The PA Fish and Boat Commission surveys anglers regarding approval for trout fishing
Most anglers surveyed are satisfied with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s trout program, but responses indicate there is a desire to reach more of the public and that fishing methods are changing.
“The majority of anglers, wild trout anglers and stocked trout anglers are satisfied with their fishing experiences in 2022,” Nathan Walters, head of the agency’s cold-water unit, said in a phone interview with the USA TODAY Network.
The commission partnered with Responsive Management to conduct a telephone and online survey of anglers who purchased a trout permit, a Lake Erie trout permit or a multi-year permit valid for 2022 and who fished for trout in 2022.
The survey received 3,383 survey responses. The survey was conducted from March to May of this year. Walters presented preliminary results in October to the agency’s Fisheries and Hatcheries Committee.
What did the Pennsylvania trout angler survey reveal?
68% of anglers indicated they were satisfied with their wild trout fishing in the state, while 28% were very satisfied and 40% were somewhat satisfied.
The survey found a similar result for the stocked trout program, with 69% of anglers participating in the survey responding that they were satisfied, including 30% very satisfied and 39% somewhat satisfied.
Sixty percent of participants reported that they usually fish the opening weekend of trout season. “I think this shows that the majority of hunters come out on opening weekend, or opening day, and it’s important to continue that opening day and the tradition that surrounds opening day weekend,” Walters said.
When participants were asked to evaluate the Authority’s overall performance in managing wild trout, 18% of participants said it was excellent, and 46% said it was good, compared to an overall approval of 64%. For stocked trout management, 68% said either excellent (24%) or good (44%).
When asked what reduces satisfaction with trout fishing, wild trout anglers reported inaccessibility, lack of fish, lack of time to fish, and stocking trout in wild trout waters.
“One interesting thing that our agency can learn from is anglers’ concern about lack of access. Whether it’s from wild trout or stocked anglers, it still seems to be a concern and I think the lack of access to fishing opportunities is a concern for our biologists.” As time goes on here and we try to manage our fisheries better and provide better fishing opportunities are possible,” Walters said.
For stocked trout fishermen, stocking procedures, overcrowding, fish shortages and lack of time topped the list. “We can evaluate ways to improve ourselves. Whether it’s distributing the fish more during stocking or improving our stocking schedule, there are things we can evaluate and try to do better here,” Walters said.
The agency is looking to improve access to waterways and is working with landowners to find ways to allow people to walk along riverbeds.
When it comes to accessibility, the Keystone State has more to offer than other states in the region. “Pennsylvania ranks second, after Alaska, in total miles of flow. Pennsylvania has about 86,000 miles of flowing water,” Walters said.
Regarding fishing in specially regulated waters, such as delayed-only artificial bait and Keystone Select Waters, 27% of wild trout anglers and 17% of stocked trout anglers feel this is very important. This fairly important species was chosen by 35% of wild trout anglers and 34% of stocked trout anglers.
Fish and Boating Commissioner William Brock of Elk County thought about how many special regulation areas people could access. “Do we need more private regulation areas? Would they use them more if more of them were available and in more convenient locations?”
“It’s important as an agency to keep in mind that we need to offer diverse fishing opportunities and we really need to focus on using special regulations, on a case-by-case basis when appropriate, to manage waters,” Walters said.
Brock also wondered whether the regulatory amendments would change the way anglers view private regulatory waters. “If you’re a bait fisherman, you probably don’t have a really good feel for (artificial bait-only areas) because you can’t fish there with bait.”
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How and where do people catch trout in Pennsylvania?
Fishermen are changing what they use to catch fish. The survey found a trend of people using bait less since the 2008 survey. For preferred fishing gear, 23% prefer flies, compared to 15% in 2008. Artificial lures rose to 26% from 16%, and lures fell to 42% from 53 % in 2008.
The top three counties for wild trout anglers in the survey were Center, Huntingdon and Potter counties. “That’s not really surprising when you think about wild trout anglers. You think about Spring Creek that is in Center County, Little J that is in Huntingdon County, and the endless wild trout opportunities that I found in Potter County,” Walters said.
For trout fishing, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Potter and Berks counties received high marks. “This makes sense when you think about its geography, as Westmoreland County is near a more urban area with Pittsburgh not far, but there are some famous stocked trout waters in that county. When you think about Cumberland County, with the Yellow Butts and Children’s Lake, it’s also waters Popular.In Potter County, Kettle Creek is a true trout stream destination for many anglers in the north-central region.Berks County is located in the southeast near urban areas and Philadelphia.
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In northwestern Pennsylvania, “Our steelhead program continues to be very popular among anglers, and we see that in some of the responses and questions the data collected, even though the question may not have asked anything specifically about our steelhead program,” Walters said. We note the popularity of this program through the responses we received.”
Why do people say they go trout fishing in Pennsylvania
The reasons people go fishing are more than just catching fish. “One of the interesting things about this survey is that the top four drivers remained the same compared to the previous study in 2008,” Walters said.
“Relaxation, for sport, being close to nature and being close to family and friends, those are the top four motivations again. It seems like fishing is actually part of the picture, and I think that’s something to take into account.” “Still fishing.” “It’s important, but it’s just part of the experience.”
The top two elements listed to get people fishing more: having a child ask you to go, or getting an invitation from a friend. “This information highlights the need to continue our outreach events to try to increase participation. Whether that’s bringing in new hunters, bringing in hunters who have decided to take a break from hunting for a few years or introducing young hunters or kids or friends to come out and try hunting,” Walters said.
What happens now that the survey results are in?
Survey work has not been completed. Agency staff are talking internally about the feasibility of conducting on-the-ground surveys in 2024 with people along waterways. “The last field survey was done in 2004 and 2005. So, this is something we want to do in the future,” Walters said.
“It is important for anglers to understand that we are interested in their answers to questions and this survey will be an important tool to make water-specific, regional or even statewide management recommendations as we continue to manage wild trout fisheries and stocked trout fisheries in the future,” he said. We hear angler satisfaction and preferences and get a better understanding of angler use and harvest of wild trout and stocked trout fisheries.”
Brian Wiebke is an outdoors columnist for the USA TODAY Network’s sites in Pennsylvania. Call him firstname.lastname@example.org And sign up for the Go Outdoors PA weekly email newsletter on the home page of this site under your login name. Follow him on Facebook@whipkeyoutdoorsand Instagram onWhipkeyoutdoors.