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PA Class A Trout & Special Regulation Waters under attack

As an avid fly fisherman and conservationist I was appalled by the recent Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision (PFBC) proposal to change the regulations regarding Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only (DHALO) areas. The changes would lengthen and move up the current harvesting period from June 15th up to the Saturday before Memorial day. The changes also allow for use of bait by all during the harvest period and the use of bait by anglers under the age of 16 year round.

While I can appreciate the need for the commission to increase resource use and youth participation I can not see how this will practically solve those issues. This is the opinion of someone who started out hating fishing. That’s right, yours truly hated fishing as a kid.

Recently I had the pleasure of representing the Chesapeake Council of the International Federation of Fly Fisherman at the January PFBC on January 21st in Harrisburg. After reading our council’s prepared comment on the reg changes I shared my own personal comment here below:

Thank you for hearing my comments today. My story into angling in Pennsylvania starts not unlike many others in that my grandfather would take my brother and I along with our uncles out to his special spot on his favorite trout stream.

      The little Conestoga (as I am sure you are aware) is a well-known stocked trout fishery in Lancaster county that is not capable of sustaining year round populations of trout for various reasons. I remember my grandfather’s excitement, as we would head out on opening weekend. It was an excitement that I never learned to share, as it was my annual experience that it was a bunch of grumpy old men throwing corn and worms at the same pod of scared fish. If this was fishing, I wanted no parts of it.

      It was not until my early twenties that I fell in love with fishing and understood why my grandfather loved it so much as well. It was at that time that my best friend taught me fly fishing on some of our state’s famous DHALO and special regulation waters including Lititz Run, Donegal Spring Run, Tulpehocken Creek, Kettle Creek and Pine Creek. My experiences on these waters showed me the true potential fishing has to offer in our state. It wasn’t a crowded bank lined with dudes, folding chairs and stringers. It was endless miles of un-crowded/uncommon water to lose myself in. It changed me from the common man to an uncommon man, as I understood the value of fishing and our commonwealth’s potential. Years later my mother would tell me how proud my Pap would be if he knew I took up fly-fishing. Many of the waters I went to all around the state with my best friend were also waters he loved. I know now why.

      I urge you to carefully re-evaluate the proposed changes to the DHALO regulations. Degrading the current standards will only serve to depreciate these special areas and will reduce the positive impact and reach these legendary waters already have here and abroad. By moving our state forward towards more conservative and practical management strategies such as the DHALO program we can fully recognize the potential of our great cold-water resource.

      The special regulations this commonwealth has pioneered changed me from the modern day common man who could have cared less about fishing into the uncommon man who now stands before you as not only an angler but also a licensed guide (imagine that!) and now advocates for their protection.

 Thank you for your time and consideration.

Following the January 21st meeting the PFBC held their commissioners meeting where the reg changes were formally proposed. Here is the video, fast forward to 46:00 for the DHALO reg changes:

If you love fishing the special regulation waters here in the state I urge you to contact the PFBC and your local legistlature and make your voice heard. Together we can help steer our state towards a world class standard in resource management while introducing the next generation of Pennsylvanians to the full potential of fishing that our state has to offer.

Contact the PFBC with a  here:

FBC Executive Director John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000.

Contact your state legislature or representative here:

State Legislature or Representative Contact

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2 comments

  1. Travis says:

    I can honestly say that, where my story is not identical, it is very similar. I grew up on an old farm between two streams and loved fishing all my childhood. Once I joined the Marine Corps it took the back burner until I got stationed closer to home. I too found myself getting back into fishing on a special reg stream. Not only fishing but fly fishing. It was on the DHALO section of Falling Springs. If it wasn’t for that January 1st(literally) fishing an olive wooly bugger I probably would have given up. However, as luck would have it I did well catching 5 Browns from that stream and dove back into fishing. That caused me to have to explore other Special Regulation streams. My passion for fly fishing grew tremendously. To take it a step further I also shared that passion with some close friends of mine and got them into it as well. Where there were no butterflies on that chilly January 1st day it’s effect has gained and generated more revenue for the PFBC.

    • KeystoneFlyGuides says:

      Perfect. I am glad to see our generation understands and is willing to stand up for the vision our fathers had. The DHALO program is a success and we must strive to continue it’s example no matter what the special interests say.

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