FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CHS. 61, 63, 65 AND 69]
Seasons, Sizes and Creel Limits; General and Special Fishing; Fishing in Lake Erie and Boundary Lakes
[33 Pa.B. 2757]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapters 61, 63, 65 and 69. The Commission is publishing this proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed rulemaking relates to changing the opening day of the regular trout season and implementing a regional opening day program. The proposed rulemaking includes conforming changes.
A. Effective Date
The proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form, will go into effect on January 1, 2004. The Commission will consider delaying the effective date of the proposed rulemaking until January 1, 2005.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the proposed rulemaking, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7815. This proposal is available electronically through the Commission's website (http://www.fish.state.pa.us).
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendments to §§ 61.1, 61.2, 63.43, 65.10, 65.12 and 69.12 are published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations). The proposed amendment to § 63.20 (relating to permits for the protection and management of trout and salmon) is published under the statutory authority of section 2904 of the code (relating to permits for protection and management of particular fish). The proposed amendment to § 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations) is published under the statutory authority of section 2307 of the code (relating to waters limited to specific purposes).
D. Purpose and Background
The proposed rulemaking is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations pertaining to fishing. The specific purpose of the proposed rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.
E. Summary of Proposal
Due to variations in this Commonwealth's topography and climate, the potential of increasing trout fishing opportunities exists. Typically, while many trout stocked waters in northern and central counties are barely recovered from winter's icy grip, those in southern areas are ideal for recreational trout angling. Warming spring temperatures create optimum stocked trout fishing opportunities earlier in southern Pennsylvania, but similarly these warming conditions can limit stocked trout fishing opportunities later in the season.
Changes in angler activities as warmer temperatures impact streams and lakes also can affect the utility of inseason trout stocking. Angler use and harvest studies indicate trout anglers in urban and suburban areas decrease fishing by mid-May, and responses to late spring stockings are often limited to the first couple of days after stocking. Conflicts with other warm weather activities can limit trout fishing participants in southeastern Pennsylvania because the climate warms earlier in this area of this Commonwealth.
Based on air temperature data provided by weather specialists at The Pennsylvania State University, Commission staff initially identified an 18-county area of southeastern Pennsylvania that should accommodate an earlier opening day. Trout production personnel are currently evaluating the feasibility of having preseason stocking completed in this area for a new regional opening day. The size of the region for the early opener would depend on the capabilities of the trout production staff and could be reduced as necessary. For the most part, with a few exceptions, county lines fit the approach nicely. The regional opening day approach should align stocked trout management in this part of this Commonwealth more closely with optimum climate and environmental conditions for the program and would provide additional opportunity for recreation and to manage waters closer to their potential.
Accordingly, the Commission is proposing and soliciting comments on a new special regulations program (§ 65.12 (relating to Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program)) that would allow the Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, to designate waters in certain counties or watersheds as waters subject to the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season regulations. The regional opening day of the trout season for these waters would be the first Saturday in April. These waters would be closed to all fishing effective midnight February 14. The designation of these waters would be effective after publication of a notice of designation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Although Commission staff initially selected approved trout waters in counties located in southeastern Pennsylvania, the program could be extended in the future to waters in other parts of this Commonwealth where conditions support their inclusion in the program. Lakes managed under the Select Trout Stocked Lake Program included in the new regional opening day program would be closed to angling at midnight March 14.
For other approved trout waters, not part of the regional opening day special regulation program, the Commission proposes a minor adjustment in the opening day from the current first Saturday after April 11 to 8 a.m. on the third Saturday in April. This change would move the regular opening day window back from the period April 12 to April 18 to the period April 15 to April 21. In light of the early regional opening day program, it is appropriate to move back the opening day in the rest of this Commonwealth to try to take advantage of better weather. Accordingly, the Commission proposes the amendments, including conforming changes, to read as set forth in Annex A.
In addition to seeking public comments on the proposed changes in Annex A, the Commission is soliciting public comments on the following alternatives: (1) an amendment that would implement a regional opening day of the first Saturday in April with a regular opening day of 8a.m. on the second Saturday in April; (2) an amendment that would change the opening day of the regular trout season from the 8 a.m. on the first Saturday after April 11 to 8 a.m. on the first Saturday in April; and (3) an amendment that would change the opening of the regular trout season from 8 a.m. on the first Saturday in April to 8 a.m. on the third Saturday in April. Anglers also are invited to submit comments on other concepts for opening day.
The Commission intends to hold a public meeting to gather additional public input.
The proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The proposed rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed rulemaking will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.
H. Public Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about the proposed rulemaking to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments also may be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. In addition, all electronic comments must be contained in the text of the transmission, not in an attachment. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.
PETER A. COLANGELO,
Fiscal Note: 48A-142. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart B. FISHING
CHAPTER 61. SEASONS, SIZES AND CREEL LIMITS
§ 61.1. Commonwealth inland waters.
* * * * *
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this subpart, the following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to inland waters of this Commonwealth and the Youghiogheny Reservoir:
SPECIES SEASONS MINIMUM SIZE DAILY LIMIT ALL SPECIES OF TROUT AND SALMON (except landlocked Atlantic salmon) Regular Season: 8 a.m. [first Saturday after April 11,] third Saturday in April to midnight Labor Day
Streams listed as approved trout waters and all waters downstream of streams listed as approved trout waters plus lakes and ponds
5--Streams, lakes and ponds (combined species) except areas with special regulations
January 1--last day of February and day after Labor Day to midnight, last day of February of the following year. 7 inches 3 (combined species) * * * * *
§ 61.2. Delaware River and River Estuary.
