Fall Trout Stocking Opportunities and 2 Ways to Catch Them

Guide to Pennsylvania Fall Trout Stocking

Fall trout stocking doesn’t get the fanfare the opening days of trout season get in the spring but it should. Pennsylvania streams and lakes will once again be stocked with trout throughout October. The 2018 trout stocking schedule for fall provides anglers an abundance of freshly stocked trout. Combine that with many holdover fish and fall is an awesome time to chase trout in Commonwealth waters.

Besides a new batch of stocked trout, the atmosphere surrounding fall trout fishing is worth your time on the water. Water temperatures and levels are rebounding from summer conditions, which triggers trout into feeding mode. Also, fewer anglers crowd stocked waters because many choose hunting opportunities instead of fishing for fall trout. And finally, the abundance of fall colors lining to the waterways in the state is picturesque. To make the most of fall trout stocking, you need to know which places are getting stocked and the best ways to catch them.

The Extent of Fall Trout Stocking Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Fall stocking mostly occurs in October. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is planning to stock over 111,000 trout in 90 waterways across two-thirds of the counties in the state during this month. A sizable portion of these waterways includes special regulation streams such as the catch and release fly fishing only stretch of Clark Creek in Dauphin County and the delayed harvest artificial lures only section of Quittapahilla Creek in Lebanon County. Lakes are also on the schedule to receive fall trout such as Little Buffalo Lake in Perry County. The widespread distribution of the fall 2018 trout stocking schedule ensures there are opportunities for all types of anglers.

3 Ways to Find Out What Streams Are Stocked with Fall Trout

There are three ways to determine which streams and lakes will be stocked for fall trout fishing.

  1. PFBC Trout Stocking Website – The trout stocking website provides the streams and lakes by county that will be stocked for fall. It also includes detailed information on the date, specific section, regulations and which species of trout will be stocked. It is by far the best resource available to decide the best places to trout fishing in October.
  2. Angler Clubs and Organizations – There are also several streams in Pennsylvania that receive trout stocking from private clubs. If you fish a particular stream that has an association connected to it, reach out to see if they plan a fall trout stocking. Clubs are also always looking for volunteers to help stock and doing so gives you an upper hand on exactly where fish were stocked.
  3. Local Tackle Shops – Local tackle shops are fewer and farther between nowadays, but those that are still operating know what areas in the local region are getting their share of fall trout stocking. Thriving local outdoor retailers like Kinsey’s Outdoors can help you figure out what places are getting stocked and more important guide you on how to catch them.

2 Fall Trout Fishing Setups to Catch Stocked Trout

Fishing for fall trout has many similarities to trout fishing in the spring. The same 4 ways to catch more trout work in October just like they do in April. A big difference is angler pressure, which is significantly less in October compared to April. This allows you to focus more on precise areas that have recently been stocked rather than expanding to more remote sections of a waterway.

In addition, cooler water and shorter days trigger trout into feeding mode. Holdover trout will be the most geared up on feeding while stocked fish may take a few days to adapt to recently being stocked. A trout’s natural instinct to bulk up before winter has them eating just about anything the floats in front of them. This need to eat before food becomes scarce works in the advantage of the angler. Although you still need sound tactics, it is slightly easier to catch trout in the fall when they are continuously feeding.

The best way to take advantage of stock trout waters in October is with these two fall trout fishing setups.

Fall Trout Fishing Setup #1 – Live Bait

Not all places stocked in the fall allow you to fish with live bait. However, in approved trout waters, few tactics work better than live bait for fall trout fishing. The extent of trout fishing lures available today have left many anglers not even considering live bait as an option anymore. Cautious trout, especially a big holdover trout that may have been caught before, can be reluctant at times to a strike an artificial trout fishing lure. That is why it is hard to beat a live bait setup for catching trout in the fall. 

The two of the best trout bait for stocked trout in Pennsylvania are the minnow and the worm. The key with live bait is to keep them alive. You want as realistic presentation as possible to be able to fool fall trout.

The best way to rig a minnow is by using a minnow rig such as the Duty #1’s Deluxe Trout Rig or a similar “through the body” rig setup. This presentation offers the minnow as naturally as possible in the water. It can be fish in versatile ways such as floating it with a weight about a 12-inches above the rig in deeper water or by reeling it riffles and along undercut banks.

Alternatively, the traditional night crawler does a fantastic job catching fall trout. A method many anglers don’t utilize enough is nose hooking a small piece of a night crawler using a single hook in size 8 to 12A small split shot approximately 8-inches above the hook will get the worm to the bottom. You will lose more worms with this technique but its natural presentation will ultimately get more bites.

Fall Trout Fishing Setup #2 – Trout Magnets

The trout magnet is named appropriately because it is a magnet for trout, especially in the fall. The basic Leland’s Trout Magnet is a tiny grub-shaped soft plastic bait with a split tail. It is fished on a 1/64-ounce jighead. The real magic of the trout magnet is the way it sits horizontally in the water.

Trout magnets are tiny and light, which requires extreme finesse fishing tactics for trout. Light line (2- to 4-lb test) and an ultralight rod and reel combo are a must. A common approach to fishing a trout magnet is fishing it under a small float. This gives you the ability to control depth and also provides a little extra weight for casting. Another good technique with this fall trout fishing lure is jigging it in slow-moving water like eddies and large pools near the bank. Let it sink and twitch it several times and let it fall back again. It drives trout crazy watching that little soft plastic fluttering horizontally in front of them.

Combine these two tactics with fall trout stocking and the opportunities for anglers are tremendous during October.