The “great white fleet,” as it’s called, isn’t rolling yet.
But it will be soon.
And details on just where are out.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission released its 2018 adult trout stocking schedule. You can find it here.
It breaks down, by county, the streams and lakes that will be getting fish via the fleet, its caravan of stocking trucks.
There are plenty of other details on the list, too.
It tells anglers what kind of trout – brooks, browns or rainbows – are being released in each waterway. It also identifies the date of stockings, and the time and location of where the stocking truck will start out.
There’s one other really cool feature, though.
The electronic version of the list offers GPS coordinates for the beginning and end of each stocked stream section.
Anglers can look at, say, Mill Creek in Westmoreland County and know exactly the boundaries of the stocked portion of the stream.
That’s great for exploring.
We all fish a lot of the same waters year to year, right? Anglers are as much creatures of habit as any other group of human beings.
But it’s fun to break loose and go look elsewhere for adventure every now and again.
Last spring my son and I fished opening weekend at one of the places we’re most familiar with, from season upon season of targeting it. We know the holes and riffles that usually hold fish.
There’s value in such familiar spots. Many hold more than one memory, and can produce a smile or a laugh even when the fish aren’t biting.
But a week later, we took a road trip.
We camped in a park we’d never stayed in before, not alone, but with few neighbors.
A lot of state parks are home to waters that get stocked. Even more are at least near stocked waters. Few are crowded in late March and mid-April, when trout season opens in 18 southeastern Pennsylvania counties and across the rest of the state, respectively.
That makes for some pleasant nights under the stars.
On this adventure, we fished a creek we’d never been on, too. What a blast that was.
We did pretty well, all things considered, on brook and brown trout. None were larger than average.
But because we didn’t know the creek, each walk up or down stream over our two days brought the potential for exciting discoveries.
I remember one spot in particular. We’d caught a few fish in the morning – enough to have tales to swap over lunch on the tailgate – and then headed back out in the afternoon.
The action was slower. Then, we came upon a long run with some man-made habitat structures in place to help stabilize the bank and provide overhanging cover for trout. It ended in a nice little pool.
“I think we just found a trout magnet,” I said to my son.
Boy, had we.
I’m not sure how long we fished that spot. Sixty minutes, perhaps. Maybe 90. But we caught a pile of fish.
Not an actual pile, of course.
In fact, we didn’t keep any at all. Those beautiful brookies were released to fight another day.
But man what a good time we had.
I’m planning to visit that creek again this spring. It’s going into the regular rotation.
At the same time, though, I’ll be looking over the stocking list a bit in the next few weeks, trying to uncover another new spot.
Say what you will of stocked trout – they’re not as glorious as wild ones, I’ll admit – they’re still fun to catch. It’s just a matter of where to find them.
There are plenty of gems out there, “hidden” in plain sight on the list.
You’ve just got to pick one and go.