Early trout opener canceled because of coronavirus, statewide opener now set for April 18

  • An early Pennsylvania trout opening day was set for 18 southeastern counties.
  • York was one of the 18 counties. That early opener has now been canceled.
  • There will now be a statewide opening day on Saturday, April 18.
A statewide opening day of trout season is now scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 18.

Amid concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on Tuesday announced several changes to the 2020 trout season.

The changes form a single, statewide schedule to be used for all Pennsylvania counties, accelerate trout stocking operations and limit volunteer participation and expedite the purchasing of fishing licenses.

“Thank you to the anglers and boaters of Pennsylvania for their understanding as we all experience these changes together,” PFBC Executive Director Tim Schaeffer said in a news release. “While our calendars may start to look a little different, one thing we can count on is that there will be a trout season, and there will still be plenty of fish out there to enjoy. Working under unprecedented circumstances, our staff is committed to providing the quality fishing experience that we all expect.”

The PFBC will operate under a consolidated statewide schedule for all counties. Under this revised plan, a single mentored youth trout day will occur on Saturday, April 11, and a statewide opening day of trout season will take place on Saturday, April 18.

As a result of these changes, separate, earlier regional mentored youth and opening days will no longer occur in the 18 southeastern counties, including: Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York. Anglers in these areas should revise their plans as necessary to adjust to the statewide schedule.

These changes, made by the PFBC under direction provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, are intended to reduce large gatherings of people and the number of anglers traveling into the region.

Accelerated trout stocking operations: The PFBC has accelerated the trout stocking schedule and will not use volunteers to stock waterways as it has in the past.

“We realize that many of our stocking volunteers look forward to helping us, but we must take these necessary precautions to ensure public safety during this vital period,” Schaeffer said. “Just as we’ve counted on our volunteers for decades to help us stock trout, we’re counting on them now to play it safe and stay home. We appreciate their service throughout the years, and we hope that we can invite them back to join us again very soon.”

Staff will be reassigned in order to complete the job.

“We’re trying to get as many fish in the water as possible as quickly as possible while we still have the best access to waterways and available staff," PFBC District 6 commissioner Rick Kauffman said. "While our methods may be different this season, people will have the same opportunity to get outdoors and fish, which has proven benefits to our physical and mental health.”

Fishing licenses, launch permits and boat registrations: People who feel uncomfortable going to retail stores can purchase their fishing licenses and trout stamps online. www.pa.wildlifelicense.com.

Also, to reduce travel and social contact, anglers and boaters will be able to display their fishing license, launch permit or boat registration renewal on a phone or other mobile device as proof of possession.