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Outdoors: Lil-Le-Hi receives allocation of fingerling trout

Last Tuesday, the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery on Fish Hatchery Road in Allentown, received their annual allocation of fingerling trout that are fed and raised to maturity. Then in two years when they average 12-14 inches in length, they’ll be stocked in local streams.

This year’s allocation of 14,600 fingerlings, that gushed from the PF&BCs stocking trout into a long wide hose and into a holding pond, consisted of 3,200 brown trout with the remainder being brook trout. The fingerlings came from PF&BC’s Bellefonte hatchery and will normally reach stocking size of 12-14 inches in two years.

According to Mike Cech, Vice President of Pioneer Fish & Game Association, whose volunteer members cleaned and prepared the holding ponds for the new fish, this years allocation is considerably less than they received last year at this time.

Said Cech, “We normally get around 20,000 pounds of fingerlings every year, but this year we only received about 12,000 pounds.”

It was indicated that this is part of the PF&BC’s reduction of trout because of budgetary cuts, the COVID-19 virus that cut agency employee hours, and the disease that affected rainbow trout last year and would have been included to increase this allocation somewhat.

The new fingerlings are fed tiny, BB-size fish pellets until they grow to 12-13 inches the first year. Then larger pellets, the size nursery visitors buy to feed the fish, are dispensed to them. When they reach that size, they’re transferred to another holding pond around January.

Spring fed water temperatures in the holding ponds average a cool 50-58 degrees, explained Cech, and that are the optimum temps trout prefer. The coldest, he explained, is at the holding pond closest to where the underground spring emanates, then warms a bit until it reaches the pond farthest from the spring.

Lil-Le-Hi Nursery is maintained by City of Allentown employees, and members of Pioneer F&G, Trout Creek Sportsmens Club and Lehigh County Fish & Game Association.

If you’ve never visited the nursery, it’s an interesting and educational location and a great place to take youngsters, especially during these trying times. Parking is available at the paved parking lot at the nursery and a gravel lot across from the entrance road.

Members of Pioneer Fish & Game Association stock 14,600 trout fingerlings into a holding pond at the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery so they can be released into area streams when they reach 14-20 inches.
Press photos by Nick Hromiak Trout fingerlings average 4 inches in length but grow to 12-13 inches in a year.