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Q & A
Year Round Trout Fishing
Question
I love to fish for wild trout in Class A streams. After reading several sources and talking to many people, Trout Unlimited members and PFBC staff, I'm totally confused. Is it or is it not legal to fish any Class A stream year round?
Answer
It is legal* to fish for trout in Class A trout streams year-round, with no kill beginning the day after Labor Day through the opening day of trout season the following year. The same holds true for wilderness trout streams. Of course, all other fishing regulations still apply. 

Note that during the period after Labor Day through the following opening day of trout season, anglers must immediately release any trout they catch unharmed to the waters from which taken. Anglers also should check for special regulations applicable to particular waters.

The traditional trout season and creel limits are in place for "Approved Trout Waters," which basically means the water is stocked by the Commission or one of its Cooperative Nursery partners. To provide additional angling opportunities, there are a handful of approved trout waters that are open to year-round fishing.

Another option for year-round fishing is a special regulation area. There are dozens located throughout Pennsylvania that are open to year-round fishing. Note many of these are catch and release only, have tackle restrictions, etc. Consult the PA summary book or signs at the areas for specific regulations.

A number of special regulation areas are under Delayed Harvest Artificial Lures Only regulations. These areas are open to year-round fishing with no kill, except from one hour before sunrise on June 15 to one hour after sunset on Labor Day, when the daily creel limit is 3 trout (combined species) with a minimum size of 9 inches.

There is also a Wild Brook Trout Enhancement Program.

All these categories and regulations may seem a bit confusing, but it's really pretty simple:

Traditional trout season

Year-round trout fishing

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* Those with a particular interest in regulatory interpretation may want a further explanation. Here it is: The season for taking trout from waters other than approved trout waters extends from opening day in April to midnight on Labor Day. During other times of the year, there is no season for trout on waters other than approved trout waters, certain special regulation waters and private waters that apply for and are made subject to the extended trout season under PFBC regulations (58 Pa. Code 65.26). The regulations establishing seasons, sizes and creel limits state that a fish taken out of season from waters where other fishing is lawful is not considered a violation if the fish is "immediately returned unharmed to the water from which it was taken." Thus, it is not a per se violation to catch a trout out of season on Class A wild trout waters as long strict catch-and-release fishing is practiced.
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