Too much to do about nothing
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is currently soliciting input from anglers concerning a proposal to lower the daily limit of trout from the current eight fish per day down to five beginning in the spring of 2000. More than 500 comments have already been received by the PFBC, with 78 percent favoring the reduction. I dubbed this story "Too much to do about nothing" because the change will accomplish nothingwhatsoever. This proposal itself is a waste of time, money and effort. To reduce the creel limit will not hurt nor enhance the resourceó primarily because trout in Pennsylvania are, for the most part, an artificial resource consisting of stocked fish.
Wild trout of the Upper Delaware would not be affected by this proposal because special regulations are in place on the river, and size limits in place for other trout waters effectively protect native brookies from over harvest. So, for all practical purposes, what we are talking about here is stocked trout and an oftentimes questionable put & take operation.
But the PFBC wants to know what you think about it. What do I think? They can do whatever floats their boat because it doesnít much matter anyway. Do I enjoy catching stocked trout? Of course I do - but thereís not a fish that swims that a guy like me doesnít enjoy catching. Although I fish for them on occasion, stocked trout donít fight very well compared to wild fish and they taste as good as they fight with a few exceptions. And whether the limit is 2 or 10, your next trout fishing outing will not be affected either way.
The commission admits as much itself. According to Peter Colangelo, PFBC executive director, "The proposal to reduce the creel limit by three per day is based on social and policy perceptions. From a resource-based fisheries management perspective, there will be no impact in reducing the creel limit from eight to five."
No impact. Based on perceptions. What do they mean by that? Perhaps it means - go ahead and do it - it doesnít matter much as far as the fishery goes, but it makes the commission look more concerned. Whatever they mean, it sure sounds like a waste of time and money to me.
Colangelo said, "It is important that anglers have realistic expectations about the impacts of this proposed change. Fisheriesí scientific data show that a change of this nature will not spread the catch around among more anglers or affect wild or stocked trout populations".
If thatís the case, why the proposal? According to Colangelo, "This change may affect public perceptions about the value of these fish and the appropriate number of fish to be taken each day." I donít know about you, but Iím not exactly sure what that means except that it was spoken like a true politician, who at times can say plenty without saying anything.
My comment to the commission would be summed up well with the old adage, "If it ainít broke, donít fix it!" So you can put Talking the Wild down on the short list as opposed. Call me stupid, but somehow I would feel better if our money and the agencyís time were spent on something that would make a difference in enhancing and promoting sportfishing within the state, including more of an effort to attract children to the sport.
If you have some time to waste on this matter, you can send your comment to the PFBC via "snail-mail" at PO Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, or e-mail them at: email@example.com.
Upper Delaware Field Notes
John Bossler of Belvidere, Illinois writes:
"Dear Pat, Iím looking for some help. Not the usual things you might ask an outdoorsman, although I can use some help there too (canít we all, John), but help with resources to protect our Pond Eddy Bridge. As you may be aware, the bridge is in poor condition and PENDOT is considering condemning it and buying the property owners out rather than replacing it. I suspect that may make economic sense, but it will mean the end of another small hamlet, lost in the name of bureaucratic efficiency. It reminds me of the Tocks Island fiasco 30 years ago.
As Iím sure youíre aware, the bridge gives access to PA State Game Lands 209, a considerable piece of the Delaware State Forest and Pond Eddy creek, one of my favorite trout streams. I would like to have the names and addresses of game commission officials and state forest officials who I might contact to solicit their support in having the bridge repaired or replaced.
There is a group of us working on this issue. The River Reporter has been very supportive in publishing articles about the bridge. Any information you could supply would be appreciated.
Well John, first of all I hope you donít mind that I made your letter public. I truly believe that making it public is indeed the best help I could give you.
Public awareness may be your best ally in your efforts to save the bridge and the wonderful hamlet of Pond Eddy, Pennsylvania. The matter of game land access may be your trump card - especially if you can convince the outdoor sports community to rally around your flag. Access to game land and providing more hunting opportunities, at this point in time, is a high priority with the commission. If not, it certainly should be.
I suggest that you contact the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen Clubs and explain the situation to them. I would also like to see you attempt to enlist the aid of other outdoor groups like the Pike County Federation of Sportsmen Clubs. Iím not familiar with the work you have done so far and who you may have contacted, but I would also be inclined to suggest that you advise Congressman Sherwood (R-PA 10thDis) of the situation if you have not already done so.
At any rate, rest assured that Talking the Wild totally supports your efforts. I have personally been across that wonderful old bridge many times with the purpose of hunting SGL 209 or fishing for those magical brookies in the creek. And I know that next to SGL 316, 209 has the most limited access of any Pike County Game Lands.
If there is anything else that I can do to help please call me at anytime at 570/685-2489 or contact me again through The River Reporter. Iíll leave you with the federationís address and number and Iíll send you any others I can think of by mail, including agency contacts. Thank you, John, and good luck. And I agree, the second shot can be a bit of an issue - I suppose we should all make the first one count.
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmenís Clubs, 2426 North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110 - Phone 570/232-3480.
If anyone out there has any ideas for John Bossler or wishes to lend support, send correspondence to me at The River Reporter and Iíll will forward it to John.
Until next time, be safe and good luck!
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