Coronavirus concerns lead to end of early trout opening days
By Marcus Schneck
Coronavirus concerns have led to drastic changes in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s plans for stocking trout and the fast-approaching 2020 trout fishing season.
The changes, effective immediately, include consolidating the 2020 trout season schedule into a single, statewide schedule for all Pennsylvania counties; accelerating trout stocking operations and limiting volunteer participation; and adding more convenient ways to purchase fishing licenses online and display proof of a fishing license and boating documents on a digital device.
The consolidated statewide schedule for all counties during the 2020 trout season will cutback to just one Mentored Youth Trout Day on Saturday, April 11, and one statewide opening day for trout season on Saturday, April 18.
The separate, earlier regional mentored youth and opening days will no longer occur in the 18 southeastern counties of Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Schuylkill and York.
The changes, made by the commission under direction provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, are intended to reduce large gatherings of people and the number of anglers traveling into the regional area (18 southeastern counties), which is already heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Trout stocking, which began earlier this month, will be moved onto an accelerated schedule, and volunteers will not be permitted to help with stocking.
Volunteer’s lugging buckets of trout from the commission’s Great White Fleet stocking trucks to streams and lakes have been a hallmark tradition of the stocking program for decades.
“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,” said Tim Schaeffer, executive director of the commission.
“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.”
To complete trout stocking operations without the volunteers the commission will modify stocking methods for this year.
Many commission staff are being reassigned from their normal work duties to assist with stocking fish into lakes and streams.
In some cases, pre-season and in-season allocations of trout will be combined into single stocking events to increase the efficiency of stocking trips.