Illustrations by Ted Walke
Illustrated reports from our Waterways Conservation Officers
throughout the state.
The following are only a few of the entries which appear regularly in Pennsylvania Angler & Boater magazine.
"No sir, the Fish and Boat Commission does not stock goldfish." Apparently, a local municipality had drawn down a pond and relocated the fish they salvaged. The fish were transported to Stony Creek, an approved trout water. Little did anyone know that there were two koi (large Japanese goldfish) inhabiting the pond along with many catfish. Several anglers have reported catching the koi, while trout have been generally uncooperative. Even though they boost the success rate, I don't foresee a large-scale koi stocking program in the future.\
-- WCO Gerald Barton, Southern Montgomery County
Many times in my career as a Waterways Conservation Officer I have been mistaken for a Wildlife Conservation Officer. Many people ask me about the condition of the deer herd or where they can go to see a bear, but the most often request is for the removal of a dead deer on the road near one's house. With tongue in cheek I usually respond with, "I only pick up road-killed fish," up until a few years ago, when I was stocking trout.
We had finished stocking one section of stream and were moving to another section when one of the hatches on the stocking truck came loose. When the truck went around a corner, a few trout came out of the tank and landed on the road, at which time three of the trout were pancaked by oncoming traffic. I stopped my vehicle, scooped up the living fish, not an easy task, by the way, and quickly put them in the nearest water. When the stocking was completed, I went back and gathered the remains of the unlucky fish from the road and disposed of them. Now I can honestly say, "I really do pick up road-killed fish."
-- WCO William Snyder, Monroe County
On completion of an early winter trout stocking at Fairview Lake, I proceeded to an observation point to watch the area.
Only one fisherman arrived at the Commission access, but he was having great success. Using snelled hooks, the fisherman was unsnapping the swivel and leaving the hook and line in the fish as he caught them. Before long, his three trout, the limit, were on his stringer. He removed two of them, placed them in a plastic grocery bag, walked up to his car, and put them in his trunk. On returning to the water's edge, he quickly added two more trout to his stringer, unsnapping the swivel and leaving the hook and line in the fish as before. He made another trip to his car, returning with another bag. Into that bag went two more trout from his stringer. Then he went back to his car where he retrieved the first bag of trout from the trunk. He put the second bag of trout into the first, and then hid the whole package in fallen leaves by his car. To the water's edge again he went&SHY;soon, two more trout were caught and put on the stringer in the same manner as before.
Apparently, four trout over the limit was enough. The man collected his gear and stringer of three trout and returned to his car, where I met him.
I retrieved the four extra trout from their hiding place in the leaves. The fisherman flatly denied everything, angrily proclaiming his innocence. The three trout and the stringer, along with the two bags of trout, were confiscated and tagged as evidence, and a citation was issued.
Later, at his court appearance, I testified to his actions that day. The fisherman continued to proclaim his innocence, and testified under oath that he was using a different type of hook-and-line setup altogether. His testimony did not count for much, however, after the judge (much to my surprise) performed "autopsies" on the seven confiscated trout, right on his bench! The judge found the snelled hooks in the three trout still on the stringer, as well as in the four trout in the bags. The defendant was promptly found guilty, and, because he was a repeat offender, the judge set his fine accordingly at triple the prescribed penalty.
I had cited this fisherman less than a year before, during the extended trout season, for culling trout from his stringer and littering. In addition, the Commission has suspended his fishing privileges for two years.
A judge with knowledge of fishing and a handy pocketknife&SHY;what more could a WCO want?
-- WCO William Carey, South Wallenpaupack
Since graduating from the 13th Class of Waterways Conservation Officers, I've tried to keep in contact with some of my former classmates. We often talk about work and the funny incidents that happen.
Recently, one of our fish culturists informed me while stocking Lily Lake, Luzerne County, that one of my classmates walked onto a crowded dock to observe the trout that had been stocked. His arrival brought with it the collapse of the dock into the lake.
I guess you can't always count on your friends to keep you informed of all the funny incidents.
-- WCO Walter A. Buckman, Cameron County
I was to meet the stocking truck at the K-Mart parking lot in the Schuylkill Mall. If you're familiar with the mall, you know that it is located on top of a mountain, and when it gets foggy, you can't see a thing. I was at the meeting place for a half-hour and the truck had not shown up yet. I radioed the regional office to have them call the hatchery to see if the driver had some problems that day. While the region was on the phone with the hatchery, the driver was on another line with the hatchery. He was asking where I was. As it turned out, the stocking truck was in the back parking area of the K-Mart, and I was in the front lot. Maybe we should have had a blue light special so we could have found each other.
-- WCO Gary L. Slutter, Schuylkill County
The Somerset County Envirothon was held in May at Kooser State Park. In preparation, I collected several aquatic organisms, including various bugs, a brown trout, and a bluegill. These would all be used for the identification portion of my aquatics tests.
I set up my station on a picnic table by the lake. The bugs were in numbered cups, and the trout and bluegill were in a foiled lasagna pan. Everyone attended a brief orientation, and then the first group accompanied me back to my station. When we got there, the bluegill was gone, and the trout had been picked at. I apologized to the kids and pulled a mounted largemouth bass out of my nearby vehicle, placed a number on it, and the test went on. As the day wore on, several other groups passed through my station.
Lunchtime arrived, and so did the wind, so I sat inside my vehicle and started grading the tests. Suddenly, a shadow fell over the vehicle and a large crow swooped down from the sky and landed on my picnic table. I immediately jumped out and yelled at the bird to scare it away, but without hesitation the crow took off with my 11-inch brown trout. The kids all witnessed the crime and laughed as they ate their lunch. The crow ate his lunch across the lake!
-- WCO Ron Evancho, Southwest Region
November/December 1998 PA Angler & Boater
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