Fishing changes on way in 2021: Pa. trout season to open earlier on single statewide date

The (Greensburg) Tribune Review (TNS)
Volunteers work with the Fish & Boat Commission to stock creeks with trout in southern York County, Thursday, March 5, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Pennsylvania's trout season will open earlier than usual this year, and on statewide basis, on April 3.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on Monday set the opening date and also approved a single statewide Mentored Youth Trout Day on March 27.

As a result of the consolidation, separate regional mentored youth and opening days will not occur. Because mentored youth days were canceled last year, all Voluntary Youth Fishing Licenses purchased last season remain valid and will be honored during the 2021 season.

Officials said the changes will allow anglers to enjoy their recreational sport outdoors while addressing ongoing health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The move to an earlier statewide schedule for trout season ensures that we can preserve our cherished fishing traditions while reducing the amount of travel across multiple opening days," said Tim Schaeffer, PFBC executive director. "We wanted to give anglers as much time and information as possible to plan ahead, and we think they will especially like having the stocking dates and locations available at their fingertips again this year on our FishBoatPA mobile app and website (www.fishandboat.com).

"Starting two weeks earlier gives trout anglers statewide two more weeks to enjoy everything that comes with this special time of year."

The PFBC will begin preseason trout stocking on Feb. 15, about two weeks earlier than in previous seasons. All streams that are designated as Stocked Trout Waters will be closed to angling when stocking begins on that date.

To provide for additional angling opportunities, trout that are stocked in lakes, reservoirs and ponds during the preseason will be open to catch-and-release angling but may not be harvested before the mentored youth day and season opening.

The PFBC will reintroduce limited volunteer stocking opportunities this year. Volunteers will be recruited from an existing pool of individuals who have traditionally assisted with float stocking and bucket carrying organized through local conservation organizations, schools and other groups. All selected volunteers will be required to wear personal protective gear, including masks and gloves, and practice social distancing while participating in stocking.

A stocking schedule will be provided on the PFBC website and FishBoatPA mobile app beginning Feb. 1.