The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is looking for public feedback on extension of special slot limit fishing regulations along a seven-mile stretch of Penns Creek.
If passed, Section 3 of Penns Creek in Centre and Mifflin counties -- which runs from the confluence of Elk Creek seven miles downstream to just below Swift Run -- would remain under slot limits, which would keep the stretch open to fishing year-round with all tackle types permitted. However, from 8 a.m. on the first Saturday after April 11 through Labor Day, the daily creel limit would be two (combined species). Trout must be at least seven inches in length, but not more than 12 to be killed or possessed. From the day after Labor Day until 8 a.m. the first Saturday after April 11, no trout would be able to be killed or possessed.
This rulemaking would continue regulations already on that stretch of creek that are due to expire on Dec. 31 of this year.
For more details, here is the summary of proposal as shared on the official rulemaking request form:
Penns Creek is a large, limestone-influenced stream that supports one of the most popular and renowned wild Brown Trout fisheries in Pennsylvania and the eastern United States. Its excellent insect hatches, large size, and scenic setting in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania draws anglers from across the United States. Penns Creek is delineated into eight stream sections for fisheries management purposes, with sections 01-07 managed for trout.
Penns Creek, Section 03, extends for 7.0 miles from the confluence with Elk Creek in Coburn, Pennsylvania downstream to 600 meters downstream of the confluence with Swift Run. Section 03 was managed as a stocked trout fishery until 1992 when it was designated by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission as a Class A wild trout stream and the stocking of hatchery trout was discontinued in favor of wild trout management.
During 1993, landowner and angler surveys were conducted on Section 03 to inform management decisions. Based on this information and biological data collected during 1991 and 1992, Miscellaneous Special Regulations (later renamed All-Tackle Trophy Trout under § 65.4a) were developed for Section 03 and implemented on January 1, 1995. Section 03 was managed with All-Tackle Trophy Trout regulations for 19 years from 1995 to 2013. During 2012, Commission staff conducted a review of the management of Penns Creek, Section 03.
Staff solicited feedback regarding a potential regulation change from landowners and anglers via letters and a public meeting. Additionally, staff conducted an angler use, harvest, and opinion survey to help inform a regulation change. To address landowner and angler feedback, to further increase the abundance of large wild Brown Trout, and provide the opportunity to use all tackle types and harvest some trout, a new Miscellaneous Special Regulation (slot limit) was established for a seven- year period from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2020.
The slot limit regulation allows for year-round fishing, use of all tackle types, and the harvest of two trout per day that are at least seven inches but less than 12 inches in length from the opening day of trout season through Labor Day, with no harvest permitted the remainder of the year.
The trout population was monitored before and after implementation of the slot limit regulation in Section 03. Results of the monitoring showed a significant increase in the electrofishing catch rates of larger (≥ 16 inches) Brown Trout during the post-slot limit regulation implementation period (2014-2019). These results suggest that the slot limit regulations likely played an important role in the increased electrofishing catch of large Brown Trout in Section 03.
In 2019, staff conducted an angler use, harvest, and opinion survey to evaluate the social aspects of the regulation change and estimate angler harvest. Results showed low harvest of trout occurred and high angler support for continuing the slot limit regulations on Penns Creek, Section 03. Despite low angler harvest under the slot limit rule, these regulations provide the opportunity for anglers to harvest a trout if they desire, which was an important social consideration when the regulations were implemented.
Given the success of the experimental slot limit regulation program on Penns Creek, Section 03, staff recommended that the Commission continue this regulatory approach until further notice. The regulation would allow for the use of all tackle types and harvest of up to two trout per day that are at least seven inches but less than 12 inches in length from the opening day of trout season through Labor Day. No harvest would be permitted for the remainder of the year.
Please consider sharing your feedback on the proposal directly with the Fish and Boat Commission using the form found by clicking here.
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.