Two officers from the state Fish and Boat Commission addressed new fishing opportunities for young anglers at the February meeting of the Susquehanna Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
On March 22 and April 5 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., young anglers will have the chance to fish for trout prior to opening day through the commission's Mentored Youth Program, according to Emmett Kyler III, waterways conservation officer for the agency's northcentral region.
The program offers a voluntary $1 ($2.70 after transaction fee) youth fishing license for anglers ages 6 to 15. The revenue will go to programs to increase youth fishing participation. Participants also may obtain a free mentored youth fishing permit if they choose not to purchase the voluntary license.
"This is a chance to take a youth out to get him or her fishing," Kyler said. "It entitles you on that day to take two trout."
An accompanying adult must have a fishing license as well if he or she intends to fish, added Anthony Beers, Clinton County WCO officer.
"This gives you an incentive to go out and fish with your child before the big opening day happens," Beers said.
The first day will be held on 12 waters throughout counties in the southcentral and southeastern part of Pennsylvania. Day two will extend to the rest of the state, including Little Pine Creek in Lycoming County.
For more information on participating waters, visit the Fish and Boat Commission's website at www.fish.state.pa.us. Registration for the youth program can be done online.
Kyler also addressed the recent closure of Tioga County's Lake Nessmuk. The lake was closed to the public on Feb. 18 so the commission can begin salvaging fish before construction begins on the lake.
All the fish that survive the salvage will be relocated to Lake Hamilton. The salvage will take place this week or sometime in March, weather permitting, Kyler said.
According to the Fish and Boat Commission, construction on the lake will cost $1 million and is expected to begin in mid-March and will be completed by the end of summer or early fall.
Another topic at the meeting concerned the Endangered Species Coordination Act, legislation that could affect how endangered species are documented in the state.
William R. Worobec, commissioner of the Fifth District of the Fish and Boat Commission, urged those in attendance to stay vigilant and to write letters to their representatives because the bill has the potential to take some of the power to protect endangered species out of the hands of the commission and into an independent regulatory review committee.
"I fundamentally believe it's wrong to legislate data collection relative to species in the commonwealth," Worobec said. "That's essentially what this is about, and I think it's very bad government. To have a group of individuals who have no technical background decide whether a wild trout stream can be a wild trout stream even if wild trout are found in it, is totally inappropriate."
Worobec said gas companies lobbying through the Marcellus Shale Coalition for the legislation to pass is contradictory.
"One of the most frequently expressed concerns about our process was that it took too long," he said. "But we've got our part down to 15 days. You don't get bureaucracy moving much more rapidly than that. If these bills are passed and data collection becomes subject to review by the independent regulatory review committee, another 90 days will be added to the process at a minimum."
Neither the House nor Senate version of the bill has been voted on.