Anglers who enjoy fishing in Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) areas would have several additional weeks to keep their catch and would be allowed to use bait during the harvest period, under a proposal advanced January 22 by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) at its quarterly business meeting.
In addition, kids under the age of 16 would be allowed to use bait year-round in these areas.
“This is about creating more opportunities for anglers of all ages to fish and making it easier to fish by simplifying regulations,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “The DHALO program is one of our most popular because it extends the traditional trout season. Today’s proposal should encourage more anglers, especially kids, to fish these areas and will make it easier for families to fish together.”
First launched in 1983, the DHALO program is designed to make more stocked trout available later in the season. The current regulations allow harvest only between June 15 and Labor Day, have a minimum size limit of nine inches, and a creel limit of three fish. The waters are open to fishing year-round.
Under the proposal (
See the proposed rulemaking starting on page 7 of the January agenda), the harvest period would be moved to the Saturday before Memorial Day, the minimum size would be lowered to seven inches, and anglers could use bait or artificial lures during the harvest period. The creel limit would remain at three fish.
“Anglers are most interested in fishing for stocked trout in late May and early June,” added Arway. “By expanding the harvest period and allowing the use of bait, we can increase angler success while improving the use of the trout before they are lost to natural mortality in the warmer summer months.”
Arway added that allowing kids to use bait year-round in DHALO areas makes sense because most children learn to fish with bait before advancing to fishing with flies or artificial lures.
“By allowing kids to use bait year-round in these areas, we would be making it easier for them to fish and would be increasing their chances of catching fish,” he said. “This would create a positive experience which in turn would increase their enthusiasm and passion for the sport.”
The proposed changes will be published as a notice of proposed rulemaking in the PA Bulletin for a 60-day public comment period. If adopted on a final rulemaking, the amendments would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
In other action, commissioners:
- Added 10 stream sections to the list of Class A wild trout streams, and voted to continue stocking the stream sections, all of which receive high levels of angler use. The stream sections can be viewed on the PFBC website under exhibits G and H. The Pohopoco Creek in Carbon County in Carbon County is among the 10 stream sections, as well as sections of the Monacacy Creek in Northampton County.
- Approved the designation of a 2.8 mile section of Pine Creek in Lycoming County, from the confluence of Slate Run downstream to the confluence of Bonnell Run, as a Catch and Release All-Tackle Area. The area is currently designated as a Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only area. The changes will take effect upon publication in the PA Bulletin.
- Approved the acquisition of two fishing access and conservation easements along Route 287 in Piatt Township, Lycoming County, which will provide about one-half mile of fishing access along both sides of Larry’s Creek. The first easement is approximately 12.26 acres and will include an access trail, a public fishing easement along the stream corridor which will extend 35 feet back from the top of the bank, and a conservation area which includes wetlands. By acquiring a second easement of about 0.67 acres on adjacent property, the PFBC can provide anglers uninterrupted access to both sides of the creek, which is a stocked trout water. The easements were offered to the PFBC at no cost.
- Approved an agreement with the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT) under which PennDOT will construct an access area on the west shore of the West Branch Susquehanna River in Union County as mitigation for a new highway spanning the river. Under the agreement, PennDOT will construct a boat launch and parking lot on the access area, which is on the uppermost section of Lake Augusta, a 3,060-acre impoundment that extends from Sunbury several miles up both the West Branch and North Branch Susquehanna River.
- Designated Allegheny County’s 14.3-acre Marshall Lake as a Big Bass Special Regulations water in order to increase the number of larger largemouth bass and to increase predation on gizzard shad and small panfish. Fish must be a minimum of 15 inches. The lake is located in McCandless Township, a few miles northwest of downtown Pittsburgh, and is part of the Allegheny County Parks system. The change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
- Designated 40.4-acre Peters Lake Reservoir No. 2 in Washington County as a Big Bass Special Regulations water and as a Panfish Enhancement Special Regulation water for crappie. This will allow both largemouth bass and crappie to grow to larger sizes before being harvested. Bass must be a minimum of 15 inches. Crappie, which have no size limit under inland regulations, must be a minimum of nine inches. The lake is located in Peters and North Strabane Townships, four miles east of Cannonsburg. The change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
- Designated Westmoreland County’s Indian Lake as a Big Bass Special Regulations water and as a Panfish Enhancement Special Regulation water for crappie and sunfish and the county’s Bridgeport Reservoir as a Panfish Enhancement Special Regulation water for crappie and sunfish. This will allow largemouth bass, crappie and sunfish to grow to larger sizes before being harvested. Bass must be a minimum of 15 inches. Crappie and sunfish, neither of which have a size limit under inland regulations, must be a minimum of nine inches. The 4.94-acre Indian Lake is located in North Huntingdon Township and is the centerpiece of Indian Lake Park. Bridgeport Reservoir is a 70-acre impoundment on Jacobs Creek approximately one mile southeast of Mt. Pleasant. The change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
- Removed the designation of Somerset County’s 338-acre High Point Lake as a Panfish Enhancement Special Regulation water for yellow perch. The lake currently has an abundance of yellow perch in the 4-inch range. The change removes the 9-inch minimum size requirement and will improve fishing opportunities by allowing anglers to harvest the smaller fish. The lake is located in Elk Lick Township in southern Somerset County. The change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
- Approved a pass-through grant of up to $274,000 to American Rivers, Inc. for the removal of the Downing Ridge Dam on the East Branch Brandywine Creek, Chester County. The funds are being provided to the PFBC by the PA Department of Transportation as mitigation for a highway improvement project on State Route 0322.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm.