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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 21-990



[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 63 ]

Fishing; General Fishing Regulations

[51 Pa.B. 3470]
[Saturday, June 26, 2021]

 The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 63 (relating to general 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 Commission's regulations pertaining to authorized devices for ice fishing use.

A. Effective Date

 This proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

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

C. Statutory Authority

 The proposed amendments to §§ 63.6 and 63.10 (relating to authorized devices for game fish, baitfish and fishbait; and ice fishing) are published under the statutory authority of section 2102(b) of the code (relating to rules and regulations).

D. Purpose and Background

 The specific purpose and background of the proposed amendments is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.

E. Summary of Proposal

 Over the past two ice fishing seasons, anglers have asked the Commission whether devices such as the JawJacker, Automatic Fisherman, Easy Set Hooksetter, Sure Shot Hooksetter and Bro Craft Ice Fishing Tip-up are legal devices for use upon Commonwealth waters. These devices consist of a rod holder which allows anglers to put a bend in the fishing rod and pre-load it with the aid of a triggering device. When a fish takes the lure or bait, tension on the fishing line causes the trigger mechanism to release the rod which, being pre-loaded, automatically sets the hook without additional assistance by the angler. The angler is then free to fight the fish with a normal fishing rod and reel. In addition to commercially made devices, there are many do-it-yourself versions of these devices which can be found online and fabricated at home. As the hookset is rapid, fish are typically hooked in the lip or jaw and not deeply, thereby improving fish survival if intended for release.

 Current interpretation of ''immediate control'' under § 63.6 suggests that the angler must set the hook and that no mechanical device could be substituted. This interpretation has carried over to other regulations, unless specifically mentioned in those regulations. Thus, the regulations found in § 63.10 also make it unlawful to utilize such mechanical devices to set the hook.

 Staff from the Bureau of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Fisheries have conferred and support a clarification of regulations which would permit these ice fishing hook setting devices to be legally used.

 The Commission proposes that §§ 63.6 and 63.10 be amended to read as set forth in Annex A.

F. Paperwork

 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 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.

Executive Director

Fiscal Note: 48A-314. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A



Subpart B. FISHING


§ 63.6. Authorized devices for game fish, baitfish and fishbait.

 (a) It is unlawful to fish for game fish with more than three lines of any description, whether fished by rod or by hand, at one time except while ice fishing in accordance with § 63.10 (relating to ice fishing). There is not a restriction on the number of hooks used for fishing for game fish, except when fishing in the Pymatuning Reservoir where no more than three hooks shall be attached to each line used in fishing. Rods, lines and hooks shall be under the immediate control of the person using them. [A fishing device shall be deemed to be under the immediate control of the person using it if, when the terminal device (hook, bait or lure) is taken by a fish, the person using the device has direct control over it and it is not connected at that point to a casting or depth placement aid such as a casting boat or downrigger. Casting or depth placement aids such as downriggers or small remote controlled boats are not prohibited by this chapter.] For purposes of this chapter, an authorized device shall be deemed under the immediate control of a person if it is within reasonable reach and can be adjusted, manipulated or brought to hand quickly and the person is nearby. Downriggers, planer boards, depth control devices, pre-loaded rod holders, rod holders that provide for a loaded rod or a triggering device, or both, (with or without mechanically induced jigging motion), or hook setting devices are authorized devices. Drones and other remote controlled devices are not authorized devices.

*  *  *  *  *

§ 63.10. Ice fishing.

 (a) Ice fishing is fishing through holes in the ice.

 (b) It is unlawful while ice fishing to use more than five fishing devices[, which may consist of rods, hand lines, tip ups or any combination thereof] as authorized in § 63.6 (relating to authorized devices for game fish, baitfish and fishbait). Each device shall contain a single fishing line. There is not a restriction on the number of hooks that may be used for ice fishing, except when fishing in the Pymatuning Reservoir where no more than three hooks shall be attached to each line used in fishing.

 (c) [Rods, lines and tip-ups used in ice fishing shall be under the immediate control of the person using the same] Reserved.

 (d) It is unlawful to fish through holes in the ice that measure more than 10 inches between the farthest points as measured in any direction.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 21-990. Filed for public inspection June 25, 2021, 9:00 a.m.]

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