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New regulations, drought mean fewer fish available

April 01, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Franklin County anglers will have a few less fish to pursue when the 2002 trout season opens April 13, according to state fish and game officials.

"There are two reasons, the quality and the quantity at the hatcheries," said Dan Tredinnick, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in Harrisburg, Pa.

Tough new regulations governing the amount of fish waste leaving hatcheries will require expensive renovations at trout-raising facilities around the state, Tredinnick said. The quickest and easiest solution until money to pay for the renovations is found is to raise fewer fish at the hatcheries, he said.

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"In the last 20 years, the state raised 5 million trout a year," he said. "This year it's down to 3.85 million."

The second reason is the drought.

"We've been having a drought for the last five years. It's long-term," Tredinnick said. Hatcheries need an ample supply of good water coming into them and flows are down, he said.

With few exceptions, conditions at the hatcheries and the drought will have little effect on the stocking schedule in Franklin County, Tredinnick said.

"So far we've had only a few postponements in stocking there because of low water," he said.

Trout won't be stocked in three local streams because of low water conditions - Campbell, Five Forks and Middle Run creeks and parts of Antietam Creek, he said.

Trout for the Franklin County stocking program comes from the Reynoldsdale and Benner Spring hatcheries, he said.

Kadin Thompson, waterways conservation officer for the Fish and Boat Commission in Franklin County, said crews have to wade a little farther out to find deep water in some area streams while stocking trout because of the low water conditions, especially in the smaller streams.

He said the rains last week brought the levels up in most creeks and streams.

Preseason stocking runs from March 1 to opening day, Thompson said.

The Chambersburg Fish and Game Club won't start its annual stocking program until after opening day, said club member Harry Glass of Chambersburg.

Each year the club gets about 20,000 fingerlings free from the state and raises them up to catchable size in its hatchery on Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg. The species include rainbow, brown and golden or palomino trout.

The springs feeding the hatchery have been unaffected by the drought so far, Glass said.

"We haven't felt any effect from the drought," he said.

Club members stock the East Branch of the Conococheague Creek from Caledonia State Park to the Maryland state line, Glass said. A few other local streams are also stocked by the club.

The club usually stocks 16,000 to 18,000 trout each year. Members always hold over a couple thousand fish every year that grow into lunkers to be stocked the following year, Glass said.

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