[58 PA. CODE CH. 65]
Fishing; Special Fishing Regulations
[34 Pa.B. 5162]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 65 (relating to special fishing regulations). 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 amendments relate to the elimination of the Selective Harvest and All-Tackle Selective Harvest Programs and the imposition of a catch and release/no harvest fishery for all species on waters located in the Wyoming State Forest, Columbia and Northumberland Counties.
A. Effective Date
The proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form, will go into effect on January 1, 2005.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the proposed rulemaking, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Esq., P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7815. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's website: www.fish.state.pa.us.
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendments to §§ 65.1, 65.4b and 65.24 (relating to Selective Harvest Program; All-Tackle Selective Harvest Program; and miscellaneous special regulations) are 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 amendments is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.
E. Summary of Proposal
(1) Section 65.1. At the July 1994 meeting, the Commission adopted regulations for the Selective Harvest Program. These regulations went into effect beginning with the 1995 season. The Select Harvest Program was designed to enhance wild trout populations while providing an opportunity for limited harvest of some larger trout. The regulations provided an alternative to trophy trout management on wild trout waters where habitat limitations may preclude the stockpiling of older and larger trout as intended under the 14-inch minimum length limit that is applied to trophy trout waters. The regulations also were designed to reflect differences in longevity and growth rates, particularly between brown and brook trout. Under the regulations, species specific minimum length limits apply with a 12-inch minimum length limit for brown trout and a 9-inch minimum for other trout species. Angling is permitted on a year-round basis with a two trout per day creel limit (combined species) during the harvest season. On the waters managed under the Select Harvest Program, gear is restricted to the use of artificial lures, flies and streamers.
Based on data collected from follow-up examinations, the trout populations did not always respond as the Commission intended on some of the waters managed under the Select Harvest Program. Therefore, to consolidate the number of special regulations used in managing trout populations, the Commission has moved three of the remaining four waters in the program to other special regulations programs, effective January 1, 2005. The Commission intends to move the last water in the Select Harvest Program prior to the end of the year. Thus, there is no need to retain the regulations for the Select Harvest Program. The Commission accordingly proposes to delete § 65.1 to read as set forth in Annex A.
(2) Section 65.4b. At the January 1998 meeting, the Commission adopted regulations for the All-Tackle Selective Harvest Program. These regulations went into effect beginning with the 1999 season. The regulations were designed to enhance wild trout populations and provide the opportunity for limited harvest of some larger trout. As with the Selective Harvest Program, species specific minimum length limits apply with a 12-inch minimum for brown trout and a 9-inch minimum for all other trout species. Angling is permitted on a year-round basis with a two trout per day creel limit (combined species) during the harvest season. However, in contrast to the Selective Harvest Program where angling is restricted to the use of artificial lures, flies and streamers, the All-Tackle Selective Harvest Program was designed to appeal to a broader angling base by allowing the use of natural bait, baitfish and fishbait in addition to artificial lures, flies and streamers.
Based on information from follow-up inventories, the trout populations did not always respond as the Commission intended on the waters managed under the All-Tackle Selective Harvest Program. Therefore, to consolidate the number of special regulations programs used in managing trout populations, the Commission has moved the remaining four waters in the program to other special regulations programs, effective January 1, 2005. Thus, there is no need to retain the regulations for the All Tackle Selective Harvest Program. The Commission proposes to delete § 65.4b to read as set forth in Annex A.
(3) Section 65.24. Early in 2004, the Bureau of Forestry requested the Commission to implement no-kill regulations on waters within a recently acquired 9,000-acre tract being incorporated into the Wyoming State Forest. The rationale for the request was to give Commission staff an opportunity to survey various fish populations and to prepare and implement fisheries management plans. Also, because these waters had not been open for public use since the 1880s, it seemed prudent to afford some degree of protection to fish populations until Commission staff could develop an appropriate course of action. By notice published at 34 Pa.B. 456 (January 17, 2004), former Deputy Executive Director Guise, acting under the authority of § 65.25 (relating to temporary changes to fishing regulations) took immediate action to temporarily modify fishing regulations to permit catch and release only of all species on waters located in the Wyoming State Forest. The temporary modifications went into effect January 17, 2004, and will remain in effect until further notice but in no event will they remain in place after January 1, 2005.
