Trout like cold water, so early spring is a perfect time for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to stock Carbon County's waterways, in particular the Mahoning and Lizard Creeks, which being in the southern part of the county, warm up a bit sooner.

Because they warm up earlier in the season, the PA F&B Commission has made these border creeks part of the Regional Opening Day – they open to fishing at 8 a.m. on April 2. The balance of Carbon County and most northern streams open for fishing on April 16.

The regional counties, all in southeastern Pennsylvania, with the early season openings are Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York counties.

The few border streams included in the Regional Opening schedule are the West Branch Mahantango Creek, the Lizard Creek and the Mahoning Creek.

Recently, Scott Christman, Waterways Conservation Officer with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, led a group of conservation-minded seniors and a Pennsylvania Conservation Corps team in stocking of the Lizard Creek from Andreas to the Lehigh River at Bowmanstown.

"We are doing our preseason trout stocking in anticipation of the opening day on the Lizard Creek," Christman said. "The Lizard Creek and Mahoning Creek are scheduled for a preseason trout stocking. The opening day for these two waterways is the April 2 Regional Day for trout season. The other streams in Carbon County are scheduled for the regular trout opening day on April 16."

Christman explained that the volunteers stock a mixture of 10-inch to 11-inch Rainbow trout and Brown trout yearlings along with 16-inch to 20-inch trophy Golden trout.

The trout for the stocking were delivered in a 3,200 trout capacity truck by Greg Hartle from Benner Springs in Center County.

"We take our own eggs, raise them to yearlings," Hartle said. "We raise 650,000 per year, and have been raising trout since 1997."

The crew of about 20 met at Andreas Road near Lizard Creek Road. Assisting the senior anglers was a group led by Pennsylvania Conservation Corps crew leader Jody Johnson.

"We're here to assist the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in stocking fish in a joint conservation effort," he explained. "My PCC crew is providing community service while working toward their AmeriCorps college education funding."

The volunteers visited over half a dozen bridge crossings of the Lizard Creek, and transferred the fish by bucket from the truck to the creek. To minimize stress, the fish had to be transferred in less than two minutes, and to avoid contamination, the buckets were not allowed to touch the water.

The stock areas between the bridge crossings, the volunteers transferred the trout by bucket into a wire-frame floating basket. Experience anglers would then walk in the creek, pushing the floating basket, stocking the trout into the more remote areas as they walked to the next bridge crossing.

The floating basket method has been found to be better at spreading the trout over a greater area, because if there is no rain in the following weeks, the trout will seek out the local deep areas rather than disperse.

Throughout Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and cooperative nurseries plan to stock nearly four million yearling Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout, and over 8,000 trophy Golden trout. In Carbon County, along with the Lizard and Mahoning creeks, stocking takes place at the Lehigh River, Pohopoco Creek and Beltzville Lake.

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