With trout season set to begin in the region on April 14, the Straub Brewery's annual Fishing Program was under way Thursday, with 75 tagged trout to be stocked in area waterways.
Don "Flip" Bobenrieth, sales representative for Straub's north central market, began the day by picking up the rainbow trout, ranging in size from 19 to 26 inches long, from the Lake Clear Creek Fish and Deer Farm in Emporium.
"I went down this morning and got them. Yesterday we stocked Emporium and today we'll be stocking the other creeks in DuBois, Johnsonburg, and Brockway," Bobenrieth said.
Bobenrieth said the waterways to be stocked Thursday included the east branch of the Clarion River at Johnsonburg, the Tannery Dam in DuBois, and various creeks in Brockway.
All of the fish released through the program are marked with a tag located on the tail fin. As Bobenrieth explained, anglers can redeem the tag for a case of refreshment at participating distributors.
"You can get soda pop or a case of beer. You can go to your local distributors in Johnsonburg, Brockway, or DuBois," Bobenrieth said.
Bobenrieth said that the majority of the tags are redeemed each year, with "at least probably 75 percent of them coming back."
He said the numbered tags are also dated, adding that tags have been redeemed years after the corresponding fish was released through the program.
With the first lines set to hit the water at area fishing holes Saturday, Bobenrieth said that he expects a good turnout this season.
According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, fishing license sales have increased 22 percent since last year.
"We expect a good year, the only problem that we're worried about is the water being low," Bobenrieth said.
Bobenrieth said the fishing program, nearing its 20th consecutive year in operation, is a chance to support a popular sport and pastime and give anglers in the region a chance at a good catch.
"It's a good thing, basically for the community and the kids. It's awesome if they catch a big fish like that. They're beautiful fish, we put a lot of money and time into this program for the community," Bobenrieth said.