Gary Sauer hoped to see a few fish Wednesday morning in Volant during his first fishing trip of the season.

And while the Wexford resident and his fishing partner Ray Ojerholm had snagged a few by 11 a.m., he was surprised to see an entire tanker truck full of trout pull into the parking lot beside the Neshannock Creek for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s annual trout stocking event.

“I knew they stocked the creek, but I didn’t know how they did it,” said Sauer, who watched the stocking from the creek bank in his wet waders.

“You can just take that bucket straight to my car,” he joked with volunteers, who were carrying fish from the tanker truck to the water.

The event, in which fish are dumped into float barrels attached to canoes that are paddled into the stream to release the trout, was scheduled for yesterday, nearly a month after the original March 7 date had to be canceled due to ice. It was the first time the event had been postponsed, according to longtime volunteers and officials from the fish and boat commission.

“We had ice from one bank to the other, and there was no chance of getting them in there at all,” said Jeff Giardina, of the fish and boat commission. “It was too much of a risk for everyone’s safety.”

Giardina said he was glad to have clear and mostly sunny weather for yesterday’s stocking. He said they planned to put fish in the creek in Volant below the dam, upstream at the Milburn Road bridge north of Leesburg, and, if there were fish left, downstream at the bridge on Covered Bridge Road.

While there were more than a dozen volunteers at the event helping to haul buckets of fish, the crowd lining the banks of the creek to watch was much smaller than usual and predominantly male. The early March date, which coincides with the Volant Fire Department’s all-day pancake and sausage meal, typically attracts lots of local families.

Brittany Baker of Slippery Rock brought her 3-year-old son, Gage, to watch the squirming fish splash into the waters. He was the only child attending the stocking.

“We’ve been doing this for years, and typically we bring my 10-year-old and my 6-year-old, too,” Baker said, while pointing out to Gage the dark fish darting along the banks. “Normally, this is packed along here, and so it’s sort of nice that it’s not so busy this year.”

The statewide opening day for trout fishing is April 18. The annual license for adults has also been reduced by $1 to a fee of $21.70, according to the state fish and boat commission website.

April 11 is the Mentored Youth Trout Days, during which children under 16 can join a licensed adult to fish and catch two fish for free. For more information, go to http://fishandboat.com/MentoredYouth.htm.

(jshelenberger@ncnewsonline.com

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