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'Challenging' waters await fishermen on opening day of trout

Apr. 5—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Creeks and rivers will be high and fast-moving during this opening weekend of trout season following days of heavy rain and flooding throughout western Pennsylvania.

Len Lichvar, a Boswell resident and co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited's Trout Policy Committee, urges fishermen to be extra careful when around the water, beginning on Saturday morning.

"Obviously, the water levels are going to be high," Lichvar said. "As far as that's concerned, caution is always a prerequisite even in average or any kind of water conditions. Water can be a deadly place even on normal conditions, so you always take precautions."

He also offered a pointer for anglers who plan to walk through the water.

"One precaution you can always take is use a wading staff, which I do all the time in any water conditions to secure mobility and stability and also to check water levels in front of you that maybe look shallow but may not be," Lichvar said.

Lichvar reminded fishermen that they will still be able to catch trout even though conditions will be "challenging" and most of the water may be "off color."

"The fishing will be fine," Lichvar said. "It's just the catching might be somewhat difficult. A lot of people often think well all the fish they stocked are washed away. That part is certainly, I can tell you, not true. Trout, fish, whatever, the current may be very fast and swift on the top of the water, but as the water goes deeper, those currents are not nearly as fast and as strong. Fish can swim. They get into nooks and crannies and behind rocks.

"There may be some movement of the fish, but the fish where they were stocked are still there. They just may be difficult for any angler to get their lure, bait or fly to where the fish are. Also visibility is a difficult thing to overcome when water is discolored."

The rain has already affected fishing plans in some areas of the state.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials postponed certain stockings in Centre, Clinton and Potter counties.

"Pending improved conditions, the impacted stream sections are scheduled to be stocked with trout during the week of April 8-12," according to a written statement from the PFBC. "Anglers who were planning to fish these stream sections on Opening Day and during the first several days of trout season should review the Trout Stocking Schedule to locate alternate waters that have already been stocked."