|BOATING – Coast Guard-approved wearable personal flotation
devices (PFDs) are required for each occupant on all types of boats in all waters. Children 12 years of age
and younger must wear an approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while underway
on Commonwealth waters in any boat 20 feet or less in length and in all canoes and kayaks. See
PFD (life jacket) requirements.
Motorboats (including boats powered by electric motors) must be registered. Boat operators of boats with greater than 25 horsepower and born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, may not operate unless they have obtained and have in possession a Boating
Safety Education Certificate.
Owners of unregistered, unpowered boats (canoes, kayaks, rowboats, etc.) that launch their boats at Commission
lakes, access areas and properties, and at PA state parks and forests must display the Commission’s launch use permit. PA state park launching and mooring decals are also recognized.
View the PA Boating Handbook for boating laws and boating safety information.
NURSERY WATERS are closed to fishing at all times.
REFUGE AREAS on streams are CLOSED TO ALL ENTRY AND FISHING during the period March 1 through June 14.
FIELD DRESSING AND DISPOSAL OF FISH – It is unlawful to possess a fish in any form or condition
other than in the whole or having the entrails removed while on shore, along the waters of the Commonwealth, onboard
a boat or on a dock, pier, launch area or parking lot adjacent thereto. Fish may be processed fully if they are being
prepared for immediate consumption on site. This does not apply to fish processed at a fish cleaning station officially
recognized by the Commission or by a permitted charter boat/fishing guide operation.
It is unlawful to discard any fish carcass or parts thereof into the waters of the Commonwealth or upon any public or private lands contiguous to the waters unless disposal is on lands with permission from the landowner or it is where fish are properly disposed into suitable garbage or refuse collection systems or at an officially recognized fish cleaning station.
TAGGED FISH – The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and agencies in adjacent states
apply tags to fish for special research purposes. If an angler catches a tagged fish and wishes to keep
the fish, the tag number and location of the catch should be reported to the address or phone number on
the tag or to the Fish & Boat
Commission. If the angler doesn’t wish to keep the fish, no attempt should be made to remove the tag unless special
instructions have been posted at access areas, by the media or elsewhere. For example, sometimes the
Fish & Boat
Commission uses two-part tags and parts of or all of the tags should be removed in some cases with scissors
or a knife. This type of tag typically resembles rubber spaghetti and information such as tag numbers and
toll-free phone numbers can be easily read. Tagged fish that are not kept should be returned to the water
immediately after removing the tag or recording the information from the tag. In no case should tags be
pulled from a fish as this will cause significant injuries.
It is unlawful for a person to implant tracking devices in or to tag, brand, mark or fin
clip any fish taken from Commonwealth waters, unless the fish:
- are purchased from an authorized commercial
- are part of a Commission-recognized and sanctioned stocking by a cooperative nursery,
- are authorized by a scientific collector’s permit issued by the Commission, or
- are part of a tagged fish contest in a boundary lake for which the Commission has issued a permit.