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Update on Sweet Arrow Lake fishing contest

Without more financial support, a gem of an event at a gem of a Schuylkill County park is in danger of downsizing in future years.

The Bruce Schneck Year-Long Fishing Event will kick off April 18 at Sweet Arrow Lake County Park, Pine Grove.

The coronavirus has certainly added to the challenges of event planning.

“Hopefully this is the final update on the Sweet Arrow Lake year-long fishing event,” said organizer Craig Morgan. “Last year was the first year the Fish Commission stocked on the mentored youth day.”

In previous years, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wouldn’t stock until the season opened, because the lake is open to year-round fishing. The Swatara Co-op Trout nursery would stock for the trout season opening day.

“The apple cart was upset and these are the details,” Morgan said. “The Fish Commission stocked both a pre and post season stocking, and the Swatara Co-op Nursery also stocked to rid nursery of high numbers of trout.

Trout stocking will take place April 17 and 24, and May 1 and 8. Thirty tagged fish and lunkers (150 total) will be stocked around 12 p.m. on those days. The total value of the stocked fish is estimated at $10,000. There are tagged fish, connected to three big-dollar prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500; plus 30 tagged fish worth $100 cash.

In memory of the late Betty Dietz, the female angler who catches the heaviest trout on April 18 will receive a special award. The weigh-ins will take place at the park pavilion at 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Obviously, fish aren’t free. Morgan estimates the event costs at about $15,000. So far, only about $3,000 has been donated. The cost to participate in the year-long event is $15 for those 16-and-older.

“If fishermen don’t donate there will not be too many fish stocked next year,” Morgan said. “Please share this information with anyone who might be interested. We have had a great thing going. Our stocked fish are super nice and each one costs us about $4 with lunkers averaging $24.

“It’s your event to make or break. There’s not much I can do without the funding.”

Donations and registrations can be made through A & A Bait Shop, 337 Sweet Arrow Lake Road, Pine Grove, 570-915-6246. You can also find A & A Bait Shop on Facebook.

For more information on registering, go to www.sweetarrowlakepark.com. Or send $15 per adult (16 and older) along with your phone number to Craig Morgan, 1537 Panther Valley Road, Pine Grove 17963.

Checks should be made payable to Friends of Schuylkill Parks and Recreation. Additional donations would be greatly appreciated.

The registration deadline is April 18.

Mark Pisko, Waterways Conservation Officer, Berks and Schuylkill counties, drives the boat, while Rich Kauffman, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commissioner for District 8, stocks trout into Sweet Arrow Lake. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO