100 WVIA Way
Pittston, PA 18640

Phone: 570-826-6144
Fax: 570-655-1180

Copyright © 2024 WVIA, all rights reserved. WVIA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local waterways stocked with fish ahead of opening day for trout season

A Rainbow and a Golden trout are thrown into the lake at Frances Slocum State Park during a fish stocking on Feb. 28.
Aimee Dilger
A rainbow and a golden trout are thrown into the lake at Frances Slocum State Park during a fish stocking on Feb. 28.

Trout season is a Pennsylvania tradition like none other, according to Mike Parker.

"It's really the driving force for fishing for many families and generations," said Parker, the communications director for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC).

Ahead of April 1, the opening day for trout fishing season, two large white trucks drove several thousand rainbow and golden rainbow trout to the lake at Frances Slocum State Park. On that late February day, the fish took an over 100-mile journey from the Benner Springs State Hatchery in Centre County to the lake in Northeast Pennsylvania.

"Starting about 6, 7 o'clock this morning, they started netting these these guys out and putting them ... into the trucks," he said.

The commission began its preseason trout stocking on Feb. 21. Some of the first waterways filled were in Northeast Pennsylvania. Throughout the year, the PFBC will stock 697 streams and 126 lakes across the commonwealth that are open to public angling with 3.2 million adult trout. The PFBC expects those trout, that are raised at 14 state hatcheries, to all be caught by the end of the season next winter.

"We put them in, we want you to take them out," Parker said.

The amount of trout stocked in a waterway depends on the angling pressure that a lake or stream can handle, the popularity of that water and its public access, said Parker.

The average trout is 11 inches long and weighs around half a pound.

The PFBC plan to stock around 70,000 brood fish this year. Those trout are between two-and-a-half and 3-and-a-half years old. They measure between 14 to 20 inches.

The majority of the trout were shot into Lake Frances down large tubes hooked into water tanks on the back of the trucks.

The brood fish had to be netted out of the tanks. Their familiar pink stripe stuck out in the nets. A PFBC volunteer in black fish waders, blue gloves and a blaze orange winter hat walked the fish to the water. The trout flopped around in the net before he flung them into the lake. Some slapped as they hit the surface. Others floated close to the top or swam towards the shore as a growing group of onlookers watched the stocking.

Trout need cold water to live. The fish, especially the state fish, brook trout, thrive in cold mountain streams that aren’t always easy to get to. The brook trout tend to exist naturally. Anglers can find them as well as rainbow, golden rainbow and brown trout in waterways across the state.

“You can rely on this time of year that probably about 20 minutes from everybody's house in Pennsylvania, there's going to be a good stock trout water," said Parker. "It makes it extremely accessible.”

The Fish and Boat Commission will restock the waterways a few weeks after opening day and again in the fall.

“We find this window of opportunity in the springtime, and then also in the fall, where the water is nice and cool," he said.

What the anglers don't catch, nature takes care of, said Parker.

“There's ... bald eagles and other birds and ... raccoons and things that, that eat fish," he said. "They usually take a couple of their share too.”

Bryan Bendock a Waterway Conservasion Officer hangs a notice about fishing at Frances Slocum State Park.
Aimee Dilger
Bryan Bendock a waterway conservation officer hangs a notice about fishing at Frances Slocum State Park.

While trout season officially opens for all anglers the first Saturday in April, kids and their adult mentors will have an early chance to catch fish on Mentored Youth Fishing Day held on Saturday, March 25.

For more details, visit fishandboat.com/

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org