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Q & A
Sunday Fishing
Question
What's the history of Sunday fishing in Pennsylvania?
Answer
Prior to 1937, Sunday fishing was prohibited. The Act of April 14, 1937 (P.L. 312, No. 86) changed Section 265 of the Fish Law to provide that Sunday fishing on private lands was lawful if the consent of the landowner or lessee where the waters were located was first secured. This law also made Sunday fishing legal on all public waters. This provision was unchanged when the Fish Law was reenacted in 1959.

Angler with Fish, circa 1938The Fish and Boat Code of 1980 clarified the provisions on Sunday fishing. Section 2104 of the Fish and Boat Code (30 Pa.C.S. § 2104) (relating to Sunday fishing from private land) sets forth the current law on this subject. It provides:

No person shall fish on any Sunday from privately owned land without the express or implied consent of the owner or lessee of the land abutting on a stream or body of water and of the bed thereunder. The consent shall be implied unless the landowner takes any reasonable action to negate his consent to public fishing.

As a practical matter, the current law means that Sunday fishing is permitted on all public and private waters in Pennsylvania unless the landowner or lessee posts the property otherwise or takes other reasonable steps to inform anglers that the waters are closed on Sunday. The Fish and Boat Commission has made “Sunday Fishing Prohibited” signs available to landowners who allow free public fishing on their lands on the other six days of the week.

The Bureau of Law Enforcement reports that relatively few landowners take action to restrict fishing on Sundays, but anglers should respect "Sunday Fishing Prohibited" signs where they are posted. A person who violates a Sunday fishing restriction commits a summary offense of the third degree.

Contact a PFBC Region Office if interested in obtaining signs.

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