Countdown to fishing season - LancasterOnline: Sports

Countdown to fishing season

Trout opener is set for Saturday.

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Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 12:11 am | Updated: 7:18 pm, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

The stage is set.

Well, almost set anyway.

Following a handful of stockings to be completed during the coming week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will have Lancaster County's 25 streams and one lake, which are designated as approved trout waters, stuffed with about 29,700 rainbow, brown and golden rainbow trout for opening day Saturday, March 31.

Local sportsmen's clubs will plant more trout in at least nine other streams.

The 2012 trout season opens here and in 17 other southeast Pennsylvania counties Saturday.

Besides Lancaster, those counties are Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York.

In the rest of the state, the season opens April 14.

With this year's record warm weather and a significant jump in license sales, the PFBC expects opening day to be very busy.

License sales are about 22 percent higher than last year at this time.

"Last year we had a cold and wet start to the fishing season," PFBC Executive Director John Arway said. "This year we've had so much warm weather that anglers everywhere are excited to get out and start the season. And we're seeing that excitement represented in our sales. People want to be out fishing."

All totaled, the PFBC is expected to stock 3.2 million trout this year in 736 streams and 121 lakes statewide.

Those figures include 1.8 million rainbows, 840,000 brown trout and 512,000 brookies.

On top of those fish, the PFBC plans to stock 8,520 trophy golden rainbow trout - remember, they're not palominos - that weigh an average of 1.5 pounds and measure at least 14 inches long.

Cooperative nurseries run by sportsmen's clubs across Pennsylvania will add another 737,000 trout to waters close to them.

Once the season starts here in Lancaster County, the PFBC plans to plant another 23,200 trout in select approved trout waters through next fall.

No local waters were lost or added to the stocking list this year.

But there is one significant change local anglers need to be aware of.

Anglers who fish Little Beaver Creek and Big Beaver Creek this season will notice some new signs posted along sections of both waters.

"No Sunday Fishing."

The signs were posted by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, but the restriction was called for by the landowners - all of whom are Amish.

"It's not that the properties have changed hands," said Jeff Schmidt, the PFBC's waterways conservation officer for southern Lancaster County.

"I touch base with my landowners to make sure there are no issues from the previous year, and the topic of Sunday fishing came up and it was their preference that their lands not be fished on the Sabbath."

All seven miles of Little Beaver Creek stocked with trout will be closed to Sunday fishing.

Only one farm on Big Beaver was posted for no Sunday fishing. That property is along Beaver Valley Pike, north of White Oak Road, on the Providence-Strasburg township line.

So for those of you who are used to fishing these streams both days of opening weekend, Schmidt wants you to know the streams will be open March 31, but they will be closed April 1 on those properties posted for no Sunday fishing.

They also will closed every other Sunday of the season.

And the "no fishing" rule applies to the landowners as well as the general public.

"I've also made it clear to the landowners, that also applies to them," Schmidt said. "There's a regulation where we will enforce that. I want the fishing public to be aware, the Little Beaver is effectively closed to Sunday fishing."

The rule against Sunday fishing might seem like an inconvenience to anglers planning to be on the water both days of opening weekend.

But Schmidt said there is an alternative that anglers certainly would find even less palatable.

"The land only remains open to fishing through the generosity of the landowners," he said. "We clearly have to respect their wishes on these types of issues."

P.J. Reilly is the Sunday News' outdoors writer. Email him at preilly@lnpnews.com.

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