Trout-A-Thon created in Elk County to promote tourism

As a way to promote tourism in the area, the Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of commerce started a new fishing tradition called the Trout-A-Thon. (WJAC)

JOHNSONBURG - As a way to promote tourism in the area, the Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce started a new fishing tradition called the Trout-A-Thon.

In preparation for the event, officials were tagging trout at the Domtar Cooperative Fish Nursery Thursday.

Anglers who catch one of the 200 blue tagged trout can turn their tag into the Welcome Center on Main Street in Ridgway to redeem a prize. Chamber member Gennaro Aiello said the prizes were donated by area merchants and include pizza, gift certificates, cash and Pittsburgh Steelers tickets.

"Our area is half state or national forest and our population is declining, so we want to bring in more people to enjoy the Pennsylvania Wilds and our outdoors," Aiello said.

The trout are supplied and stocked by the Domtar Fish and Game Club. Since 1992, the club has stocked approx. 300,000 trout.

Member Dan Morgan said they receive 12,000 brook, rainbow and palomino trout annually.

"Our fish are some of the largest fish of any of the state cooperative nursery operations," Morgan said. "They grow to 11.5" to 12" and it's not uncommon for us to have fish 14" and 15"."

The idea of tagging fish for prizes comes from Straub Brewery. President and CEO Bill Brock said the brewery has been tagging fish for cases of beer to thank its customers since the 80s.

"We are all trying to do it for the same reasons," Brock said. "It's about getting people to experience Elk County, the Pennsylvania Wilds, catch some fish and while they are here do some local business."

The Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce has stocked fish in nine different locations including Bill Mill Creek, Ridgway Reservoir, Elk Creek, West Branch Clarion River, East Branch Clarion River, Laurel Run Reservoir, Little Toby, Crooked Creek and Powers Run.

Straub Brewery has stocked fish 14 locations including Toby Creek, Laurel Run Reservoir, Hicks Run, Crooked Creek, East Branch Clarion River, West Branch Clarion River, West Creek, Rocky Run, Elk Creek, Kersey/Byrnes Run, Medix Run, Powers Run, Bennetts Branch and Twin Lakes.

All Strab Brewery tags are orange in color.

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