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Traditions... Part 1, "State of the State"

In Pennsylvania trout fishing is a tradition and an annual ritual of sorts, with participants that come from all walks of life, age groups, and levels of engagement. It’s a state where many streams flowed along the first industries in the new world that would become America in a landscape dotted with farms, mills, iron making furnaces, dams and villages that would grow into cities over time. The need for resources to feed them would create systems of canals, railroads and dirt roads that reached into even the most remote places to cut timber, mine coal and other minerals. Markets would sell the meat provided by market hunters and fisherman. In the end, much of the habitats and populations of wild brook trout were damaged or destroyed by early “progress”. To right these wrongs and provide both food and sport, the Pennsylvania Fish Commission was established in 1873. Non-native German and Loch Leven brown trout were introduced to streams to replace the decimated native brook trout. Rainbow trout from the west came a few years later. We no longer extract resources in Pennsylvania on the same scale as we did the past, and discharges of pollutants have been curbed by regulation and changes in industry. Our waterways have improved as a result. I continue to be amazed at how much our streams have improved in the past 40 some years and how native and naturalized wild trout populations have rebounded. As a result, a new conversation is taking root among anglers here when we talk about trout and trout fishing, and the talk is about wild vs. stocked fish. To me it’s refreshing because it says something new and exciting. It’s a conversation that has been brought about by improvements to stream quality, environmental regulation and the value anglers are placing on wild and naturalized trout populations. The conversation is also talking about the best practices to manage these improved fisheries, and this is where it gets contentious among the different viewpoints on stocking vs. wild trout management. Many Pennsylvania anglers cling hard to the stocked trout tradition, and as you may imagine or know, different groups of anglers have drastically different views. The next three installments of “Traditions” will talk about some of these groups. This week’s pic is a descendant of an early, accidental planting of McCloud strain rainbows in the Delaware River. Till then….. #ItsAboutTheFish


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