Pa. fish commission considers statewide opening day for trout
HARRISBURG (AP) — The head of the region’s Trout Unlimited chapter supports having a single opening day for trout season in the state — the first Saturday in April — as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is considering.
“I would support an earlier opening day because of the impact of climate change on stream conditions. When the streams are low and warm it stresses the trout. While Trout Unlimited promotes catch and release, Pennsylvania’s stocking program is for the most part “put and take (home),” said Larry Myers, president of the Forbes Trail Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Another benefit of having a single
opening for trout season is that “having one opener avoids (anglers) running from one end of the state to the other, which is of concern with COVID,” Myers added.
For most of the state, opening day of trout season is the first Saturday after April 11, but it is the first Saturday after March 28 for the regional opening of the season in 18 southeastern Pennsylvania counties, the commission said in a statement Monday. That regional opening date took effect in 2007 and would require amending the fish and boat code to change it.
The opening day of trout season had been consolidated into one statewide date because of the COVID pandemic, said Tim Schaeffer, commission executive director.
Based on the response from a survey of anglers on opening day options, it had become clear the agency and most Pennsylvania anglers prefer a single opening day of trout season, the commission said. It would give most fishermen in Pennsylvania an earlier and longer trout season. Several factors such as weather, water temperature, stocking, enforcement logistics and social impacts were considered by the staff of the commission, which on Monday gave preliminary approval to the change.
If the commission approves the single opening date at a future meeting, the agency said it will start stocking trout about two weeks earlier than the usual March 1 date, which coincides with regulations that define March 1 as the start of the closed season for trout fishing on lakes and streams that have been stocked.
“They can’t stock until the fish are large enough. Then, they have to wait until they can access the streams … then with limited manpower, stock all the streams before they get too warm,” Myers said. If they trying stocking too early, many of the streams, especially in the northern counties, are inaccessible because of the snow, Myers said.
Manpower to stock the streams also is an issue, especially with COVID restrictions on using volunteers, Myers said.
“So, it’s a narrow window to get all the fish into the stream preseason. They can’t just move the stocking back like they do opening day,” Myers said.
A single, statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will continue on the Saturday before the opening of the regular trout season.