HARRISBURG, Pa. (January 24) – The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) began its quarterly business meeting, held virtually with Commissioners and PFBC staff participating remotely, by reminding anglers about the upcoming statewide trout season and the importance of being safe on the ice and water.
"Although there is still plenty of winter left across Pennsylvania, we are already deep into preparations for the spring trout fishing season. Few things rival the anticipation and excitement of opening day, and our team is hard at work to make sure it and every day are memorable ones on the water," said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC Executive Director.
Under a change approved during its last meeting in October 2021, Pennsylvania returned to a single, statewide Opening Day of Trout Season that will occur annually on the first Saturday in April, and in 2022 will occur on Saturday, April 2. A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day will take place on Saturday, March 26.
To accommodate the earlier statewide trout season, anglers were also reminded that preseason trout stocking operations are set to begin the week of February 21, and that the PFBC will be welcoming volunteers to help distribute approximately 3.2 million hatchery-raised adult trout to hundreds of waterways statewide throughout the 2022 season. The 2022 Trout Stocking Schedules are expected to be available on the FishBoatPA mobile app and PFBC website (www.fishandboat.com) beginning on February 1.
"This is an exciting time of year as we prepare for the incredible task of moving millions of trout out of our hatcheries into hundreds of waterways across the state," added Schaeffer. "Stocking during the pandemic has been a challenge, but we have learned a lot over the past two seasons about protecting our staff and volunteers. This year, we will be working hard again to stock trout in the safest and most efficient ways possible, while delivering the best product to our anglers in time for opening day. Between the stocked trout and our phenomenal wild trout waters, there really will be something for everyone this spring."
Schaeffer also noted that many of Pennsylvania's lakes are currently frozen over with ice, presenting ice fishing opportunities.
"Ice fishing can be a really fun way to enjoy the beauty of winter," said Schaeffer. "Please, if you venture out onto the ice this winter, carefully check for adequate ice thickness, fish with others, carry safety equipment such as ice awls, and always wear a life jacket. Cold water kills, so please remember that life jackets are required on all canoes and kayaks and boats under 16 feet from November 1 until April 30."
Schaeffer described improvements to the agency's online license system and encouraged anglers to purchase their 2022 fishing licenses by visiting the FishBoatPA mobile app,
www.fishandboat.com, or a local issuing agent. "With the improvements to the online license buying experience and the fact that you may now store your license on your phone, getting ready for the 2022 fishing season has never been easier. Thank you in advance for choosing to fish and boat in Pennsylvania in 2022. You will be glad you did!"
R3 Education Grant Program
Commissioners approved an R3 Education Grant in the amount of $150,000 to Venture Outdoors of Pittsburgh to support the establishment of a First Catch Center pilot program for Pittsburgh. First Catch Centers are a concept of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) designed to provide fishing and boating experiences in urban communities. A First Catch Center was established in Philadelphia in 2018 and is maintained through funding bequeathed to the PFBC by the Samuel Gaun Estate. In 2021, the PFBC partnered with Venture Outdoors to apply for a grant through the Richard King Mellon (RKM) Foundation, which had sought to support programs aimed at Conservation Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3). The $150,000 grant from RKM will be a pass-through grant, meaning funds will be awarded to the PFBC, and will then be distributed to Venture Outdoors. In addition to the grant from RKM, the PFBC will provide roughly $70,000 of in-kind match for the Pittsburgh pilot program, and RBFF will provide $25,000 to purchase a cargo trailer and make necessary modifications. The Pittsburgh pilot program is scheduled to be carried out by Venture Outdoors beginning in spring 2022 and will conclude in fall 2023, during which time 50 educational programs will be conducted.
