trout stocking01.jpg

A Fish and Boat commission staffer nets trout that are placed in buckets near Little Conestoga Creek at Delp Road in March, 2016.

Trout-seeking anglers looking to take to Lancaster County waterways for an early start to the 2020 season will have to wait two weeks longer than was originally planned.

That’s the case after state Fish and Boat Commission officials announced that Lancaster County’s planned early start was postponed due the spread of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus.

“We’re making these adjustments to trout season because we are operating under unprecedented circumstances,” commission spokesman Mike Parker said.

In Lancaster County, trout fishing season was scheduled to begin on April 4, with an earlier mentored youth day on March 28.

Under the postponement, Lancaster’s season won’t begin until April 18, with a mentored youth day on April 11. The same is true in communities throughout the state. Planned early starts in other Pennsylvania counties also have been postponed.

Also, commission officials will now conduct stocking in-house, forgoing traditional events that allow members of the public to participate.

“We need to limit the number of people that interact with our staff, including CDL truck drivers who drive our stocking trucks,” Parker said. “If one of those drivers were to become sick or otherwise quarantined, we would lose the ability to stock fish. . . . Additionally, If you’ve ever been on a trout stocking, you will notice that the majority of our volunteers are older men that would be most at risk for becoming severely sick from this virus.”

According to Parker, commission officials are committed to the new trout season start dates.

Waterway conservation officers will be patrolling and policing the changes, and citations could be filed against uncooperative anglers, Parker said.

“We realize that there will be some confusion, but we are doing our best to make people aware of the changes,” he said.

With that said, Parker made it clear that fishing is still allowed and encouraged.

“Other species, such as bass, catfish, panfish, walleye, and musky are all currently open,” he said.

To promote social distancing, officials also announced that fishing licenses, launch permits and boat registration renewals can now be purchased online at www.pa.wildlifelicense.com.