Last year, an accidental introduction of concrete into one of the nicest wild trout streams in Mifflin County, Tea Creek, resulted in a virtual extermination of all fauna from the upper reaches of this small stream above the mill dam in Reedsville. The momentary event, occurring as a "slug" of highly alkaline water that moved downstream, left no living aquatic animals in its wake. When it was over, the stream was as nice as it had been, but devoid of life.
The Fish and Boat Commission intends to reestablish Tea Creek as the excellent brown trout stream it was before the event, but it will take some time. Last spring, wild trout from nearby streams were electrofished, captured, and re-introduced into Tea Creek. It is hoped the fish will provide a base for a new population of trout. Efforts will also be undertaken to restore forage fish, such as dace and sculpin. The indigenous insects will probably return on their own from below the mill dam.
There is no plan to stock a great number of fish because the food base will be so limited. Perhaps a hundred or so brown trout of varying size will be spread throught the affected stretch. With the stream's excellent water quality, it won't be too long before Tea Creek will again be the quality stream it once was before the incident.--WCO Larry Baker, Juniata/Mifflin County.
It was early March and the much awaited trout-stocking season had finally arrived. It was cold, windy, and snowing&SHY;what more could you ask for during the first trout stocking of the season? We were scheduled to stock the Delayed-Harvest section of Dyberry Creek and then Long Pond. While stocking the Dyberry, a few dedicated fishermen were on hand to carry the buckets of trout down to their favorite spots. We finished up on the stream without a hitch, and then it was off to Long Pond. We arrived at the lake (which was still covered by 12 inches of ice) and chopped through a hole cut the day before that had frozen over, all of which we expected to have to do. The driver and some of the diehard helpers readied the hoses to shoot the fish into the water. To everyone's amazement, the first thing out of the hose was not a trout, but a very surprised and wet cat!
After exiting the water very quickly, the feline stowaway decided that she did not have a desire to stay for the remainder of the stocking and headed for a wooded area next to the lake. We finished the stocking, and sent the truck on its way.
The search then began. This was the first time during the day I was glad to have fresh snow falling. We tracked the small gray cat for about a quarter-mile and discovered that it had come to rest under a pile of rocks. However, the cat was so scared that she wedged herself between the rocks. Now it was time for plan B. That included a large pry bar, fishing net, a few towels, a Haz-Mat bag, two WCOs, two DWCOs, and a dedicated trout stocker. After a few minutes, the rock was pried up, and the cat was secured in the Haz-Mat bag and delivered to a nearby animal shelter.--WCO Dave Kaneski, Northern Wayne County.
While assisting WCO Pisko at a program at Montour Preserve, one of the preserve instructors was talking about fish and asked the group of youngsters if they knew what a baby fish was called. A young boy enthusiastically raised his hand. When called upon, he proudly announced, "Anchovies!" Well, they are small!--WCO Steven Boughter, Snyder/Union Counties.
People often come up with some interesting excuses for violating the law. DWCO Frank Colantonio and I were on patrol at the Flat Rock Park launch ramp on Labor Day when we observed a boat coming down river towing a water skier. The boat circled in front of the ramp and proceeded back upriver. DWCO Colantonio said that the swimming trunks on the skier looked odd. As I watched through my binoculars, I told Frank that it was because he wasn't wearing any.
When we stopped the boat, the defendant was still missing his shorts, but he was wearing a PFD. Later in court, when the judge asked him for an explanation, he claimed that his shorts fell off while he was skiing. This leaves me with one question: Just how loose do your shorts need to be to fit around a pair of water skis?--WCO Gerald B. Barton, Southern Montgomery County.
Antietam Lake in Berks County is stocked with trout by the Commission. Antietam is a popular fishing spot all year long. Every year, diehard anglers at the lake hope for some ice so that they can get in a little hard-water angling. But in southeastern PA, mother nature doesn't always cooperate, and some winters we have very little, if any, safe ice. Unfortunately, this leads some anglers to take unnecessary risks in pursuit of a few trout.
