Educate all anglers on best practices to safely handle and release trout angled from Commonwealth waters. Offer an on-line training course that focuses on the techniques that minimize handling stress. The training would also cover things like: stream etiquette, conservation practices, and Leave No Trace principals. Completion of the online training course could include a printable certification card and thereafter possibly an indicator printed on the anglers’ fishing licenses. An age specific version could be developed for Junior Anglers as well and could serve as an additional opportunity for mentoring.
Reduce bias towards bait anglers given that recent studies have shown that hooking mortality from bait fishing can be kept at low levels even in very stressful study settings that would not likely be present in a typical catch and release situation.
Change existing Special Regulations on a majority Pennsylvania trout streams to include any of the current “All Tackle” Special Regulation designations including: All Tackle Catch & Release, All Tackle Trophy Trout, or All Tackle Slot Limit (currently a trial basis) Regulations. Over half or 51% of the existing Special Regulation trout stream sections (223 out of 440 total miles) continue to prohibit Bait fishing to coincide with Fly and/or Artificial Lures Only fishing restrictions.
The recommended changes would help to bring together all anglers in support of the preservation of the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources.
REASONS FOR SUGGESTED CHANGES
Increase angler participation
Increase use of Commonwealth’s aquatic resources
Increase license sales
Reduce and/or eliminate angler bias
Reduce Special Regulation Discrimination for all anglers who do not fish with flies or artificial lures
Establish greater collaboration and support among all anglers for Commonwealth aquatic resources
SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR SUGGESTED CHANGES
Several long ALL TACKLE Catch and Release stream sections in Pennsylvania have demonstrated long-term sustainable and even increasing trout populations. Examples include three of the top and more heavily fished trout streams in Pennsylvania including; Spring Creek, Little Juniata River, and Penns Creek. These successes have been documented through a number of stream surveys conducted over the years by biologists from the PFBC. High angler use and high trout biomass attest to the success of these regulations.
Recent “moving water” bait fishing mortality studies done in PA, MD, CT, WI, and ID provide substantial scientific evidence that reveals low mortality rates for bait fishing when applied in Catch & Release settings for both stocked and wild trout populations. These recent studies provide unbiased information that reflects very low mortality rates between 2% and 10% for bait caught and released trout.
In a large three-year bait fishing mortality study done in PA the variables of both hook choice and barbed vs. barbless resulted in minimal differences in bait fishing mortality rates, all of which were low. Also, in an Idaho study, relative hooking mortality from baited circle hooks was not significantly different than hooking mortality of trout caught on dry flies.