Trout Stocking Project
Inside the Outdoors, April 19
, 2013

As a result of two Ligonier men tossing about some ideas, a project is underway to stock more trout in the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lure area along St. Route 30 in Ligonier.

According to Dan McMaster, proprietor of Ligonier Mountain Outfitters, “It seems anglers are coming into my store and telling me there aren’t as many trout in that section of water as there used to be.”

When Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited Board Member Don Kowatch entered the Main Street shop, both he and McMaster started throwing around plans how money could be raised to buy rainbow and brown trout that could be stocked in the Project. After conversing a bit, the concept of selling pins surfaced.

According to Kowatch, “We both had the same idea. I told him I would put it before the Forbes Trail Trout Unlimited membership and get their input. It was overwhelmingly approved that we start it off with some seed money. Everyone thought it was a great idea.”

And thus selling pins for $10 each started drawing interest of customers who did business at the retail outlet. Nine days after they originally went on sale (April 9), 50 pins had already been sold.

Kowatch continued by stating, “Everyone knows by now that the PFBC wants to close several hatcheries and reduce the number of fish they stock in the future, so programs like this will supplement the number of fish going into the stream. Now, all we need is for people who like to fish the Loyalhanna DHAL area to go to Ligonier Outfitters and buy the pins,” he said.

Weighing in on the subject as to whether or not any less trout have been stocked in that area, Richard Lorson, biologist for the PFBC, stated, “No, there has not been a reduction to the Delayed Harvest section of the Loyalhanna.”

According to PFBC Supervisor Tom Crist at the Somerset office, “Anybody can stock trout in designated areas as long as the fish are native to those waters. Trout are definitely native to the DHAL area.”

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Many anglers seem to shy away from streams when the water level rises due to recent rains. It’s normal to think it may be harder to fish bodies of water that are elevated to the point that one can’t wade in as easily. But consider this very important fact. Just because the current increases and watercolor muddies a bit, that should not act as a deterrent. Remember, fish still are hungry and have to eat if there is any chance of survival. One just has to rethink his approach just what may work better as to weight, lure or fly color and general overall presentation. It falls under the heading of “adaptation.”

As an angler for well over 50 years, one learns a lot from others’ pros and cons. I accumulated my knowledge when I owed a fishing tackle shop for well over 25 yeats.

In the early stages of becoming educated about the outdoors, I received the news that a neighbor had caught far more fish when the stream was high than when it flowed at normal levels. That spoke volumes to me. It should do the same for anyone who wants to catch fish in the future.

Fifty-three years ago, I accompanied a friend to Somerset where his family had a cabin. Unfortunately, the day after we got there, while fishing a fairly large stream, we were caught in a cloud burst, and the rains belted us with fairly large drops. I was timid at the time and thought that our fishing trip would be a washout. But being so far from home, I learned how to fish in these conditions, and was very surprised how may fish I caught.

It is my observation, when it comes to streams, that it is far harder to fish when water levels are lower than when they are up a bit as the aquatic species can’t see anglers as readily. That is the trick here – not to be seen. Once they note your presence, you might as well hang up your rod, or leave the area temporarily and then return at a later time, this time being more discreet.

If the streams rise too high, forget it. It won’t be safe, the stocked fish that acclimated to a certain area in all due respect, may have been washed downstream and don’t know what is going on. After all, they were raised in a small amount of space in a hatchery. To be pushed away by the raging current from where they were stocked has to be a shock. Only when the waters recede, will they then once again adapt.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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