I'm not sure PA is one of them.
You're right, Lee, and I'm not suggesting for a moment that PA could be just like Montana if we'd just stop stocking. But the "early season" demand for numbers of artificially large trout in waters that can't produce or sustain them is part and parcel of the hatchery-driven cycle. Only a hatchery system can create or satisfy that kind of demand in a state like PA, and it can only be sustained by continuing to provide it. One one hand, the numbers of casual anglers and the license fees they generate would unquestionably decline if all of that went away. On the other hand, a goodly portion of those fees goes primarily to sustain that artificial demand through hatcheries and stocking. PA anglers are addicted to stocked trout and PA managers are addicted to anglers who are addicted to stocked trout. It is a difficult cycle to break, especially if that's what most people seem to want.
However, that artificially-driven demand is also what creates the practice of stocking on top of viable wild trout populations and private stocking on sections of Class A Wild Trout Streams. It also compels those addicted to stocking to cry for more and more stocking on wild trout waters, partly because some of those waters just don't produce fish that are as big as they would like.
I don't deny that some of this may be inevitable and necessary in a state like PA. As a result, however, it is hard not to feel that the license fees of those who like wild trout go, in part, to support and sustain a system that damages or dilutes the wild trout potential of some streams. It is also hard not to feel that license fees of catch-and-release anglers effectively subsidize that put-and-take demand in a way that seems self-defeating. (For example, consider what it costs to produce just one of those 20" yellow stocking beacons.) None of this is easy to sort out, and I don't envy the biologists, managers, and commissioners who have to juggle the conflicts that result, not to mention trying to do this with next-to-nothing in the way of public funds and a staff that is stripped to the bone.
I also recognize that the combination of stocking demand and PA's stream access laws (or lack thereof) creates a frustrating "Catch 22." Whenever the state attempts to stop stocking, even when a stream qualifies for Class A, posting often follows. As a result, stocking becomes one of the only tools that the state can use to try to keep waters that flow through private land "open" and available to anglers.
I'm a lifelong PA angler and proud of it. I don't expect any of these issues to be resolved anytime soon, if ever. Instead, I expect that environmental degradation driven by things like fracking the hell out of the Marcellus Shale will probably outweigh many of these petty wild trout "management" concerns, or even make them pretty much moot in some places. Some of that might also be inevitable and perhaps necessary, but it will also be sad. Like I said, consideration of the "what ifs" is mostly just dreaming on my part. Old anglers and their dreams keep company with wild trout all the time.