Commission surveys of these waters were completed during the spring of 2004. Results of the lake surveys found that the fish communities consisted of a very low density of gamefish and panfish that exhibited characteristics of unexploited (unfished) populations. Although lake water quality work has not yet been completed, it is apparent from voltages required during the electrofishing phase of the surveys as well as the abundance of bladderwort (an acid loving aquatic plant) that these systems are not very productive. The stream evaluation found very few trout (brook trout) between the reservoirs and no trout upstream from the reservoirs. As was the case in the lakes, the infertile waters are likely the cause of the very sparse trout population. The portions of the stream downstream from the reservoirs would also be negatively impacted during the summer months by the warm (surface) discharges. It is evident that lake fish populations could easily be overexploited under the most conservation of harvest-orientated regulations. The Commission therefore proposes that all of the waters within the South Branch Roaring Creek tract of the Wyoming State Forest remain under catch and release regulations.
The 6 to 7-mile valley under the direct responsibility of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will offer a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. For the most part, access will be walk-in or by bicycle. Boating may be restricted to the upper two reservoirs and even then without gasoline motors. Thus, no-kill regulations are quite appropriate in this rather unique setting.
The DCNR District Forester and practically every angler encountered during the lengthy survey period in the valley support the proposed rulemaking for catch and release angling on these newly acquired public waters--specifically, Bear Gap Reservoir, McWilliams Reservoir, Klines Reservoir and the South Branch of Roaring Creek from the bridge on State Route 3008 at Bear Gap upstream to the bridge on State Route 42 (Columbia and Northumberland Counties). The Commission proposes that § 65.24 be amended to read as set forth in Annex A.
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 proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments also may be submitted electronically to email@example.com. 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.
DOUGLAS J. AUSTEN, Ph.D.,
Fiscal Note: 48A-160. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart B. FISHING
CHAPTER 65. SPECIAL FISHING REGULATIONS
§ 65.1. [Selective Harvest Program] (Reserved).
[(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters as Selective Harvest Areas. The designation of waters as selective harvest areas shall be effective when the waters are so posted after publication of a notice of designation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
(b) It is unlawful to fish in designated and posted selective harvest areas except in compliance with the following requirements:
(1) Fishing may be done with artificial lures only, constructed of metal, plastic, rubber or wood or with flies or streamers constructed of natural or synthetic materials. Lures may be used with spinning or fly fishing gear. Anything other than these items is prohibited. Specifically prohibited are the use of molded facsimiles or replicas of insects, earthworms, fish eggs, fish or any invertebrate or vertebrate either singly or in combination with the other materials.
(2) The use or possession of fishbait, natural bait or baitfish and the use of a device, natural or synthetic, capable of catching fish other than artificial lures is prohibited.
(3) The program is open to fishing the entire year; no closed season.
(4) The minimum size is 12 inches for brown trout and 9 inches for all other salmonids caught on or in possession on the waters under selective harvest regulation.
(5) The daily creel limit is two trout--combined species--except during the period from the day after Labor Day to 8 a.m. of the opening day of regular trout season of the following year, when no trout may be killed or had in possession on the waters under regulation.
(6) Taking of baitfish or fishbait is prohibited.]
§ 65.4b. [All-Tackle Selective Harvest Program] (Reserved).
[(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters as all-tackle selective harvest areas. The designation of waters as all-tackle selective harvest areas will be effective when the waters are so posted after publication of a notice of designation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
(b) It is unlawful to fish in designated and posted all-tackle selective harvest areas except in compliance with the following requirements:
(1) The program is open to fishing year-round; there is no closed season.
(2) The minimum size is 12 inches for brown trout and 9 inches for all other salmonids caught on, or in possession on, the waters under the all-tackle selective regulations.
(3) The daily creel limit is two trout--combined species--from 8 a.m. on the opening day of trout season in April until midnight Labor Day, except during the period from the day after Labor Day to 8 a.m. on the opening day of regular trout season of the following year, when no trout may be killed or had in possession on the waters under regulation.
(4) A current trout/salmon permit is required.
(c) This section applies to trout only. Inland regulations apply to all other species.]
§ 65.24. Miscellaneous special regulations.
The following waters are subject to the following miscellaneous special regulations:
County Name of Water Special Regulations * * * * * Columbia and Northumberland Bear Gap Reservoir, McWilliams Reservoir, Klines Reservoir and the South Branch of Roaring Creek from the bridge on State Route 3008 at Bear Gap upstream to the bridge on State Route 42 This is a catch and release/no harvest fishery for all species. It is unlawful to take, kill or possess any fish. All fish caught must be immediately returned unharmed. * * * * *
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 04-1718. Filed for public inspection September 17, 2004, 9:00 a.m.]
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