FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 65 ]
Fishing; Special Fishing Regulations
[51 Pa.B. 1822]
[Saturday, April 3, 2021]
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 amendments update the harvest requirements relating to all-tackle trophy trout and trophy trout artificial lures only regulations.
A. Effective Date
This proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2022.
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 rule- making is available on the Commission's web site at www.fishandboat.com.
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendments to §§ 65.4a and 65.7 (relating to all-tackle trophy trout; and trophy trout artificial lures only) are published under the statutory authority of section 2102(a) of the code (relating to rules and regulations).
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
Per Issue 15 detailed in the Strategic Plan for the Management of Trout Fisheries in Pennsylvania 2020—2024, Commission staff evaluated the all-tackle trophy trout and trophy trout artificial lures only programs to determine if refinements were needed. Currently, both regulations allow for the harvest of two trout, per day, greater than or equal to 14 inches in length, from opening day of trout season through Labor Day, with catch-and-release angling for the remainder of the year. Trophy trout regulations are applied to some wild trout and fingerling-stocked waters and were established decades ago when a 14-inch trout was substantially larger than an average-sized hatchery fish and perhaps was considered a ''trophy'' at that time. These regulations provide inadequate protection to the largest trout in the population, as harvest of trout greater than or equal to 14 inches in length is permitted in streams managed with these regulations. Given that a 14-inch trout no longer constitutes a ''trophy'' fish for most anglers, and these regulations focus harvest on the largest fish in the population which are most desired by anglers and are biologically important to maintaining in the population, the Commission proposes an adjustment to the minimum size and daily creel limit that will allow anglers to harvest a large trout if they so choose, but also provides increased protection to a majority of the larger trout in streams managed with trophy trout regulations.
The Commission recommends amending the all-tackle trophy trout and trophy trout artificial lures only regulations to allow the harvest of one trout per day, greater than or equal to 18 inches in length from opening day of trout season through Labor Day, with catch-and-release angling for the remainder of the year. This size and creel limit were thoroughly researched by Commission staff through analysis of Commission data, review of trout regulations in other states, and discussions among fisheries managers in this Commonwealth and elsewhere. The proposed changes received strong support during previous wild trout workgroups, were supported by the results of a survey conducted at the 2017 Wild Trout Summit and are supported biologically through Commission data. Implementation of a size restriction above 18 inches would essentially equate to catch-and-release regulations based on the size distribution of fish in these streams. A total of 11 waters are currently included in the trophy trout regulation program and most are destination waters that receive high angler use from resident and non-resident anglers.
The Commission proposes that §§ 65.4a and 65.7 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 com- pleting 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-311. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart B. FISHING
CHAPTER 65. SPECIAL FISHING REGULATIONS
§ 65.4a. All-tackle trophy trout.
(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters as all-tackle trophy trout. The designation of waters as all-tackle trophy trout 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 all-tackle trophy trout areas except in compliance with the following requirements.
(1) Open to fishing year-round.
(2) There are no tackle restrictions.
(3) Minimum size is  18 inches, caught on, or in possession on, the waters under regulation.
(4) The daily creel limit is: [two trout-combined species] one trout except for the period from the day after Labor Day to 8 a.m. of the first Saturday after April 11 of the following year, when trout may not be killed or had in possession.
(5) A current trout/salmon permit is required.
(c) This section applies to trout only. Inland regulations apply to all other species.
(d) Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, an angler in a boat may possess fish caught in compliance with the seasons, sizes and creel limits in effect for the water from which taken, provided that the boat angler floats through the all-tackle trophy trout area without stopping or engaging in the act of fishing or the boat angler puts in or takes out his boat at an access point within the all-tackle trophy trout area.
§ 65.7. Trophy trout artificial lures only.
(a) The Executive Director, with the approval of the Commission, may designate waters as trophy trout artificial lures only. The designation of waters as trophy trout artificial lures only 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 areas designated and posted trophy trout artificial lures only 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. Use or possession of other lures or substances is prohibited.
(2) Open to fishing year round.
(3) The minimum size is  18 inches, caught on or in possession on the waters under regulation.
(4) The daily creel limit is [ two trout—combined species—] one trout except during the period from the day after Labor Day to 8 a.m. of the first Saturday after April 11 of the following year, when no trout may be killed or had in possession on the waters under regulation.
(5) Taking of bait fish or fish bait is prohibited.
(6) A current trout/salmon permit is required.
(c) Notwithstanding the requirements of this section, an angler in a boat may possess bait and fish caught in compliance with the seasons, sizes and creel limits in effect for the water from which taken, provided that the boat angler floats through the trophy trout area without stopping or engaging in the act of fishing or the boat angler puts in or takes out his boat at an access point within the trophy trout area.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 21-513. Filed for public inspection April 2, 2021, 9:00 a.m.]
No part of the information on this site may be reproduced for profit or sold for profit.
This material has been drawn directly from the official Pennsylvania Bulletin full text database. Due to the limitations of HTML or differences in display capabilities of different browsers, this version may differ slightly from the official printed version.