The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission just released a Public Opinion Poll to help them manage what the public wants. The data they get back from it could be good for wild trout but with the amount of casual anglers in Pennsylvania that only follow the stocking truck I fear that may not be the case. Currently the PFBC stocks trout over a lot of quality wild and native trout streams and that stocking does a lot of damage to the wild populations of those streams.
How bad is it you ask? Well just a few short years ago a list of streams that were stocked to found to have Class A populations of wild trout. That Class A designation is suppose to trigger the commission to remove those streams from the stocking list. Well in the case of these streams (STREAMS DESIGNATED AS BOTH CLASS A WILD TROUT STREAMS AND STOCKED TROUT WATERS) they decided they need to still be stocked. Yes I will give a pat on the back for giving the streams the class A designation and the extra protections that gives them with permitting and stream use. The failure to to remove these streams from the stocking list was a failure to give the wild trout in them the protection they deserve!
But this is not Montana we don’t have that many wild trout? Yes it is not Montana in the sense PA does not have cold water that is feed by snow packs and PA is not mecca of trout fishing that Montana has become. But guess what Montana did not always have the quality of fishing it has today they were plagued by many of the stocking practices you see in PA that limited the caring capacity for wild trout in their streams by adding stocked trout to wild populations. In the end Montana ending all stocking of trout and let nature take over. In 1974 Montana stunned the angling world and quit stocking fish. If you want to read more about it here is a good place to start. Why Montana Went Wild
I am not saying that PA needs to stop stocking fish I enjoy fishing for stocked trout as much as the next guy. They have there place and in many areas kids and new anglers would never have the chance to fish for trout. What would work then? Well one thing would simply be stop stocking over quality wild trout streams since PA uses and A,B,C, D rating I would suggest all high class C waters and higher should not be stocked over this would accomplish a few things. One it would reduce the over all number of trout needed and save the PFBC money and help them solve there current budget issues. Heck there is even a good chance it would free up extra fish still and allow them to be stocked in the streams closer to where people live and put more trout in streams they would be fished for. What you get is more trout stocked in the season trout streams and lakes that receive the most pressure already.
Back to Streams with wild trout in PA. As you can see above on this map from the PFBC Online Trout Streams Map we have a good number of wild trout streams in PA. Heck some of the best wild streams in PA became that due to pollution and that being the reason for no stocking. Some Examples of this would be Spring Creek, Little Juniata River, Lakawanna River, and even the Clarion River. These streams are now on the map as destination streams either for there large trout or large numbers of wild trout. What do they all have in common well for the most part outside of some fingerling stockings in some of them they are largely were left to their own devices and wild trout survived. There are other streams like this out there that in all honestly the water quality improved that wild trout did there thing. Imagine if we let wild trout do there thing without the competition of stocked trout in more streams!
Now I realize our wild trout streams can’t handle the pressure of having as many trout kept from them so they would also need better protection than they receive now. Currently you can keep 5 trout over 7 inches from any stream that is stocked or wild a day. Lets be honest most wild streams to really protect them for the future should be under catch and release only and this is especially for out native brook trout streams. So why doesn’t the PFBC make a move to say stop the stocking of brook trout and make all brook trout catch and release only. I know that would be a hard one to pull off but one can dream
The PFBC currently has there Sportsmen’s Forum Public Opinion Poll live on there homepage. (PA Fish and Boat Commission Homepage) Head over the and we urge you to make the voice of wild and native trout heard. If there is an increase in funding more of the funds need to go toward the protection of wild trout. Look for the image below on their homepage to access the poll.