Harrisburg, PA – The summer season may be winding to a close, but some great trout fishing opportunities are about to open on dozens of Pennsylvania waterways this fall and winter.
Beginning the week of October 1 and continuing through mid-December, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) will stock approximately 120,000 hatchery raised adult Rainbow, Brown and Brook Trout in more than 100 streams and lakes. These stockings will replenish some of the most popular fishing spots across the Commonwealth immediately and provide ice fishing opportunities as conditions allow throughout the winter.
“Fall can be one of the most scenic and enjoyable times of year to spend a day fishing, and we’re excited to provide a special opportunity for those anglers who love fishing for trout,” said Brian Wisner, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Hatcheries. “Pennsylvania is fortunate to have some of the best wild trout fishing waters in the country, as well as the high-quality fish we’ve been raising at our hatcheries to deliver fresh fishing opportunities to people across the state.”
This year, due to public safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PFBC will conduct fall and winter trout stockings differently than in previous years. Like stocking activities in spring 2020, volunteers will not be permitted to assist with fall and winter stocking. To limit interaction with the public, stocking will be conducted only by PFBC staff wearing personal protective equipment, including masks.
To connect anglers with these trout fishing opportunities, the PFBC has published a list of dates and locations on the PFBC website which indicates the week during which the stocking will occur. This measure aims to provide some stocking information while continuing to discourage large gatherings planned around specific stocking events. All fall and winter trout stockings will occur Monday through Friday. The stocking schedule is subject to change due to local water conditions and other factors.
How to Fish for Trout
Trout that are stocked during fall and winter can be fished for immediately, and anglers ages 16 and older must have a valid Pennsylvania fishing license and trout permit. During the extended season (September 1 – December 31, 2020 and January 1 – February 28, 2021), the daily creel limit is three trout of combined species with a minimum size of seven inches. 2020 fishing licenses and permits can be purchased online at www.fishandboat.com by visiting more than 700 retail license issuing agents.
Trout can be caught on a variety of tackle including live bait such as worms and minnows; lures such as spinners and crankbaits; and common household baits such as pieces of cheese and corn. Most beginning anglers choose a 5- or 6-foot lightweight rod with a spinning reel spooled with 4-6 lb. monofilament line. Fly fishing is also popular during fall, when opportunistic fish are known to aggressively feed during aquatic insect hatches.
Find Great Places to Fish
Often, the best places to fish are waters closest to your home. Along with the waters being stocked with trout this fall, anglers can check out the list of Pennsylvania’s Best Fishing Waters on the PFBC website and FishBoatPA mobile app. This list is based on biologist surveys of fish populations on waters across the state and can lead you to prime fall and winter fishing spots for trout and many other popular fish including Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, panfish, and catfish.
In 2020, 32 waters located within Pennsylvania State Parks will be stocked with trout this fall and winter. Many of these locations feature easy angler access from shore, boat ramps, and amenities such as bathrooms.
Safety and Social Distancing While Fishing
While there are usually fewer people fishing along lakes and streams during the fall and winter months, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, anglers who encounter other individuals or groups are encouraged to practice social distancing and remain at least six feet away (the length of a standard fishing rod) from other anglers who are not in your family group.
Fishing and Boating this Fall? Wear It, PA!
Fishing from a boat in fall can be a great way to experience the changing fall foliage as it reflects off the water around you! However, boaters should keep in mind that as cooler air moves in, water temperatures can drop rapidly, presenting added dangers. All boaters, including the increased number of new kayakers enjoying the water this season, are reminded to wear a life jacket. During the cold weather months from November 1 through April 30, anyone on a boat less than 16 feet in length, including all canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, is required to wear a life jacket. Children age 12 and under must always wear a life jacket while paddling. For more safe boating tips, visit the Safe Boating page on the PFBC website.
A Launch permit is required for operators of unpowered boats, including kayaks and canoes, who wish to use hundreds of PFBC boat access areas, and DCNR boat ramps inside state parks. Launch permits are available for purchase at www.fishandboat.com.
Link to 2020 Fall/Winter Trout Stocking Schedule: https://fbweb.pa.gov/stocking/TroutStockingDetails_GIS.aspx