* * * * *
(d) The following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to the Delaware River and to Delaware River tributaries from the mouths of the tributaries upstream to the limit of the tidal influence and the Lehigh River from its mouth upstream to the first dam in Easton, Pennsylvania:
SPECIES SEASONS MINIMUM SIZE DAILY LIMIT TROUT 8 a.m., [first Saturday after April 11] third Saturday in April to midnight, September 30 North of I-84: 14 inches North of I-84: 1 (combined species) South of I-84: no minimum South of I-84: 5 (combined species) West Branch Delaware River:* 12 inches West Branch Delaware River:* 2 (combined species) AMERICAN EEL One year-round 8 inches 50 * * * * *
CHAPTER 63. GENERAL FISHING REGULATIONS
§ 63.20. Permits for the protection and management of trout and salmon.
* * * * *
(f) Fish for trout or salmon. A person fishes for trout or salmon when one of the following applies:
* * * * *
(2) The person fishes in streams or rivers that are approved trout waters as defined in § 63.3 (relating to fishing in approved trout waters) or their tributaries during the 2 week period [from 8 a.m. on the first Saturday after April 11 until 12:01 a.m. on the first Saturday in May] that begins on the opening day of trout season as specified in § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters).
* * * * *
§ 63.43. Fishing for bass during spring season.
During the period from 12:01 a.m. on the [first Saturday after April 11] opening day of trout season as specified in § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters) until 12:01 a.m. on the first Saturday after June 11:
* * * * *
CHAPTER 65. SPECIAL FISHING REGULATIONS
§ 65.10. Select Trout Stocked Lake Program.
* * * * *
(b) It is unlawful to fish in waters designated as part of the Select Trout Stocked Lake Program except in compliance with the following requirements:
(1) Notwithstanding § 63.3 (related to fishing in approved trout waters), fishing is permitted from March 1 until midnight, March 31, except in those waters designated under § 65.12 (relating to Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program). Those waters designated under § 65.12 shall be closed to fishing at midnight March 14 until the applicable opening day.
* * * * *
§ 65.12. Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program.
(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters in certain counties or watersheds as part of the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program. The designation of waters as part of the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program shall be effective upon publication of a notice of designation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
(b) It is unlawful to fish in waters designated as part of the Regional Opening Day of Trout Season Program except in compliance with the following requirements:
(1) These waters shall be closed to all fishing effective midnight February 14 until opening day.
(2) The regular season for these waters shall be the first Saturday in April until midnight Labor Day.
(3) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the Statewide sizes and creel limits and extended season shall apply. See § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters).
§ 65.24. Miscellaneous special regulations.
The following waters are subject to the following miscellaneous special regulations:
County Name of Water Special Regulations * * * * *
Mercer Shenango River from the dam downstream to SR 3025, a distance of 1.5 miles. Closed season on trout: April 1 until 8 a.m., [first Saturday after April 11] the opening day of trout season in April. Daily limit--Opening day of trout season in April until Labor Day: five trout per day; day after Labor Day to midnight, March 31 of the following year--three trout per day. Inland regulations apply to warmwater/coolwater species. * * * * *
Somerset, Fayette, Westmoreland and Allegheny Youghiogheny River from confluence with Casselman River downstream to the confluence with Ramcat Run Youghiogheny River from the pipeline crossing at the confluence with Lick Run downstream to the mouth of the river. No closed season on trout. Daily limit opening day of trout season to Labor Day-- five trout; day after Labor Day to succeeding opening day of trout season-- three trout per day. Inland regulations apply to warmwater/coolwater species. Youghiogheny River from Reservoir downstream to confluence on Casselman River. Closed season on trout: April 1 until 8 a.m., [first Saturday after April 11] the opening day of trout season in April. Daily limit--Opening day of trout season in April until Labor Day--five trout per day; day after Labor Day to midnight, March 31 of following year: three trout per day. Inland regulations apply to warmwater/coolwater species. * * * * * Wyoming Lake Winola Bass--It is unlawful to take, catch, kill or possess bass that are 12 to 18 inches in length. The daily creel limit for bass less than 12 inches in length and greater than 18 inches in length is  six, only one of which may exceed 18 inches in length. Closed to all fishing from 12:01 a.m. March 1 to 8 a.m. [the first Saturday after April 11] the opening day of trout season in April.
CHAPTER 69. FISHING IN LAKE ERIE AND BOUNDARY LAKES
Subchapter B. SPORT FISHING AND ANGLING
§ 69.12. [Season] Seasons, sizes and creel limits--Lake Erie and Lake Erie tributaries.
* * * * *
(f) Subject to the provisions of subsections (d) and (e), the following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to Lake Erie, Lake Erie tributaries and Presque Isle Bay, including peninsula waters:
SPECIES SEASONS MINIMUM SIZE DAILY LIMIT * * * * *
TROUT and SALMON [First Saturday after April 11] 8 a.m. third Saturday in April until midnight Labor Day. 9 inches 5 (combined species only 2 of which may be lake trout). 12:01 a.m. the day after Labor Day until midnight on the Friday before the [first Saturday after April 11] third Saturday in April 15 inches 3 (combined species only 2 of which may be lake trout). * * * * *
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-1118. Filed for public inspection June 13, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]
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