Dust Your Gear Off Early! PA Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Opportunities


A nice rainbow out of a delayed harvest section.

This is a slow period for many Keystone anglers. Most safe ice has yielded to spring weather, yet water temperatures are low enough to keep most species from feeding heavily. Meanwhile, millions of trout are being stocked into rives, lakes, ponds, and streams across the state. From March 1, until opening day, these trout waters are off limits to all fishing, further limiting angling opportunities. This means that we must sit in our La-Z-Boy and watch fishing videos all day for weeks straight until the fishing heats up…WRONG!

Many fishermen in PA assume that zero trout fishing is open during this period. That is mostly true, however, there are some streams that can be fished right now, and offer some of the best trout fishing to be had all season! All creeks classified as “Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only” are open to fishing 365 days a year and are being stocked right now. For the 2018 season, there are 40 counties with delayed harvest sections of stream, many of which are also designated as “Keystone Select” waters. These sections are stocked with approximately 4,500 fish combined, measuring anywhere from 14 to 20 inches, during this time of year only.

This means that while your buddies are moping around, waiting for opening day, you can be out there fishing on some of the premier water in the state! Because of catch and release regulations, less conducive weather, and general unawareness of this opportunity, the fishing pressure is low. You will be one of the first people to present a lure to these fish, and as you well know, these fresh fish won’t hesitate to choke down a piece of hardware!

Make sure you check the current trout stocking schedule (a link is posted below) to make sure that the stream your headed for has been stocked recently, and you’re in business! It is also important to emphasize taking care of the fish once you catch them. Just keep in mind that these are catch and release sections right now, and proper fish handling techniques should be used.

So, dust your gear off a few weeks early, and get after it!

A link to all waters designated as Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only can be found below, as well as a link to the 2018 stocking schedules.

Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only: http://pfbc.pa.gov/fishpub/summaryad/delayedartificial.html

2018 Stocking Schedules: https://fbweb.pa.gov/stocking/TroutStockingDetails_GIS.aspx

*These are special regulation areas-make sure to check specific regulations for the stream you are fishing