Notes from the StreamSign of the future?

As we all know, the winter of 1997-98 was mild and free of snow. In my area we had temperatures in the 70s in late March and early April. While patrolling one of my stocked trout streams in early April, I was shocked to find a group of young people swimming in a pretty good-sized stream pool. Was this a sign of future weather? I guess we will find out when the future gets here.--WCO Walter A. Rosser, Blair County.

Water quality

Since its founding, the Commission has had a vested interest in protecting water quality throughout the state. This provides all people with the opportunity to enjoy fishing, boating and other water sports in and along waters of the Commonwealth. Water certainly provides recreational opportunities, but we all need fresh water to conduct our daily activities. Some people forget how important water quality really is.

During the summer and fall of 1998, some communities across the state were reminded of how important clean water is. Reports broadcast almost every evening on the local news spoke of water shortages or water use restrictions. One town in Cambria County had its water shut off every other day. These incidents and conditions should act as a wake-up call for all of us. We all have a vested interest in conserving, protecting and enhancing our most valuable natural resource.--WCO Terrance L. Kane Bedford/Western Fulton Counties.

Gimme that trout!Angler and heron

Bob Kime is a sportsman who I speak to regularly at the Berks County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs meetings. He related the following story to me at a recent meeting. Bob was out enjoying a day of trout fishing when he encountered a great blue heron, a common site along Pennsylvania waterways. Usually these big blue birds fly away when someone gets too close, but not this feathered fisherman. Bob said the heron seemed to have no fear of him as the bird moved closer and closer, apparently unafraid. When he hooked a trout, Bob's attention was drawn to the fish and away from the heron. As he landed the fish on the bank, Bob was stunned as the heron, which had come up behind him unnoticed, stuck his long bill between Bob's legs and grabbed the fish before Bob even had it unhooked. After a brief tussle with the long-legged thief, the heron gave up and flew away, squawking loudly. Bob said he enjoys watching herons and doesn't mind seeing them take a few fish. But he says he draws the line when the herons get so lazy that they expect him to catch their fish for them.--WCO Ray Bednarchik, Northern Montgomery County.

Hats off to volunteers!

In April 1998, 21 volunteers gathered at an illegal dumping site overlooking Opossum Creek, in rural Adams County. Most of those gathered were members of Adams County Trout Unlimited, various Adams County sportsmen's clubs and the Adams County Federation. Several people were not affiliated with any represented organization, and several would not even consider themselves outdoor people. Some had driven from as far as the Harrisburg area to assist with the clean-up.

The dump site had been in use for at least 30 years. It contained just about anything imaginable: Old refrigerators, television sets, furniture, bags of old diapers, bags of household garbage and wedding photos (If you would like the photos returned, please give me a call. We will work something out).

With a combined effort on the part of the volunteers, the landowner, Bickie Redman from the Adams County Office of Solid Waste, and the Fish and Boat Commission, the area was noticeably improved. Large items were hauled up by hand over a steep bank, and a passageway was cut through the trees so that items at the bottom of the bank could be picked up by a contractor with a backhoe.

The view while fishing Opossum Creek will now be much nicer. I just want to thank the men and women who donated their time unselfishly to enhance the beauty of this area. If everyone would become this involved just for one day out of the year, we would have a much better world.--WCO David R. Keller, Adams/Western York Counties.

What you can't see

As a Waterways Conservation Officer responsible for patrolling two pools of the Susquehanna River, I had always been amazed at the number of boaters who were unaware of the hidden obstructions to navigation. No flowing waterway is without its ever-changing obstructions and hazards. All boaters should take the time at the start of each boating season to learn the waters on which they are boating.

Even though our agency attempts to mark as many hazards as possible, boaters need to understand that rivers are constantly changing. High water floats logs downstream that, when waters recede, become embedded in or lie on the river bottom and may be hidden just below the water's surface or barely protruding above it. At night, especially, these hazards are simply invisible.