The Board approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to bow fishing. While the use of long bows, crossbows, spears, and gigs used in bow fishing is already regulated within the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Code (58 Pa. Code §63.8), the proposed amendment addresses an increasing number or complaints to PFBC law enforcement regarding the intense lighting and generator noise that can be created by those participating in bow fishing. The amendment would prohibit bow fishing on any special regulation trout waters; make it unlawful to cast direct rays of a spotlight, mounted headlight, or any other artificial light of any kind from any watercraft upon any occupied building, or another watercraft; and limit noise from generators used aboard a boat while bow fishing to no more than 90 dB(a). In measuring noise emissions, the test measurement will be made with the sound level meter at a distance of at least four feet above the water at a point where the transom gunwale and the port or starboard gunwale intersects. If approved on final rulemaking at a future meeting, the amendment will go into effect upon publication in the
Commissioners approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to fishing regulations on Little Chartiers Creek, Section 05, in Washington County. Under the proposal, Section 05, which runs approximately one-half mile from the outflow of Canonsburg Lake to the confluence with Chartiers Creek, would be removed from the list of waters managed under Miscellaneous Special Regulations. While Section 05 is not managed by the PFBC as a Stocked Trout Water (STW), a Miscellaneous Special Regulation has been in place since the early 1980s which prohibits angling from the end of the extended season for trout through 8:00 a.m. on the opening day of the regular season for trout, which is typically associated with STWs. Historically, the rationale for this special regulation was to prohibit angling in Section 05 during the closure period following the stocking of trout in Canonsburg Lake, which could escape downstream into Little Chartiers Creek. Escapement of stocked trout created unwanted and disruptive angler behavior in Section 05 and warranted management with these special regulations. During the annual regulatory review process, Commission staff determined that these regulations are no longer necessary and recommended removal. If removed, this change would simplify regulations and increase angling opportunities while continuing to provide adequate resource protection. If adopted on final rulemaking at a future meeting, this amendment will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
The Board approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to fishing regulations on Penns Creek, Section 03, a Class A wild trout stream with a robust population of wild Brown Trout in Centre and Mifflin counties. Under the proposal, a Miscellaneous Special Regulation that has been in place since 2014 would be removed. The current Miscellaneous Special Regulation is an experimental trout slot limit regulation that allowed for year-round fishing, use of all tackle types, and the harvest of two trout per day that are at least seven inches but less than 12 inches in length, from the opening day of the regular season for trout through Labor Day, with no harvest permitted the remainder of the year. As a result of PFBC surveys from 2014-2019 that revealed the presence of larger Brown Trout (greater than 16 inches in length) and favorable angler feedback during this experimental period, the PFBC created an official Trout Slot Limit program with two subprograms in 2021. Upon removal of the current Miscellaneous Special Regulation under this proposal, Penns Creek, Section 03 would be proposed for designation into the All-Tackle Trout Slot Limit program at a future meeting of the Board. It should be noted that if approved, the name of the regulation applied to Penns Creek, Section 03, will change; however, the regulation itself would remain the same. If adopted on final rulemaking at a future meeting, this amendment will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
The Board approved the addition of eight stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams. The Board also approved the addition of nine new waters to the Commission's list of wild trout streams and revised the section limits of one water currently listed. These additions and revisions will go into effect upon the publication of a second notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. A list of waters proposed for wild trout stream and Class A wild trout stream designation can be found on the PFBC website.
The Board authorized the leasing of portions of the property at Childrens Lake, Cumberland County, to South Middleton Township (Township). The approximately 7.63-acre property which contains the spring-fed lake is a recreational centerpiece for the Village of Boiling Springs. Support for the upcoming three-million-dollar dam rehabilitation and enhancement project at Childrens Lake, set to begin in spring 2022, has been a cooperative partnership between the PFBC, the "Save the Lake" campaign, and South Middleton Township. As part of the ongoing partnership for managing the property, the Township wishes to enter into a 25-year lease with the PFBC, under which the Township will be responsible for the routine maintenance, operation, repair, and supervision of the lease area. The Commission will be responsible for the dam, dam facilities, and water levels. The lease will also require the site to remain open for public fishing and boating, free of charge. Fishing and boating will take precedence over all other recreational activities.
The next meeting of the PFBC Board of Commissioners is scheduled for April 25-26, 2022.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission