Harrisburg – Although Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners
at their summer meeting here July 14-15 did not discuss opening
trout season year-round or trout-stocking changes resulting from
their controversial new resource-first policy – as many expected –
they still focused considerable attention on trout.
Ironically commissioners adopted a regulation without comment
allowing bowfishermen to shoot and kill catfish, but debated at
length before approving a measure that would prevent fishermen from
stripping eggs from female trout before releasing the fish
Actually the egg-stripping regulation applies to all fish in the
state. But it was clearly aimed at protecting trout because it was
a reaction to several cases where anglers were apprehended
stripping eggs from female brown trout last fall in the
catch-and-release section of the Little Juniata River in Huntingdon
County, to use later as bait.
Even though those anglers were successfully prosecuted,
commission law-enforcement chief Tom Kamerzel asked the
commissioners to approve a regulation outlawing the stripping of
Commissioner Bill Worobec, of Williamsport, said he is aware of
similar offenses. “There is a practice in the part of the state
that I live in where people catch wild female brook trout in the
fall, strip out the eggs for bait and throw the fish away,” he
“We don’t want people going out and stripping eggs, but I have
no problem with people legally harvesting trout and then using the
eggs for bait,” said Commissioner Bob Bachman, of Lancaster.
Commissioners discussed different language for a regulation
before the agency’s legal counsel suggested issuing a clarification
about what it means to catch and release a fish unharmed.
“That is just dancing around the issue,” Bachman responded.
“Some would argue that putting a hook into a fish is harming a
fish. We need to deal with the specific issue of prohibiting the
stripping of eggs.”
Paradoxically, the egg-stripping ban, which was approved for
proposed rulemaking (meaning it must be voted on again by
commissioners at their next meeting) does not affect fishing in
Lake Erie or its tributary streams. Anglers will still be able to
possess and use steelhead eggs and skein for bait there.
The catfish-shooting action came as an amendment to the Fish and
Boat Code Section 63.8 (Longbows, Crossbows, Spears, and Gigs) to
allow catfish to be harvested in all commonwealth waters by
longbows and arrows, along with two other types of fish that have
been legal game for archers for many years: carp and suckers.
“Catfish are an under-utilized species in Pennsylvania,” said
Leroy Young Jr., director of the commission’s Bureau of Fisheries.
“Bowfishing has a relatively light following in Pennsylvania, which
should mean the change will have minimal impact on catfish
The change will take effect as soon as it is published in the
Commissioners also voted to formalize the commission’s program
of approved trout waters open to year-round fishing.
On the waters open to year-round fishing, anglers may fish from
March 1 to the first day of trout season in mid-April, but they may
not keep any trout they catch during that period.
They also approved the following list of waters to be included
in the year-round program.
Mahoning Creek in Armstrong County, Koon Lake in Bedford County,
Tulpehocken Creek and Kaercher Creek Dam in Berks County, Mountain
Lake and Sugar Run in Bradford County, West Creek in Cameron
County, Laurel Run in Clearfield County, Mountain Creek, Cumberland
County, Stony Creek in Dauphin and Lebanon counties, West and
Straight creeks in Elk County, Tionesta Creek in Forest County,
Cummins Reservoir in Indiana County, Cascade Quarry in Lawrence
County, Frances Slocum Lake, Upper Ice Pond and Sylvan Lake,
Luzerne County, Lake Jean in Luzerne and Sullivan counties, Meade
Run in McKean County, Minsi Lake in Northampton County, Holman Lake
in Perry County, Tuscarora Lake in Schuylkill County, Blue Hole Run
and Fall Creek, Somerset County, Duck Harbor Pond in Wayne County,
Mehoopany Creek in Wyoming County, and South Branch Codorus Creek,
Glatco Lake and Lake Marburg, York County.
In other action, commissioners:
– Approved a cooperative agreement with North East Township that
commits $43,000 for the acquisition of an access easement located
on 20-mile Creek, a popular steelhead fishing location.
– Approved the publication of notice of proposed rulemaking to
remove smallmouth buffalo, longhead darter, and channel darter from
the threatened species list and river redhorse and longnose gar
from the candidate species list.
– Elected Commissioners Len Lichvar and Tom Shetterly as board
president and vice president respectively.
– Voted to add regulations to further restrict the interstate
sale, introduction and transportation of fish susceptible to the
infectious disease viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS.
– Approved restrictions on nighttime fishing on a section of
Walnut Creek in Erie County.