April 9th, 2007

Release and Catch
(you didn't misread it, read it again)
By Dave Pearson, PA

"I think he'll need a change of clothes…hmmm....We're not planning on going swimming, but you know how kids are around water, he'll probably get wet...It's a mountain stream...quite cold, colder than you think...I'm sure he'll be fine but you'll want him dry for the picnic... 9 o'clock...we meet the truck at quarter to 10...the hatchery truck...the fish hatchery...where they grow the fish...it's a truck filled with water and all the fish we're going to stock...buckets them into a small sunken raft...it's called a float box, the fish go from the truck to the stream in buckets then into the float boxes which we push downstream releasing fish here and there as we go...two cars, I think, Tom and I in one, the four of you can follow...a bit beyond Halfway Dam... it's called McCall's Dam, but there's no actual dam there now; used to be...just a picnic area, White Deer Creek flows through it. We'll start putting the fish in a quarter mile or so from the picnic area...McCall's Dam... you turn off the road that goes past Halfway Dam, over the mountain...just stay close and you won't get lost... 'll bet he is, I'm excited too. It'll be a lot of fun... 9 o'clock Thursday...uh huh...see you guys then...bye bye."

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans on stocking 3,296,100 trout in 2007. Sportsman's clubs and co-op nurseries will bring the total of stocked fish to a bit over 4 million. That's a lot of trout! And it's a lot of work to put them in the water. My Trout Unlimited chapter helps out each year by float stocking the catch-and-release fly-fish-only section of White Deer Creek. The section is a bit over three miles long.

In years past we got fifteen hundred trout to put in this section of the creek, but this year we are slated for eleven hundred. The trout are fewer but bigger. This was intentional on the Commission's part.

During the Trout Summit of 2002, anglers were asked to voice their preference. Did they want more fish of a smaller size or, did they want fewer fish of greater size?

The preference voiced was overwhelmingly in favor of larger trout. So the stocked trout of 2007 are, on average, 30% bigger than the 2006 fish. According to the PFBC website he average stocked fish of 2006 was .44 lbs and was 10 inches long. The average stocked fish of 2007 is .66 lbs and is 11 inches long. These account for 3.2 million of the commissions trout. 30,000 trout are, on average, 2 lbs or around 16 inches long. The remainder come in at 1˝ lbs and are about 14 inches.

So the plan was that the fish we got on Thursday would be 30% bigger but 20% fewer. As it turned out they were even fewer than expected. We were promised eleven hundred, but only eight hundred and seventy five were on the truck. Steve, our Water Conservation Officer (WCO) thinks this shortfall will be made up later on in the year. But the trout we did receive were spectacular!

 Joao, Claudia and Ann

We divided the Creek into manageable, floatable sections. Each section got at least two people to do the actual floating and stocking.

Headed downstream

My crew totaled six. I maneuvered the box downstream. Tom helped Joao Pedro (age 7) walk the stream and remove fish from the float box. Joao Pedro's friend Bic ("like the pen," his mother said) helped from the bank. And the whole procedure was supervised by Joao Pedro's mother, Claudia and Bic's mother, Ann.

Doing a Mans Work

The weather was perfect and the kids were quite excited. Neither had been that close to live fish before and the whole concept of putting fish in the creek so we could fish for them later was a bit strange in their eyes. But there was much squealing and laughing and, yes, someone did fall in and someone's mother did bring a change of clothes so everything turned out all right. And the fish were released into White Deer Creek.


As has been done for many years, after the stocking was done we retired to McCall's Dam for a picnic. Bill didn't make his famous chili this year, but Harry brought baked beans which proved to be a hit. I introduced Claudia, Ann and the kids to the chapter members. Claudia liked the day so much that she's thinking of joining the chapter. And she doesn't fish!

Nap time

Thursday I helped release fish into White Deer. Monday I went back and caught a few. No pictures of salamanders (or, as a couple of astute readers pointed out, newts) this week. Just a fish that was released and caught (and released).


~ Dave - (black gnat)

About Dave:

Dave Pearson lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania with his loving wife, Gillian, and two dogs, Casey and Booboo. His passion is small mountain streams. He teaches guitar for a living. You may contact Dave at: pdewey2@aol.com

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