Outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of several recent changes made by the state Fish and Boat Commission, including new stocking protocols, new life jacket regulations, and a "no fishing" season for several local streams.
Last week, John Arway, executive director of the Fish and Boat Commission, updated the local chapter of Trout Unlimited on the new regulations and the reasons behind them.
A new cold-weather life jacket regulation, which was passed Sept. 27, goes into effect Nov. 1. The regulation requires that all boaters wear a Coast Guard-approved flotation device from Nov. 1 to April 30 while on any boat less than 16 feet in length, including canoes and kayaks.
John Arway recently updated the local chapter of Trout Unlimited on changes to fish and boat rules.
Walt Nicholson, of Williamsport, asks questions.
Al Sever, of Loyalsock Township, tells attendees of last week’s meeting that Sullivan County has not received buy-outs along Loyalsock Creek because of flooding to date. Sever brought this up after state Fish and Boat Commission officials mentioned they were considering using buy-out properties for water access areas.
Arway said the change in regulation was due to the cold temperatures of the water during these months.
"I've gone through the ice in the winter time. It's not a pleasant experience. Luckily, I had a friend with me who was able to help me get out. You don't have a lot of time when you're talking about sub-zero temperatures," he said.
Fish stocking will experience a change, due to new regulations for stocking truck drivers.
"It used to be our drivers had an exemption from log books and they could spend time distributing the fish across a river," Arway explained. "This exemption no longer applies to them. They will need to get in and out as quickly as possible, in order to meet the times required for their log books."
The commission is looking to anglers to help spread the fish across rivers and streams for an even stock distribution.
Due to the lower bass population, several rivers, including the Juniata River, will have a closed season.
"Catch-and-release may be causing a negative effect to the fish. We want to close some areas for a season and study the effects that has to the ecosystem," Arway said.
William Worobeck, fish and boat commissioner for Lycoming, Tioga, Sullivan, Union, Montour, Columbia, Northumberland, Bradford and Snyder counties, said the study will be done on Class B streams that have been stocked in the past.
He promised anglers would not lose fishing opportunities. For every stream experiencing a closed season, a different waterway will be stocked, he said.
"We want some of these Class B streams, which have been stocked in the past, to hopefully become Class A streams. Ideally, we want all of our streams to become Class A. Hopefully this will bring us one step closer to getting there," Worobeck said.