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Outdoors: Queen City Sportsmen’s Association forms

Since 1883 the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery has been a family and educational attraction in the Lehigh Valley. Located on most appropriately Fish Hatchery Road in Allentown, the nursery is a place families gather to feed the trout and see the different stages of their growth from fingerlings to lunker breeders that take a few years to grow for stocking in area streams.

The Pennsylvania Fish Commission provides the fingerlings from their hatcheries and an initial amount of food that the trout were accustomed to eating at the hatcheries. Then, the Lil-Le-Hi nursery volunteers from Lehigh County Fish and Game, Pioneer Fish and Game and Trout Creek Fish and Game associations continue feeding and maintaining the ponds that the trout are raised in. The City of Allentown maintains the property but all the other work is done by these three sportsmen groups.

At the brief meeting this past Saturday, Herb Gottschall, Lehigh F&G President and Harry Monk, nursery manager, convened a meeting to announce that the three clubs have merged their volunteer services that will be known as Queen City Sportsmen’s Association. The benefit, said Monk, is that when it’s time to clean the rearing ponds generally in the past only four or five members from a club would show up to do the chores. But today, the nursery had the benefit of 20 members from all three clubs that met to scrub, wash and rinse the ponds in preparation for a new batch of fingerlings to arrive later this month from a fish commission hatchery.

The holding ponds are normally cleaned twice a week so the combined member volunteers can get the job done quicker in a cooperative effort. And to do so the trout are moved from one pond to a cleaned one so that pond can be cleaned. The fish are rotated this way to maintain a healthy environment and to prevent diseases.

When asked if there will be another stocking from the nursery a club member said they have 2,000 trout to stock, but are waiting for cooler weather and higher water levels, two conditions that trout prefer.

So the next time you visit the nursery, keep in mind it’s the three volunteer clubs that provide this Lehigh County attraction which is one of the oldest continuously operated trout nurseries in the country. It’s a gem that we took our children to when they were youngsters and until this day, they make periodic visits there to feed the trout the nourishing pellets that the volunteer club members bag for sale to visitors.

Press photo by Nick HromiakOn Saturday’s 90 degree, sweltering hot, humid day, these club volunteers shod with hot chest waders, clean the holding ponds at the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Nursery in preparation for a new batch of fingerlings to arrive.