About 20 fishing enthusiasts gathered to greet the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s stocking truck along the banks of Pennypack Creek in Northeast Philadelphia Thursday. The truck arrived around noon with 1,500 pounds of rainbow trout from Huntsdale State Hatchery in Carlisle.
Most of the fish are about a foot long and bucked wildly as PFBC officers try to corral them into plastic buckets from the tanks on top of the truck. Volunteers then carried the buckets to different locations along the creek. Fall trout stocking allows anglers all over the state to enjoy a secondary trout season following the primary spring fishing season.
“Fishing is like a religion, either you believe in it or you don’t,” said Bob Doney who attended the trout stocking with friend Denny Hannigan. Fishing is the bond that’s kept these two friends together. Both are 67 years old and have been fishing Pennypack Creek for about 60 years.
Now New Jersey residents, they shoulder their fishing poles and try to recapture their childhood a few times a year. “When you’re not fishing, you’re thinking about it,” said Hannigan.
The men couldn’t resist the lure of the freshly stocked rainbow trout, even though they said it might take a few days before they settle down enough to be caught. After being fed their whole lives, by day two the fish are often hungry enough for any bait, allowing the most simple or sophisticated of anglers to catch a nibble.
“He’s an experimenter,” said Doney. “He’ll try lots of different ways to catch fish…”
“To not catch fish!” interrupted Hannigan, who insisted that Doney has always been the more successful angler. The friends agree that the charm of fishing isn’t all in catching fish.
“If you’re seeking tranquility and a little excitement, there’s nothing like making five casts on a quiet day,” said Hannigan.
About 10 minutes after chucking a bucket of trout into the creek, Doney did catch the first slick, spotted fish. After removing the hook, he had his line back in the water before his first catch stopped flapping.
Waterways Conservation Officer Don Evanche spent most of the day coordinating the stocking. He said that fishing is a form of recreation that’s available to everyone.
“You buy a fishing rod and some bait, and you’re good to go,” he said, adding that he loves to fish because it gives him time to sit and think. “Like I tell my son, it’s not about the fishing, it’s about the experiences from the time you leave till the time you get home. If you catch a fish, that’s a bonus.”