Bait, big trout and bias — one group’s perspective

Posted on: January 8, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Blog--Keystone Select permitKeystone Select waters will get more big trout per mile that similar waters statewide.

Not everyone is equally thrilled with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s new Keystone Select trout waters program.

Set to debut this March, it’s been described by the agency as an attempt to create “destination” fisheries.

Currently, just about all stocked stream sections statewide get some big trout, fish of 14 to 20 inches and 2 to 3 pounds. Typically, that’s five to six per mile.

The eight stream sections in the Keystone Select program — portions of Loyalhanna Creek in Westmoreland County, Laurel Hill Creek in Somerset, Neshannock Creek in Lawrence, Middle Branch White Clay Creek in Chester, Wiconisco Creek in Dauphin, South Branch Tunkhannock Creek in Lackawanna and Wyoming, Loyalsock Creek in Lycoming, First Fork Sinnemahoning Creek in Potter — will get 250 such fish per mile.

The fish they receive will account for about 10 percent of the trophy trout stocked annually. So other waters will continue to get big fish.

Commission officials have said they don’t think anglers on those other streams will notice any difference.

That’s all well and good, said Dan Pfeilstucker of Portage, president of the Traditional Anglers of PA.

His problem, he told commission board members at a recent fisheries committee meeting, is with who will get to pursue those fish.

The eight stream sections are all managed under delayed harvest, artificial lures only rules. That shuts out members of his organization — “dedicated to live bait fishing and equal access for all” — and all other bait fishermen, including most children, he said.

That’s long been the position of his group, that delayed harvest rules – though they apply to just a fraction of the trout stocked waters statewide – are unfair.

That prompted him to offer a suggestion. He said anglers who fish the Keystone Select waters should first have to buy a $50 permit.

Commissioners didn’t say whether they were interested in anything like that.

But they couldn’t create such a permit on their own. According to commission spokesman Rick Levis, only state lawmakers have the authority to create licenses and permits.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.