After an up-and-down winter that featured cold, snowy weather, as well as some balmier days, it is a good bet that trout anglers are itching to get out on the water and wet a line.
Well, now that spring is here, the long winter's wait is officially over as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Southeast Region opener of the trout season is Saturday, March 30, beginning at 8 a.m. Statewide, the trout season opens Saturday, April 13.
Over the past several weeks, dozens of waters in 18 southeastern counties, including Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkill, have been stocked with thousands of brook, brown and rainbow trout, providing plenty of options for anglers who are looking to get out on the water.
One of the highlights of this year's opener is the return of popular 117-acre Leaser Lake, the only major, publicly accessible lake in Lehigh County, located near New Tripoli to the stocking list. Leaser was drained in 2008 so that its dam and spillway could be repaired to stop the impoundment's ongoing leakage issues.
In addition to Leaser Lake, anglers will find many other excellent trout waters in the region, including perennial hot spots like Lizard and Mahoning creeks in Carbon County, Monocacy Creek in Northampton County and Jordan and Little Lehigh creeks in Lehigh County. Both the Little Lehigh and Jordan and Locust Lake in Schuylkill County are among the less than 30 waters in the state that made the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's rating of "Pennsylvania's Best Fishing Waters" for stocked trout.
Starting in northern Lehigh County and flowing south to its confluence with the Little Lehigh in Allentown, Jordan Creek offers a wide variety of angling options from small stream fishing to larger, more open water. It is stocked for more than 25 miles and receives more fish than any other water in the county, making it a great destination for families with young kids, as well as more experienced anglers.
It also offers excellent public access via the Trexler Nature Preserve in North Whitehall Township, Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall Township and Jordan Creek Park in Whitehall Township and other popular locations.
Beginning in western Berks County, the Little Lehigh flows east through Lehigh County and is also heavily stocked and is teeming with brookies and rainbows for opening day. Thanks to the green spaces provided by the Lehigh Parkway and Fountain Park in Allentown, there is plenty of public access in its lower stretches, and fly fishermen will also find two sections set aside just for them.
As far as tackle to use for trout, light and ultra-light spinning gear is best, with light lines in the 4- or 6-pound range and smaller hooks in sizes 8-12 excellent choices. One of the best enticements for catching stocked trout, especially early in the season, is live bait, which means minnows, worms, meal worms and butter worms, and other popular options include Power Bait, as well as smaller spinners and spoons reeled in at a slower retrieve.
While many popular holes may be crowded with anglers, one can increase their odds of being successful by looking for out of the way places trout might hide. Some of the best locations are along and under undercut banks, in eddies behind rocks and even along fallen and submerged trees inn the stream.
Overall, the PFBC will stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 735 streams and 123 lakes throughout the state this year. Fish will average approximately 11 inches in length, with about 52 percent of them released during pre-season stockings, 43 percent stocked through the end of May and the remaining five percent of the hatchery-raised trout released during the fall and winter.