 a.m.
On April 12, anglers in the eight-county Northwest region of the state can begin trout fishing at 8 a.m.
Fishermen will need a regular fishing license plus a trout stamp
The daily limit is five trout in the regular season
Trout must be at least seven inches long to be legal