Outdoors photo

Beneath the surface, nice trout await anglers and the PA Fish & Boat Commission provides access as to where they can be found.

Photo by Charlie Burchfield

Trout season is closer for some yet further into the future for others.

The Regional Opening Days of Trout Season were set into place during the 2007 season. The idea developed allowing an 18 county area within the southeastern portion of the state to open trout season two weeks ahead of the traditional statewide April opening day.

The thought process behind the change was to tailor the season to the unique biological and angling conditions in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania.

Another factor contributing to the change was weather conditions. Long term weather patterns indicated that air temperatures within the 18-county region tended to be warmer earlier in the spring compared to other regions of the state.

These warmer temperatures provide conditions that are typically better suited for trout angling earlier in the spring than in the rest of the state.

The change was made and has been readily accepted by anglers. Another byproduct that accompanied the change was, and still is, expanded opportunity.

For decades sportsmen traditionally have come north to enjoy the outdoors. But diehard anglers viewed it as a chance to fish new waters, at least until the traditional opening date, which is set on the first Saturday following April 11th.

This year trout season statewide opens on April 14.

No doubt there will be some who live in the northern tier that will travel to the southeast region for the April 11 trout opener.

However for those unfamiliar with the streams within that 18 county area, locating the best waters to fish could be a hit or miss situation. On the other hand, today it is easier than ever to locate productive waters to fish for trout.

The PA Fish & Boat Commission’s web site located at www.fishandboat.com provides quick, easy, up-to-date, and accurate information about fishing in PA. On the front page of the F&BC’s web site are a number of information boxes to select. Click on “Best Fishing Waters” then select “Trout Stocked” or “Wild Trout” and there you’ll be provided a listing of waters to fish. The streams suggested are waters that have been proven to be consistently productive. Yes, the information addresses trout, but other species of fish are also highlighted.

Another icon to select that locates what many consider exceptional trout waters is found by clicking on the “Keystone Select Waters”.

The Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters program provides anglers with an exciting opportunity to fish for larger trout. Under the program, approximately 4,500 large trout, 2-to 3-years old and measuring between 14 to 20 inches, will be distributed among these select waters under the Delayed Harvest, Artificial Lures Only special regulation.

These larger trout are stocked only during the spring stocking periods of peak angling use.

Keystone Select waters within the region include: In Clearfield County a 1.8 mile stretch of Chest Creek. In Potter Co. a 2.12 mi. section of the First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek. In Tioga County a 1.06 mi. section of Pine Creek. Within McKean Co. a 2.29 mile section of Kinzua Creek. In Venango County a 1.55 mi. section of Oil Creek. Additional “Select Waters” are distributed across the state.

As with many waters managed under Delayed Harvest, Artificial Lures Only special regulation, not all of the waters managed under the Keystone Select Stocked Trout Waters program receive a fall stocking. Fall stocking is limited to stream sections that act as destination fisheries and tend to provide better angler use at this time of year.

The 2018 season will open Saturday, March 24, for the Mentored Youth Trout Day in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York counties. The following Saturday, March 31, will kick off the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season in the same 18 southern counties.

A second Mentored Youth Day will be held on Saturday, April 7, the Saturday before the April 14 regular opening day of trout season.

The PFBC expects to release about 3.2 million adult trout into more than 720 streams and 120 lakes around the state. The average size of trout stocked by the PFBC is expected to be 11 inches. Many waterways will also receive a few of the more than 8,000 “trophy” golden rainbows, which are expected to average 1.5 pounds and 14 inches in length.

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Charlie Burchfield is an active member and past president of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, an active member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America and the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers. Gateway Outdoors e-mail is GWOutdoors@comcast.net.

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