FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 65 ]
Fishing; Special Fishing Regulations
[52 Pa.B. 1494]
[Saturday, March 12, 2022]
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 Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendment would remove Penns Creek, Section 03, from the Commission's miscellaneous special regulations.
A. Effective Date
This proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
B. Contact Person
For further information on this proposed rulemaking, contact Wayne Melnick, Esq., P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7810. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's web site at www.fishandboat.com.
C. Statutory Authority
This proposed amendment to § 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations) is published under the statutory authority of section 2307(a) of the code (relating to waters limited to specific purposes).
D. Purpose and Background
The specific purpose and background of the proposed amendment is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.
E. Summary of Proposal
Penns Creek is a large, limestone-influenced stream that supports a robust wild brown trout fishery in its upstream reaches. The stream is approximately 67 miles in length and is delineated into 8 stream sections for fisheries management purposes. The Commission has documented wild trout in approximately 37 miles of the stream from the headwaters downstream to Glen Iron, with approximately 29 miles being designated as Class A wild trout waters. Penns Creek, Section 03, extends for 7.0 miles from the confluence with Elk Creek in Coburn downstream to 600 meters downstream of the confluence with Swift Run. Section 03 was managed as a stocked trout fishery until 1992 when it was designated by the Commission as a Class A wild trout stream and the stocking of hatchery-reared trout was discontinued in favor of wild trout management.
To address landowner and angler feedback, increase the abundance of large wild brown trout in the population, and provide the opportunity to use all tackle types and harvest some trout, a new miscellaneous special regulation in § 65.24 regarding slot limit was established on Penns Creek, Section 03, beginning January 1, 2014. The slot limit regulation allows for year-round fishing, use of all tackle types and the harvest of two trout per day that are at least 7 inches but less than 12 inches in length, from the opening day of the regular season for trout through Labor Day, with no harvest permitted the remainder of the year.
Penns Creek, Section 03, provided a unique opportunity to evaluate this new special regulation on a productive limestone stream. The Penns Creek trout population was monitored before and after implementation of the slot limit regulation. Results of the monitoring revealed a substantial increase in the electrofishing catch rates of larger brown trout (greater than or equal to 16 inches in length) during the slot limit regulation implementation period (2014—2019). These results suggest that the slot limit regulation likely played an important role in the increased electrofishing catch of large brown trout in Section 03. In addition to fishery independent monitoring, Commission staff conducted an angler use, harvest and opinion survey to evaluate the social aspects of the regulation change and estimate angler harvest in 2019. Results documented low harvest of trout during the survey and high angler support for continuance of the slot limit regulation. Despite low angler harvest under the current slot limit regulation, this regulation provides the opportunity for anglers to harvest intermediate-sized trout if desired, which was an important social consideration when the regulation was originally implemented.
Given the success of the experimental slot limit regulation program on Penns Creek, Section 03, and potential opportunities to utilize this regulation at other suitable wild trout waters, the Commission established a new special regulation program known as trout slot limit in 2021. The trout slot limit program has two subprograms: all-tackle trout slot limit and artificial lures only trout slot limit. As such, it is recommended that Penns Creek, Section 03, be removed from miscellaneous special regulations in favor of management under the newly established trout slot limit program. Upon removal of this regulation, Penns Creek, Section 03, will be proposed for designation into the all-tackle trout slot limit program under § 65.4c (relating to all-tackle trout slot limit) at a quarterly Commission meeting later in 2022 with an implementation date of January 1, 2023. If approved, the name of the regulation applied to Penns Creek, Section 03, will change; however, the regulation itself would remain the same.
To facilitate transition of Section 03 into the all-tackle trout slot limit program, this water must first be removed from miscellaneous special regulations. Other fish species will be managed with Commonwealth inland waters angling regulations in § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters).
The Commission proposes that § 65.24 be amended to read as set forth in Annex A.
This proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will not create new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
This proposed rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions.
H. Public Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about this 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 by completing the form at www.fishandboat.com/regcomments. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt. Electronic comments submitted in any other manner will not be accepted.
TIMOTHY D. SCHAEFFER,
Fiscal Note: 48A-324. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart B. FISHING
CHAPTER 65. SPECIAL FISHING REGULATIONS
§ 65.24. Miscellaneous special regulations.
The following waters are subject to the following miscellaneous special regulations:
County Name of Water Special Regulations * * * * *
Centre Foster Joseph Sayers Lake Crappie—10 fish daily creel limit of which no more than 5 fish may be greater than or equal to 9 inches in length [Centre and Mifflin Penns Creek, from the confluence of Elk Creek downstream 7 miles to 600 meters downstream of Swift Run Open to fishing year-round. All tackle types are permitted. From 8 a.m. on the opening day of the regular season for trout through Labor Day—the daily creel limit for trout is 2 (combined species). Trout must be at least 7 inches but less than 12 inches in length to be killed or possessed. From the day after Labor Day until 8 a.m. on the opening day of the regular season for trout, no trout may be killed or possessed. Inland regulations apply to all other species. This miscellaneous special regulation will remain in effect until further notice.] Clarion Beaver Creek Ponds Closed to fishing from 12:01 a.m. January 1 to 12:01 a.m. the second Saturday in June of each year. Bass—15 inch minimum size limit and a 2 bass daily creel limit for the total project area. Panfish (combined species) 10 fish daily creel limit for the total project area. Other species-inland regulations apply. * * * * *
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 22-378. Filed for public inspection March 11, 2022, 9:00 a.m.]
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