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County evaluating whether Mill Creek could be stocked with trout

The Kurtz Mill Covered Bridge crosses Mill Creek in Lancaster County Central Park. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

(Source: Lancaster County | OUL)

Lancaster County is looking into the possibility of stocking trout in Mill Creek.

At this point, it’s just an early-stage idea, Park Ranger Alex Manwiller said during last week’s community meeting at Crispus Attucks Community Center, and it will take time to figure out if it’s feasible. So far, ranger staff have taken a preliminary look at the creek’s water quality and indicated the county’s interest to the state Fish & Boat Commission.

A roughly two-mile stretch of Mill Creek flows either through County Park or along its edge and would be accessible for fishing, Manwiller said. Anglers would have to obtain fishing licenses and abide by state regulations.

Some fishing already takes place on the Conestoga River, which supports populations of species such as bass, walleye and catfish. A section of the Conestoga winds along Central Park’s northern perimeter.

If Mill Creek ends up being stocked, the county would consider offering complementary programming, such as a “fish with a ranger” program, if there was enough community interest, Chief Ranger Ben Arnold said.

From left, Lancaster County General Services Director Bob Devonshire, Chief Ranger Ben Arnold and Ranger Alex Manwiller discuss Parks & Recreation planning at a public meeting at Crispus Attucks Community Center on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The Fish & Boat Commission is always on the lookout for new stocking opportunities, especially ones that are convenient to urban centers, spokesman Mike Parker said.

A 2-mile stretch of Mill Creek flows through or along the edge of Lancaster County Central Park. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

There’s a process to determine whether a particular waterway is a suitable candidate, he said. Two major factors are whether the water is clean enough, and whether it stays cold enough: Trout do poorly in water temperatures above about 65 degrees.

Once an analysis is complete, the commission can make a recommendation. If stocking a waterway is feasible, it could be added to the state’s stocking list, or a jurisdiction could engage a third-party hatchery.

The state will begin its this year’s stocking toward the end of this month, in anticipation of the opening of trout season on April 1. Stocking schedules are established well in advance, Parker noted, allowing time for the necessary allotment of fish to be hatched and raised.