This past winter, DWCO Ted Ciesinski observed two anglers who had ventured out onto ice that was only about two inches thick. These anglers obviously realized that the ice was thin, because they had each tied a rope to a tree on shore and strung the ropes out onto the ice to the spot where they were fishing.
I realize that some people are obsessed with catching trout whenever they can, but I haven't found a fish yet that I am willing to risk my life to catch.--WCO Ray Bednarchik, Northern Montgomery County.
During July 1998, I was patrolling Ceasetown Reservoir on a rainy evening. The reservoir had just opened to shoreline fishing in June after we had worked with the Pennsylvania-American Water Company for 1 1/2 years. A great deal of time was invested by the company and the Fish and Boat Commission to provide this fishing opportunity.
The rain had started to fall heavily when I noticed some people on a rock located on the distant shore. I drove to the other side of the reservoir and walked through the woods to their location. Before I was even close to the people, I could hear the excited voice of a young boy. As I approached, I found a family fishing. It turned out this was the second time this family had visited the reservoir to fish. They enjoyed the solitude it provided. The young boy had just lost a large fish. Dad had bought a fishing license for the first time in several years to go fishing with his son. The boy's mother, wearing a poncho, sat on a folding stool in the pouring rain. She wasn't fishing but enjoyed the time with her family.
Returning to my patrol vehicle, I thought to myself that seeing this family enjoying the reservoir made all the hard work worthwhile.--WCO James C. Stout, Northern Luzerne County.
The statement has been made that certain things in life get better with age. In my profession as a Waterways Conservation Officer, certain things do, and sometimes they don't.
We were stocking the Lehigh River last spring, coinciding with an undercover detail. We have officers either fishing in or hiding in good places armed with spotting scopes and radios to contact a uniformed officer if a violation takes place. At one location, we apprehended two individuals for possessing more fish than the limit. At another location, two other individuals were observed taking more trout than allowed by law. Several of the violators left the river after catching their legal limit of trout and returned to the same location several hours later to catch, kill, and possess more trout.
One enterprising individual kept hiding his fish behind some bushes, and when the radio call came to the responding officer, the violator was stopped and asked to show his fish. He showed the officer the illegal limit of fish. Then he was asked to undue his waders, which contained five trout. Then he was asked if he had any more fish in his truck. He then produced several more fish.
All these violators told the same story&SHY;that this was the first time they had ever violated the fish laws. It was ironic that they all possessed Senior or Lifetime Fishing Licenses. Getting better with age, maybe, but eventually the longer you do something wrong, the long arm of the law will catch up with you.--WCO David T. Corl, Southern Luzerne County.
The law requires that a fisherman carry the license on one's person and display it. This helps officers who encounter a lot of fishermen in a day's time to do their job more efficiently.
This past summer, DWCO Brian Lenkard and I encountered a man fishing at Mahoning Dam in a way that might help solve this problem. Despite the fact that the man was wearing only a pair of cut-off shorts, his license was clearly displayed. A closer inspection revealed that the license holder was pinned through his ear. In fact, he said that he never forgets his license.--WCO Rick Valazak, Jefferson County.
A fellow recently called the Southwest regional office. He said that he was fishing at Canonsburg Lake on March 1, and that several people told him he couldn't fish there because trout season was closed. They even took down his license plate number to turn him in. He told them that Canonsburg Lake was in the Select Trout-Stocked Lake Program as listed in the 1999 Summary (page 29). He also said he was fishing there on February 28, and people were telling him the trout limit was five. He said he showed them in the Summary that the limit was still three trout in the extended season and eight during the regular season, and that the limit of five was just a proposal. He then asked if he was wrong. I told him he was correct. He said he always reads the Summary from cover to cover. We both agreed that everyone who fishes should read the Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws and that if they did, we would all be better off.--Emil J. Svetahor, Southwest Region Assistant Supervisor.
Illustrations by Ted Walke
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