Fall Trout Stocking
Inside the Outdoors, October 3
, 2014

With September behind us, October brings with it many opportunities. For the outdoor enthusiast, tree leaves turn to vibrant colors, inviting people to the great outdoors, hunters bear arms in order to harvest their favorite game and anglers will head to the lakes, for they know that the fall stocking will entice them to want to try for the many trout that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has emptied into the many water basins throughout the state.

Locally in Westmoreland County, seven lakes and one creek received a fall stocking of rainbow trout, two water basins on Wednesday, Oct. 1, Indian Lake and Mammoth Lake, Donegal, Keystone and Northmoreland Lakes, Loyalhanna Creek, Thursday, Oct. 2, and two lakes today, Upper and Lower Twin Lakes.

Loyalhanna Creek was stocked from State Route 711 Bridge down to the State Route 2045 Bridge, better known as the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lure Only Project in Ligonier. Since trout can only be harvested between June 15 and Labor Day, all fish caught must be returned to the waters. This should provide aspired hope that this section will not be fished out, as many anglers seem to think.

In addition, Ligonier Outfitters, over the years, has sold pins with the income collected going toward an additional stocking of trout in that designated area. “And it’s going well,” stated Dan McMaster, owner. “We are getting ready for a fall stocking once the water rises a bit.”

When asked about the cost of pins and angler’s reaction to the program, he said, “They are $10 apiece. However we do accept donations. A number of people have been most generous over the summer donating more to the cause.”

And what will be the outcome to this fundraising. He concluded, “We will stock mixed sizes of trout,” he said.

Keep in mind, we are now in the extended trout season which started Sept. 2 and will end Dec. 31. The minimum size for trout is still seven inches, but the daily limit of fish harvested is now three instead of five. This applies to all approved trout waters and all waters downstream of said waters for exception of the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lure Area.

It’s been said that fall fishing in the lakes and streams including Loyalhanna Creek has decreased over the year. Thus, stocking for streams and lakes has fallen off. But even though fishing is down, bait sales are up at Long Bridge Station on Route 30. Being on the main throughway between Latrobe and Ligonier, Bill Tuscano stated that “We are the premiere of bait sales because of our location and that many anglers from Allegheny County stop in and buy our products.”

I asked about his butterworm sales, as I have purchased them from him in the past. He stated, “Butterworm sales have increased tremendously!” The great thing about that live bait is that is can be used repeatedly even after one or more fish have been caught. I knew one angler who used to fish the back waters of the Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe. He used one butterworm 13 times.

The 87 year-old owner and proprietor added, “Since we do have such a great location, and bait sales are great, maybe somebody would like to buy the business.” Anyone seeing the layout of this popular outlet understands that anyone of his age has more of an undertaking than one can handle. Throughout the years, he has built up this fishing retail store to be one of the best in the area. It goes without saying, many trout and other freshwater fish have been caught on the bait he has sold over the decades.

Ligonier’s Rich Kacsuta has reported great fishing in the Delayed Harvest area on the Loyalhanna Creek. “There have been a lot of anglers here recently (the weekend of Sept. 22). Most have been fly fishermen,” the owner of Loyalhanna Fishing Post stated. “And they have reeled in some nice-sized trout averaging 12 to 18 inches in length.” The fly preferred – “black ants,” he said. “Spin fishermen are using Joe Flies.”

He said with cheer in his voice, “They are catchin’ them, admirin’ them and then throwin’ them back. That’s the way it ought to be, you know!”

By the way, he will be heading to Erie Oct. 10. There will be an upcoming report on how he and others will be fairing in the very near future. “I’m really surprised. I’ve been receiving reports that fishing is good now in September. That’s rare. It must be due to the rain and the water temperatures.” That spells out hope for those heading north, from Ligonier, Latrobe and beyond.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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