Pennsylvania's statewide trout season opens April 13, so two weeks of anticipation await enthusiastic anglers. The southeastern part of the state got a head start with an early opener yesterday.
Though brook trout are native to Pennsylvania and naturalized brown trout have established breeding populations, most of the trout taken from state waters are stocked by the Fish and Boat Commission. Stocking rates for adult trout vary from more than 1.8 million rainbow trout to 836,660 brown trout to 508,680 brook trout.
Based on sheer availability, anglers are most likely to catch nonnative rainbow and brown trout. Rainbows are colorful with a pinkish stripe running along the side of the body. Browns are duller with many dark spots running along the side
Rainbow trout are native to Pacific Coast slopes from California to Alaska. Rainbows were first introduced to Pennsylvania in the early 1900s in an effort to restore the state's depleted fishery. Today, hatchery-reared rainbows are found statewide. Few stream-living rainbows reproduce.
Rainbow fry stocked by Fish and Boat reveal their kinship to salmon at spawning time. After maturing in the cold open waters of Lake Erie, these rainbows, called steelheads for their steely coloration, return to the lake's feeder streams on spawning runs in the fall and winter when water temperatures reach 50 degrees. Unlike ocean-living salmon, which die after spawning, steelheads return to the lake after attempting to spawn and can make multiple annual spawning runs. Spawning is usually unsuccessful.
Brown trout are native to Europe and Asia, but have established themselves as a naturalized breeder in Pennsylvania.The first brown trout were stocked in 1886. They spawn in the fall when water temperatures are in the upper 40s. The eggs hatch in the spring and get no parental attention. Brown trout live in a broad array of habitats -- streams, rivers and lakes -- as long as the water temperature does not exceed the low 70s. They prefer water temperatures from about 50 to 60 degrees.
Biologist, author and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 9-11 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling), and noon-2 p.m. Sundays on 1360 WMNY-AM (Pittsburgh). He can be reached at http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com, and 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.