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Outdoors: Trout season rule changes up for approval

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A rule change to the Extended Trout Season that was given preliminary approval by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commissioners and clearly defining sections of stocked trout waters will open up thousands of miles downstream for fishing all year long.

As the Extended Trout Season currently stands, stocked trout waters and all waters downstream have a creel limit of three trout per day from the day after Labor Day until the last day of February and are closed to fishing from March 1 until 8 a.m. on the opening day of trout season.

The rule change excludes all waters downstream of stocked trout waters from Extended Trout Season limitations.

Next, the commission intends to more clearly define the parameters of stocked trout waters. Most stocked trout streams are not stocked throughout their entire length, and many have sections managed for wild trout.

Adding the section limits for stocked trout streams to the annual Fishing Summary/Boating Handbook beginning in 2022 will clearly identify where stocking occurs to increase angler participation, especially for anglers unfamiliar with a stream. It will increase angling opportunities downstream of stocked trout water sections. It will provide increased protection to the stream sections managed for wild trout during the extended seasons and increase angling opportunities for wild trout in sections that are open to year-round fishing.

These stream section limits are currently published on the commission website and FishBoatPA mobile app.

If approved on final rulemaking at a future meeting, the amendment would go into effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Plentiful permits

Antlerless deer hunters in this region will be able to get their hands on more permits for the upcoming seasons.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s statewide license allocation of 925,000 may be 7,000 fewer than in 2020-21, but the two Wildlife Management Units (WMU) in Cumberland County will get more.

WMU 4B’s allocation will be 34,000, up from 33,000. WMU 5A will get 31,000, up from 26,000.

The move to allow concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer statewide throughout the 14-day regular firearms season decreased the number of antlerless licenses available in many WMUs, while goals to maintain higher harvests in WMUs affected by chronic wasting disease led to increased license allocations here.

The regular firearms deer season, which begins on Saturday, Nov. 27, will allow statewide concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer throughout the season’s 14 days. The season includes a day of Sunday hunting on Sunday, Nov. 28. The season ends on Dec. 11.

Six-pack o’ permits

Meanwhile, hunters will now be able to hold up to six—SIX—unfilled antlerless licenses at a time.

Game commissioners adopted a measure that removes the three-license limit for antlerless deer hunters statewide.

Once a hunter obtains six licenses, the hunter can’t purchase additional licenses without first harvesting deer and reporting them. At no time is a hunter able to possess more than six unfilled antlerless licenses.

There is no limit on the total number of licenses a hunter can obtain in a license year. As long as licenses remain available, and a hunter holds fewer than six unfilled antlerless licenses, the hunter can purchase another.

For life, wear a jacket

An 11-year-old boy drowned late last month, going under water while swimming near a low head dam on Codorus Creek.

Should you think the threat of drowning lurks only in big, moving water, know that three people have died so far this year in private ponds!

These tragedies have one thing, or LACK one thing, in common. None of the victims was wearing a life jacket.

No one knows when or if they will fall out of the boat or get caught in an undertow.

Even those jacketed will have a serious issue in April water. It’s too cold for swimming or exposure.

Please! Please! Please WEAR A LIFE JACKET!

This important point is worth making to those who love those who think they are bulletproof going onto or into the water.

So, wives, husbands, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, should ask their beloved boaters about life jackets before they leave the house.

Last year, there were 11 boating-related deaths across the state. Not one of the individuals who lost their lives was wearing a life jacket.

“With winter now well behind us and our popular trout season underway, this is absolutely the most anticipated time of year for most anglers across Pennsylvania,” Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer said. “Boaters, especially the incredible number of new paddlers we’ve been seeing on the water the past several years, are also very anxious to get out on the water. We want to urge every boater, no matter your level of experience, to enjoy the water safely by always wearing a life jacket during every trip.”

November through April 30, boaters are required to wear a life jacket while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak. This requirement applies even on private ponds.

The commission reports that many boaters don’t wear life jackets because they claim they can swim. But an American Red Cross survey finds that most Americans overestimate their swimming ability. Overall, the survey finds that more than half of all Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or lack in basic swimming skills.

Cold, fast-moving waters often present in the spring can make treading water very difficult even for those with moderate or better swimming abilities. This is yet another reason to always wear a life jacket while boating.

Quotable

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” — Josh Billings

Send your wild thoughts and photos to bjsmall@comcast.net.

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