A Bounty in Our County
While the official start of spring may have been March 20th, for many western Pennsylvania Anglers, spring won’t truly begin until the opening day of trout season on April 14th. Allegheny County boasts eight trout-stocked streams and four trout-stocked lakes for anglers to explore. While the spring fishing season ‘starts’ with the opening of trout weekend, fishing in Allegheny County and the region is hot year-round - including through the ice! This of course includes the three rivers, with abundant opportunities for smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and even the elusive muskellunge.
Trout Stocked Waters in Allegheny County
Where we were, where we are
Fishing opportunities were not always so widespread in the region. Resource extraction, development, and industrial pollution exacted a devastating toll on our area waters just a few generations ago. In fact, as recently as 1967, only four different species of fish were collected at the Braddock Lock and Dam on the Monongahela River during periodic sampling efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the PA Fish and Boat Commission. In 1985 this number had risen to nineteen different species and in 2010 a total of 32 different fish species were collected. Not strictly a Monongahela River phenomenon, as development ethics and environmental laws have changed over the last 50 years, western PA waters generally saw increases in abundance and diversity of fish.
However, there are still issues (FIXABLE issues!) that impair water quality and decrease fishing opportunities throughout western PA. Sedimentation damages spawning habitat by filling nooks and crannies of clean gravel where so many forage and game fish lay their eggs. Sedimentation can suffocate developing eggs. These spaces are also crucial for fish food – aquatic insects and crayfish that make them home. Stormwater runoff from developed surfaces carry a dizzying array of various pollutants – hydrocarbons, fertilizers, pesticides, trash – that enter surface waters and degrade water quality that prevents robust fish populations. Respecting waterways by planting riparian buffers and carrying out responsible stormwater management helps reduce these detriments.
Not without you
Here’s where you come in. All across Allegheny County, watersheds groups, municipalities, and non-profits are working hard to reclaim and improve water quality – which leads to more productive fisheries for generations to come. They’re always seeking enthusiastic volunteers – and more bodies means more awareness, more work, more progress – and more fishing! April 22nd is Earth Day – and there is definitely an environmental cleanup, tree planting, or educational event near you! Check out the AWA EnviroEvents Calendar for an event close to home. If you want go the extra mile, there are lots of opportunities for regular volunteering or watershed group membership throughout the county. Check out our website to find out more about watershed groups in your area, or reach out if you would like to start your own.
Remember, you have direct influence on the quality of your fishin’ holes – your participation is important and makes a difference!
Be sure to check out the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s website for a place to launch a boat, cast a line, and get outside to enjoy your sport!