Stalking the Stockings

It is almost that time of year again in Pennsylvania. Beginning about the second week of March, trout from PA state hatcheries will be dispersed to 700 streams and 100 lakes around the state. Thousands of miles of streams receive an exciting boost with almost 4 million brook, rainbow, and brown trout.

Stocking from fish hatcheries helps provide fishing opportunities for thousands of anglers. Many of the water recipients are small streams which are not able to support a trout fishery year round due to high summer temperatures, fluctuating water flows, or angling pressure.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission actually welcomes assistance with the stocking. Times and locations to rendezvous with stocking trucks are published online, along with instructions to help with an efficient and successful transition to the fishes’ new homes.  However, this is dependent on weather for safety and success of stocking. Some stocking dates have been rescheduled due to the severity of this winter.

Should you wish to help stock streams, the Fish and Boat Commission warns against parking in a manner which might obstruct traffic. They also advise that assistants be relatively fit, able to carry buckets quickly, long distances. I don’t know about you, but any distance I’ve carried a 5 gallon bucket of water is a long distance. For some locations, it may be necessary to wear neoprene waders to pull a “float box” for contributing to wider distribution along streams.

The destinations should be deeper pools, free of silt. The trout eventually scatter, selecting places that provide protection, areas to rest behind rocks or logs, and where the current will bring food without expending too much energy. These fish are accustomed to dining on high protein pellets a couple times a day but quickly switch to various aquatic offerings such as minnows, insect, and other invertebrates.

This year I’ll scout several streams again, stalking the stockings before the official opening day of trout season which is either March 29th or April 12th, depending on the county.  For my kids, I try to have a Plan B, C, and D to allow for fishing pressure, access, and water levels.

Is your state stocking trout this spring? Contact some fishing web sites in your neck of the woods to find out.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.