Early trout opener
Anglers from 18 southeastern counties are gearing up for the March 30 opening of trout, which marks the unofficial start of the fishing season.
“The buildup to opening day is just as exciting as the day itself,” said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC).
“Anglers are busy cleaning their gear, stocking up on supplies, and hopefully buying a few new rods and reels. And stocking schedules are posted to the commission’s website, so the last step for anglers is to pick the spots they want to fish that day.”
The 18 counties open March 30 include Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York. April 13 is the traditional opening day for the rest of the state. Visit the PFBC’s website to see detailed stocking schedules, which can be easily sorted by county. The schedule shows what waters will be stocked, the date and time, and a meeting place where volunteers can gather to help with the stocking.
“While opening day is one of the biggest fishing days of the year, it’s also one of the biggest social events,” Arway added. “Research shows that when it comes to fishing, anglers like being together with friends and family just as much as they like catching fish.”
The PFBC’s “great white fleet” of stocking trucks has been busy since mid-February replenishing Pennsylvania’s waterways with a fresh supply of brook, brown and rainbow trout. Every year, the PFBC stocks about 3.2 million trout in waterways across the state. More than 850,000 anglers buy a fishing license each year.
For the first time this year, anglers can purchase multi-year fishing licenses, including a resident three-year license for $64.70, or a resident five-year license for $106.70. Resident three-year and five-year trout permits cost $25.70 and $41.70.
A one-year resident fishing license costs $22.70, and a trout-salmon permit is $9.70. A license is required for anyone 16 and older. Licenses can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online at www.fishandboat.com.
Susquehanna River plan
The Department of Environmental Protection released a work plan outlining intensive efforts to continue studying and sampling dozens of locations in the Susquehanna River basin throughout the year. DEP’s ongoing efforts include analysis of water quality, water flow, sediment, pesticides, hormones, invertebrates, fish tissue and other areas of study. Portions of the study will focus on areas of the river or its tributaries where smallmouth bass reproduce.
“The scientists and experts here at DEP have, quite simply, done an incredible amount of work on this complex issue over the past few years,” DEP secretary Mike Krancer said. “Our staff will continue this comprehensive, fact-based approach, working with our partners at the Fish and Boat Commission, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the U.S. Geological Survey.
“The actual cause or causes of the issues we have seen with the smallmouth bass have not yet been determined or linked to any particular water quality issue,” he said. “But DEP is dedicated to working with our partners to find the answer.”
The agency’s sampling efforts will be focused on sites along the Susquehanna at Marietta, City Island and Sunbury and along the Juniata River at the Lewistown Narrows and Newport. A site along the Delaware River near Trenton, N.J., will be used as a control site. Staff will test for various water quality parameters, like dissolved oxygen, temperature and pH, at multiple sites in the Susquehanna. Samples of fish, mussels and macroinvertebrates, such as mayflies, will also be collected.
Fish tissue from bass collected during spawning season will be analyzed for pesticides, PCBs and metals. DEP will also work with the U.S. Geological Survey to analyze fatty tissue from healthy and diseased fish to determine the effects of different environmental factors.
In the coming weeks, DEP will sample for pesticides at existing water quality network stations along the Susquehanna, Juniata and Delaware rivers. Samples will be collected during some rain events, as that is when pesticides and herbicides are more likely to wash into the river.
DEP will analyze the samples for 54 different compounds. The study also calls for analysis of sediment samples and in-stream monitoring data, to be collected at spawning areas, that examines for pesticides and hormonal compounds. Staff will also take water quality samples from 32 sites in the tributaries of the Susquehanna River basin to better characterize the entire watershed.
The agency’s biologists continue to consult with a contracted algal expert to analyze samples collected in areas where young-of-year bass have died off or where algal blooms have occurred in the past. Water samples from algae-heavy areas will be analyzed for total suspended solids, ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus to determine the relationship between nutrient run-off, or discharges, and algae growth. Excessive algae may be indicative of poor water quality and can inhibit aquatic life and recreational activity, such as fishing.
DEP continues to wait for final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of its final 2012 Integrated Waters report, a biannual assessment of the state’s rivers and streams required by the federal Clean Water Act. The report describes the health of various waterways in the state and, where needed, DEP proposes listing waterways as impaired.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us and click on the “Susquehanna River Study Update” button on the homepage.