The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission pulled a fast one on trout anglers. Instead of the consolidated Apr. 18 trout opener that was scheduled, a last minute decision from the PF&BC said trout season opened today, Tuesday, April 7.
According to Tim Schaeffer, PF&BC Executive Director, “We realize this change is a disruption to tradition.” He goes on to say that anglers still need to follow social distancing (6 feet apart and wear masks) and that trout that have been stocked have had time to spread out and so should anglers.
The decision to open trout season immediately is intended to discourage concentrated gatherings of people that may have occurred on the traditional opening day, to minimize intrastate and interstate travel, and to reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked, says the PF&BC. And it was approved in conjunction with Gov. Wolf, Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pa’s DCNR.
Mike Parker, PF&BC Media Relations Director said, “Agency staff will continue to stock trout throughout spring, but not all waters have been stocked at this time. To further discourage public gatherings, a stocking schedule and list of waters that have been stocked will not be provided to the public this season.
In regards to this statement, a source said that the entire seasons allocation in Lehigh County streams had already been done last week. Meaning, if fact, there will not be any inseason stockings. However, it isn’t known if this was true for other Pennsylvania streams and lakes.
The DCNR will permit fishing and boating in state parks and forests but social distancing must be followed, but noted that restrooms at state park facilities may be closed. The agency is encouraging anglers to conduct outdoor activities within 15 minutes of their homes.
Also, the Mentored Youth Day will not take place this season, but the PF&BC will honor all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased in 2020 for all mentored youth fishing during the 2021 season.
I did a quick check at 10 a.m., April 7, on the Little Lehigh Creek in the area of the covered bridge in Lehigh Parkway, and saw seven anglers fishing that stretch so some anglers got the word on the revised, surprise opener. Also checked the Egypt section of the Coplay Creek and there were about 10 anglers there. One group did not adhere to the six-foot spacing rule as they were hopefully a nuclear family.
Some local bait and tackle shops were also taken by surprise of this revised trout opener. Bob Danenhower, from Bob’s Taxidermy and Tackle Shop in Orefield said he scrambled to get items priced and live bait containers ready after his phone began ringing early in the morning to inform him of the last minute announcement.
Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, had a phone message informing anglers to call and make an appointment to come in for bait and tackle as only a limited number of people were allowed in the shop at one time. The message said the shop was closed Tuesday’s so it’s unknown if that changed upon Willie learning of the new opener.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.