Another constant change is river water levels. Take the time to call NOAA's river forecast toll-free number, 888-881-7555, before each boating trip to learn the river depth and flow. What you can't see can hurt you.--George Geisler, Southcentral Assistant Regional Supervisor.

Common sense and care

On the back cover of the September/October 1997 PA&B there's a story by Dan Martin called "Life Jackets and Wading." Reading this article brings to mind an incident that adds to Dan's story. In early September I was on patrol checking the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek where it flows through one of Lower Salford Township's beautiful parks. Two gentlemen had brought their children out for a day of fun by the stream, including lots of wading and fishing. While talking to the fathers, I observed that the youngest children were wearing personal flotation devices while wading in the stream. I couldn't help but congratulate these gentlemen for their common sense and obvious care for their children. We require that children 12 years of age and younger wear PFDs while underway in most boats, but parents need to think about putting their kids into PFDs anytime they are near the water.--WCO Robert W. Croll, Delaware County.

Easy investigation

I recently investigated a complaint of a fish kill in French Creek. I noticed many fish in the area, but they were alive and well. I looked upstream and downstream, and I looked on the other side of the creek, but all I found was one dead sucker­hardly what I would deem a fish kill. All I could come up with was that the anonymous complainant might have seen the large numbers of willow tree leaves on the bottom of the creek, and may have mistaken their silvery, motionless undersides for small, dead fish. I wish all fish kills were this easy to investigate!--WCO Thomas J. Tarkowski, Venango County.

Illustration of angler in windPriorities

When last year's end was rapidly approaching, everyone seemed to be in a hurry with a deadline to meet. There were last-minute holiday shopping trips, tree trimming, house decorating, and social events to attend. With less than two weeks to go, on a cold December day, I met an angler who had a more important commitment. He was a serious carp fisherman, and he was trying to land two more to make it an even 400 carp for the year. I have to admire his priorities and persistence.--WCO Lee Creyer, Southern York County.

Home improvements

While conducting surveillance following a winter trout stocking at Stone Valley Lake, I noted appreciable shoreside timber damage from the resident beaver population. This area is owned and managed by Penn State, whose personnel had attempted to thwart the beavers' timbering activities by placing wire enclosures around the remaining undamaged shoreside trees.

A short time later, I observed a beaver making repeated trips with limbs and branches to a shoreline point just out of view. Slowly closing the distance to a point of better view, I observed the beaver adding renovations to its family shoreside lodge. I couldn't help but silently chuckle when I noticed that "nature's engineers" had cleverly used some human components in their construction­many flattened pieces of the protective wire enclosures were interwoven into the exterior of the lodge!--WCO Alan D. Robinson, Huntingdon County.

Early start to the season?

On the night before the opening day of trout season, I was on a field training assignment with WCO Sally Corl of Carbon County. We were met by DWCO Peter Sussenbach, who shared a story with us. He saw someone wading in an approved trout water. He snuck closer to the individual to get a better look. Fortunately, the person wasn't getting an early start on the trout season. DWCO Sussenbach asked the individual what he was doing. The person responded, "I'm panning for gold."--WCO Tom Stuckey, Lebanon/Southern Dauphin Counties.

Where's the nearest fast food?

As a field training officer, I assist in training a few cadets from each class. One cadet, from southeast PA, arrived this spring. After a six-hour drive, he emerged from his vehicle with an amazed look on his face. After assuring him that he was still in Pennsylvania, we departed for patrol. Two hours later he said that he had seen more trees here than he had seen in his entire life. His next question was, "Where's your closest fast-food restaurant?" I said that it was in Bradford, 17 miles away.

With amazement he asked, "Where's the closest Home Depot?"

"I don't know," I answered. "Probably two hours away, either in Erie or Buffalo."

He was stunned. His next response was, "How do you survive so far away from everything?"

After letting him wonder about my family's lifestyle for a while, I assured him that we did have telephones with private lines, electricity, indoor plumbing and by gosh, even cable TV. I didn't realize I was living without "civilization"!--WCO R. F. Mader, McKean County.

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January/February 2000 Angler & Boater

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