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Commission moves to implement single state-wide trout opener

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission for the last two years has kicked off trout season on the same day state-wide.

That has been a departure from past practice which included a regional opener in the southeast part of the state.

But it’s a departure that the commission on Monday took steps to keep moving forward – action was taken to make the first Saturday in April, which the commission says will provide an earlier and longer trout season.

“The past two seasons, more anglers enjoyed trout fishing that we have seen in decades,” Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer said. “Out of necessity because of public safety concerns, we consolidated into a single, statewide opening day. While challenging for Pennsylvania anglers and the Commission, the last two years provided an unprecedented opportunity to examine the best way to deliver the opening day experience.”

And that opportunity has driven the move to implement this change.

“Through a wealth of public input, including angler surveys presenting opening day options, it became clear that our agency and most Pennsylvania anglers value and prefer a single opening day of trout season moving forward,” Schaeffer said.

It’s not just a matter of picking a date – regulatory revisions are required as well as schedule charges for the stocking program. The commission said in a statement it considered weather, water temperature, stocking, enforcement and social impacts in making the recommendation.

A single Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day will take place the Saturday before the opener.

It’s believed that the first Saturday in April will be, per the commission, “more consistent and simpler to remember.”

License fees to stay flat

Fishing license fees will remain flat – $22.97 for a resident – in 2022, a rate that hasn’t changed since 2005.

“Because of revenue generated by the increased number of fishing licenses sold during 2020 and 2021 and the continued strategic investment of surplus reserve funds, it was determined that a license fee increase is not currently needed,” a statement explained.

Waterways removed

Two county waterways were removed from the Refuge Area program.

The commission explained that since the 1960s, refuge areas have been used in an effort to extend stocked trout fishing opportunities by placing all, or a portion, of a stream’s trout allocation into these areas and denying angler access to these sections from March 1 through June 14. These areas are opened to angling on June 15 to allow for the harvest of trout prior to the waters becoming too low or too warm to support trout.

East Branch Tionesta Creek and Twomile Run are recommended for removal as they are no longer being maintained.

Kinzua Creek is also recommended for removal due to the delayed harvest area located there.

“Refuge area designation can be a valuable management tool, as they can extend the duration of stocked trout angling opportunities, especially in areas where there is very high angler pressure,” David Nihart, chief of the PFBC’s Division of Fisheries Management, said. “When conditions are no longer consistent with the initial premise of having a refuge area, removing these streams from the program provides greater public fishing access so they can be enjoyed, in some cases, for year-round angling.”

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