Thousands of fish delivered from the Benner Spring Hatchery

Dave Kaneski was all smiles on Friday afternoon as his caravan pulled into the Park Street Complex.

A veteran of more than two decades years with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Kaneski is a Waterways Conservation Officer stationed right here in Wayne County.

This past weekend, Dave oversaw trout stocking activities all along the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River … from Prompton to Honesdale and beyond.

At this particular stop, a total of 1,500 trout were placed in the water, much to the delight of nearly 50 people who came out to either help or observe.

The vast majority of fish were rainbow trout that measured between 10 and 12 inches. However, there were also some huge trophy goldens mixed in and those checked in anywhere from 15 to 25 inches.

“This access area is pretty unique,” Dave said of the newly-renovated spot along the river, just behind what was once the Stourbridge Elementary School.

“It’s only the second year we’ve been able to stock here and it’s exciting to see so many people come out.”

Pre-season stocking will continue in Wayne and Pike Counties through mid-May.

The Time is Now

Pennsylvania's 2019 trout season officially opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 and Kaneski is excited about this year's prospects.

“A lot of folks have their own traditions when it comes to Opening Day,” Dave said.

“People travel from miles away every year and they come back to their favorite spot. Maybe their father or grandfather took them there for the first time. Now, they’re taking their own kids and grandkids back to that same spot.

“We absolutely encourage people to come out and help,” Dave said. “As you can see, we have kids as young as four or five, but we also have senior citizens as well.”

Unfortunately, there’s been a marked decline in those taking part in outdoor activities in recent years. This trend doesn’t just affect angling and it’s not limited to Pennsylvania.

Nevertheless, Kaneski is encouraged by the turnout at each of his stops along the stocking route.

“Kids like these are our future,” Dave said. “We’ve seen a drop-off in fishing in pretty much all age groups. It’s important that we get the kids involved so they can see just how much fun fishing can be.”

With that in mind, Keneski was happy to announce another Mentored Youth Fishing Day. This year's edition of the event is set for Saturday, April 6.

Adult anglers (16 and older) must possess a valid fishing license and a current trout/salmon permit. They may be accompanied by a youth angler who has a Mentored Youth Fishing Permit or Voluntary Youth Fishing License.

On the Truck

Don Franklin was the expedition leader for this particular stocking run. A veteran Fish Culturist, Don works out of the Benner Spring Hatchery.

This facility is run by the PA Fish & Boat Commission and located not far from Penn State’s Beaver Stadium.

Benner Spring was built in 1952 and it is situated on 49 total acres of land leased from the Rockview State Correctional Institution.

The facility consists of exterior concrete raceways, production ponds, a warming pond, and a hatchery building that contains concrete and fiberglass interior raceways, Heath tray, jar, and Buchner jar incubators.

“Don does it all,” Dave said. “He’s a jack of all trades. He helps raise the fish, maintain the hatchery. Guys like Don even have a CDL so they can drive the trucks and deliver the fish.”

With nearly 16,000 miles of wild trout streams, about 5,000 miles of stocked streams and more than 125 stocked lakes, Pennsylvania has something to offer every trout angler.

Among the crowd of local folks helping Friday at the Park Street Complex were members of the Smoyer Family from northern Wayne County.

Doug Smoyer is a Fish Culturist who's worked at the hatchery in Pleasant Mount for 10 years. His Dad, Bill, is also a culturist who recently retired after 30 years of service.

Key Notes

Here are several important tips for the 2019 PA trout season...

•Minimum Size: Seven (7) inches

•Fishing Hours: 24 hours a day, after 8 a.m. opener

•Creel limits: Regular season (opening day thru Labor Day): 5 (combined species); Extended season (Jan. 1-Feb. 29) & (day after Labor Day-Dec. 31): 3 (combined species).

In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers 16 and older must posses a Trout/Salmon Permit (or Combination Trout-Salmon/Lake Erie Permit) to fish for trout.

Licenses must be signed in ink and displayed on an outer garment. Anglers must also be able to provide positive proof of identification (other than the fishing license) upon request of a Waterways Conservation Officer.

Licenses and permits are valid December 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019 (except 1, 3 and 7-day licenses).