|PITTSBURGH, Pa. – At its quarterly business meeting today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) previewed a mentored youth pilot program it will launch next spring on the Saturday preceding the southeast regional opening day of trout season. It’s a program agency leaders believe will generate excitement with kids and their parents, ultimately drawing more participants to the sport and increasing license sales.
“We know from research that children who fish typically learn from their parents or other family members,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “Research also shows that the positive experience from a mentoring program creates a big influence on kids and their adult mentors, making it more likely that they will continue in the sport.”
Under the program, kids under the age of 16 would register for the program and join a mentor angler, who must have a current fishing license and trout permit. They would then be able to fish on the Saturday before the southeast opener on select waters within the 18-county area. The waters will be stocked to ensure a plentiful supply of fish to catch for the youth day and the regular season to follow. Each person will be allowed to keep a combined species total of two fish.
“Mentoring opportunities differ from educational programs in that they go beyond one instructional period,” said Laurel Anders, PFBC Director of Boating and Outreach. “Mentors talk to the kids as they plan the trip, show them how to fish during the day, and follow up with them again when they day is over. Special youth opportunities engage both youth and their parents or other mentors.”
The waters for the pilot program are still being reviewed. The list of waters and additional information – including details on how to register – are expected to be finalized by early January.
The regional trout season for southeastern counties was introduced in 2007 and opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 30. The 18 counties include: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and York.
Also today, Commissioners:
- Added 13 waters in Lycoming, Montour and Potter counties to the list of wild trout streams. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
- Finalized changes to regulations for boats carrying passengers for hire. Under the changes, vessels must undergo a dry dock examination by an accredited marine surveyor once every five years. Also, boats which have been involved in an accident or have been structurally modified will be required to undergo stability testing in order to determine passenger capacity. The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to eliminate the Early Season Trout Stocked Waters Program, which was intended to offer additional trout fishing opportunities in March. Under the proposal, the 45 waters currently in the program will be designated as Stocked Trout Waters Open to Year-Round Fishing. The change will allow the PFBC to stock trout more efficiently and closer to opening day on streams that have been found to have trout residency problems. The change will also simplify trout fishing regulations by eliminating one special regulation program.
- Approved new boating regulations aimed at the growing sport of wake surfing. The regulations define wake surfing; require a 200-foot slow, no-wake zone; restrict wake surfing to inboard propelled boats only; and allow participants to wear a specifically designed wetsuit in lieu of the U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets.
- Established a Statewide Public Access Grant Program to help expand the number of public fishing and boating facilities in the state. The new program replaces the Boating Facility Grant Program. Counties, municipalities, watershed associations, land trusts and other partners will be eligible to participate in the program, which generally requires a 50 percent match and a signed agreement that projects will remain open to public use.
- Deferred consideration until Oct. 10 a recommendation to add the Eastern mud turtle, round hickorynut mussel, pistolgrip mussel and rayed bean mussel to the Endangered Species list; to add the Chesapeake logperch to the Threatened Species list; and to remove the American brook lamprey from the Candidate Species list. The extented period provides the executive director time to respond to a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection. On Oct. 10, the board will take action on the item through a notational vote.
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking listing the requirements for individuals to become qualified surveyors of endangered and threatened species. The proposed requirements can be found on the PFBC website.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.
Eric Levis, Press Secretary