Pennsylvania Fish & Boat has significant future plans for trout management
On June 24, the public comment period concerning the future “strategic plan” of trout management proposed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will end.
I’m not certain how many people have actually read the plan, and eventually commented opinions to the agency, but I’m hoping it was a good number.
I read the plan. For those readers with genuine interest in this proposed new and different direction of management concerning trout within the state, I’ll list some of the significant highlights concerning the objectives the commission has for future trout fisheries, and the angling for them. I also add some comments behind each listing.
- Plan is for 2020 to 2024: The Fish and Boat Commission usually sets plans over a four-year period, so this is nothing new.
- Sample additional streams for wild trout: Pennsylvania has a total of 62,725 streams flowing through its boundaries. More than 51,000 of those waters have not been sampled, and of that number 35,000 are of greater than 0.5 miles in length and most likely support wild trout populations. It’s always a great idea to discover where wild trout already survive, and protect wild trout fisheries.
- Locate additional Class “A” trout steams: The intent here is to find as many Class “A” streams as possible that have not yet reached that classification. Adding these additional class of streams will increase water quality protection for those waters, plus streamside protections and improvement. That’s a winner all-around.
- Maintain and improve free public access to wild trout streams: The strategy here includes keeping wild trout streams free to access for fishing, purchasing riparian side-lands, improve public access and improve parking facilities. This idea is good to a point, but I’m a believer that wild trout streams are wild because they require some walking to get to, and are therefore protected from overuse. Making it easy for anglers to drive streamside and fish isn’t my idea of a wild stream.
- Begin a formal wild trout monitoring program to check annually at least a portion of wild trout streams to determine status of wild trout in those waters: Determining whether wild trout are doing well or poorly in a stream is just good common sense.
- Gill lice: Gill lice are a nonnative parasite that adversely affect both brook and rainbow trout, and have already been discovered in some wild brook trout populations. The commission will develop a required permit for stocking of all trout by any hatchery or group that requires certification of lice-free trout. The plan is to include all states surrounding Pennsylvania and into the Northeast. The idea is to eliminate gill lice from all stocking resources that provide stocked trout for the state. The plan also intends to eventually end the stocking of any hatchery raised brook into Pennsylvania waters. Gill lice are a serious problem for fish, and the fact that the commission is already dealing with this invasive nuisance is excellent news.
- Address the effects of development on cold water resources, plus how climate change will hurt future trout populations: This is actually two different strategy listings by the Fish and Boat Commission but I’ve combined them into one. The plan includes working with various organizations plus state and federal branches to develop the best protective measures for wild trout and other trout fisheries. This is the best possible way to attempt to protect these fish and the waters where they are found, because the current federal leadership certainly has done its best to sweep away any existing laws and future plans to protect the overall environment.
- Change the current trophy trout regulations: The current regulation of keeping two trout over 14 inches daily in trophy trout waters was implemented 20 years ago. The new plan is to allow the harvest of one trout equal to or greater than 18 inches daily through the length of trout season, from opening till labor day. Remember, this pertains to trophy trout waters and is certainly an upgrade from the previous regulation.
There are many more aspects, some pertaining to catch and release practices, stream blockages, angler participation, invasive species, trout hatchery management, co-op nurseries, stocking of traditional trout waters, the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Program, increase diversity of trout fishing participants, fingerling trout stocking and many other plans and ideas.
This is certainly a comprehensive document pertaining to trout fishing and the development and overall improvement of trout angling for both stocked and wild trout and the waters where they live. If there exists any problem, it falls within the category of additional personnel that have to hired by the commission, the extra money that will require, and the additional funding needed to implement these plans.
The way in which government responds to the needs of any outdoor, natural and recreational endeavor in today’s world is poor at best. License sales also remain inadequate to provide enough funds for the needs of today.
I love the overall plans, but I fear they’ll just end as spoken words that drift away without the money needed to make them real.