Ground zero for new anglers?

Posted on: October 10, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

29527763103_c9bf5ec253_zDirectors of state fish and wildlife agencies fished in Philadelphia during a recent conference. Might newcomers to angling get the chance to do so soon, complete with expert instruction?

Pennsylvania could become ground zero for fishing instruction.

The Fish and Boat Commission has been talking for months about finding new ways to attract women to fishing. It’s launching an effort to do just that starting this fall.

Details were scarce at the agency’s September meeting. But Steve Kralik, director of the bureau of outreach, education and marketing, said the commission will soon be hiring its first-ever youth and women’s program coordinator to get families and women on the water.

Board president Glade Squires of Chester County said that’s going to require doing more than setting up sites were people can use “loaner rods” to fish on their own. The commission needs to offer classes teaching people like single mothers the basics of angling, he said.

That’s just what some others are thinking.

John Arway, executive director of the commission, said word came out at a meeting of fish and wildlife professionals in Philadelphia in September of plans to experiment with “learning centers” in urban areas. They would be places where people could go and borrow fishing equipment, but also get some instruction before fishing a nearby location where they could reasonably expect to land something. Such centers would be run by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

The only thing to be decided is where to pilot such a program, Arway said.

His suggestion? Philadelphia.

Unlike Allegheny County – which traditionally leads the state in the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and boat registrations — it’s an urban area that’s largely underserved, he said. The commission sells few fishing licenses there in comparison to the population, he said, even though it’s home to a national wildlife refuge and multiple parks.

There’s huge potential there, he added. That’s why the commission plans to put together a proposal to host one of, if not the first, fishing learning centers.

“I’m anxious to get moving on it,” Arway said.

Fawn survival

The fawns born this past spring fared a little better than those birthed last year, it seems.

According to a blog post written by Chris Rosenberry, chief deer biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, about 74 percent of the fawns captured and monitored by research teams this spring were still alive after nine weeks of age. Last year, only 52 percent lived to hit that mark.

Predation was the leading cause of death both years.

It’s hard to say who fawns did better this year, Rosenberry wrote. But it could be that the mild 2015-16 winter left mothers in better shape and able to produce healthier fawns to start, he said.

The commission is still following the fawns and will look to see how many are alive around New Year’s Day, after most hunting seasons.

Hunting with spears

Even doing something legally can have consequences.

In June, a hunter named Josh Bowmar killed a black bear with a spear in Alberta. He did so legally. But his excitement – captured on video – created a firestorm of protest.

Now, not only have Alberta officials say they plan to ban spear hunting, but Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources may do the same. The agency is accepting public comments on the idea through Oct. 17.

Grant funds

It’s further evidence of the nationwide trend to diversify participation in the outdoor sports.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with the Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation to offer grants to those teaching fishing skills in Hispanic communities.

The money will be available through the “Fish Iowa” angler education program.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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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.